Posts Tagged ‘sales prospecting’

You’ll Talk to Anyone Is a Sales Prospecting Necessity

One of my most favorite people, Michael Sleppin (who is now retired) saw strangers as a sales prospecting opportunity.  Michael would talk to anyone and by being so open he made incredible contacts.

Yet we as children are conditioned not to talk to strangers.  To overcome this negative yet protective childhood conditioning requires us to leave our comfort zones and to accept that our FEAR of talking to strangers is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Another colleague said she looks at strangers “as friends I do not know.”  This is her mental strategy to overcome that negative childhood conditioning.

Of course, we still must practice common sense when speaking with strangers and always be aware of our surroundings.

Last night when dining out, an older woman thought I had said something.  All I did was smile.  She then started talking with me.  We had a great conversations about artists, horses and living in the high desert.  Our conversation went beyond small talk and we connected on several different levels.  Her comment as we were leaving was “We have a lot in common, don’t we?”

Sales prospecting requires salespeople to continually meet new people.  This is why there continues to be an argument about cold calling whether it is viable or not.

Cold calling supports the traditional conversational sales skills and even more so emotional intelligence. By having conversations with complete strangers allows the salesperson to hone his or her emotional intelligence skills. Then when more solid sales opportunities present themselves, the salesperson has plenty of real world practice behind him or her.

To learn more about emotional intelligence in sales read this book by

Jeb Blount – Sales EQ.

Today sales prospecting has many channels. Yet if we believe people buy from people they know and trust, having those face to face conversations or voice to voice will allow people, your sales prospects, to know and trust you.

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The Sales Shortcut Mentality – Is that You?

Have you ever viewed those headlines in emails or advertisements announcing this or that “shortcut” to improved results be it in sales, leadership, business operations, etc.? One of the results of all this messaging is it appears to be fostering a “sales shortcut” mentality.

Most reasonably intelligent business people know down deep inside there are no shortcuts to success.  Yet, people especially salespeople seem to still gravitate to that possibility.

Why?

  • The sales manager is pushing hard to increase sales
  • The salesperson is looking to make her or his sales quota
  • The sales culture makes it difficult (works against the sales team) to increase sales

The sales shortcut mentality also shows up in the recruiting, hiring and onboarding of new salespeople.  Salespeople are added as warm bodies, given a list of businesses and told “Go sell.”  There is no process for onboarding, for ongoing sales training and development and forget about sales coaching or mentoring.

Good to great salespeople use a variety of tools to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.  They understand the sales process and how to leverage that process of marketing, selling and keeping in their daily behaviors.

Some of these tools could be viewed as shortcuts such as Hootsuite where multiple postings can be scheduled over multiple days with a few cut and paste actions. CRMs can also be viewed as a shortcut provided the salesperson or salespeople invested the time to input the required data.  Saving websites,  using folders or creating spreadsheets again are actions that improve sales prospecting.

Yet in spite of all the tools, top sales performers do not embrace a “sales shortcut” mentality. They almost instinctively know such an attitude will not lead to increase sales and ultimately to sales success.

If you are thinking about using or worse yet buying this or that shortcut with the hope to increase sales, I would caution you to rethink your decision.  Ask yourself why?  Remember the first buying rule in sales, “People buy from people they know and trust.” There is no sales shortcut to building trust.

 

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Want to Increase Sales? Just Answer Your Phone!

Local small businesses continue to clamor for more sales.  Continued calls to increase sales resonate from social media to one on one conversations.  Yet, if these sales hungry SMB would just answer their phones, I am sure they would find new sales leads, new customers and continued opportunities.

increase salesYesterday morning I made 12 calls to local small businesses and only two SMBs answered their phone with a real live person..  The other 10 calls went to voice mail.  Even after 18 hours no returned phone calls or even text messages.  Really, how sales hungry are these SMBs?

Several of these SMBs had ads placed in the local newspaper.  One would think if they placed a paid advertisement for sales prospecting, they would answer their phones.  Wrong presumption.

A long time friend and colleague, Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales, continues to harp about small businesses that don’t answer their phones. He answers his phone, emails, voice mails and texts all the time unless he is already on the phone.  Then he quickly returns the voice mail if one is left. This sales behavior or rather sales attitude continues to increase sales for him.  Rick has shared how often people comment about him actually answering the phone as they expect voice mail.

Technology in this case is a sales prospecting tool and only a tool.  How SMBs use that tool is up to them. The misuse of that tool or tools in this case a phone, voice mail or text appears to be rampant.

Remember, people buy from people they know and trust.  (Sales Buying Rule #1).  By not returning phone calls sows the seeds of distrust. In today’s competitive market, can any SMB afford to create distrust?

Just like I shared last week, one can increase sales by committing to taking these three actions with the first one being a better communicator.  Communication is a two way street.  If you don’t answer your phone, you are communicating the wrong message.

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2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Help with Facilitate

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.

sales-behaviorsWhen 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.

CLICK HERE to schedule a time with Leanne and learn of a special opportunity if you wish to take the DISC.

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Being Comfortable Is Not for Top Sales Performers

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.

top-sales-performers

Credit www.gratisography.com

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.

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Where Realtors Are Missing Sales Opportunities – Part 3

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.

sales-opportunitiesNow 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.

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Closed Ended Questions Are Not to Be Ignored

In sales, the emphasis on asking open ended questions continues.  Salespeople are discouraged from asking closed ended questions as this type of questioning fails to provide additional fact finding information. But is that really true?

closed-ended-questionsLast week I spoke at a conference for consultants and executive coaches,  My presentation focused on several marketing skills taken from the book To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink.  All of these skills centered around sales prospecting from the one word equity to the question sales pitch to the Pixar Story.

One of my sales pitch questions is “Are you where you want to be?” Immediately I heard from several attendees “that is a close ended question.”  I agreed with them. They in turn said “you are supposed to ask open ended questions.”

For me, a close ended question establishes a simple benchmark from which to begin asking open ended questions.  It is an indirect assessment question.

As the sales conversation continues through ongoing meetings, this type of questioning also provides the opportunity for what some call “mini-closes.”  For example, I ask “Can we have agreement, this is what I just heard?” I then repeat what I just heard. Usually the sales lead will say yes and sometimes I may have misheard what was said or the sales lead realized he or she was unclear in his or her communication. This creates additional opportunity to establish your credibility and ensure you are not walking down the wrong fact finding path.

Without closed ended questions, the salesperson could be wasting time and losing opportunities. He or she may lose a sales because of the continued focus on open ended questions.

The focus on open ended questions reminds me of the person digging in a hole.  The first action to take is to stop digging.  My sense is sometimes salespeople through open ended questions dig themselves into very deep holes.

If you want some guidance in improving your sales conversations, then reach out to me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, at 219.508.2859 TEXT or mobile (Chicago USA time) or click HERE to schedule a quick call.

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Are You Sales Prospecting in All the Wrong Places?

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.

sales-prospecting#1 – No Ideal Customer Profile Gap

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.

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How Your Sales Leads May Be Starving Your SMB

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?

sales-leads

Credit www.gratisography.com

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.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #11 Follow-Up

Simply speaking without follow-up, sales success will not happen.  To expect to earn the sale on the first meeting is rare especially in the B2B marketplace.

sales-successWhat is even worse, is the lack of follow-up by salespeople.  Hubspot shared these two damning sales prospecting or sales statistics:

  • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up.
  • 80% of sales require five follow-ups.

The author of the posting also made this insight:

44% of the salespeople have a 80% probability of not closing the sale

Just let that fact sink in!

This past week I attended an early morning B2B networking round table event.  The venue was small and everyone had a brief chance to meet other professionals.  The event coordinator promised to send everyone’s contact information including phone numbers and email addresses.

So what I did when I received the excel file was to send a quick follow-up email to those I had not received business cards.  I also extended LinkedIn invitations to some as well.

How many SMB owners or sales professionals let all those business cards stack up in piles around their desk with the attitude “I’ll get to them when I have time”?

Sales success begins with follow-up.  Sending emails to even personal thank you cards are two ways to make that follow-up contact.  Of course, one is not usually enough.  This is why it is critical to have some sort of follow-up process aka Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Follow-up for me is not just relegated to new contacts or sales leads, but to existing clients.  When I find articles of interest, I will quickly email the link or the PDF file.  This way I stay top of mind and if a new need arises, I know I will not be forgotten.

If you are seeking sales success, understand there is no quick fix.  To be the Red Jacket in the sea of all those gray suits means you must be different than all those other salespeople who do not follow-up.

 

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