right rich

You Can Be Right And Rich0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

I am not sure where it originated, but we have all heard the question/expression: “Do you want to be right – or do you want to be rich?” A question many managers have asked, and fewer reps have answered. While there is no right or wrong answer, most managers tell me they prefer to hear ‘rich’ more so than ‘right’, you decide. There is a variation I deal with daily when working with sales people and how many, not all, but many approach the process.

While most professions seem to welcome the opportunity to be introduced to different methodologies, thought process, etc., it seems to be different. Again, many, not all, let’s go with the crowd favourite: 80/20, so about 80% of reps, actively resist training, development and improvement. Given that less than 60% of reps seem to make quota, you would think there may be a different view.

It seems that as soon as they hear that training is coming, many hear “they don’t think I know what I am doing, so they are bringing someone in to change things, worse, change me.” Whereas the outlook should be, I am good at what I do, this is an opportunity to do even better. What is even more profound is that the 20%, those who are consistently rocking it, have the opposite outlook, and frankly attitude, while participating in training and development; they bring curiosity, and embrace the new techniques and quickly assimilate them into their success.

It seems that many are looking for validation of what they are doing, and how they are doing it, while ignoring new elements they could benefit from. I have spoken to many peers who see a similar reaction, reps spending time and energy defending something that is not under attack, leaving one to wonder what’s going on. It seems many see it as an opportunity for a pissing contest than a way to make improvement to how they sell, and let’s face it, by extension make more sales and commissions.

Unfortunately, it is a contest with few winners. It’s not like we have a choice but to constantly improve how we sell. Next fiscal year will bring an increased quota, more competition, enhanced customer expectations and demands; the one thing you will not see an increase in is time. Whatever you delivered this year, you will need to deliver more next year, in no more time than this year. And while this may be as obvious as day, it seems to be lacking in the day to day, week to week planning of many reps.

I understand the realities of change, but at the core, what we sell is change, no matter the product or service. When you talk to most sellers the thing that frustrates them most is prospects who are close to change, guard and defend things as they are now. They are then approached by sales people, most of whom (80%), are doing things the same way as the other, and the very same way they did last year and the years before.

right richIf the name of the game is change, so if you want to “demo” anything, demo your ability to change to make improvements and win. But if your approach is no different this than last or two years ago, what are you communicating to your prospect beyond the words? “well he is saying some new shit, but he is selling the same way.” The incongruity is too big to miss. Can they help conclude that “They’re selling as they always have, the same must hold through for their product, I am safe to go with the same decision I made last time.”

On the other hand, if you approached things differently, you may get a different result. This is not to say that you need to make wholesale changes every time, but you need to change enough to lead a conversation you can both benefit from.

By not being defensive, and open to adding to, augmenting, enhancing and changing how you sell, you may find that you can be both right and rich.

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businessman on the beach

The “Dog Days” Of Sales0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There is no denying that summer brings a different rhythm, energy and cadence to sales. Vacations, kids out of school, longer sunnier days are but a few contributing factors. Unfortunately, this just feeds in to tribal notions about selling the summer; no doubt helped by prospects and customers using “summer” to hold sellers at bay and fend off making decisions.

No, It Can’t Wait

While on the surface some of the reasoning presented by prospects (and often accepted at face value by some reps), may sound reasonable, they are not. When looked at in the cold light of time and quota, one can never take their eye off the prize, or assume that time somehow ticks away differently on the summer. A simple litmus test next time a prospect brings up summer, is to explore how tolerant their company is of seasonal short falls or slackness in effort.

Seasonal Adjustments

businessman on the beachOne benefit that the relaxed pace of summer brings, is people’s propensity to do mid-year reviews and status checks, and then adjust course accordingly. If you have dealt with a specific vertical, or set of buyers, you could be in a position to add to this process. Being that you have had greater exposure to best practices, you are in a position to offer value without talking product or sales. Having seen how different people and organisations approach similar opportunities, you should always be in a position to introduce new lines of thinking or tools that will help them complete their task, or enhance the effort. More on another way this can be handy in a minute.

Given that the cast of players in decisions is increasing, used to be 5.4, now it’s 6.7. Given that some of the players will be on vacation, others may be reluctant to make decisions. But that should not prevent you from going full speed into education and influence mode, using their relax stated to introduce elements into the discussion that will rekindle their enthusiasm, revive their energy to levels when they started their journey.

With the pressure gauge down, you will find it easier step back and refocus on things that precipitated the journey. We have had experiences, where mid-way through the year the focus and energy dips to where the project is abandoned, which explains the almost a third of deals that go to no decision. This is your opportunity to not worry about the ultimate decision, and have them emotionally recommit and reinvest in the project, which is an opportunity to review and learn what has changed, what would they do differently if they were to start over again, or at least based on their journey to date.

You must remember that some of these will in fact get back on track this year, others, while they may see merit again, will slip into next year, better than no sale at all.

Taking advantage of the mood of summer also allows you to explore the dynamics internally, and those that will have to be in place to ensure a decision coming out of Labour Day. How and who makes the decision, who can and has killed projects in the past, and other important facts that are much better exchanged in the Dog Days Of Summer.

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Why You Want Sales To Be A Numbers Game0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

If you follow this blog you know that I do not understand or stand with those who say sales is not a numbers game.  While I agree that the focus should always be about quality over quantity, the reality is that no matter the quality of your prospects, you will need a given (minimum) quantity of quality sales in order to meet, or better yet, exceed quota.  Now, unless you are one of a privileged few, there is no getting away from the fact that your quota is a number!  You’re going to have to deal with, and use numbers to meet or exceed that all important number.

Numbers = Accountability

I find it amusing that many of the pundits who insist that sales is not a numbers game, will drone on for hours about conversion and conversion rate.  They are absolutely right, without those ‘numbers’ (conversion rates) it is not only hard to plan, but know where you are, so you can refine your plan and execute.  This may explain why so many sales people fail to achieve quota.

Knowing your key conversion numbers gives you the power to take charge of your success and be accountable for your results.

Can’t Measure Everything – But You Should Measure Some

Part of the problem is the lack of imagination displayed by many managers, sales leaders and enablement types.  They use numbers as a weapon, and each time they are at a loss to explain why things are the way they are, they add another measure to the mix, leading to their people working the numbers rather than the sale.  The fix is in focusing on key numbers that help one plan an improvement plan that will the rep execute and win sales, not just hot arbitrary and meaningless numbers.

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What to Measure

I find four numbers give you the opportunity to continuously leverage them to improve your sales approach and execution, and by extension your success.

  1. Deal size
  2. Proposal to Close
  3. Discovery to Proposal
  4. Initial meeting (live or virtual) to Discovery

To change any of the above, you will need to develop a strategy for change and improvement.  As you implement the plan, you will be able to measure and review, and make changes based on the results.  Numbers 1 & 4, will require you to change your territory and account planning, while challenging who you prospect and how.  Number 3 & 4, forces you to examine and how well you can engage and help the client articulate how you can help and deliver value, and maintain focus, if not urgency.

These are tip of the iceberg things, the devil is in the detail, and the execution.  We plug these into a proprietary tool that helps our clients develop improvement plans for their reps, based on real world inputs.  This in turn allows them to plan specific improvement plans for individual reps, while still supporting a standard sales process.  And what makes it work are the numbers.

Failing to focus on numbers in sales, always results in the number on your commission check decline or dwindle; but you don’t care cause sales is not a numbers game, and neither is your mortgage, right?

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girl by phone

Objections – Cause – Effect – Resolution2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Telephone prospecting is hard, in fact so hard that most people spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy trying to avoid it. What they are really trying to avoid is the rejection part of the call, “The Objection”. That’s why alternate means of engagement have such a great appeal for the masses (washed or unwashed, you decide), whatever your view of social selling, there is no direct rejection. Somehow, some sellers can differentiate and compartmentalize rejection from being ignored; they may not blow you off in a direct way, they just pretend you’re not there. The net effect is the same, no engagement, no prospect.

The problem for many would-be tele-prospectors is that they see the objection as being separate from the rest of the call. They love to brag about their company and product early in the call, (mistake), and are surprised when the voice on the other end say, “no interest”. What they fail to understand is that their intro, the start of the talk track (or script for you traditionalists), has a direct impact on the response.

Nothing to do with the school of sales one is from, and everything thing to do with human nature. The good news is that both parties in this drama are human, giving us ways to deal with this in a way that yields results for both. How we start a conversation directly dictates what kind of response we get. For example, if a parent scolds a child for being late, the child will quietly take in the words, but not the message, offering a meek, if any response at all. Alternatively, if the parent took the opportunity to present a life lesson, taking a conversant tone and carefully selected words, the child is much more likely to take in the message, leading to entirely different (better) reaction and response, making them more open and engaged.

girl by phoneSo while you will never be able to avoid objections in telephone prospecting, or being ignored in other forms of prospecting, you can do things to limit the number of potential objections, and keeping objections to predictable and manageable set. You can then practice how to take away those most common objections that result from your well and purposefully crafted introduction.

Remember, the person you’re calling has literally heard all this before, thousands of times. As soon as they hear a voice buzzing on about “leading provider”, “cutting edge solution”, or any set of words immediately followed by “awesome”, the prospect starts desperately search for their fly swatter, and start flinging objections at the buzzing sound emanating from their phone.

The logical conclusion is that to avoid fatal and unpredictable objections, we need to change what we talk about at the top of the call. Namely, things the prospect was likely thinking about before you interrupted their day. If that interruption is in line with what they were focused on, you will still get an objection, after all, you are an interruption, but it is likely to be one of a handful, literally 5, objections. Focus on their objectives and the impacts you have delivered for others with similar objectives, and you will get the predictable response, allowing you to take away that objection in a predictable fashion that will lead to a conversation, which is the first step in engagement.

Once you know the cause, you can resolve it, and change the outcome.

Learn the specifics of handling the most common prospecting objections:

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Time questions concept as a group of floating clocks and timepieces shaped as a question mark as a metaphor for deadline or business schedule confusion or corporate appointment information as a 3D illustration.

The Best Sellers Are Cheaters0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

You can slice it six ways from Sunday, the best sales people are the ones who maximize and do most with their time. Success in sales is all about Execution – everything else being just talk, and given that all of us are allocated 24 hours at the stroke of midnight, what and how one choses to execute becomes a critical difference. Execution takes time, a non-renewable resource, finding ways to stretch and bend that time in your favour is critical; and doing that will usually involve cheating. Not cheating like when a company cheats a rep out commissions, or by deceit, but cheat as in:

“to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting – “cheat death” (Merriam-Webster)
I would suggest the sales equivalent being time – “cheat time”

To begin with, top sellers spend much less time talking, and a great deal more time executing. That does not mean that they get everything right, but since they spend more time doing than, thinking, planning or talking, they are bound to get more things right. More importantly, they will have more mistakes to review and learn from. A big unspoken consequence to waiting for perfection before taking action is you are not making enough mistakes to learn from, and as the end of the month quarter or year draws near, we revert back to doing things they way we always have, the same way that leads to almost half of B2B reps missing quota.

In order to ensure that our clients get maximum bang for their training dollars, we put a great deal of focus and effort on adoption, changing people’s habits. No matter how great a sales methodology you introduce, if you don’t change the habits of the team you are working with, you will not change the way they sell. The book of the last trainer is clearly on display on the shelf of each rep, just absent from the way they execute, because their habits remain the same, they are just applied using a different story.

In this process, we work closely with teams over time, and have come to see specific things recur time and time again across different teams. One being how they value and deal with time, not just their own, but that of the buyer.

Time Question Concept

Using our Activity Calculator, each rep calculates approximately what percentage of their time they have to allocate to high value activities across a period of time, ideally a sales cycle, or if we have to a week or month. (I really prefer sales cycle, but many sales people don’t know how long their sales cycle is, their default answer is “Depends”) Once a rep makes a commitment to how much time they will allocate to critical sales activities, the challenge is to stick to it.

The best sellers cheat time by ensuring that they complete the most important high value activities. Their view is that the most important thing is attaining quota, so they cheat by ensuring those things that drive quota get done before and above all other things. The less successful sellers, cheat themselves by doing everything but what drives their quota. They find it more important to do things their customer support or product people can and are paid to do, eating up valuable time, eating away at their ability to win.

I understand the need to be customer focused, which is exactly why your company hired support teams better equipped to do that than you; they hired you to sell. So stop cheating yourself and your customer, yes, by stepping between them and the right resource you not only risk resolution, but risk losing customers as a result.

So if you’re gonna cheat, do it in a way that helps your customers, company, and you; go out and sell, don’t waste time on things that don’t lead to revenue.

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Win lose draw dice

Let’s Make A Decision!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

We’ve all been there, a real-life version of the popular game show. You’ve done your work, and have arrived at that final fateful stage of the sales.

Three possibilities, three doors:

  1. A positive Decision
  2. A negative Decision
  3. No Decision

While it is clear which door the individual sales person want, the question is how to get that. Much of that will depend on the state of the buyer and their organization at the time of decision. Broadly speaking three sates: 1) Actively looking, those people out there consuming all the content you dangle in front of them as they willingly march down their buying journey. You know all about these folks, 57% of the way… blah blah blah. They know what they want, why, and they are geared to get it. 2) Passively looking, they know they have to make a purchase, but they are not driven by the same urgency as their Active cousins. The things these two groups have in common include that they know they have to make a purchase, one now, the other sometime in the next 12 to 18 months. The other, is that they are both at the point of choosing the product, and will most likely end up with doors number 1 or 2. The other thing to consider is that these two groups make up less than 30% of the over target market.

But if you are only selling to this small group of buyers, an informed and opinionated set of buyers, you are most likely facing a decision based on price, features, or both. The good thing is that while you may not like the decision, at least you’ll get one.

What about the remaining 70%, the Status Quo, the complacent, set in their way, completely oblivious and removed from the market? Unlike Active or passive buyers, these people are not even thinking of playing, never mind deciding. Which is one of the key factors behind the high and rising number of deals that end up behind door number 3, no decision! According to sources some 30% of opportunities going into the top of your funnel will end in no decision. Take out the Active and Passive folks, who will make a decision, even when not in our favour, this means about half of deals initiated with Status Quo buyers go nowhere. Not the best use of time or resources.

While there a host of reason for this, but I think the key is what we are selling these folks. Because most sellers are practiced at selling to Folks who have made the decision to act, and are now down to selecting a product. Status Quo people are much further back down the road, they need to be convinced that a change is necessary. When we are successful at doing that, then they enter the product, or if you like, the solution, selection phase. The reason half don’t make a product decision is we were not successful at showing them why they need to leave the safety and warmth of their current means of doing things. Without that, they don’t need to decide on a product, feature, price or any of the common features of a buyer initiated and driven sale. Active and Passive buyers do most of the lifting, they just need someone to place an order with once they made up their mind.

Win lose draw diceSuccess with getting Status Quo buyers rests in being able to engage them on how they do things now, how that aligns with or detracts from their objectives. If we fail to get them to understand that there is another way to achieve those objectives, there is no need for a product decision.

Forget what makes you successful in winning what’s behind doors number 1 & 2, to win what’s behind door number 3, you need to create a reason for them to have to decide, this is about everything but the product. Active and Passive buyers have made the decision to decide on their own, leaving the sellers who service them no opportunity to exercise by sales people who are only selling to these buyers. Frankly a challenge for many inbound types, and others.

Adding to the challenge is that as soon as we go “product” with these buyers, they turn off, for them that is putting the cart way, way ahead of the horse. Your options need to look to their internal processes, and how those are enabling or preventing them from achieving current objectives, or objectives you can get them to adopt. The half of Status Quo buyers who choose not to make a decision, are not rejecting your product, but your inability to persuade based on anything other than product.

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Clouds in shape of question marks

Answers Are Only As Good As The Question0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Communication, which at the core selling/buying is, will always be a mutual exercise, which why monologues work well in theater, but not in delivering revenue or quota. As such, a bit of forethought and focusing on how you’ll choreograph the sales are important. Which is why it is that much more noticeable to all, including buyers, when the effort is just not there in how sellers choose to engage and carry on a sales interview or conversation.

“I may make you feel but I can’t make you think”

Sellers need to put more effort into planning their interactions with prospects than many do. This needs to be on two levels, first the areas or topics they choose focus on, second the kind of questions they ask. Sellers forget that their prospect is talking to a range of people about the purchase they are about to make. If the questions I ask, the areas I choose to explore and drill down on, are no different than the three or four or eight other vendors they are speaking with, then the selection and decision will go back to the same old, usually the lowest common denominator, moderated by price (the lowest price).

Areas of Focus – Too often too many sellers start from the erroneous assumption that their buyer has their act together, know exactly what they want, and all that is left is to pick a product. That is a false premise, and as such leads to longer sales cycles and missed sales. While anecdotally we always knew that buyers are not as together as they sometimes appear, or sellers believe, the data is now in. Some will see this as good news, allowing them as sellers to bring more value to the conversation by helping buyers in ways much more meaningful than features and price. Sellers have the benefit of having worked with many buyers with similar experiences, allowing the perceptive ones to see themselves not as product reps, but conduits to others’ experiences, good and bad. The value they can bring is in helping buyers better understand what they are dealing with, and their best option, not options, in addressing those specifics.

Even if a prospect has advanced past the stage of deciding what they want to do and how, sellers benefit from starting “back” there, before moving to asking questions about how they plan to address things, i.e. product. Retracing a little, will show them as being different, and will also help the seller understand the buyer’s thought process, which may allow for more unique input, and to demonstrate they are different and truly “buyer centric”, by not jumping to product right away.

What we Ask – The kind of question go a long are key. You have to assume that you are the fifth sales person they spoke to that day; how will you make a different impression than the four who went before you?

If you ask the same as them, what will they base their selection on? If you reinforce perceptions rather than challenge them, are you not telling the buyer to base it on price and emotion?  Your questions are not just about the response, they need to get them to think, think beyond where they are now, and where the other sellers have taken them.

If they can answer your question without thinking, you’re in trouble! But many sellers I meet are afraid of asking questions that put the prospect on the spot. Remember the goal here is not to embarrass the prospect, but to help  them really think through the issue before they commit, whether they commit to you or another. I worked with one sales pundit who felt asking the prospect “Why” questions were not cricket as it may stump the buyer. Well if you can “stump” the buyer, it is evidence that they have not thought things through, and you are doing them a favour.

Getting an answer is easy, getting an answer that moves the process forward in a way that helps buyers is not. Which why the answers can only be as good or productive as the questions.

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Young businessman in formal wear and hat with pan in hands

Cooking With Sales2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I am not sure if it truly qualifies as serendipity, but I had a couple of experiences one day recently that confirmed some sales basics that we choose to ignore at times.  After leaving a meeting, I heard an interesting report and discussion on CBC Radio.  They were looking at the cooking and eating habits of Canadians.  A key point was that Canadians spend more time watching cooking shows on TV, be it specialized networks or mainstream, than they do cooking.  Wow.  They went on to explain that more Canadians are eating out at restaurants, and the impact of that on our health (not so good), the economic impacts, good for restaurants, not good for Canadians.  While they were not knocking restaurants, it was more about balance and understanding around how and what we eat.

This was on the heels of a revealing meeting I just left with a VP of Sales and her Director of Business Development.  As the topic turned to sales methodology, the VP was very curious and focused on social selling.  She was up to date on all the current “insights” from all the usual socialites.  When we got around to conversion rates, she could not immediately talk about what the current metrics were, and rightfully deferred to the BD Director, who leading the BDR team.  He did know the numbers, and was honest enough to admit that they were not where they needed to be to drive the company’s objectives.

He then offered an unsolicited observation that brought a bit of tension to the conversation.  “I think they spend too much time on social searching and knowing all there is to know, not enough time reaching out.  They need to make more and better calls.”  Not surprising, and a great opportunity to present some real insights on successful prospecting, especially where BDR’s primary function is to work the phone to drive engagement from leads gathered via social, inbound, and lists procured in so many ways.  By the time I left there was middle ground, and agreement about the balance they need to create to drive results, and everyone focused on the need leverage all available avenues to a conversation, not waste valuable time and energy positioning one vs. the other.  (A uniquely social quality).

Much like the state of Canadian’s culinary habits, things in sales have gotten a bit off centre, and sales leaders, be they pundits or VP’s need to step back and see what best meets their objectives.  I understand that it may be easier to place all your bets on one horse, and then do your best to drive it.  But in sales, as with diet, a balanced approach based on what you, or more importantly your buyer is trying to achieve will usually lead to greater results, even if not always the easiest; but we get paid to make it happen, not to make it easy.  Successful leaders implement processes that encompass all elements required to deliver the best long term outcomes for all parties, be they nutritional, or financial.

The approach one takes needs to be driven by the outcomes they are trying to achieve not personal bias, fears, or by following only those pundits that reinforce those fears.  Whatever method or style of selling you adopt should be based on what works for the buyers, not what sounds good to you only.  The experts you follow should be able to demonstrate how it works, and why it meets your specific objectives, not just because it is in their book.

As one former White House chef said of his book, it is easier and more profitable to talk and write about cooking than cooking.  Don’t get caught doing more socializing than selling.

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Make you own path

Objections Are Only Negative IF You Allow Them To Be4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Not everything prospects say that does not align or agree with your view is an objection, and more importantly, you shouldn’t react to everything as if it was. On the other hand, you also know that there will be some specific objections that are going to come up, and how one deals with that often separates the high performers from the also-rans.

One advantage of reviewing deals, as we do with our 360 Degree Deal View, is that you become much more aware hot how things turned out, why they turned out that way, and what you need to change in your approach to change the results in your favour.

As you continue to make the review central to sales approach you will also better understand which “objections” tend to come up at specific points in the cycle, and you see the impact those objections and how you handle them, have on the turn out.

As you begin to accumulate data, you will be in a much better position to know which are real objections, potentially derailing the deal, and which are not objections, as much as say questions the buyer has that are not well articulated, the prospect thinking out loud, almost reassuring themselves in the process. Other times, especially when the individual you are dealing with is part of a buying group or committee, they think through the reaction they anticipate from others on the team, and as they work through them, they may come across as an objection.

Some objections/questions, especially when you know when and where they will appear, are actually good. Yes, good, because as you get better at anticipating them, you can begin to leverage your response to move the sale forward further than if the objection had not come up. If you know that most new buyers don’t fully understand how something works, handling their objection and giving them knowledge goes much further to lower resistance than if they had not come up. Knowing this, you can steer the conversation in a way that almost forces the objection to come up. When it does, look at it like a fastball down the middle, you just need to hit it out of the park.

Make you own pathKnowing which objections/questions are going to come and when, allow you to elevate your status as a subject matter expert. Again, with the most common objections, some are best when left to the prospect to throw out, but some you should put out before the prospect does. Doing this will right off the top confirm that you are a pro and have does this before, validating your status, and allowing you to set expectations. While most of the also-rans try to avoid or hide from specific hard objections, thanking god when they don’t come up.

But you know the bridge will have to be crossed if you are going to make the sale. It has come up in every deal, when managed well, you have won, and when mismanaged you’ve lost. With that reality, it best to get it out, and over with. Timing is crucial, but again, with reviews you can quickly know when to put the objection out there before they do. It does not have to hard or dramatic. It can be as simple as “in my experience, most prospects are thinking about (insert topic), which makes sense in light of the facts, so here is what you need to know/consider/explore/change….”

Objections are only negative when you allow them to be.

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Boss choosing employee

Why Make The Call2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One reason many give me for not wanting to prospect, is the fact that fewer people are answering their phones, and as a result it is not as effective as other forms of prospecting. Part of that is dictated by what state or mode the buyer is in, Actively Looking buyers may be more prone to a call, while, Status Quo buyers, are less likely to answer or engage. But I believe the conclusion many draw from this, i.e. “telephone prospecting is ineffective”, is flat out wrong.

First having a single form of approaching potential prospects, especially “not interested” buyers like Status Quo, is just stupid. Anyone that tells you that their chosen means of reaching prospects is just stupid. There are as many effective means as there are people; not only that, but individuals’ response/reaction to approaches will vary based on specific circumstances. So having one method, be that strictly phone work, strictly referral, or strictly social, is just asking for failure. The best prospectors, who are usually the best sellers, know that their prospecting toolkit has to have as many tools as possible rather than limited to one. For example, I worked with one executive who when traveling would be more likely to respond to texts, leaving e-mail and voice mail for the hotels in the evening, while back at the office he would be much more likely to answer the phone, and hit e-mail regularly.

Now it is true that less people are answering their calls as they come in, I have not seen anyone, even the most social of sellers, present any data that suggests that people check their voice mails less. Meaning a good voice mail can still have an impact, and lead to a return call. I regularly get 40% – 50% of messages I leave, returned in about 72 hours. So don’t blame the technology, blame the user.

But let’s dial things back a little, and let’s for a moment accept a complete falsehood many sellers have bought into: “voice mails do not get returned”, there is still merit to leaving a voice mail, and making the call. Why – touch-points.

Based on different inputs, it can take anywhere from 8 – 12 touch-points to get a response from a prospect. (BTW – no guarantee that the response will be positive, we still have to work to get the appointment even when they respond). In that case, the voice mail, even when not returned, still serves a purpose. Combined with other means of communication, each touch-point compounds the ones that came before it and improve your chances of speaking to the prospects.

The same executive referenced above also shared that he specifically ignores the first three attempts by sellers, because he knows most will fall away after the first three touch-points, and the ones who really want to speak to him will continue to demonstrate that and their creativeness as they deliver the 4th, 6th or 9th touch-point.

Work out your pursuit plan, and keep a couple of things in mind. Mix things up, you have access to office phone, mobile phone, text, snail mail, LinkedIn, and more, the only shortage to variety is your imagination. Do it frequently and consistently, meaning don’t wait a week after your initial touch-point, a couple days is good. Go for eight yes 8, touch-points in the course of two business weeks. If you find that harsh, start by adding one more touch-point to your current weekly routine; in a few weeks add one more, and so on till you hit your minimum 8. (See example).

Cadence 1

Yes phone work has changed, and so should you, make the call, just know why.

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