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Tomorrow Is Today – Sales eXecution 3240

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

A common discussion among sales people, or more accurately, sales people willing to make cold calls, that is complete sales people, is when is the best time to cold call? I have added my two cents on this in past. What is true about any element of success, is that the things that lead to it become routine, a habit, and there is no doubt that people are creatures of habit. This can be good and bad at the same time. Reports show that habit, things we do by rote, make up about 40% of what we do on a daily basis, so if develop good habits, this will serve you well. If you develop bad habits, well then, you have some work to do.

This notion of habits extends to cold calling as well, with all the implications and ramifications. One of those habits is when they choose to cold call. For the cold calling is dead crowd, the time is never, they have made the decision to go at it with one less tool in their toolkit. The rest seem to land on one of two days, oddly both start with T. Those who have developed good prospecting habits always prospect, including cold calling, Today. The others, with questionable habits, well, it’s always Tomorrow.

The Today group, uses their calendar to ensure that they get what has to get done in time for it to matter. Like many sales people they put all the important things in their calendar; be they client meetings, training, commission days, and yes, cold calling. If it is not in your diary it is likely not to get done, there will always be some things that come up that will distract you, and cause you to say “I can do that tomorrow, because I have this to do today. The question is if you don’t prospect today, who are you going to sell to tomorrow.

The Tomorrow crowd do not put prospecting time in their calendar because it would begin to resemble a commitment. Understanding what percentage of your “selling time” one has to commit to prospecting is where you start, once you have that you can begin to slot it in, along with the prep time it will take to generate the leads, understand their objectives, and all the other things that have to be in place for a successful cold call.

The other thing the Today crowd do is understand that rejection is part of the process. They study the most common objections and spend time preparing for them, understanding them, and developing means of taking those objections and transitioning them to conversations, and live another day by adding more opportunities to their pipeline. The Tomorrow crowd live another day by kicking the can down the road a few more inches each day.

What I have also found, is that with some coaching and effort, many Tomorrow people can be rehabilitated and converted to Today people. Since many had good sales habits alongside nonexistent cold calling habits, by doing what they need to today, they will likely be that much more successful.

Tibor Shanto

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Are You Selling or Visiting – Sales eXecution 3212

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Last week I wrote about the importance of words in the context of a sale, while in that case I highlighted the importance of words we select in communicating the right thing to the buyer. But the words we use also impact our attitudes, and our attitudes have a direct impact on our actions, their impact on the customer and sale, and ultimately our company’s and our own success. Yes, what you call something will drive how you prepare, how you prioritize, the actions you take, and the overall intent it communicates to the buyer and therefore their reaction and the progress, or often lack of progress, we make in the sale.

Here is a typical, often overlooked, but clear example. One of the common topics I speak about here is the importance and role of next steps. Part of whether you get that next step or not is how you view the appointment, your role in the appointment and how you approach that appointment. And while it may not seem big it starts with what you call that appointment, which in turn reflects how you are thinking and preparing.

This is why I find it amusing (and at time sad), when sales professionals call an appointment a “visit”; as is “I have a visit scheduled with Harry at XYZ Inc.” (And let’s accept that this is a rep in Toronto, not someone selling sweet tea in Chatom Alabama). A visit? Really, think about that. You are going to go and “visit” a prospect.

vis·it
ˈvizit/
verb
1. go to see and spend time with (someone) socially.
“I came to visit my grandmother” synonyms: call on, pay a visit to, go to see, look in on;
2. inflict (something harmful or unpleasant) on someone.
“the mockery visited upon him by his schoolmates”

So which of the above do sales people mean when they speak about a visit?

I know some will say it is only semantics, and I say they are right, but semantics count, as stated above, in a number of ways. Some say they are visiting because they don’t want to appear “salesy”, why not, is that not what you are there to do? Before you leap to answer that think about it, are your sales people always going in with a clear intent, focused on a specific set of possible outcomes?

Intent counts as much as words. Buyers can read your intent, and if you’re intent signals something other than what you are saying AND, how you are saying it, you’re beat. Buyers can tune in and pick up on that incongruity every time. So you may think you are selling, but if your intent, body language and words are saying “Visit”, that is what you’ll have a visit, not a sales call. As the authors of The Hard Truth About Soft-selling: Restoring Pride & Purpose to the Sales Profession, we have created a class of professional visitors, hoping that the order comes up as they “visitin’”.

Reps are not alone in letting this phenomenon to happen. Managers or organizations fixated on a specific number of calls regardless of the facts on the ground, very much drive sales people to have visits. After all, if I need 10 calls a week, and that number is not directly tied to my goals and conversion rates, but are high on my manager’s personal KPI’s, then I am going to hit that 10 with sales calls and visits.

So go and visit if you must, but for continuous sales success, you will also need to go on first appointment and sales calls.

Tibor Shanto

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The Reason You are calling, is… – Sales eXecution 3200

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Child Phone

As a reader of this blog you have heard me say that whoever coined the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was not in sales. We all know that the wrong word at the wrong time can dramatically change the course of a sale or sales meeting, either for the better or….

This even more true on the telephone where you do not have the benefit of body language to balance out the picture. As more and more sales organizations turn to an inside sales approach, this becomes a greater factor. Without body language you and the prospects are left with only intonation and the words you choose, what and how you say will paint the picture and drive the prospect’s response. What you say, how you say it, and who you say it to, matters.

While I am not suggesting that there are “magic words” or “silver bullet” words or incantations that can turn a sceptic or close the deal, picking your words matters. And it has to be your words, it has to fit with your manner of speaking and it has to help the buyer not only better understand where you are coming from, but also how it helps them achieve their own objectives.

Whether you are in inside sales or a field rep, here is an example that you may relate to. Early on, during the appointment setting call, you will have to give the person at the other end of the line a reason to want to see you. What is that, is it your product, your company, your radio voice, no; it is, as it has always been and will be, what is in it for the prospect themselves.

Many sales people will say that they are looking to “learn” more about the buyer, their company, and buyi9ng process. Well with the demand on decision makers time, they really don’t have time to teach you. You want to learn, well that’s why Al Gore invented the internet, so you can learn about your buyers.

Second favourite reason spoken by reps trying to get appointments: “I want to discuss with you…” Again, do you think they have the time or inclination to discuss, likely not.

So what can you suggest as a reason for meeting? How about sharing some specific steps and impacts you helped others take to achieve their objectives, and how your offering specifically played a role in that, and the specific impact it had on their business. Now this isn’t a creative recital of your features and value props, but specific elements that are tide to OUTCOMES.

The reason I am calling you is to schedule an appointment where I can share with you how we haled XYZ Competitor reduce their logistics cost, allowing them to increase market share by 3% over 18 months.”

No product, no features, no discussion or learning. Instead you are going to show, teach, share, how you have been instrumental in helping others like them achieve specific objectives and results.

“How do I know what their objectives are?” I hear some of you asking. Not as hard as you may imagine, but the topic of a future post; stay tuned.

Tibor Shanto

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3 Elements of a First prospecting E-Mail – Sales eXecution 3051

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

e-mail new

While in Canada e-mail has been neutered by our supposed business friendly Prime Minister, in other parts of the free world, e-mail continues to be an effective way to initiate engagement with new potential buyers.  And while some may be shaking their head in disbelief, done right it contributes to prospecting success, but as usual, its down to what and how – the execution.

First thing is defining success. Many believe that success is the prospect calling you back and asking “where do I buy?” But remember “Prospects are Created – not Found”, e-mail plays a role in that creation. In an environment where it could take 8, 9, 10 or more attempts to get a response from a potential buyer, a good e-mail can be a good touch point, and lead to an initial contact, then engagement, purchase, relationship, kids, divorce, and all over again.

But let us approach as we would going for the Holy Grail, a cold e-mail that leads to engagement. What are the three crucial elements?

  1. Subject Line
  2. Body of Message
  3. The Close

Do all these well and you have a shot, miss the mark on one, and you’re beat.

In light of the fact that most e-mail these days will be viewed on a hand held, we’ll present things from that standpoint, the good news is that if you do the mobile e-mail right, it also translates to success for those reading it on a desktop or tablet.
1. Subject Line – if the party you are writing does not know you, the Subject Line becomes the first pint of triage. It will determine whether they open it, save it for later reading (ya, later, OK), or just delete it at the speed of light. As a result you have two choices, you can mix them up, see if you see a pattern based on role, industry or other factors.

First method, not mine but based on a study of some 30 million e-mails, suggests that having nothing in the Subject Line. Nothing or ‘RE:’ followed by nothing. In some ways it makes sense, human curiosity, drives people to bring down the thumb find out.

But my preferred method takes this further and drives the two elements that follow. I like to use the final call to action, The Close, element 3, as the Subject Line. So if at the end of your e-mail you propose a call Friday at 2:30 pm, then use that as the Subject Line, but add a question mark at the end.

Subject: Call Friday at 2:30?

The natural instinct is to see if you had in fact forgot a call, or scheduled one in error, or if your admin had put something in that you missed. The effect is the same “Did I miss something, let me check this out, let’s take a look.” Leading is to element 2.

2. Body of Massage – the body needs to have two must things, first brevity, second no fat.

I can’t emphasise the importance of being brief. Two lines at most. I want you to be guided by the “Two Flicks of the Thumb Rule.” The first flick is to scroll down once; the second is either Reply or Delete. Which is why we have no room for fat.

The best way to achieve that is to include and highlight only those things that speak to the prospect. Nothing about you, nothing about your company, just how you can help them deliver against their objectives. This is harder that it sounds, because as sales people are geared to talk about their value prop, and other irrelevant things.

Based on your research, previous experience, and those things you learn from 360 Degree Deal View,  Identify a specific impact or outcome you can deliver based on your assessment of their objectives, and speak to that.

I am writing to schedule a call to share with you how we helped Close Competitor Inc., add an additional service call for each of their trucks on a daily basis, leading to an 8% increase in revenue, 11% increase in margins, and a 12% improvement on return on assets…

Which brings us to the third element, The Close.

3. The Close – is your call to action, the ask from the call, and as we know from the Subject Line, it is a call Friday at 2:30 pm. So continuing from element 2:

“…leading to an 8% increased in revenue, 11% increase in margins, and a 12% improvement on return on assets. I will call you for an introductory call Friday at 2:30.

Thank you,
Alfred E. Neuman”

The important thing to remember is that this e-mail may be one of a number of touch points, and it is important that it is planned in context of a complete pursuit plan. If this e-mail is the first contact, what will follow, if you had phoned prior, how does this e-mail fit in? The specific version above is geared as a first e-mail, if you had called and sent a previous e-mail, you will need to vary it.

But for first mails, with a realistic expectation that there will need to be more touch points in the process of creating a prospect, this is a good start.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

Changing the Odds In Your Prospecting0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

poker card player gambling casino chips selective focus

How much of a premium would you pay to bet on a sporting event where the odds favoured your team over the other by 6000 to 100? A no-brainer right, in fact too good to be real, right? Let’s look at it a bit differently, how would you like to be up against a professional opponent favoured by similar odds, an opponent who practices every day, honing their skills and techniques, improving their game day in and day out, while you only occasionally dabble in the sport?

I am guessing most of you are saying no to those odds, and would probably pass on getting in the ring with that level of mismatch. But I see sales people do this very thing on a regular basis, but instead of a five dollar bet, what is on the line is their income.

Sales people get into to the ring every day, unprepared and underestimating their opponent’s skills, abilities and level of preparedness. What I am talking about specifically is prospecting, especially for buyers in the deep sea of Status Quo. We are not talking about buyers who are actively looking, visiting your website, or buyers who were referred to you because they called their friend in a hurry looking for the exact thing you sell. No the buyers I am talking about did not expect your call or e-mail, these buyers would swear up and down that they don’t Need whatever value you are proposing. This is not to say that they would not derive value from what you offer, but left to their own devices, when you phone, what you are selling, or what you are proposing, is not on their radar.

Further, they are trained professionals at shutting down people who call them in the middle of their work day and ramble on about something that does not align with their perceived priorities.

I ask sales teams I work with: “how many unsolicited sales calls do you think your average target gets on a daily basis? Stop and ask yourself that; think of what you sell, think of all the things that individual buys that you don’t sell, how many calls do they get?” I get a wide range of answers, from five a day to 20 per day. Let’s take the lower end, five unsolicited sales call per day; 25 per week; assuming they work 48 weeks a year, that’s 1,200 calls per year. Now let’s bring some more reality to the scenario, say they have been on the job for five years, that’s 6,000 calls! Take that in a minute.

That’s a lot of practice in tuning out the beige and bland! How many times in those 6,000 calls do you figure they have heard empty words like:

  • Solution
  • Reliable
  • Productivity
  • Efficiencies
  • Customer centric
  • Improved work-flow
  • Dependable
  • Blah Blah Blah

After a time it all sounds like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon, wha whawha, whawha wha wha.

How practiced are they in blowing you off and getting back to work? Infinitely more than the average seller. They have it down, so down they can do it without thinking or “being in the call”. When they give their initial objection, they don’t even think about what they are saying, they just deliver the fatal blow:

Seller: Increase productivity blah blah, work-flow.
Buyer: Thanks, but we’re all set
Seller: Well perhaps I can send you information in case you ever need a back-up, I can call you back in a few months (putz).
Buyer: Sure you do that, thanks! (back to work)

Knock out!

This why sales people hate telephone prospecting, high rate of rejection, low rate of success.

Does it have to be that way? Absolutely not!

Why is it that way? Because sales reps are nowhere nearly as prepared as the person at the other end of the phone.

Yet one of the hardest things is to get sales to practice and prepare. Rather than practicing, developing skills and a proper game plan, working on avoiding sounding like all the other voices, they do the same thing over and over again. What was it Einstein said about this type of behaviour?

Attracting Status Quo buyers is not that difficult, you just need to change a few small things, and practice. And I don’t mean on unsuspecting buyers, but before you pick up the phone or fire off that e-mail.

Start by changing the your goal for the call, your goal is not to impress them, not to have a conversation and develop rapport or trust; your goal is to get engagement in the form of an appointment, live, web or telephone, where the buyer has agreed to engage in a business conversation. Singular measure of success, engagement!

Change the narrative from needs or you and your company, not what you do, and how you do it, frankly no one cares, no really. Tell them what they will get out of it, speak to specific impacts and outcomes others in similar situations realized; not in feature benefit speak, they’re hip to that, but in business terms they speak every day. What will they tell their boss changed after you? This takes focus and practice, if you are going to wing it like most of the 6000 have done, if you are going to spew you value prop hoping it will impress them, forget it, you’ll just be 8001, they’ll go back to work, and you?

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

Mastering Tools and Methods of Prospecting Success #webinar0

Business man point: Turn Prospects Into Sales Appointments

Wednesday June 10, 10:00 am PT/1:00 pm ET

Prospecting continues to be the most sought after skill when companies hire and promote sales professionals. The better you are at identifying and engaging with the right prospects, the more success you will have in your sales career. But to achieve success in prospecting, you will need to master two key elements

1. Sourcing the right leads and crucial information needed to reach that prospect
2. Connecting and engaging with those leads and converting them to pipeline opportunities

Join me and Clinton Rozario, as we present you the methodologies and tools that will help you master the two elements above, and keep you pipeline full and healthy.

By attending this 60 minute expert talk, you will learn how to become more efficient at both lead generation and prospecting and following up, thereby allowing you to spend less time in gaining more prospects and freeing up time to sell more to new and existing clients.

By attending this webinar, sales professionals can learn about

• Leveraging Social Platforms for Micro Targeting
• Reaching C-Level Decision Makers on Social Networks
• Proven method for successful B2B Prospecting
• How to sustain a continuous flow of opportunities
• Lead Gen and Prospecting Tools that will make you more efficient and successful

About Clinton

Clinton Rozario is an expert in B2B lead generation and prospecting on social networks. He has been the chief architect of several such patented products at eGrabber. He offers his expert advice about B2B sales lead generation at various forums and has written numerous articles on the same.

Register

 

 

3 Strikes Not Out – Sales eXecution 2971

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Baseball biz 2

One of the downsides of today’s technology driven “always connected” world, is the expectation of instant response or gratification. I watch teenagers suffer great angst and sweat profusely when one of their text or messages is not returned instantly. I see a version of this in sales, specifically prospecting, the lack of patience causing people to abandon perfectly good leads may too soon. This not only leads to a voracious appetite for leads, but creates a number of bad habits and lost deals.

There seems to be a “3 Strikes and Out” approach to prospecting or engaging with potential buyers. But this is not baseball or the criminal justice system, where you can in fact be beat after three strikes, in prospecting and sales, this is certainly not the case. It is interesting that in this particular area, how many millennials have much in common with the characters from Glengarry Glen Ross, “Can I have me those Inbound Leads”.

In sales and prospecting the third try is often be just the starting point, and contact or success can often come much later. If we want to stick to the whole baseball theme, the game is nine innings if not more.

When prospecting, you can expect to make eight or more attempts before a given prospect may respond. Remember, business people today are usually trying to pack 16 hours into a ten hour day, meaning they are behind the eight ball from the moment they are brushing their teeth. Breaking through that not only takes creativity and solid value, but patience and persistence; a much greater level than some sales people are willing to give, and managers may tolerate. Which is too bad, because there is a lot of truth to the notion of last man or woman standing.

The key is having a plan, a system, and the wherewithal to execute. Doing it right does not mean doing the same thing eight or more times, idea is to engage not repel. First you need to pick the tools of the trade. Often one of the challenges is that we are just not getting through, I like the phone, the prospect responds to e-mail, if I don’t identify their mode of communication, the best messaging will be lost. Important to remember that not everyone is like us (thank god), so we need to make sure we that we are covering the spectrum.

Given the times we are selling in, you have to think:

Bottom line is you have choices to make, which means planning. You need to have a Pursuit Cadence planned, and implemented into your CRM. If you think you can do it from memory you are wrong. You need to plan it out and systemize it, much like marketing automation, this needs to happen regardless of your mood or workload. Below is one an example, you can learn more here.

One last consideration, leads and prospects are recyclable, how many times have you sold to someone you first prospected four years ago, missed, tried again, and then finally connected and went through the cycle, and now have a happy customer. Remember, sales is about execution, execution of a plan. Done right, it is very much a game of 3 strikes, not out.

Tibor Shanto     

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What Are You Opening – Sales eXecution 2952

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Looking in

Sit in on any weekly sales meeting or pipeline review and you will hear the same question over and over: “What are you closing?” Nothing wrong with that question, especially if everyone is closing the right deals at sufficient levels. But given the fact that less than 60% of B2B reps hit quota, the above is not a safe assumption.

The real focus should be on the open, not the close. While I am not suggesting that the “What are you gonna close?” question should be dropped, I do think that it always needs to have a companion questions: “What are you gonna open?” Add to that if your close ratio is 4 to 1, you should ask the “gonna open” four times for every time you ask “gonna close” question.

While many will attribute their missing to a number of factors, it really comes down to two simple things. They either can’t sell, meaning they have more than enough engaged prospects, they just can’t close them; or they can sell just fine, but do not have enough prospects to take through the process. The former is easy to deal with, fire them, do fast, then hire slow, make sure the next sales person you hire can both sell and prospect.

If the issue is the latter which is more often the case, then the solution is creating a culture of prospecting. I regularly get reps telling “get me in front of the right prospect, and I can close them”, and it is usually the case, meaning they can’t prospect. Fortunately this is something you can fix, and continuously improve.

TEST DRIVE THE BEST ON-LINE PROSPECTING TRAINING PROGRAM AND APP AVAILABLE TO B2B SALES PROFESSIONALS

While many in sales like looking at the close, as we have discussed before, the close itself is a Lagging Indicator. Winning in sales is about managing and improving Leading Indicators, meaning activities that are executed early in the sales that determine the outcome, rather than dealing with the outcome after the fact.

The first step is knowing your conversion rates from one stage of the sale to the next. With that you will not only be in a position to plan and control your selling, but understand how many prospects you need to succeed, with that number in hand you are in control. Let’s look at a simple example, if you have a 4 to 1 handshake to close ratio, and you need 4 sales a month, it is clear that you need 16 prospects a month to interact with. It doesn’t matter how you get them, let’s not get side tracked. You can use referrals, cold calling, social selling, or smoke signals, the fact remains you need to shake 16 hands to meet your quota. If you get 16 or more, you are in control, you have options.

Any less than that, you are in trouble, you either need to instantly improve the way you sell to make your close better than 4 to 1, or begin praying to a better sales god. If you only engage with 12 prospects, you will be reluctant to get rid of prospects who do not qualify, or resort to concessions, or any number of desperate measure to try and scratch out your quota; continuously increasing the pressure on yourself in the process.

While selling and sales tools continue to evolve, the math does not, the choice is yours, while improving selling is a good option, improving how you sell and close as well as how you open will give you more options and more success.

Tibor Shanto     LI Bottom banner

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Looking for More and Better Prospects?0

Who isn’t right!

Webinar Laptop

Well the good news is that over the next couple of weeks I will be participating in two webinars aimed at helping you do just that.

On Thursday April 16, at 1:00 pm Eastern:

I will be part of a webinar with eGrabber, titled: Mastering two key elements of Sales and Prospecting success. Along with Clinton Rozario, we will be looking at the most efficient and effective ways to source leads and then connect with them so you can start selling.

To learn more and register, click here!

Later in the month on

On Thursday April 23, at 1:00 pm Eastern:

I will be joining my friends at DiscoverOrg, and will look at Sales Triggers: Don’t Wait – Create. We all know about trigger events, how they create opportunities, we will look at how to better leverage events, and how to trigger similar reactions without having to wait like everyone else.

If you need new prospects to fill your pipeline with the right opportunities, you should attend these webinars. You learn specific steps you can take, tools that will make you more effective and learn about new developments in helping you succeed in prospecting.

To learn more and register, click here!

Look forward to having you along,
Tibor

Why Are You Trying To Kill Me?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Horrorfilm

Said the Cold Call To The Socialite.

Recent headlines about AC/DC’s drummer brush with the law, got me thinking why would someone want to kill someone? Such a passionate act must be a result of some big or egregious cause, or at the very least a means of avoiding harm. Then I remembered that in sales we see this all the time, over and over, people are trying to kill cold calling.

The most recent would be assassins are Socialites, social selling advocates, who seem to spend as much time sniping at and proclaiming the death of cold calling as they do speaking about what they sell, social selling products, seminars, remedies and dreams. I wish them all the luck, capitalism rules, everyone is allowed to make a buck, I just don’t understand why cold calling needs to be dead for their stuff to work. Cold calling does not present danger to them, in fact it complements and adds to social selling, just as social selling adds to cold calling success, so what’s the deal here Socialites?

You know I have never read an article or a post that was written by an advocate of cold calling, suggesting that social selling is bad, ridiculing people who use the practice to engage with prospects, suggest that it is inadequate, or about to die. Even though you can find stats that would suggested that on its own, it is not all the Socialites will have you believe.

I suspect the main reason is that cold callers do not see social as a threat, is because we do see it as a great addition to an existing set of tools and techniques we use to drive business. We cold callers seem to take a more inclusionary approach to engaging with clients and driving revenue. I would argue cold callers have taken a much more “social approach” than many Socialites who seem to either proclaim or wish that cold calling was dead. Now we all know it is not, you wouldn’t need to keep saying it if it was, it would be self-evident, when was the last time you read a piece about Plato being dead?

Let’s Spin Some Stats!

(Step back you don’t wanna get any on your shoes)
 

To start with not every buyer has a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account. Not only that but depending on who you are prospecting, it is important to note that some groups’ social media activity is in decline. According VentureBeat’s summary of the 2014 CEO.com Social CEO Report “an annual survey that investigates the social media habits of business leaders, has been released. The results show a depressingly small increase in social activity from Fortune 500 business leaders over last year’s analysis.” Further, “Amazingly, the CEO.com report shows that 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social presence on any of the major networks. Taking a deeper dive into the data reveals that while there has been significant growth in the number of Fortune 500 CEO accounts created versus last year’s results, the number of “active” accounts grew marginally. This suggests that nearly as many business leaders with existing accounts abandoned their use of social media.”

I’ll be the first to admit that you can probably find stats to the contrary, which just goes to show that sales and sales people are just as susceptible to hype as the next group. But hype is something decision makers have a radar for, serious decision makers want facts not hype, they want tangible things that help them achieve their objectives. This leads to the fact that the most effective means of communication with senior leaders is direct. And while 68% may shun a social presence, 100% have telephones and e-mails. The key is to have a meaningful message that leads to engagement.

Here are some famous stats that keep getting dragged out (and abused):

Corporate Executive Board reported that B2B buyers are 57% of the way to a buying decision before they are willing to talk to a sales rep.
• “A survey by DemandGen Report, reported that 77% of B2B buyers said they did not talk with a salesperson until after they had performed independent research, and 36% of buyers said they didn’t engage with a sales rep until after a short list of preferred vendors was established.”

I am not here to argue the stats, but I do want to point out that both stats refer to BUYERS. These are people who of their own volition initiated a buying cycle. Which means that by the time they are 57% – 77% of the way there, they are not looking for a sales person, but more an order taker. Sad but true. Sales People are paid to persuade and influence, not accept orders from someone who has for the most part made up their mind and is now looking to see which models are available and for someone to negotiate price and terms with. Definition of selling:

To Sell –
–   to persuade or induce (someone) to buy something:
–   to persuade or influence to a course of action or to the acceptance of something

The real problem with waiting for buyers, is that according to Chet Holmes and other sources, “About 3 percent of potential buyers at any given time are buying now” (The Ultimate Sales Machine – by Chet Holmes). Only 3% of your target market are active buyers, even if you social sold your share and then some, are you near quota? These 3% are the people calling you when they are more than half way through their journey, most are past persuasion or influence. If you want to talk SALES or SELLING, you need to be talking about the other 97%. If you want to sell to that 97%, you are likely going to have to pick up the phone and say something other than #wannabuy?

Since we are on stats, allow me to digress for a second. This is one quoted by a Socialite as proof of the “paradigm shift in the sales industry”

“10.8% of social sellers have closed 5 or more deals attributed to social media.” Or looked at from the other end, maybe it can be phrased “89.2% can’t attribute deals to social media”; and “54% of social salespeople have tracked their social selling back to at least 1 closed deal.” I bet the I can find unhyphenated sellers who can track a lot more deals to cold calling, and even more to just selling using all the tools available to them instead of just some.

Let’s look at the “short list claim”, and decision makers. DiscoverOrg surveyed 1,000 IT decision makers at Fortune ranked, small and medium-sized companies. It shows how outbound – today’s euphemism for cold – sales calls and e-mails affect and “more importantly disrupt vendor selection.” Further, some “Seventy-five per cent of IT executives have set an appointment or attended an event as a direct result of outbound email and call techniques.” Finally, “nearly 600 said an outbound call or e-mail led to an IT vendor being evaluated.”

So if you did cold call along with your socializing, you’d be in much better shape than narrowing your chances to one vs. the other, Socialite style.

“But I don’t sell to Fortune 500” I hear you say, “I target Small Business”, the other end of the spectrum. Well small business is only selectively accessible via social.  At a conference last summer, where attendees were owners or senior managers of business that were for the most part under $25M, way less than half said they were using LinkedIn. I am a firm believer in the value and power of social and selling, but if they are not there, there is not much point. And it will not surprise you that all of them had telephones and e-mail.

Oh yes, referrals. There is no denying that a warm referral is like first prize, and an indirect referral, second prize. But cold calling usually shows up as third in terms of return on time and effort. Me, I like to bet safe and spread my risk across all three rather than betting on just one. Besides, not everyone is in a position to get or generate referrals. If you are in a more transactional sale, a new rep to the company, in a new territory, referrals will have limited utility early on. Sure you can generate some from existing “happy” clients, but you may find your probation and bank account run out first. You will need to incorporate all tools available, including the dreaded cold call.

Dreaded being the operative word. Most people who kill cold calling suck at it, makes them hate, makes them bitter. Like overweight people looking for that magic pill, instead of understanding that the magic pill combined with regular exercise and activity will always deliver a slimmer tummy, and healthier state. Sure the Atkins Diet worked for some, but it worked better for those who combined it with exercise.

I don’t like cold calling any more than the next person, but I do it, and I do social, and I do it well, or so I am told. But I don’t need to insult or undermine anyone in the process of executing my total approach to prospecting. Why do Socialites?

Kumbaya Time

The point is to use all tools available, not just one or some.  The only reason for camps, social killing cold calls is to sell social products.  And that’s one thing that has not changed, “Buyer Beware”.  Few sales people I have met can live off referrals only, or off their base. Not everybody is selling social media strategies, inbound programs, or content. Way more sales people have to sell in the trenches, selling traditional products and services, where social has a presence, referrals may play a role, but new business success includes cold calling.

Cold calling is not dead, it just smells funny when done wrong, but done right, it has the sweet smell of sales success. So let’s break down the walls, let’s get rid of the camps, stop thinking about killing or dead things, and make some calls.

That’s my two cents, what about you?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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