Sales_Cartoon_sales process

Never Let A Good Plan Get In The Way Of Success!2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In some sports and other skills based endeavours, for example figure skating, you can score points for artistic merit, and you also get scored on execution. Sales on the other hand is more like hockey or football (North American), while Artistic Merit is admired, execution is key, but the only measure that counts at the end, is the outcome, did we win, or, well really, what else is there? Execution is a means to an end, not an end on to itself, which is why teams and coaches use playbooks to help their teams execute better, but better execution without the results, i.e. winning a client and the revenue that leads to, does not lead to long term sales success.

Sales_Cartoon_sales processWhile I have always been a proponent of a good sales process, and having a playbook to assist and improve execution, let’s not lose sight of the overall objective: Revenue! I worry when I see sales managers and leaders put a greater emphasis on process and playbook than results. I have seen to many mistake one for the other, where sales people who delivered results were questioned about why they did not follow the process, rather than given credit for assessing the situation and acting.

You can see the opposite of this when sales people who continue to underperform, but are maintained (and rationalized) because they were “compliant”, followed the process. Don’t be that seller who continuously achieves also-ran status with high artistic merit, and low points for execution.

A process and playbook are meant to be dynamic and evolving, the only way to improve and to ensure that it is effective in the only thing that counts, Revenue, to continue to evolve it based on market realities. The market and out prospects continue to evolve, treating your playbook and process as though they are impervious to change will only lead to more work, and over time diminished results.

Playbooks are a collection of best practices, which requires we continue to test, examine, deploy, review and execute again. They are guidelines not divine declarations, every day your process does not evolve in some way, is a day you fall behind. We cringe when prospects say “because we have always done it that way”, yet we seem to be comfortable with allowing that thinking when it comes to playbooks and processes.

Too many sales managers and organization spend too much valuable time on pipeline reviews, a deep dive of ass covering. Instead they should be doing process and playbook reviews, after all what is in your pipeline is a result of how good your process is and how well it is executed. In fact, they should be doing Pipeline Previews, this allows my clients to look ahead, and understand which elements of their playbook and process will help move the sale forward, and which need to evolve to ensure they win the sale. Good execution of a bad process or playbook means nothing at the end of the day; may look good, but little more.

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Red closed door behind open doors, isolated on white background.

Closing Is Easy0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One of the most common things I hear from sellers is “Get me in front of the right guy, and I can close them”. Big deal, so could any monkey dressed in the right suit, that’s why the big money in B2B sales is made by those who can actually get in front of the right guy long before the closing monkeys show up, those who can OPEN.

Closing opportunities that were initiated by the buyer themselves is cute, but is it enough? When asked if they can meet or exceed quota relying strictly on deals that were initiated by the buyer, most admit the answer is no. In addition to those who come to them, they have to identify, qualify, prospect and engage with potential buyers who left on their own, would not have stayed out of the market in the current timeframe.

When A Tree Falls In The Forest

When you ask sales people or organizations, whether they could make or exceed quota by closing only opportunities initiated by the buyers themselves, and most admit, no. Meaning they have to go out and prospect buyers, who left to their own, would stay on the sidelines, and remain oblivious to any social activity, messaging, or any other on line activity. It is very much like the tree falling in the forest. If the buyer is not online, but instead in their businesses, their shops, trucks, or offices, doing their thing, then they can’t see or interact with anything you may dangle out there. This, by the way, represents about 70% of any defined market, if not more.

Sure, one alternative is to double down, increase your efforts to entice and succeed with those buyers who are interacting with what you’re dangling. But we also have to remember that these buyers are rarely monogamous. They are visiting all your competitors’ sites, and playing footsie with all they’re dangling. In a “good enough” world, you all begin to look the same at about the 67% – 70% marker in the journey, leaving price as the big differentiator.

Back To The Start

Openers, know how to identify and speak with those 70% who are entrenched on the sideline. They can shape the thinking of the buyer much more so than one could at the 67% marker. While any intelligent buyer will compare you to others, Openers know how to frame the opportunity in ways that will directly influence how those buyers will filter your competitors.

The risk these days is that everyone is so fixated on closing, they overlook the need for Openers, placing all their early cycle success in means that are not delivering. While many bought into the SDR wave, stats about SaaS sales success can be scary by any standard. One reason again is that the emphasis is not opening the opportunity, creating a base for success, and without that foundation, it is hard to build.

Unfortunately, the discussion has eroded into a question of style, social vs. traditional. But impact has been deeper, as many who shun traditional prospecting, say telephone prospecting or cold calling, also abandon the skill of opening, as that step is left entirely to the buyer. Time to focus on why we do something, not just the how. For real sellers, the why is about the Open.

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sell-more-konrath

More Sales, Less Time: by Jill Konrath – Book Review0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In her latest book, More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today’s Crazy-Busy Sellers, continues what one describe as her journey through sales. Starting by conquering “Big Companies”, then in “SNAP Selling” helping sellers understand and appreciate the world of “crazy-busy buyers”. In “Agile Selling” sellers then get a vision of how agility can help them improve sales. So it only makes sense that the next element to explore is time. It has always been a fact that the one thing A level sellers do differently is time. While everyone on the planet gets 24 hours at the strike of midnight, how they choose to use, invest or spend those 24 hours, is what differentiates them from the also-rans. And that is what Jill unpacks in this book, and in the process helping “Crazy-busy Sellers”.

As with her other works, Jill keeps things real, not only by dealing with the real challenges faced by sales professionals today, which is exactly where the book kicks off, with the challenge. But also, because she leverages her own direct experience. There is nothing worse than sales books where authors can’t relate their own experience, only share observation.

sell-more-konrathJill with this book puts you in the game, not in the stands, making it easier and more likely that the reader will succeed in implementing ideas in the book. Starting with the role of distraction in our day to day success. Just working through the “Distraction Quiz”, had me thinking not only about some of the sales teams I have worked with, but how I roll through my day. By exploring how, where and why our time gets “sucked”, we can then turn to recovering what Jill calls lost time.

My goal is not to give a play by play here, that’s best done by reading the book. I want to make sure that you go out and not just read this “manual for sales success”, in fact if you apply the many things you’ll learn through the course of reading it, it could also be viewed as life success, since your life runs on time. BTW, the appendixes are worth the price of the book alone, but given the rest of the book, they truly are a bonus.

What sets the book apart is the author and her ability to look at elements of sales that others usually miss, or misunderstand, and there by miss its significance to sales and your success. Jill breaks it down, backs it with both experience and research. For me this not only helped me look at some familiar things in a different way, but caused me to explore elements in greater detail, leading to further research; so, it becomes a platform for further learning, better selling.

The biggest challenge sales organizations, leaders, and front line reps face today is productivity, or a lack thereof, one of the core causes to that is where and how sales people and organizations Spend and Use time. Jill Knorath’s More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today’s Crazy-Busy Sellers, helps readers with that very core elements. Take the time to read it and benefit from it.

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Two IT spceialists working with a computer

Do Buyers Care?4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Last week I posted a piece on LinkedIn, based on discussions at CEB’s Sales & Marketing Thought Leader Roundtable this past August, titled “Why Do We Need Sales?”, Exploring the relationship between marketing and sales, and how it needs to evolve and change with relation to the markets they serve. The response on LinkedIn was positive, with the exception of one person who missed the concept of “metaphor” (you always need one to prove the rule). One response, from Leanne Hoagland-Smith, got me thinking about the issue from a different perspective.

Lee, pointed out that “97.7% of all US businesses having under 20 employees, marketing is truly part of the overall sales process.” That perspective is leads to a different question:

Does all this naval gazing and philosophising about sales and marketing role, contributions, hand-offs, and all the sleepless nights spent pondering the nuanced difference between account based marketing/selling vs. key account selling/marketing.

Picking up from Lee’s comment, it is probably true that a vast majority if not all those 97.7% don’t have the luxury of having two people for the roles, and more likely that the person in charge of sales and marketing is usually wearing a host of other functional hats. I am betting that they don’t set time aside to consider the fine points of the discussion. It is safe to say that that these companies, especially for the 23 million businesses that are “nonemployer businesses”, that they need sales, because without them they’d go bankrupt.

Perhaps the next question should be what do we need sales to do? Why? Because it seems that of the things that prevent sales in small companies, are similar to those things that get in the way in big companies. Sure, there are factors that are unique to big companies, unnecessary complexity created by their own companies vs. the market. You would think then if that barrier was removed, as it is in small companies (unless the owner’s nephew attended a social selling webinar), you would see an improvement in how they sell, but there isn’t. Bringing us back to execution.

The biggest barrier to sales success is not sales people’s inability or willingness to sing Kumbaya with their marketing cousins, it is their inability to execute those things that have to be done to win the deal. Which is an interesting parallel.

You often read about small business owners or entrepreneurs and the actions they are willing to take, often going over and above, to build their businesses and to compete with the big boys, even global players. As you explore it a bit further, what you can conclude is that one of the reasons small businesses succeed, is they don’t waste time worrying about things that don’t contribute, and spend their time doing everything they can to win. The lack of roles, and inability to pass the buck and duck accountability, leaves them with one choice, getting it done.

It would be interesting to get the buyer’s view on this, I suspect they would base their experience on the title on a business card, and more on the quality of the engagement, independent of whether it was sales, marketing, or the garage guard.

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no-rules

There Are No Rules In Sales3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

It’s hard not to laugh sometimes when I hear sales people say something like “Well, it’s supposed to go like this…”, or “I was told to do it that way, cause when we do that the prospects do…” But instead I am empathetic to their plight and innocence. Empathetic, because some manager or pundit told them that if they took a specific step or action, the prospect would react in some specific way. But we all know there are no rules in sales, especially rules that prospect will behave in any way just because of what we may do.

Now pundits have books to sell, and managers have their own agenda, a common one they share is their need for you as a sales rep to act on what they say, hard to do if they mentioned that there are no guarantees, usually because there are no rules.

Studies continue to show that less 20% of Sales Qualified Leads actually close, call that handshake to close, less than 20% – so even if pretended there are rules, they clearly don’t work if the measure is success. I suspect that that as long as sales continues to dependent on interaction between two or more people, rules are hard to articulate or impose.

no-rulesI keep hearing, buyers have changed, and one reason for that is their greater access to information, information about you, your competitors, and if you’re active on Facebook, where you had and what you had for dinner Friday night. You know what else they have access to, sales and sales related info. You think only sellers buy and read sales books; you think that sellers are the only ones who can subscribe to sales blogs and update. I bet more buyers read sales blogs than sellers who read blogs about purchasing, or role specific sites that speak to the different functions covered by the 5.4 people likely to be involved in your sale. There are no secrets.

With buyers who have gone through a few buying cycles, are likely more familiar with “Seller Personas” than many sellers are with buyer personas. In fact, I know buyers who place bets on which category of sales the next person to visit will wear. Based on what they see, they too adapt a persona, just to mess with and see where the seller goes with it. The only time they are genuine when dealing with a genuine individual.

To be genuine, you need to understand what you are doing well, here defined as things that people respond to, and what is not getting you traction with real buyers. By real, we mean, not exclusively price driven, and does indeed buy in a realistic timeframe from when you initially engaged. Since people differ, leading to differences in experience, your best shot is to commit to a formal process of reviewing all the opportunities that qualify to be active in your pipeline. As you gather and grow data, you will be able to bell curve the data and begin to see what works more often, and what doesn’t. As you approach similar situations, you will be able to use those things that have worked in similar situations in the past. Think of it as trial and error with the unfair advantage of data and experience. It will take a bit of work in the form of analysis, but given the apps and tools available today, gathering the inputs is easy. I guess the only rule may be that there are no silver bullets or codes to crack, just act-review-apply learning. A simple but effective rule.

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Taking a look at oneself

The Easiest Person To Lie To Is Yourself0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I hear a lot of talk in sales about lying, not so much about how they may lie to win business, but in broader terms. We have all heard the use of “buyers are liars”, or its popular cousin “sellers are liars”. While there are probably liars in both camps, undoubtedly in the same proportion and distribution as in the general population, and likely less among successful sales people.

Taking a look at oneselfWhile not limited to sales people, the worst lie sales people tell, are the ones they tell themselves. This is not to say that these people are dishonest, but rather, that they don’t want (or are unable) to deal with the reality facing them. One example was highlighted in a recent piece about pipelines, where sales people lie to themselves about the quality of individual opportunities, and by extension, they lie to themselves, their managers and companies about the state of the entire pipeline, and the ultimate revenue delivered. That lie then forces them to lie about the necessity to prospect, after all they tell themselves and their manager, “Just look all the things I have going on in my pipeline.”

One way to not mislead ones’ self is to have a realistic plan for your sales, both long term and short term. Beyond specific activities, this needs to include an overall annual territory plan; key account plans; prospecting plans; and most importantly at a minimum monthly activity plans, although it would not kill you to have one that continuously covers the next two weeks.

It is always a good idea, and learning opportunity to have your plan validated, if you don’t have a manager, share and review it with the owner or senior stakeholder. Once there is agreement that you have a workable plan, a plan that starts with your quota, and then working backwards from there, you can map out critical points, and based on your conversion rates, how many opportunities you should be working on at any given time. We use an Activity Calculator tool, that helps sellers and managers to optimize this process, but only if they A) know the inputs; B) don’t lie to themselves about the numbers they don’t track or know, (e-mail me if you’d like to try it and use it). This exercise will be hard for those who are already lying to themselves by proclaiming “sales is not a numbers game”. Given that quotas and conversions are numbers, and you’ll need those inputs to plan your success.

There are many other lies, one of my favourites is the wireless rep who had to drive a battery across town right at the time he was scheduled to prospect. You can just hear it now, “Ya, I know my pipeline is low, but hey I saved that account by delivering the battery real quick.” I’ll bet no quicker than a $25 taxi could have, while he found new clients to save. But avoiding an Activity he didn’t like called for a good lie.

Once you lie to yourself, it takes no extra effort to lie to others, and once you do that, it’s all downhill. I know it’s easy, but stop lying to yourself about your activities, pipeline or success. Save that for January, when you abandon your New Year’s resolution.

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the-perfect-close

The Perfect Close – Book Review0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Years ago, I read a stat that suggested most sales people do not read even one sales book a year, and that was before access to sales blogs and curators of blogs, and a host of other sources (of dubious quality). While some may put this off to laziness, it may also be that the “consumer”, here sales people, are more discerning than given credit, and realize that many of the books they ignore are indeed worth ignoring. Like many of their buyers, the discerning seller has grown weary of advice, observations and untested theory, from talking heads who not sold anything in years but their books. Sellers are looking for real world, practical executable insights, by real world practitioner. Which brings us to in The Perfect Close: The Secret to Closing Sales, by James Muir.

the-perfect-closeDon’t let the title fool you, this is not a book full of closing tricks like the Ben Franklin Close or The Columbo Close. It is a straight forward means and process that sellers of all products can implement, without having to resort to pressure or tricks. It focuses on moving the sale from stage to stage in a practical manner, and involves two questions. It can be put into practice by both seasoned veterans of the trade or new comers. The central reason for that is the author, and the fact that he spends his days in the real sales world.

James Muir is a professional sales trainer, author, speaker and coach, who has excelled both as a front line sales rep, and manager, shattering records in the process. One thing all successful people have said, is to model yourself after the most successful in the field. That is you opportunity with James and The Perfect Close. His guidance comes from experience and the school of hard knocks. James has an extensive background in healthcare where he has sold-to and spoken for the largest names in technology and healthcare including HCA, Tenet, Catholic Healthcare, Banner, Dell, IBM and others. Three decades of not just experience, but success, has given James a fresh and practical perspective on what works in real-life and what doesn’t. And now you can benefit directly from that in this book.

The Perfect Close represents the tested and proven best practices for winning in today’s competitive sales world. It picks up where many others leave off. It is easy to say that “traditional” closing techniques do not work and can harm your efforts, James outlines an alternative that works, one that makes your buyer feel educated when buying from you, see you as a true facilitator and consultant, and allow you remain on emotionally higher ground. The bonus is that the approach is a proven and repeatable process for advancing sales that can be used in any kind of sale at any given stage. All this will allow you to close more business, usually in a shorter timeframe.

Beyond the very practical advice and a practical path to execution, the book has something many of the pre-fab pundit produced books lack, passion. James’ passion for sales and helping others sell better comes through in every chapter. This makes it easy for the reader to absorb the solid methods presented. Don’t let the title fool you, this is not a gimmicky close book, it is about the steps sales professionals must take, right from the start, and along the way to win more customers. James outlines the steps it takes to win no matter what you sell, or how long you have been selling. He introduces the “why”, the “what”, and the “how” for each step along the journey. This book is fun to read. You’ll find yourself revisiting elements, each time improving your execution. Buy this book for yourself, your team, and if you have a friend who sells that you would like to see do better. Don’t take my word for it, buy it, read it, enjoy it, implement it, and profit from it!

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pp2

Stacking Your Productivity0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Earlier this week I posted about the how your sales stack stacks up, (couldn’t resist) How Productive Is Your Sales Stack? Exploring how many companies and sales leaders are actually contributing to their team’s’ lack of success by overloading them with “sales tools”, the “Stack”. While many are sold, and think they are buying “productivity tools”, they are in fact hindering productivity, revenue success and growth. While I have had some interesting feedback, the question comes up as to why this is, and why these folks would continue to invest in things clearly working against them.

To be clear, that is not an opinion, but supported by the data. Which interesting since many of these buyer, and certainly all the people who sell these tools point to data, but as with many things, leveraging data for success is a subjective exercise, allowing people to ignore those data points that don’t support their current opinion. Sorry to confuse the issue with facts.

While on the one hand there is no argument that sales have changed, especially when it comes to tools available for both sellers and buyers, but the motivation for buying those tools is fairly established. Sales leaders are looking productivity, more output from the same inputs, or same outputs with less resources. In the past when VP’s of sales needed more output, their rallying cry was “I need more headcount”, they would employ some Voodoo Economics, and voilà, come up with rationale for additional headcount. These days, they throw technology at it instead. Vendors are happy to supply the case studies, ROI calculators, white papers, and all the rationale one needs to at that next app to their stack.

pp2As they add things, they add complexity, complexity as presented Monday, impacts productivity negatively. What I have seen is that all too often, there is little adjustment to the sales process to integrate the efficiencies captured, it is not reflected in the work-flow or the execution path. It is a cycle that repeats itself again and again. This leads to the decision to add something else to the stack, that final missing magical piece that will change everything.

Going a bit deeper and further, the question remains, why do they need these additional tools, well, the most frequently reason, stated or not, is that their people won’t do things that need to be done if you are going to succeed in sales. No saying they can’t, many can, they won’t and don’t do specific things that are crucial to consistent execution and success. So the easiest thing to do is automate, get some technology that will do it instead. Good plan, clearly not working though.

Some things, like say dialers (sorry accelerators), make sense, but one I saw recently prompted sellers to offer the buyer other SKU’s that other similar buyers have bought with similar orders. Implementing this app, requires integration, new approvals, approval process, etc. Seems to me if McDonald’s can train their counter clerks to if you want fries with that shake, how hard should it be for your team to do that without an app?

In a day where everyone is talking relationships, the importance of people buy from people, and everything that goes with that, the obvious solution to get more sales and reduce complexity, and improve productivity is to invest in the human side of the equation.

Please don’t take this as being against automation, I love it, use it, and live off it. But automation for automation sake, or strictly as a fashion statement clearly does not add to productivity. The sales productivity Holy Grail will continue to elude those who focus on one side of the equation while ignoring the other. Just as in the old days adding body count without proper development, process adjustment, and the right tools did not lead to productivity gains. Nor will adding more and more technology while ignoring its impact on the balance of things, and the ability to of your team to execute. Next time instead of adding more technology, add more development for your sellers, have them sell not just babysit your stack. This will allow those comparing stacks now, to compare results in the future.

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surfing

Riding The Prospecting Wave0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There are many things that influence a sales cycle, some within our control, others not.  Often we spend too much time, energy and emotion worrying about the things we can’t control, while deliberately ignoring and not attending to things we can control, and would make a difference if we did.  Some elements or factors are not that back and white, while we may not control them, we can ride and leverage them to help us succeed.

One example of this maybe momentum, we can’t directly initiate or ensure momentum, there are things we can do to leverage momentum to help us sell.  As with other forms of black art, sales people can best leverage momentum by grounding their sales approach in routine and discipline, this in turn helps you put you in the right place more often to create and increase momentum when it is with you, and to neutralize it when it is against you.

According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, “40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.”  Start by reviewing the things you do every day and through the sales cycle.   The first challenge is recognizing the habits that are holding you back, and then replacing them with habits that leads to success.  Then it gets a bit harder, actually replacing bad habits with good, this can be harder than quitting smoking, as someone who has done both, I know this first hand.

Funny thing about momentum, it seems to follow your habits, the more of the right basics, the more other elements fall into place.  We see this time and time again, when we work with people through the initial 12 weeks of the Proactive Prospecting Program, participants adopt and execute new practices and disciplines, i.e. change their habits, resulting in more opportunities in their pipeline, and they see momentum going their way.  Whereas before, when their habits kept them from having a healthy pipeline filled with choice, momentum seemed to be always against them.

surfingSo here is a simple example.  I repeatedly see reps commit to say an hour of prospecting a day, not that much in the scheme of things, but I would argue one of the most important hours of the day.  Usually this is based on their specific time range based on their individual output from The Activity Calculator.  Some have the habit of doing a whole bunch of things related to prospecting, without ever actually prospecting, this includes research, prep, BS, you name it; at the end of the hour, few if any new prospects.  So while they have built momentum for “getting ready”, they have added to the momentum keeping them for success, cause their ain’t nothing new in their pipeline.

Even when they get an appointment, they see it as an opportunity (excuse) to stop.  What a waste!  If you set aside for prospecting, do it for an hour; most people get more relaxed after they succeed, in this case secure an opportunity, so why not keep going, and have momentum work for you.   Same can be said for the rest of their pipeline, as soon as they get a few opportunities to Discovery, they figure that good times are here to stay.  They are but only for those who have developed the habit of making prospecting part of their ongoing routine.  Maybe it’s just me, but I do my best prospecting when my pipeline is full, and do the worst when my pipeline is depleted.  I would rather face having an overflowing pipeline offering choice, than the desperation an empty pipeline brings.  By seizing momentum when things are going my way, usually as a result of habit and execution, I can ensure that my pipeline and opportunities will always be sufficient.  Just as the reality of no pipeline, no opportunities, bring a momentum that is hard to reverse.  The right habits consistently applied, will help you build you momentum and ride the wave.

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pearl

Prospecting For Pearls2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Regardless of what some might tell you, there are elements of sales that are quite organic, and as a result there are lessons we can take from nature. One is that not all things that lead to real value start smoothly or simply, but as the process unfolds, the end result can be both a thing of beauty and value. That’s one way I like to look at prospecting, specifically telephone prospecting, yes cold calling.

I like to think of a cold call, the very start of an engagement with a prospect, as being very much like the start of the process in the making of a pearl. There is no denying that the pearl starts out as an irritant, an intrusion from the outside; but then over time, ongoing interaction, things develop, and where the end result is a thing of beauty and value.

Let’s be straight, I am not suggesting that you set out to irritate anyone intentionally, but at times you may not have a choice if you are going to help and win new customers. This is especially so with prospect who are removed from the market, the Status Quo, who left to their own, are not actively engaged in or thinking about buying anything, beyond “social” reach; this is usually in excess of 70% of you target market. These prospects, who are not self-declared buyers, may perceive the initial approach as a nuisance or aggravation.

I get it, cold calls are irritating, even cold calls that executed well; but I would also argue, not for the reason most think and fear. Sure bad calls are bad no matter what, but when done right, the reality is that we are making the prospect face things they have been able to ignore and burry, and avoid dealing with. They know what they have is not just far from not perfect, but not even close to ideal. It is just that they have decided that “the pain of the same is less that the pain of the change”. Initiating that change, the catalyst that leads to action, not just denying or ignoring the issue, may not be pleasant to start.

Those who a) understand that, and b) understand how they will manage the buyer experience, have the greatest success in telephone prospecting. To be successful at cold calls you need to be able to talk to outcomes and changes that will benefit the buyer and deliver the business impacts they are looking to achieve. This starts with understanding what outcomes you have been able to others in similar roles, in similar type of environments.

If you call a small fleet operator and initiate the call peaking about pains and needs they have not acknowledged, your fate is sealed before the first ring. Yet this is what most sales people and pundits go for: pains, needs, problems, (solutions), efficiencies, and all the things that prospects have turned a deaf ear to for years. Instead, you can call and speak to how you can help them get more service calls in a given day, or how you can help them extend the life of their vehicles, and improve their return on assets, or how you can help them reduce fuel costs while allowing them to wear a “green” halo. These are things not tied to pain, but to outcomes, things people are always thinking about, and more willing to hear more about.

The best sellers understand that part of their job description is “disruptive marketing”, which includes the willingness and ability to take an interruption to a conversation, an irritating grain of sand to a pearl.

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