Archive for the ‘Sales Prospecting’ Category
Salespeople invest a lot of time lighting up sales prospects and yet it appears many are hiding those sales leads. We know this to be true given how few times on average salespeople follow-up with new sales leads.
44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)
Does it make sense to do all that work especially if you are a SMB owner in a firm of fewer than 20 employees or a salesperson employed in a similar SMB? How much time and time is money is wasted?
Sales prospecting is truly about providing light to people who are in the dark about:
- Your firm
- Your solution
Additionally, these sales prospects may also be in the dark about their own problems. Many in business cannot separate the symptoms from the real problems. This becomes a competitive advantage for top sales performers.
Sometimes all those sales leads become stuck in the middle of the sales funnel or what I prefer the sales tunnel. This is also akin to putting them under a bushel basket because in the middle of the tunnel it is very dark. What helps to keep flowing through the sales tunnel is a proactive contact process. A good CRM like Pipeliner CRM works with SMB firms as it does not require a CRM administrator saving the SMB thousands of dollars in salary and benefits.
When salespeople understand their marketing is about shining a light, their light, they are able to attract sales prospects to them. Then they understand the must keep this light shining until the sales prospects buy.
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How many times have you heard salespeople say “I help” when engaged in sales prospecting at B2B events? Then they go on and on and on about how they help. When words are overused, they are like water off a duck’s back. To increase sales means you must differentiate yourself from your competition and all the other salespeople. This differentiation starts with finding new sales behaviors.
When we examine the word help, there is an implication that the other person is helpless otherwise why would you be offering to help.? This implication may be subtly unconscious, but it is present nonetheless.
Now the word facilitate creates no implication of helplessness. Instead from its Latin origin and French revision the word means to render easy. Now in sales aren’t we supposed to make the sales conversations easy, to render them down for better understanding?
Even though help is a word that carries positive emotions so does the word facilitate. The advantage again to thinking, speaking and writing the word facilitate is two-fold:
- Not heard so differentiates you from everyone else
- Does not imply subconsciously the other person is helpless
Also I believe there are two others advantages, though somewhat more subtle. Since facilitate is to make easy, then it creates a top of mind awareness on the part of the seller to be more conscious of non-verbal communications as well as to his or her own communication style. Tools such as DISC can provide additional insight as how to better communicate.
The fourth advantage is emotional intelligence. The word facilitate I believe has greater emotional intelligence because it does not make a subconscious judgment of helplessness.
The words we speak, think and write are a window to how others observes our sales behaviors. To increase sales in the next year or quarter may require for us to look at our own sales behaviors and what actions we may wish to take to secure those desired sales results.
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Top sales performers who I know are the least comfortable people. They are always going beyond their comfort zones, stretching themselves especially when it comes to sales prospecting.
I was reminded of this consistent characteristic when I read Mike Weinberg’s posting, Stop Over Analyzing Your List and Get in Front of Your Strategic Target Prospects Now!. Mike explained how many salespeople waste time over analyzing their sales leads instead of getting our and having sales conversations with strategic target prospects.
This over analysis is really a disguised comfort behavior. These salespeople wrap themselves in a comfort blanket of data and are lulled into non sales activity.
The other key point in Mike’s posting is in the title “strategic target prospects.” Numerous salespeople do not have a crystal clear definition of their ideal customer. Nor is this definition aligned to any strategic organizational goals.
Strategic comes from the word strategy. The origins of the word strategy are Greek and mean for a general to deceive his enemies. Staying in the office analyzing a list is not strategic.
Sometimes there is confusion between an ideal customer and a qualified sales lead. With most sales leads not being ready to buy, going into analysis paralysis only helps to explain why many salespeople do not meet their sales goals. Being behind a desk is far more comfortable that potentially facing a ‘No” or a “Not now.”
There is an old African proverb about how every morning a gazelle wakes up and knows it must outrun the fastest lion. The lion wakes up knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle. So come morning it does not matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion. What matter is you must start running.
When you are comfortable, you aren’t running. You are snuggled in the blanket of the status quo. If you want to increase sales, then get up, get out and start meeting your strategic target prospects as Mike calls them. Who knows you actually may enjoy this spurt of energy and eventually join the ranks of those top sales performers as well.Share on Facebook
As we are in the process of selling our home, one of the first actions I take when I receive outreach from a realtor is to go to LinkedIn. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am as to how many realtors are ignoring LinkedIn specific to sales prospecting and sales opportunities.
Now many of these realtors have Facebook pages. And that is not a bad sales prospecting strategy. However given so many B2B professionals are on LinkedIn, here is an opportunity to learn potentially a little more about your sales lead especially if he or she is selling a high worth home.
Top sales performers do their homework when engaged in sales prospecting. They know the more they know the greater likelihood they will convert those sales opportunities into actual earned sales.
Also having an extensive network is also essential within sales regardless of industry. People buy from people they know and trust. An extensive network provides additional sales referrals and ongoing sales leads.
For example in speaking with the receptionist of my dentist, I shared we were moving. She asked if my husband was a veteran because one of the dentist’s patients was a realtor who mentioned she is now working with veterans. I received the realtor’s name and number.
Upon returning home, my first action was to look her up in LinkedIn. She had less than 100 contacts and a weak profile. I was pleased to see she had a professional picture.
Then I called the realtor. We talked and I learned she had sold homes in the $250,000 to $750,000 price range. If she is selling homes in that price range, there is a good chance the homeowner is on LinkedIn. To ignore LinkedIn she among many other realtors is missing sales opportunities.
The real estate marketing continues to evolve. Sales prospecting for realtors is also evolving. To not take advantage of all sales prospecting channels is foolhardy and will work against the goal to increase sales.Share on Facebook
Being in sales for over 40 years, I am continually surprised by the SMB salespeople who tell me they are in sales and want to sell. Yet upon questioning, I hear all these self-imposed, self justification excuses as to why they are not achieving their sales goals. These years of sales experience afford me the opportunity to quickly tell if a salesperson really knows:
- The sales process
- Relationship selling
- Social selling
- Marketing through social media and B2B networking event
How can I tell? Because I listen for some of these excuses:
- I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile in the last six months
- I am not on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- I am in business development not sales
- I don’t market myself, that’s for the SMB owner to do
- I am on LinkedIn, but don’t use it
- I’m not prospecting for sales leads because I should receive them from the SMB owner, sales manager or website
- My sales skills are great
- I am not getting any sales referrals
- I have under 500 contacts on LinkedIn
- I don’t know my inventory (real estate, retail associates, etc.)
- I hadn’t heard that about my industry (current industry trends)
- I don’t have time to answer the phone
- I am too busy to respond to emails
- I’m not seeking low hanging fruit (easier sales)
- I really want to increase sales, but…
If you are in sales and want to increase sales, then listen to your own excuses.
Schedule a phone call by CLICKING HERE with Leanne Hoagland-Smith to discuss what is currently limiting your sales success and receive a FREE self-assessment.Share on Facebook
How do you tell a potentially clueless or desperate LinkedIn member? One potential identifier is a prospecting email sent by a professional colleague from over a 1,000 miles away to attend his workshop for executives just like you. Gee, you think he would have known better. Of course with the extensive sales research regarding prospecting on LinkedIn, maybe he thought he could take a short-cut?
Additionally what your LinkedIn email message says reveals a lot about your overall sales process (marketing, selling and keeping). For example in a more recent LinkedIn email here is the first line:
“It may have been a while since we have connected but that does not mean I have not been thinking of you in some way!”
Really if this was true, why not pick up the phone and give me a call? Even if I believed this first statement, the rest of the email shows me this is a 100% sales pitch. The email continues:
I have spent the better part of the last year focused on some of the biggest challenges that middle market businesses face on a regular basis and thought the result of that effort might interest you or I would appreciate your introducing this e-mail to someone that would benefit.
Given I am not this person’s target market, he thought his sales pitch would be of interest or I would willingly share it with my contacts. I do believe in developing communities to expand one’s marketing efforts.
Using LinkedIn email in this manner is probably not the best tactic. Additionally, we belong in a LinkedIn group which would have been a much better vehicle to share this event.
LinkedIn is a great marketing tool to prospect. As in the use of any tool, it must be used continually honed and used wisely.Share on Facebook
Do you remember the song “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?” Many SMB owners and sales professionals may have this as their theme song because they are sales prospecting in all the wrong places. These three gaps appear quite frequently.
Part of the reason for this misdirected activity is the lack of an ideal customer. This profile is the result of some intensive research that developed from the strategic plan. I have found “plan” as a verb is a four letter dirty word within the SMB marketplace.
The inability to have an ideal customer creates a Captain Wing It behavior. Actions are sprayed all over the place with a prayer that something sticks. This is reminiscent of the line “looking for love in too many places.”
#2 – Bad or Outdated Business Model Gap
Another reason is a bad or outdated business model. With the marketplace continually changing, so must business models adapt to these changes.
#3 – Dismal Marketing Messages Gap
Then there is the dismal marketing messages within their sales prospecting. These crazy busy people focus on the how of the solutions (products or services) being delivered and not the what (the results of those solutions).
Additionally, these messages are not emotionally compelling and usually lack a call to action.
This past week I delivered a 90 minute seminar to executive coaches and consultants on some key aspects within the book To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink. One of the activities was the one word sales equity. All participants were asked to share what they do in one word. This is not an easy activity.
- When you think of yourself in your current business role what one word comes to mind?
- When you want sales leads to think of you in just word word?
I encouraged those in attendance to return to their purpose and values statements to see if there was any one word.
Sales prospecting is a process that begins within the strategic plan. This process or the steps within the process may change as the market evolves. Technology has prompted many of those changes such as email, texting to content marketing. If you want to increase sales, then revisit your sales prospecting and see where you may have any of these gaps.Share on Facebook
One would think disqualifying sales leads would be something most salespeople would do especially if they want sales success. However from my experience with SMB owners and sales professionals, this simple step of sales lead disqualification as well as sales leads qualification is one often overlooked.
Most of the reason for not qualifying sales leads returns to the lack of a strategic plan. What happens is these hard working business professionals work even harder and set themselves up for even greater falls.
When there is crystal clarity around the ideal customer, then disqualifying sales leads is much easier. When I wrote Be the Red Jacket, I shared these 4 qualifying or disqualifying criteria depending upon one’s perspective.
- Is the person the actual decision maker? Does he or she have the authority to write the check?
- Is there a want to need? What problem must be solved that others may not have solved or better yet identified?
- Is there an allocated budget? Many SMBs have money. The real question returns to having dollars allocated to solve the solution.
- Is there urgency to take action? Can you build a case for taking action right now instead of later?
Since I wrote that book, I realized there is a fifth criterion:
- Is there commitment to take action? What I have learned is sometimes all of the previous criteria are present, but the person does not have the commitment, the resolve to take action. Change is hard.
When a salesperson adopts an understanding about disqualifying sales leads, this allows him or her to work both smarter and harder simultaneously. He or she is honing their sales skills in asking the right questions. Additionally, this is a sales strategy that works to ensure sales success because now the salesperson is working with the right customer and not one that is high maintenance.Share on Facebook
Sales leads happen in all seasons. Without sales leads, sales revenue is not generated to pay the vendors, the employees, the overhead, the government and most importantly you, the SMB owner. So what type of sales leads are you hunting?
There are 4 types of sales. First there are the rabbits. Rabbits are small sales and can found almost anywhere during the average course of a day. They are quick and easy, but last for only one meal or a day. Constant effort must be expended to keep the cash box full.
Next there are deer. These sales are seen once a week. Being a little larger, they fill the your cash register for a week or two.
If you want a larger sale that may last a month, you kill a bear. These sales take a little longer to track and kill because bear sightings are not as frequent as deer or rabbits.
The real big sales are elephants. Killing an elephant may only happen yearly because they are elusive animals and are not easily killed because of their size, not too mention their tough hides and long ivory tusks. A successful elephant kill means that you can eat for a year and your bank account is nice and healthy. However, since elephants are only sighted once a year, you may starve to death hunting an elephant.
The lesson of this story is not only where are you hunting, but what are you hunting? By reviewing your sales cycle (time from initial contact to closed sale), you can determine if you are hunting rabbits, deer, bears or elephants.
Just as no SMB should rely on one customer, it also makes sense not to rely on just one type of sales leads. When you invest the time to identify your ideal customer, then you can work smarter and work harder in your sales prospecting.Share on Facebook
Sales prospecting presents many dilemmas for salespeople. Some sales research suggests more salespeople are going rather than staying with prospects.
- 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)
- The average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a sales prospect (Source:Sirius Decision)
Possibly part of the reason for more going than staying with this activity of sales prospecting is because there has been no time invested in strategic planning and identifying the ideal customer.
As one of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano, said “There are a lot of Captain Wing Its out in the SMB marketplace.” I further added this statement “who spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.”
Unless salespeople have sales leads they will remain pocket poor. These leads must be nurtured because not everyone is ready to buy during that first encounter. Years ago I read that just 2% of all closed deals happen during the first contact.
By short changing the strategic planning process, one of the results is short changing sales prospecting because it leads to spraying and praying instead of targeted prospecting. Does it not make more sense to prospect strategically with the ideal customer in mind than anyone with a pulse?
If you believe anyone with a pulse is your best sales referral, then read this posting that has gathered over 10,000 views.
Currently there are two great books to help you with sales prospecting:
High Profit Prospecting by Mark Hunter. Mark provides some very applicable templates to catapult your prospecting efforts.
Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount. Jeb also shares great tips and actionable prospecting ideas.
To be able to answer this question forthrightly will only happen after you have invested the time to think and plan (note both are verbs) and then determine your ideal customer.
Download this free Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template to support you in your sales prospecting efforts.
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