📚 3 Key Take-Aways
🧑🤝🧑 Who Should Read It?
🧠 How the Book Changed Me
📜 Top 3 Quotes
📜 Actions from this book
📝 Summary + Notes
📚 Books mentioned
|Tom Reilly||Value-Added Selling : How to Sell More Profitably, Confidently, and Professionally by Competing on Value, Not Price|
|Jill Konrath||SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers|
|Chet Holmes||The Ultimate Sales Machine - Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies-Portfolio Trade|
|Mark Hunter||High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price|
|Kelley Robertson||Stop, Ask, and Listen - Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers Into Buyers|
|Charles H. Green||The Trusted Advisor|
|Charles H. Green||Trust-Based Selling - Using Customer Focus and Collaboration to Build Long-Term Relationships|
|Andy Paul||Zero Time selling - 10 Essential Steps To Accelerate Every Company’s Sales|
📝 My Highlights
CHAPTER 2: The “Not-So-Sweet 16” Reasons Salespeople Fail at New Business Development
- You haven’t had to prospect, don’t know how, or haven’t seen it modeled well for you.
- You spend too much time waiting—waiting on the company or waiting for new materials, clearer instructions, or leads.
- You allow yourself to become a prisoner of hope to a precious few deals and stop working the process to create new opportunities.
- You can’t effectively tell the sales story.
- You have done an awful job selecting and focusing on target accounts.
- You are late to the party and end up playing an already-in-progress game.
- You have become negative and pessimistic.
- You are either faking your phone effort or could be much better on the phone.
- You are not coming across as likable or are not adapting to your buyer’s style.
- You are not conducting effective sales calls.
- You babysit and overserve your existing accounts.
- You are too busy playing good corporate citizen and helping everyone else.
- You don’t own your own sales process and default to the buyer’s.
- You don’t use your calendar well or protect your time.
- You have stopped learning and growing.
- You just aren’t built for prospecting and hunting for new business.
CHAPTER 3: The Company’s Responsibility for Sales Success
Sales Follows Strategy: Mr. CEO, Please Do Your Job so I Can Do Mine!
- Sales is supposed to follow strategy.
- essential inform the sales team about:
- Our reason for existence
- The direction the company is headed and why it’s the correct course
- What we sell and why we sell it
- Which markets to pursue and where we are positioned in those markets
- The competitive landscape and how we stack up against competitive offerings, and why we’re better or different
- Why our pricing model is appropriate for the value we create in the markets we’re pursuing and against the competition we’re facing
Heavy Service Burden and the Hybrid Hunter-Farmer Sales Role
- hybrid hunter-farmer sales role is the model that dominates small and mid-size companies
- hunting and fishing as metaphors to illustrate my point.
- very few successful sales hunters only 10 percent to 15 percent of their sales team could be classified as true A-player hunters that can be consistently relied on to deliver new business year after year
- most companies would also agree that solid sales farmers, aka account managers, are in much greater supply
Illogical and Unhelpful Compensation Plans
- Smart salespeople work the comp plan
- two major pet peeves with sales compensation
- first percentage of fixed, or base, compensation
- second treating all sales the same in terms of how they are commissioned
- fan of plans that decrease the commission payout on existing business over time and bonus the commission for new business that is closed.
- Make the annuity less attractive over time to encourage more hunting. And drive that point home by paying an overly generous commission in year one of new deals.
CHAPTER 4: A Simple Framework for Developing New Business
The Simplest of Models
- THE NEW SALES DRIVER
- Select targets.
- Create and deploy weapons.
- Plan and execute the attack.
- Remember: SALES IS A VERB.
- Planning our sales attack forces us to have discipline and to take a hard look at our calendars.
A Bold Declaration
- if we are not closing new deals, the problem can be identified either as:
- Poor target selection or lack of focus on selected targets
- Lame sales weapons or lack of proficiency deploying weapons
- Inadequate planning or lack of execution of the plan
- the sales problem lies in one or more of those New Sales Driver categories, assuming:
- The business has a clear strategy, a defined place in the market, and there is demand for its offering.
- The sales compensation plan is not working against the desired sales effort.
- The sales talent would at least qualify as “average.”
- The business knows what it is and where it is going
- the pricing model makes sense based on the value delivered
- the compensation plan is not incenting salespeople not to sell
- and the person or people in question would rate as a B- or better.
CHAPTER 5: Selecting Targets: First for a Reason
Your Target List Must Be Finite, Focused, Written, and Workable
- A Finite List - Salespeople who succeed in acquiring new business lock in on a finite number of strategic targets.
- A Focused List - Focusing in on a vertical market or certain type of account. allows us to become “experts” as we learn the language, nuances, and business issues facing similar prospects.
- A Written List - ask salespeople to carry around or post a written target account list.
- A Workable List - The key is to create a target list that can be worked effectively and thoroughly over that defined period.
Segmenting Your Existing Accounts
- All accounts are not created equal.
- I suggest dividing the existing customers into four categories:
- Largest—in terms of dollars spent (not size of the organization)
- Most Growable—best opportunity for incremental revenue
- Most At-Risk—highest probability of losing their business (some or all of it)
- Other—accounts that do not qualify for any of the previous three categories
- Some accounts will appear in more than one category.
Preparing for Target Selection: The Who and Why Questions
- series of “who” and “why” questions to help identify strategic targets when creating a list:
- Who are our best customers (by industry, size, business model, location, etc.)?
- Why did they initially become customers?
- Why do they still buy from us?
- Who do we compete against in the marketplace?
- Why and when do they beat us?
- And why do prospects choose us over them?
- Who used to be our customers (said differently, who used to buy from us)?
- Why did we lose the business?
- Who almost became a customer but didn’t (deals where we came close but lost)?
- Who has referred business to us in the past?
- Who should be referring business to us?
- pursue prospects that look, feel, and smell like our very best clients.
Making the Most of Referral and Indirect Selling
- Premier bankers target personal bankers and tellers at local branches within their own banking organization, hoping they’ll refer high net worth customers to them.
Resources for Identifying Targets
- local business journal. American Cities Business Journals (ACBJ)
- Hoover’s, a Dun & Bradstreet company, is probably the best-known and most widely used online research platform for corporate data.
- LinkedIn is a must-have resource for every salesperson.
- Perhaps trade shows and industry associations are considered old-school methods for identifying target accounts, but I want to be where the prospects are.
Pursuing Your Dream Targets
- limit the selection. Pick just a handful, perhaps four or five, that you’ll add to your target list.
- The key is to set aside a small percentage of time every week or two to advance the ball downfield with each dream target account.
- Because the pursuit of dream clients is a high-risk affair with low probability of success, it’s essential that we continue to fervently work the normal targets on our list.
- The danger is falling in love with the notion of landing a dream client and ending up a prisoner of hope instead of working our sales process across the full list of targets.
Targeting Contacts Higher in the Customer Organization
- You know what you typically find in the executive suite? Nicer people. Smarter people. More professional people. Bigger-thinking people. People more interested in achieving their goals than beating up a vendor over a nickel.
- The key to gaining the interest of senior executives is to be able to connect with them about issues that are on their mind.
CHAPTER 6: Our Sales Weapons: What’s in the Arsenal?
Marshaling the Weapons in Your Arsenal
- sampling of the weapons cache available for the sales battle:
- Our Sales Story. The story is foundational to everything we do in sales, and we use bits and pieces of it in all of our weapons.
- Social Media.
- The Proactive Telephone Call.
- Voice Mail.
- Traditional Printed Marketing Materials.
- Digital Marketing Tools: Blogs, Podcasts, Online Videos (YouTube), and Webinars.
- White Papers and Industry Experts.
- The Initial Face-to-Face Sales Call.
- Probing Questions.
- Case Studies.
- Samples and Demos.
- Trade Shows.
- Facility Tours.
- Team Selling.
- This is a main reason that a good number of people outside of sales resent those of us in sales.
- The truth remains that a ton of business is conducted away from the office and entertainment is a wonderfully effective weapon when used appropriately.
- When planned and executed properly, a killer presentation can be the difference maker that truly sets you apart from the competition.
- Sometimes we’re forced to respond to a formal request for proposal (RFP), but in most cases we have the freedom to craft a highly customized document for our potential customer.
- Testimonials and third-party endorsements are more credible than anything we can say about ourselves, which makes cultivating usable references a worthwhile endeavor.
- And it’s also perfectly acceptable to coach your references (assuming your relationship is solid enough) on what they should say or how they might be able to assist in winning over your prospect.
- The best sales reps maintain fantastic reference relationships and use them as deal-closing weapons whenever possible.
- only a handful of them are truly “owned” by sales
- Other weapons are developed and maintained by different parts of the organization and our role is simply to fire them, when appropriate, to help advance the sales effort.
Questions for Reflection
- Scan through the list of weapons a few times and ask yourself:
- Which of these weapons are most applicable for your own new business sales initiative?
- What weapons are missing from your personal arsenal?
- Which weapons are loaded on your fighter jet but haven’t been effectively deployed in battle because you’re not yet comfortable using them?
- Which few weapons, if mastered, could most dramatically improve your effectiveness?
CHAPTER 7: Your Most Important Sales Weapon
Most Companies, Executives, and Salespeople Don’t Have an Effective Story
- What can you tell me about XYZ Specialty Solutions?”
- Another prevalent indicator that companies do not have an effective story is an over-reliance on marketing tools and toys.
- It should take a minute, maybe two, to tell our story, pique a prospect’s interest, and begin a sales dialogue.
Your Sales Story is Not About You
- Prospective customers are not interested in what you do; they are only interested in what you can do for them.
- no one cares how smart you are or how great you think your company is. They want to know what’s in it for them.
Telling the Story is a Lost Art: Whatever Happened to Puffery?
- Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, who said: “We don’t sell cosmetics, we sell hope.”
- speak the account’s language and frame the sales story around what is most meaningful to the client
- After all, packaging matters. The sales story is the “gift wrap” on our offering.
Differentiation and Justifying Premium Pricing
- Differentiation gets people to listen.
- Differentiation is essential to justify our premium price.
- check out High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.
A Great Story Produces Confidence and Pride
- The entire dynamic of the sales process changes when we view ourselves as problem solvers and value creators who are armed with a story that helps us clearly communicate to potential customers.
- We enter into the sales conversation with great optimism because we believe the prospect should want to talk with us.
- Our job requires connecting with people; building trust; capturing attention; and demonstrating passion, enthusiasm, and pride.
Questions for Reflection
- Take some time to read through letters, e-mails, and even proposals you have provided to customers and prospects recently.
- Is the content more about your customers and what you can achieve for them, or is it more focused on your own company?
- How satisfied are you with the sales story you currently use?
- What is missing, and how could the story be more effective?
CHAPTER 8: Sharpening Your Sales Story
Our Story Must Pass the “So What?” Test
- Every time the salesperson makes a statement, simply ask yourself, “So what?”
Three Critical Building Blocks for a Compelling Story
- There are three critical sections, or building blocks, to a compelling sales story:
- Client issues addressed
- Customer/client issues, the first building block and bedrock of our compelling sales story, refers to:
- Customer pains we remove
- Client problems we solve
- Opportunities we help customers capture
- Results we achieve for clients
- simply state what we sell (emphasis on simply).
- why we are better and different from other alternatives.
Why Lead with Client Issues?
- No Issues = No Sale.
Drafting the Power Statement
- “The Power Statement” as my answer to the elevator pitch and the value proposition,
- Once complete, the power statement serves as a one-page, two- to three-minute encapsulation of our sales story.
- headline is a one- to two-sentence introduction
- provide context and allows your audience to place you in a category to better digest your story
- GHI companies turn to (Your Company Name Here) when….
- Senior marketing executives look to us (or Your Company Name Here) when they….
- This type of lead-in is a shrewd technique that allows us to speak in the third person about what we accomplish for our customers.
Client Issues / Pains Removed / Problems Solved / Results Achieved
- For instance:
- Striving to achieve Result 1.
- Frustrated from dealing with Pain 2 and ready to take action.
- Under significant pressure to eliminate Problem 3.
- Committed to accomplishing Result 4.
- They’ve had it with Pain 5.
- Facing threats (or regulatory pressure) from Issue 6.
- They are finally tired of living with Problem 7 and want help tackling it.
- Our offerings are the least compelling component of our story, and that is why this section is short and sandwiched between the client issues we address and our differentiators.
- suggest leading into a list of at least five differentiators with an intriguing sentence. For example:
- (Your Company Name) continues to grow (or dominate our space) because we are very different from what you will find in the marketplace…
- Differentiator 1
- Differentiator 2
- Differentiator 3
- Differentiator 4
- Differentiator 5
The Sales Story Exercise
- You’ll need some blank paper and access to whatever sales and marketing literature you have (e.g., brochures, sell sheets, catalogs, recent proposals, and copy from your website).
- There are some key questions you can ask current and past clients whose answers will provide great fodder for your story.
- We’ll use them for a brain dump to create exhaustive lists for each of the three main sections of the power statement: one sheet each for client issues, offerings, and differentiators.
- Write down every thought that comes to mind.
- Why did your best customers initially come to you?
- What business problems were they facing?
- What results were they looking to achieve?
- These questions help you dig a little deeper into the client issues you address:
- What pains are your potential customers likely to experience by choosing or staying with the wrong provider (your competition)?
- What problems do you see prospects experiencing from trying to do for themselves what you should be handling for them (self-performing versus outsourcing)?
- Which opportunities might they miss or which results will fall short because they are not your customer? Said another way, what is the opportunity cost of not working with you?
- Let them know you’re working on sharpening your sales story and would be honored if they would help. Ask these customers:
- Why did you come to us in the first place? What were you looking to achieve?
- What issues were you looking to address?
- Why do we still have your business? (Listen carefully to these answers because you might get some bonus material to use on your differentiators list.)
- How have we made your life and business better?
- Finally, scan through your marketing materials. Pull out great phrases that speak to the business issues your company addresses for customers.
- page chock full of reasons that customers turn to your company.
- I like to start a fresh Word document and project the compiled list onto a screen for the group to review, edit, delete, and combine bullets.
- Then you can start wordsmithing, nuancing each bullet into a format that nicely follows the transitional phrase: “X type of companies or Y type of contacts turn to Your Company Name when looking to…” or “They look to us when facing….”
- List all the reasons that you believe your company, product, service, or solution is better and different. Cover the gamut of reasons, from culture issues through technical expertise, proprietary processes, and service guarantees.
- The offerings section should take less than five minutes to complete. If you can’t rattle off exactly what it is you sell, what you send invoices for, then there’s a bigger problem.
- In most cases, it takes a few weeks of tweaking and revising to get it where you want it. Carry it around for a while and keep tinkering with it.
What We Can Do Now
- The power statement is an internal document, not a handout. It’s for internal use only.
- The power statement is a fantastic resource from which we’re able to pull excerpts.
- Grab the power statement and trim off just a touch of the fat. Put a salutation at the top, follow the same progression (a headline followed by client issues addressed, then the offerings, wrapped up by differentiators), and close the letter by letting the prospect know you would love to visit with the company, to see if you might be a fit to help with some of these very issues. Sign your name at the bottom, and boom, you have the strongest sales letter you’ve ever sent.
- If you want to send a brief series of e-mails as part of a drip campaign, the power statement is where you start.
- You can personalize a brief introduction and then pivot to a transitional phrase before dropping in just a couple of key issues you address for clients.
- Not only can we arm the salesperson with a superb mini power statement, but the balance of the full version is available as a resource if the phone call develops into a full-blown sales conversation.
- A completed power statement also serves as a perfect guide to craft probing questions for the discovery part of our sales calls.
- here are some easily created open-ended, issue-seeking questions:
- What do you wish your current security system could do that it isn’t doing now?
- Tell me about the last few significant safety events. Where was the security lapse, and what was the reaction of your tenants?
- We often hear about security guards embarrassing building management. What are some of the behaviors of your current guards that you would like to see changed or improved?
- Under your current setup, what happens when a true emergency strikes?
- Who will respond and how will it be handled?
The Commodity Antidote
- The power statement provides a way to articulate the meaningful reasons (other than price and availability) that customers buy from you.
- Yes, my client sells virtually the same product as its competitors. And most people it sells to are keenly interested in talking about price.
- The reps have begun to change the focus of sales conversations from price to the reasons companies buy from them.
- after hearing just a few snippets of their sales story, would you be willing to at least consider paying a few pennies more to buy from them? I would!
Questions for Reflection
- Before reading this chapter, how were you framing your sales story for prospects?
- What messaging have you been using to capture a prospect’s attention, and how effective has that message been?
- Who inside your company would be valuable to include in the sales story exercise?
- Once you have your power statement nailed, how do envision yourself using it?
CHAPTER 9: Your Friend the Phone
- “the proactive telephone call.”
- it’s a necessity for salespeople charged with developing new business.
- If inbound marketing was a magic bullet and perfect panacea for creating demand, then we could stop proactively pursuing target accounts. But it isn’t.
- It’s a fantasy that search engine optimization (SEO), Facebook, and tweeting about our community-building, value-creating blog are sufficient to produce the volume of face-to-face sales meetings required to hit our new business objectives. Fantasy, plain and simple.
- Inbound marketing is a magnificent supplement to, but not a replacement for, one of our most potent sales weapons— the outbound proactive telephone call.
Erase the Tapes in Your Mind and Let’s Start Over
- You hate the idea of calling your target accounts because you don’t want to be that person. Right?
Your Mindset Matters
- What we believe makes a big difference in how we feel and how we behave.
- Making proactive calls to strategically selected target accounts that very likely have business issues we can address is not akin to telemarketing.
- You, my friend, are an important business person representing a company whose product or service potentially delivers great value to the prospect you are targeting.
- Once we view ourselves as professional problem solvers, this perspective should make us want to call target customers, particularly if we believe the customer will be better off working with us than someone else.
Your Voice Tone and Approach Matters, Too
- How you sound is really important during a phone call!
- The problem with most salespeople on the phone is simple: They sound like salespeople. For some inexplicable reason, a whole lot of perfectly capable reps create a “sales voice” when speaking with potential customers.
- Have a few trusted friends or peers listen to your calls when you’re not aware they’re doing it. Ask them to be blunt and tell you if you speak and sound differently making calls than you do when you’re talking to peers. If that’s the case, lose the sales voice.
- It’s even helpful to be slightly informal.
- When we’re too formal and too respectful, it isn’t natural. And worse, it positions us as subservient to the prospect or even conveys that we may be intimidated.
- I want salespeople to see themselves as equals to the buyer, and one of the best ways to accomplish that is to speak as naturally as possible.
Script or No Script?
- not a fan of call scriptsMost reps cannot carry off a script well, and reading to a prospect defeats all of what I just shared (in the previous sections) about mindset and voice tone.
- I am a big proponent of call outlines and scripted talking points
- calls should be logically structured, and we absolutely should have several key talking points scripted verbatim. Consistency matters.
- How can we judge what’s working and what’s not if we change the flow or make up new lines with every call?
- because we worked so hard in the last chapter to craft a compelling sales story, it’s imperative that we nail certain phrases dead on during introductory calls to a prospect.
Why Are We Calling? Laser Focus on the Objective
- a lot of salespeople pick up the phone without clarity on their objective.
- imperative to remain laser focused on the objective, because the prospect will likely put up defenses that we must circumvent
- If we’re unsure of where we’d like to end up, there’s a good chance we’ll get lost along the way.
- When locked-in firmly on the goal of the call, we’re able to maneuver around the defense to redirect the conversation toward the objective.
- two legitimate objectives. For the inside salesperson, the goal of the proactive call is to have the full sales conversation. Inside reps are looking to set the stage for the “sales call,” where they structure a dialogue with the prospect. That may happen right there on that initial phone call or it could be scheduled for a later time.
- outside rep, there’s simply one true objective: Get the face-to-face meeting with your target account. I tend to get a fair amount of push-back from this blanket declaration.
- Get the meeting. Stop over qualifying!
- One of the main reasons outside sales reps underperform at developing new business is because they’re not in front of enough prospects. The math isn’t working for them because there’s not enough activity. Show me the sales rep that’s failing because he’s having too many unqualified appointments with strategically selected target accounts and I’ll show you a thousand failing from a lack of activity.
- Let’s not rethink that decision on the fly during a first phone call to that prospect.
- the only logical objective for an outside salesperson’s call is to score the appointment.
Favorite Introductory Phrases for a Great Start
- Anyone who makes proactive outbound calls will tell you the beginning of the call is by far the hardest. Those first few seconds are most critical and yet that’s when we’re most anxious. The prospect immediately forms a first impression.
- “Let me steal a minute” is an easy phrase that I prefer to use to kick-start the call. I say the prospect’s first name, my name (first and last), and usually add my company name. “Hi, Fred. It’s Mike Weinberg with The New Sales Coach. Let me steal a minute.”
- It complies with my philosophy of sounding comfortable, conversational, and casual. I also like it because it’s very far from the typical openings we hear all the time. It’s not, “How are you today?” with the accent on “you.”
- And it’s a long way from the commonly pathetic, “Did I catch you at a good time?” or “Can I have a minute of your time?” Those are bad phrases and I urge you not to use them.
- First, they provide an easy opportunity for the prospect to give you an answer you don’t want. But more than that, I advise against them because they are what every other salesperson says.
- The prospect’s response also opens the door for you to demonstrate respect while scoring relationship points.
- When I can tell the prospect is harried and not in a state to engage me, even for a minute, I offer to let her go. No one’s happy to pick up the phone only to be ambushed by an uninvited salesperson. That type of reaction is typical.
- “Hi, Fred. It’s Mike Weinberg getting back with you. I’m the guy who caught you late on Tuesday trying to run out to FedEx.” Pause. Let him thank you. Then proceed as two normal humans engaging in a dialogue. This works because it changes the entire dynamic and feel of the call.
- “I head up…” is the next phrase out of my mouth. Before going any further, I want to position who I am in the prospect’s mind.
- As important as what it may communicate to your contact is what it does for your own psyche. You’re not a telemarketer or unnecessary disturbance. You’re an important business person who heads up a part of your company.
- “I head up the western United States for ABC Company.” “I head up our education business.” “I head up client relationships for XYZ.” “I head up our agency team.” “I head up our reseller business.” “I head up our southeast territory.”
- Practice saying it: “I head up…” It will make you feel good and paint you as someone the prospect should be interested in and paying attention to.
Crafting Your Telephone Mini Power Statement
- When delivered properly, this telephone version of the power statement establishes exactly how we want the prospect to see us— as someone that people like him (or companies like his) look to for guidance when faced with challenging issues.
- For the mini version to be delivered over the phone, I suggest grabbing your two favorite “client issues” bullets (from the pains removed, problems solved, opportunities captured, results achieved section).
- I like to pick one that’s unique and provocative, and another that’s broad and likely applicable to almost any prospect on your list.
- You may also want to select one differentiator from that section of the power statement. But that’s the limit: two client issues and one differentiator.
- The key is using this phone power statement in a conversational manner. For instance:
- Hi, Steve. It’s Rob Thompson with Allsafe Security. I’m getting back with you; I caught you right in the middle of a big tenant situation a couple days ago. [Steve laughs about his crazy tenant, thanks you for your understanding, and asks what you want.]
- Steve, I head up our client service team for the downtown corridor. Right now a lot of property managers are looking to Allsafe because they’re faced with excessive liability exposure and growing life/safety fears for corporate tenants and guests. We’re also helping a good number of management companies like yours [mention Steve’s company by name] who are concerned their current security solution may no longer be adequate. [Stop.]
- If I judge that it would be helpful to fire a differentiator at him or mention another client issue we address, then I’ll do that, and then follow up by asking for the meeting.?
For the Inside Rep: Build a Bridge
- Inside sales is not a second-class job. I’ve learned a ton from working with some outstanding professionals.
- After delivering the telephone power statement, the inside rep needs to build a bridge to the sales conversation. Depending on the prospect’s willingness to engage, the easiest thing to do is to begin a dialogue by following the power statement with simple probing questions.
- It’s amazing what guidance people will offer when you ask for help (assuming the person you’re speaking with is not the brother-in-law of the competitor you’re trying to supplant).
Ask for the Meeting, Ask Again, and Once More
- After delivering the mini power statement, ask the contact for the meeting.
- Here’s the secret: Be ready to ask three times.
- The prospect is programmed to say no. It’s automatic.
- So don’t take it personally. But don’t hang up the phone, either.
- This is one of the reasons highly relational people who intensely dislike conflict have a hard time with prospecting.
- Prospecting involves conflict and pushing past resistance.
- Consistently, they credit it to their new willingness to ask three separate times for the meeting.
- I wish they were telling me about my brilliant call outline or power statement formula.
Three Magic Words
- The three words are visit, fit, and value.
- Visit. I like to ask the prospect to visit with me. “Appointment” sounds so clinical,
- Fit. “Fit” is one of my overall favorite sales words. It demonstrates confidence and also disarms the prospect.
- Value. Value is what everyone is talking about and seems to be the yardstick by which we are all measured today.
- One way is: “We’ll review your current situation and see if we can bring some value to what you’re doing…”
- “Judy, I understand that you’re [insert her objection here]. Visit with me anyway. I promise you’ll get value and ideas from our time together, even if we end up not being a fit to help you.”
Winning with Voice Mail
- it appears reps end up in voice mail almost three-quarters of the time.
- only one of four calls connects with a live contact, we need to take full advantage of the opportunity voice mail presents.
- six thoughts on how you can win with voice mail:
- Adopt a positive perspective.“”We all know it takes X number of touches to break through.
- Expect and prepare for it. If we’re going to get voice mail three-quarters of time, shouldn’t we begin to expect it? Be prepared to leave a well-crafted articulate message.
- Use a snippet of your story. Go ahead and make it a productive message. Similar to our mini telephone power statement, leave a tiny piece of your story.
- Take the long view; see it as a campaign. Accept that it’s going to take multiple messages to get a call back.
- Ask for a call back; state that you will call again. Yes, leave your number at a pace that gives the prospect time to actually write it down and ask to be called back. When I receive e-mails or voice mails from a salesperson, I like to test them to see if they’re serious about pursuing me. Don’t be a “one and done” salesperson.
- Be human. Use humor or guilt, not anger.-It’s amazing how often the return call finally comes after a third message that includes something funny or plays on the fact that “I hope by now I’ve earned a callback based on perseverance alone.” Also, never get angry or show frustration in a message
- Confidence will lead to success, and more success will increase your confidence.
- To practice, start by calling smaller or more insignificant accounts.
Questions for Reflection
- What negative feelings or baggage have you been bringing to your proactive calling sessions?
- How have you been preparing to make calls, and what additions should you make to your standard preparations?
- Do you see yourself as an important business person calling your prospects because you might be able to help them? If not, what can you do to change your mindset about making calls?
- If scoring the appointment is the clear objective, how should that affect the way you structure the call?
- When will you carve out the time to work on creating your mini phone power statement?
CHAPTER 10: Mentally Preparing for the Face-to-Face Sales Call
- business is won earlier in the process by those who get in front of declared target accounts and set the tone for the relationship during sales calls.
It’s Your Call; You Need a Plan
- Even when the prospect pursues you and requests a meeting, it is your call.
- Most outside reps are pretty good about having a clear goal for their calls, but equally as bad about having a formalized plan for how the meeting should flow.
- asked a pretty standard set of questions for which the salesperson had decent answers: “Tell me about the people we are meeting. Why do they think we are here today and what are they expecting? What is a win for us?”
- —“What is your plan for the call?”“”“?”
- Very few salespeople at small and midsize companies are being mentored on the basic fundamentals of sales.
- I began asking every sales leader and rep how they were planning for and conducting sales calls.
Avoid Defaulting to the Buyer’s Process
- if we don’t have a plan and process when sitting down with a prospect, then the meeting will default to the buyer’s process.
- Salespeople are completely thrown for a loop by the buyer who starts things off by saying, “You’ve got your thirty minutes. Go.”
Bring a Pad and Pen; Please Leave the Projector at Home
- Just because you can build a slick PowerPoint presentation doesn’t mean you should.
- I worked my way around the room, shaking hands and repeating the name of each person I met.
- I simply said yes, opened my notebook, and pulled out an expensive-looking pen. I did have a one-page handout that provides an overview to my coaching framework, but that remains tucked in a folder until I gather the information needed to connect my approach to the company’s issues.
- New business development success results from creating a sales dialogue, not perfecting a monologue.
- Pitchmen and product-pushers present before they fully understand the customer’s situation.
- Consultative sales professionals gather information, connect with the prospect, and begin building a relationship before presenting solutions.
- called it the “spray and pray” approach. The salesperson goes first and just sprays out everything he can to the prospect. Then he prays he hit on something relevant.
God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth
- most of us talk a disproportionate amount of time when in front of a customer.
- “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason, and that’s the percent you should use them. When you’re talking you aren’t learning. Two ears, one mouth. Remember that for next time.”
Selling from the Same Side of the Table
- It has always bothered me that the seller-buyer relationship is set up as adversarial.
- So sit perpendicular to the buyer at a ninety-degree angle. It’s not as odd as it sounds, and it creates a completely different aura than sitting opposite the person.
- Before sitting down, especially in a very large room, take a second to decide the best way to physically communicate that you are there as an ally, not an adversary.
Questions for Reflection
- In what ways have you been guilty of ceding control of the sales call to the buyer?
- How dependent have you become on your projector?
- How might you handle the prospect who is expecting your dog and pony show during the initial meeting?
- Reflect on your standard talk-listen ratio. How difficult would it be to move toward one-third talking, two-thirds listening? What would have to change?
- How might you differently position yourself, physically and verbally, to come across as more of an ally than an adversary during sales calls?
CHAPTER 11: Structuring Winning Sales Calls
- A flight has a proper and logical sequence of events. We check the weather, file a flight plan, and do a preflight inspection of the plane. We run through a checklist on the ground, start the engine, and scan the vital instruments. We decide when it’s time to taxi away and then request permission to take the runway. From there we execute the remaining segments of the flight: takeoff, climb out, cruise, descent, approach, and landing. A properly structured sales call has a similar flow and number of stages. And the order of the stages has a significant effect on the outcome of the call or flight.
- A solid plan also protects us from talking too much or selling too soon during the meeting.
The Phases of a Winning Sales Call
1. Build Rapport and Identify the Buyer’s Style
- two goals for this first phase of the call. First and foremost, I want to make the prospect comfortable. I want to connect relationally, if at all possible.
- I mean that you can potentially talk about the day’s news headline, or last night’s sports team victory, or you can mention something intriguing from the prospect’s LinkedIn profile.
- Rapport building should last as long as the person you are meeting wants it to last!
- Some trainers use the term “mirroring” to describe the methodology of copying the buyer’s style.
- When we feel the buyer is ready to move beyond rapport building, we transition to sharing our agenda and setting up the call.
2. Share the Agenda and Set up the Call
- Sharing your agenda and setting up the call is your best opportunity to set the tone for the meeting and demonstrate the meeting will be a valuable and different experience for your contact. Letting the prospect in on your plan produces three meaningful benefits:
- It is a big differentiator. Almost no one in sales does this.Letting your prospect in on your plan communicates that you aren’t an amateur, that you’ve done this before and you respect the time the prospect has allotted to you.
- It informs the buyer where you are headed. No one wants to be taken on a ride.
- It lets the buyer know you expect a dialogue. “” Your goal here is to shock the prospect by surprising him with your solid plan, and that you are expecting to engage in a dialogue.
- Ron, thanks for inviting me in. I believe we set up this meeting for thirty minutes. How are you on time? [Pause for an answer.] Great. I will make sure we are done before 11:30. Here’s what I would like to do. Let me kick us off and take just two or three minutes to share a bit about ABC Spellbinders, the issues we solve for HR professionals, and why they tend to bring us in for help. I will also touch briefly on how we are different and why we have been so successful in this space. Then I’d like to turn the tables and ask you questions to understand more about your situation and what you are doing in regards to QRS, or how you are approaching the XYZ opportunity. Depending on what I hear from you, I can share a few relevant case studies or show you options for how we provide Spellbinding for clients. After that, we can discuss if it looks like we might be a fit to help you or if there is a logical next step [such as whether it makes sense to have a follow-up meeting or get our teams together]. That is what I was hoping to do, Ron. Tell me what you were hoping for and what you would like to walk away with today.
3. Clean Up Their Issues
- this phase of the call only applies when meeting with an existing customer
- “dealing with the junk up front.”
4. Deliver the Power Statement
- In three enrapturing minutes of sales magnificence we deliver the prospect a succinct, compelling, client-focused understanding of why people or companies come to us, what we offer, and how we are different from, and better than, other alternatives.
- Remember the flight analogy? There’s a time to climb, a time to cruise at altitude, and a time to land. It takes discipline because our sales instinct wants to pounce on the opening. Be patient and keep your powder dry.
- -?You wouldn’t trust a physician who walked into the examining room, spent an hour telling you how great he was, and then wrote a prescription, would you? The same concept applies to the sales process. Discovery precedes presentation.
- power statement pays huge dividends. You share enough meaningful information on the front end to build credibility, create interest, and help the prospect warm up to answering important questions.This time your new doc sits down on that rolling stool, engages you in small talk, then gives a three-minute overview of her education, specialty, and philosophy of care.
5. Ask Probing Questions: Discovery
- Salespeople are notorious for asking obvious, ignorant, and off-target questions.
- More selling can be accomplished by asking a series of great questions than by executing a highly polished presentation.
- The skilled sales hunter uses this phase of the call to ask targeted, probing questions to demonstrate expertise, identify potential opportunities, gather necessary information, and move the ball forward.
- group probing questions into four categories that ensure we discover the information we need:
1. Personal Questions
- people buy from people they like
- What are their short-and long-term goals?
- How are they being evaluated?
- What type of results are they working to achieve?
- How could you make their life easier?
- How and when do they get bonuses or promoted?
- The deepest and most successful client relationships result when there’s mutual trust and personal commitment between buyer and seller. Isn’t that the type of long-term partnership we desire?
2. Strategic and Directional Questions
- These questions help us get a handle on what is taking place in the prospect’s macro world.
- What’s going on in your customers’ space?
- Who are they up against in the market?
- What industry trends are working for or against their situation?
- Are there corporate initiatives or new strategies catalyzing change?
- Is there pressure to grow and expand or to reduce costs?
- Precall research can aid you in framing these questions so that they’re more specific rather than generic.
- There is no excuse for making a business-to-business sales call without having fully investigated your prospect using all available means.
- At a minimum, scan publicly available information, press releases, social media sites, and anything senior executives or your contact have said or written lately.
3. Specific Issue- and Opportunity-Seeking Questions
- Once you become more familiar with your prospect’s big-picture world, it’s time to probe more specifically into areas where your offerings can make a difference.
- Your objective is to gather every morsel of information to identify if and how you can help this prospect.
- easiest way to formulate effective questions is to review the client issues section of your power statement (problems solved, pains removed, opportunities captured, results achieved).
- As examples:
- How are you approaching Pain No. 1?
- What has your experience been pursuing Opportunity No. 2?
- Could you share your thoughts on capturing Opportunity No. 3?
- What’s worked and what hasn’t? What happens when Problem No. 4 raises its ugly head?
- And if the problem is not addressed, what’s the impact?
- Tell me about your current initiative to achieve Result No. 5.
- This is also the time to explore issues the prospect responded to when you delivered your power statement.
- Circle back and ask why that particular issue piqued the customer’s interest.
- Listen to the answers! It’s very common to see salespeople so focused on getting all their questions asked that they lose focus on the prospect. Listen intently.
- Look interested. Take notes. When the prospect’s answer doesn’t make sense to you, ask for clarification or an example. And most important, when you hit on a topic where it’s clear an issue exists, dig deeper. Don’t just move on to your next question. Ask follow-up questions. Remember, we’re in search of the customer’s pains, problems, needs, and desires.
- -When you find a scab, pick at it. Keep probing. And when it starts to bleed a little, pick harder. Ask your prospects how they’ve attempted to conquer the issue and why that hasn’t worked. Pour a little salt in the open wound. Find out the consequences of not solving the issue or achieving the desired result. Everything learned at this stage is useful later, especially when the time comes to propose a solution.
4. Sales Process Questions
- More often than not, deals go dark when you’re blindsided by some factor you didn’t discover earlier in the process.
- Maybe your contact, the person you’ve been meeting with, truly didn’t have authority to buy.
- Or was there no money to fund a solution. Possibly our definition of “soon” didn’t align with your prospect’s.
- Whatever the case, it hurts when your contact stops responding, especially when you already booked the revenue (and spent the commission) in your mind.
- It’s unlikely you can learn everything you need to during the initial sales call, but it certainly helps to go into that meeting with a clear handle on the factors you want to discover, namely:
- Decision authority and decision influencers
- Available dollars or budget
- Willingness to make a change
- Stage in the buying process
- Decision criteria (how the decision will be made, not who makes it)
- Alternative options
- Great salespeople tackle all of these issues before presenting a proposal.
- You don’t get paid for working hard and cranking out proposals.
- You earn your keep closing deals and booking revenue!
- It serves your best interests to get comfortable asking these types of questions:
- Along with yourself, who else really cares about this issue? (That is by far the best way to ask about other influencers and your contact’s decision-making authority without it coming off as an insult. I did not craft the wording, but have heard it used perfectly by several experts. I am not sure where it originated, but can attest that it is a very useful question to ask.)
- Where are you in the process of evaluating options?
- Where will the money come from to fund this initiative?
- This is a significant decision. How committed are you to making a change? What is the likelihood that you will leave your current supplier (or solution) or change direction?
- Tell me the criteria you’ll use to make your decision. How will you decide?
- What other alternatives are on the table?
- Deals go dark when you get lazy and shoot from the dark. Practice asking these types of questions at every prospect meeting. You’ll become more confident and more skilled at securing the information necessary to successfully move the deal forward.
- ! Based on what you learned thus far, sell, sell, sell.
- Take full advantage of the solid platform you constructed and launch your strongest sales missiles.
- DISCOVERY PRECEDES PRESENTATION.
- Grab your literature. Review fancy charts and graphs. Wax eloquently about your samples.
- Share stories of how you’ve helped other clients achieve remarkable results.
- Describe possible solutions.
- Flip through a few screens on your iPad, showing off your latest and greatest whiz-bang offering.
- Provide customer testimonials.
- Show off your sales skills by showing the buyer that you actually listened.
- You’ve identified the prospective buyer’s needs, issues, and opportunities; now tie them in directly with your offerings, using the buyer’s own words to drive home your points.
7. Determine Fit and Seek Out Objections
- “Based on our conversation and what we’ve shared with each other, it looks like we might be a fit to help you.”
- Then I pause to let the thought and moment sink in. If the prospect doesn’t respond after a few seconds, I follow with, “What do you think?”
- Are there others in the organization that deserve to hear your sales story? Do you need to repeat this initial meeting?
- Are there any cultural issues, politics, or competing initiatives possibly making it difficult for your prospect to get excited about what you have to offer?
- We’re looking for two distinct takeaways from this phase of the call.
- First, we’re seeking confirmation that we indeed have a potential solution for this prospect. Plain and simple: Do we have a fit? Can we help this prospect? Does the prospect think there’s potential for us to help his business?
- Second, we need to flesh out potential obstacles and objections. I know that seems counterintuitive. Many people in sales want to run and hide from objections.
- If the prospect conveys any reticence or sends a signal that something is just not right, ask about it. Go back to probing.
8. Define and Schedule the Next Step
- I always enjoy listening to salespeople recap sales calls.
- There’s always something to learn and usually something that makes you laugh.
- There’s one question I make every salesperson answer following each call: What’s the next step?
- One question—“What do you suggest as an appropriate next step?”
- I’ll say, “Based on what you’re saying, how about if I do EFG, and you pull together JKL?” In other words, “Let me do this and you do that.” Mutual commitment is a good thing.
- However, suggesting the next step only earns you partial credit. You’ve got to schedule that step.
- Grab your smartphone or open your calendar. There’s a high likelihood the prospect will follow your lead. Pick the date that both parties can agree to accomplish an agreed-upon task and confirm what happens next. Repeat it. Book it. Shake on it.
Questions for Reflection
- Have you been conducting sales calls with a logical progression—a beginning, a middle, and an end?
- If you have attempted to share you agenda and lay out your plan for sales calls in the past, how has that approach been received?
- Looking back on your past several sales calls, who was flying the airplane from the pilot’s seat—you or the customer?
- Do you think delivering your power statement relatively early in the call earns you enough credibility to ask meaningful, probing questions?
- Have you experimented with different ways to conclude calls by determining if there is a ft, fleshing out objections, and defining next steps?
CHAPTER 12: Preventing the Buyer’s Reflex Resistance to Salespeople
- Buyers resist salespeople
It’s Not Your Fault, but It Is Your Problem
- Not-so-flattering words sales:
- High ego
- Time waster
- Disconnected from my reality
- Poor listener
Shaping How the Customer Perceives You
- How will the prospect or customer feel about you and your company following this interaction?
- What message are you sending about the experience the customer will have working with you?
- How can you inform the customer that you understand this interaction is not about you?
- What can be communicated to demonstrate that you are worthy of the prospect’s time and are driven to bring maximum value to your potential customer?
Preventing and Minimizing the Buyer’s Resistance
- we should expect it and prepare for it.
- Representing ourselves as problem solvers who exist to bring value sets us apart from the throng of other salespeople vying for the customer’s attention.
- Practice speaking in a normal, friendly, casual, confident voice.
Our View of the Prospect
- The underperforming reps did not enter a dialogue with the leads believing they were serious prospects.
- This group of reps was convinced that the leads were simply price shoppers looking to get the cheapest deal possible.
- top performers at this company had a different view of their leads.
Our Feelings Toward the Prospect
- The successful reps were not only optimistic about their chances of winning the business, they also had warm, positive emotions about the potential customer.
- the buyer is determining if we “get it.” The conversation is supposed to be about them,
Questions for Reflection
- What self-defeating beliefs about yourself and your role as a salesperson are detracting from the way you come across to buyers?
- When you sell, how aware are you that the behavior of other salespeople has potentially damaged how buyers perceive you?
- What can you do to sound different from every other salesperson targeting the very same buyers you are?
- What is your view of your prospects before contacting them? Is that view hurting or helping how you approach buyers?
CHAPTER 13: I Thought I Was Supposed to Make a Presentation
- Sales calls, no matter how big or important, are intended to be a two-way conversation.
Redeeming the PowerPoint Presentation
- a killer presentation, made at the right time and structured the right way, can be one of our most powerful sales weapons.
- PowerPoint in and of itself is not evil. It’s what we do with PowerPoint that’s a sin.
- I propose a simple four-slide recipe that ensures the early focus of your presentation is where it belongs:
- Slide 1: Title Slide
- Slide 2: Suggested Agenda
- Slide 3: Companies Turn to (Insert Your Company Name) When … (Here you’ll want to grab three to five relevant bullets from the “client issues” section of your power statement.)
- Slide 4: Our Understanding of Your Situation …(List several items you have learned from discovery work up to this point.)
- Slide 4 is absolutely critical because this is where we transition from the generic, broad statements in slide 3 to the prospect-specific issues we have uncovered prior to making the presentation. It’s our opportunity to show off the thorough discovery work we have completed thus far.
- Make every effort to confirm the assumptions you’re sharing. If time allows and the prospect seems willing, dig deeper with specific probing questions.
- The more we can learn, even right here in the midst of a supposed “presentation,” the better we are able to customize our pitch.
Discovery Must Precede Presentation, so Insist on a Meeting
- Presenting is not selling; it’s only a part of the sales process.
- If you have not completed enough discovery work to be able to list a handful of bullets describing the prospect’s current situation, then you have absolutely no business conducting a presentation.
- Insist on a meeting before the requested presentation. Assert yourself. Let your potential customers know that you have a process for delivering maximum value, and that process entails several critical steps before presenting to them. Explain that if they want your best, they must be willing to help provide what’s needed for you to create the optimum solution and presentation specifically for them.
- You can define your sales process to give yourself the best shot at differentiating your company and your presentation.
- Or you can default to the buyer’s process and do what you’re told.
When the Prospect Will Not Meet with You before the Presentation
- For example, you are a small company calling on massive corporations that have layers of procurement personnel and pages of purchasing protocol.
- There are also some unique industry norms where making pitches and presentations are par for the course.
- I asked a few questions about the prospect and why this company had invited my client in.
- We’re thrilled to be considered as a potential new agency and business partner for your company, and we look forward to discovering if we are a good fit for each other. Here’s how we like to work.
- We brought all kinds of goodies with us … case studies, storyboards, comps, a few examples from our portfolio.
- We have a few slides outlining our philosophy and approach to helping clients grow business, and we have about a dozen client websites that we can pull up.
- Honestly, we probably have four hours of content we could share.
- So, in order for us to present the most relevant and valuable information to you, we’d like to take the first fifteen minutes to get a handle on why you invited us in and what you’re facing in your business today—including threats, opportunities, shifts in the marketplace.
- And if you’re willing, we wouldn’t mind hearing about your experience with the current or previous agency.
- We understand if you may not want to “go there,” but sometimes clients like to share on that point, so we can incorporate the pieces you like and stay far away from those you don’t.
- Then, based on what we hear, we will be able to spend the remaining time presenting our best and most appropriate stories, examples, and methodology, and we can skip over areas we don’t think would interest you.
- To me, that’s the difference between presenting and selling. Does it take guts? You bet it does. Will you set yourself apart and leave a memorable impression on the potential client? No doubt about it.
Break the Mold to Set Yourself Apart
- There’s nothing safe about going head-to-head against four competitors who are all using the same strategy and trying hard to differentiate themselves with slight nuances in their presentations.
- And our best chance of winning occurs when we understand as much as possible about the prospect’s situation before rushing into a presentation.
- Then I could have turned to the committee members and asked so easily and innocently…
- Why did you invite us in today?
- Why were you selected for the committee, and which business issues are you hoping to address with a learning management system?
- What does success look like a year after installing the new system? How about three years?
- If there was one thing you would like to come away with today, what would that be?
CHAPTER 14: Planning and Executing the Attack
- We have selected targets and created weapons, so now it is time to start shooting.
No One Defaults to Prospecting Mode
- The very same people failing to achieve their new business acquisition numbers are the ones not making proactive selling time a priority.
- they are not spending a sufficient amount of time focused on their new business sales attack. And the results prove it.
- Admitting a problem exists is a healthy first step on the road to recovery.
- I explained how poor use and protection of the calendar is one of the most prevalent reasons salespeople fail at new business development.
- Time blocking is the act of making appointments with yourself for activities that are priorities.
- It allows us to regain control of our calendars, reorient our schedules, and ensure that blocks of time are dedicated to essential initiatives.
- Decide how much time you should be dedicating to new business development and schedule time blocks at various times throughout the week and month.
- It takes time to settle in and find the groove, so I’d suggest a minimum of ninety minutes per time block.
- Three hours is probably the limit on the upside, because it’s hard to focus for that long and other duties will also come calling.
- For those doing almost no prospecting now, two time blocks per week, each scheduled for two hours, could produce exponentially better results.
- For salespeople with significant account acquisition goals, it’s conceivable to block out eight or nine of these two-hour new business sessions per week, which still amounts to only about one-third of our working hours.
- three keys to success for time blocking.
- put the time blocks into your calendar.
- actually keep the appointment with yourself.
- remain on task throughout the scheduled time block. Do not check e-mail.
- Put your phone on DND. No inbound calls allowed when prospecting.
- you must spend more time prospecting. Period.
The Math Works; Work the Math
- Sales is a numbers game.
- Most top-performing salespeople are the most active salespeople.
- Particularly when it comes to developing new business, the most effective attack is a high-frequency attack.
- But there is one truth from which we cannot escape: The more prospects we meet from our strategically chosen, focused, finite target list, the more opportunities we are likely to uncover.
- stages of its sales process:
- Prospect targeted.
- Initial conversation.
- Meaningful dialogue/first meeting.
- Prospect needs identified; fit established; mutual agreement to move forward.
- Second meeting/key data received.
- Presentation and/or proposal delivered.
- Deal closed and won!
- Playing out the sales math from the end and working backward, this is what we should expect in terms of activity:
- 12 closed deals requires 36 proposals delivered (we win one of three).
- 36 proposals requires 48 opportunities reaching stages 4 and 5, where needs are identified and we believe there is a fit and have a second meeting (three-fourths reaching those stages move to the proposal stage).
- 48 prospects with needs identified requires 72 initial meetings (two-thirds from first meetings move to the next stage).
- 72 initial meetings requires 144 initial proactive conversations (half of those turn into initial meetings).
- We need to put a certain amount of new business activity into the top of the sales funnel to generate the amount of closed new business we need coming out the bottom.
Writing Your Individual Business Plan
- One of the best ways to ensure we plan and execute the sales attack, time-block our calendars, and work the math is to write an annual business plan.
- Individual business plans come in all shapes and sizes, but there are five key components I ask salespeople to include in any plan:
- Goals—What You Are Going to Achieve. provide specific goals:
- Total revenue dollars
- Gross profit (dollars or percentage)
- Number of new accounts acquired
- Net new business dollars
- Revenue dollars from existing accounts
- Product category, cross-sell, or new product goals
- Major goals for specific named accounts
- Personal income goals (obviously a private objective, but many money-motivated reps are driven to hit certain income targets and find it very helpful to write them down and monitor progress throughout the year)
- Strategies—How You Are Going to Do It. For instance:
- Are there certain existing accounts where you plan on investing extra energy? Some reps provide lists of focus accounts (i.e., largest, most growable) for the year.
- Which geographies, vertical industries, or channels will you pursue? Do you have a focused, finite target prospect list to attach to the plan?
- What major cross-sell opportunities exist within existing accounts?
- How will you approach new accounts? What will you do to get in the door and how will you move opportunities forward?
- What other strategies or tools will you use (e.g., team selling, events, referral sources, social media connections) to achieve your sales goals?
- Actions—Specific Sales Activities You Will Commit To. Examples might include:
- Number of hours time-blocked and committed to proactive new business development
- Number of outbound calls, number of meaningful conversations, number of face-to-face sales calls
- Number of trips to key markets, number of major presentations, number of facility tours or client visits
- Number of proposals delivered, dollars proposed
- Obstacles—What’s in the Way? Possible obstacles may include:
- Product knowledge
- Sales support
- Lack of technology
- Distractions or the company’s anti-sales department
- Current account management and customer service burdens
- Personal health or family issues
- Personal Development—How You Plan to Grow This Year. Your options may include:
- Seminars and conferences to attend
- Books and blogs to read
- Specific industry training you desire
- Expanding your writing skills, social media involvement, or association memberships
- Peer coaching or seeking out a mentor
- Writing individual business plans is a great exercise. Presenting them to your peers is even better!
- So much good happens when plans are shared. It creates instant accountability.
- Some managers choose to have sales reps present their plans in private. That is fine too, and there’s much benefit to an extended session where the manager and rep can ensure they’re on the same page.
- One of the real keys to maximizing the impact from these plans is to review them on a regular basis.
- easiest way to self-manage yourself, pick up the plan and ask, “Am I doing what I said I needed to do in order to succeed?”
- Goals—What You Are Going to Achieve. provide specific goals:
Preplanning Travel: Why Southwest Airlines is my Sales Force One
- Airfares tend to be cheaper when purchased far in advance. But even more important than the savings, I want the sales rep committed to the trip.
- There is nothing that demonstrates commitment better than buying a ticket for a trip that’s four or six weeks out before you have even scheduled one meeting with a prospect!
A Balanced Effort Produces a Balanced Pipeline
- balance—in this case, balancing the sales effort across prospects and opportunities at various stages of the sales cycle. As much as anything else, this simple concept helps salespeople divide their time and their sales opportunities into clear segments.
- prospects and opportunities into just three categories: targeted, active, and hot.
- Targeted accounts are those you are committed to proactively pursuing and moving to the Active stage.
- Active accounts are those where you have started the sales dialogue, see potential opportunity for business, and need to continue working the process to move them to the Hot stage.
- Hot is when real opportunities have emerged, there is some sense of urgency on your part, and you have either delivered a proposal or will do so very soon.
- Experience shows that salespeople gravitate toward the hot opportunities in their pipeline.
- A healthy pipeline has three characteristics:
- It is full. There are opportunities aplenty, and no one deal will make or break the quarter or the year.
- It shows movement. Accounts and opportunities progress from one stage to the next; the majority of deals are not stale and growing mold.
- It is balanced. When looking at the report we see accounts and opportunities in every segment.
Questions for Reflection
- For you to begin effectively blocking time for proactive prospecting, what type of systems or defenses might you need to put in place to protect yourself from interruptions?
- Do you have a handle on your sales math? What’s the required activity level at the beginning of the sales process necessary to produce the amount of closed business you desire?
- Are your sales goals in writing? Have you articulated your strategies to develop new business and committed to certain key activity metrics?
- How will you hold yourself accountable to do what you say you need to?
- If your current pipeline of sales opportunities is not full, moving, and balanced, what can you begin doing immediately to restore it to health?
CHAPTER 15: Rants, Raves, and Reflections
- Instead of being rude or frustrated with these people, befriend them. It won’t always work.
- People usually try to help other people. Ask what you may be doing wrong. Ask for advice. Be nice.
- Making friends throughout the prospect’s organization tends to help, not hurt, your sales effort.
- Also, don’t park next to your prospect’s front door. Unless there’s an overabundance of visitor parking spaces (which isn’t likely), leave the prime spots out front for regular customers.
Attitude is Contagious
- Please come to sales team meetings on time and with a smile on your face.
- Regardless, your job is to bring your A-game every day. This is not accounting.
Your Appearance and Image Send a Message
- A safe rule is to dress one level up from the customer. You can never go wrong being slightly overdressed.
- Don’t cheap out on shoes and your carrying bag. Cheap shoes look cheap. Cheap vinyl bags look like cheap vinyl bags.
- Nice shoes make you feel like a million bucks. Keep them clean and polished.
- Please lose the embroidered company logo shirt. Everything about it is wrong.
Go After the Giant Competitor and Play to Win
- Bigger is not always better. Bigger is bigger. Sometimes bigger is harder.
- Keep in mind that in most cases you are not competing against the entire organization.
Winners Get in the Office Early and in the Deal Early
- Winners arrive early and tackle their highest-priority items first thing in the morning. They set the pace for their entire day by taking control right from the outset.
- Top-performing salespeople are not only in the office early, they also find their way into deals early.
- They’re out in front of the curve, building relationships, penetrating the accounts, launching their sales weapons, turning over rocks, and attempting to unearth opportunities.
Take Real Vacations and Stay Off the Grid
- Real vacations make us better at our jobs. Vacations refresh and recharge us.
- I promise that you are actually hurting your work by working while on vacation.
- Take real vacations. They make you better at what you do.
Team Selling: Make the Most of Your Resources
- Individually, we don’t have all the answers and we aren’t always the best suited to handle sales situations with prospects and customers. Learn to use your resources.
- I’ve seen magic happen by using other resources when I was getting nowhere fast on my own.
- My super-techie guy shows up and the buyer pretends I’m not even in the room. The two of them go back and forth speaking in code not intended to be deciphered by sales guys.
- There is no extra credit for trying to be a hero flying solo. Get help and maximize your chances of winning.
Beware Who Is Telling You Not to Prospect
CHAPTER 16: New Business Development Selling Is Not Complicated
- Prospective customers have needs. We have potential solutions for those needs.
- To grow sales and acquire new accounts, we must become successful at prospecting and developing new business.
There is No Magic Bullet
- There is often a sense of excitement that someone from the outside has arrived to share some new tricks.
- It doesn’t take long before the questions start flowing my way:
- “What’s the most powerful closing technique guaranteed to work every time?”
- “Can you help us with selling to committees comprised of more women than men?”
- “When the prospect is scheduling three competitors for presentations, is it best to go first or last? Does it make a difference if the presentations are on a Friday?”
- “What’s your secret sauce for…?”
- My standard reply is that these are all interesting questions that we may get to, at some point (not likely).
- But I’ve got my own questions that are probably a more helpful place for us to start:
- I’d like you to show me your actual prospect lists. Pull them up or print me a copy of your specific list of target accounts. Can you please tell me the strategic thinking that led to creating these lists?
- Now tell me about your account focus. How much time and effort have you invested working that list?
- Let me hear your sales story. What are you saying to prospects about what you do? How do you talk about your business?
- Let’s talk about the phone. How much time are you spending proactively calling prospects? How’s that working for you?
- Outline for me your structure for meeting with a prospect. How do you conduct sales calls?
- How much of your time is spent managing existing customers or responding to service issues, as compared with the amount of time you’re dedicating to proactive selling?
- Grab your pipeline report. Can you please tell me about the volume of opportunities you’re working and how you are investing time across deals in various stages of the sales cycle?
- You’ve got a written business plan, right? Pull it out. What are your strategies for opening new accounts and what key sales activities have you committed to?
- The truth is that there are no secret sales moves. There is no magic bullet. As badly as we all want one, it does not exist.