I can still hear my high school office practice teacher, Mr. Kimball, saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” If you knew how far back that was, you’d be impressed with my memory. There isn’t a sales person breathing that would disagree with Mr.Kimball. You pick up the phone; dial and you have about thirty seconds to make a first impression that will garner you a second conversation.
Being the professional that you are, you are prepared, you’re in the zone, and you score the coveted invite to a second conversation; that’s great. Now what? Now is the time to start thinking about what your last impression will be. The fact is, when all is said and done you will be remembered for one of two things; the problems you solve, or the problems you create. Closing a deal is one thing, but getting the yearly renewals is another.
Make or Break Practices
Deal Breaker: False promises about your product’s capability.
Renewal: Be upfront about what your product can and can’t do. Customers rarely expect all or nothing. If your product is a fit for them, they will be content with knowing that their suggestions will be considered for future updates.
Deal Breaker: Hidden costs.
Renewal: No surprises. Present a contract that puts every cost in plain view, before the deal is closed.
Deal Breaker: Failing to call when you say you will. Slow response when a message is left. Being unreachable.
Renewal: You are accessible. You promptly return calls. You follow through with your promises to call on a particular date, at a set time. If something truly unavoidable gets in the way, make amends – starting with an apology.
Deal Breaker: Giving insufficient training on the use of your product will lead to buyer’s remorse.
Renewal: Thorough, patient training in the use of your product where you invite all questions, arrange hands-on learning time, and work through the customizing of your product with the customer – until they are both satisfied and comfortable.
Deal Breaker: Once they pay the bill consider your job done.
Renewal: Regular monitoring during the trial periods, and an open line of communication that spans the years you maintain the business relationship will prove to be worth the effort.
Deal Breaker: Failure to keep your customer’s business confidential.
Renewal: Unflinchingly protect every confidence; no exceptions; no excuses.
Best Practice : Aim for more than a sale; aim for a long-term business relationship. Never forget that whether you are remembered for solving problems or creating them – your customers will spread the word. Make sure your last impression, be it at the end of a phone call, or the end of a subscription, is one that you can be proud of.
Many companies pay significant amounts of money to generate leads for their sales teams, and yet, many of those leads never get called. Salespeople have a tendency, like most of us do to take the path of least resistance, and as a result, many otherwise perfectly viable leads get ignored and become stale. Why is that?
Problem #1: Where to Begin
Some salespeople have a knack for organizing their day and executing on the highest return activities, but they are in the minority. Lacking clear direction and a solid plan, the majority will actually only spend about 40% of their time on the most valuable sales activities. Whether it’s a lack of confidence, or a lack of organization, the result is the same… a lack of worthwhile activity.
Problem #2: But Other Leads Responded
If salespeople are getting more traction with a handful of their leads, others are often left to rot on the vine. Intuitively, salespeople equate activity (any customer-facing activity) as a buying signal, the fast track to sales nirvana, the shortest path to quota attainment. Unfortunately, just because a lead is willing to talk, doesn’t necessarily mean they are the ideal lead that should get the salesperson’s full attention, to the exclusion of others.
Problem #3: I Got Distracted / Busy
Social media, email, customer issues, colleagues over the cubicle wall…the list goes on and on. A recent article by Reuters states that an estimated 2.1 hours of productivity a day is lost, per employee, because of distractions. It’s not necessarily that the distractions themselves are not pertinent, but the refocusing time to get back to the task in a fully cognizant mode after being distracted or interrupted can be as much as 15 minutes!
Problem #4: I Tried Once, but They Didn’t Answer
Experts differ and pontificate on the number of attempts one should make to reach a prospect before giving up. Anywhere from 4 to 18 attempts have been recommended so it’s clear that calling once and giving up should not be an option.
According to a CSO Insights survey, sales reps research as many as 15 different sources prior to calling a prospect. 82% of sales teams feel challenged by the amount of data available and the time it takes to research a prospect before making a call.
You’ve got some hard working salespeople. So why are they struggling to make quota? The problem could be that they are busy doing a lot of the wrong things. Equipping your reps with the right tools can make all the difference. If you could give your reps more time to sell, more focus, more confidence, a guide to prioritize who to call and when, and what to say to them, what might that be worth? How would that speed up sales cycle times?
Get involved in the conversation in the comments section below!
“Your beliefs become your thoughts;
Your thoughts become your words;
Your words become your actions;
Your actions become your habits;
Your habits become your values;
Your values become your destiny.”
The truth is that in an effort to keep things simple we often do them the most complex way. It’s just human nature, or is it? Think about it; how many versions of the sink or swim story have you heard? Is there anyone, anywhere who doesn’t know someone whose father threw them in the water, to teach them how to swim? What about no pain, no gain? How many believe that if you don’t learn it the hard way, that you don’t thoroughly learn it? Is it possible that we were taught the hard way and then adopted it as the only way?
Five Missteps when doing it the Hard Way and
What to Do about Them
1. Failure to Organize
Cold calling is hard enough, but tackling it without a plan is harder. Take advantage of your ability to create lists in Salesforce. Lead pages already have a “Status Field” but if you add such to your Contacts pages – you now have the ability to create a productive list to work from based on status. Calling just got a whole lot faster.
2. Neglecting Research
While many step over the research step in their day, likely because it’s time consuming and only a few calls in an hour actually net a conversation, doesn’t mean there isn’t any value in being prepared. When you know a company’s product, you know what you can do for them. If you know about their achievements and recognition’s you just might get your foot in the door. If they have newly acquired another company, you may be able to play to that fact. While it may not be practical to dig deep for every single call, even if you just use the account note field in Salesforce to note small details as you learn them, you’re better off than having no research. Buy your lead generators a cup of coffee once in a while – and they might just be willing to make a few notes for you.
3. Skipping the Call Script
When you ad lib the conversation you give up control. The Internet has a wealth of information. With just a little research you can find the elements of conversation that are most likely to get you a second call. You have just seconds to get it right, and quite possibly only one crack at it. Leaving it to chance can be sales suicide.
4. Lack of Follow Up
Despite the fact that you make hundreds of calls a week, it’s important to always keep your word. In the sales jungle, it is truly survival of the fittest. You have to do ten things right to erase one wrong thing. Best practice: If you say you will call back on a certain day; at a certain time – do it. If you promise to only take a moment of their time – do it. If you are asked not to call them again – don’t. Find someone new to call. Make your word your bond. Follow up, and follow through.
5. No Time Taken to Document
Documenting all activity may be the last thing you want to do when you hang up the phone, but failing to do so means that the numbers fed into analytics will give back a false reading. It is a numbers game, and everyone’s paycheck depends on them. You should know that without documenting where you’ve been, there is little chance of knowing where you should go.
It is possible to take control of the process, and success can be achieved doing things the easy way.
Email may not seem like an ideal communications medium when it comes to increasing sales productivity and captivating prospects. It is, however, how most sellers and buyers communicate today. More than likely your reps rely on emails as a follow-up to phone conversations and to communicate throughout the sales cycle.
Because email follow-up, while necessary, takes away from valuable selling time, it’s important to have an email process in place that is time efficient and still effective. To be effective, the content in a follow-up email needs to captivate your prospects. Read more
Follow-up is what drives revenue at EVERY stage of the sales pipeline.
Reps cannot close deals without following up on each and every opportunity. They cannot generate nor motivate these opportunities without following up on leads, no matter how ‘qualified’ they are. Taking these fundamental components as imperatives, you could therefore emphatically state that timely, relevant, and credible follow-up is what moves deals through the sales pipeline. Follow-up is the single most important element of all sales cycle activity.
If you use Salesforce CRM, you have more than likely invested a great deal of time, money, sweat and tears intending (or hoping) for it to serve as the primary, indispensible, must-have platform necessary for great follow-up performance. Salesforce.com is great as a platform. But it doesn’t do anywhere near enough to help reps manage or manipulate the follow-up process itself. Since it can take up to 10 touches per prospect, and reps then have to navigate through the cumulative list of follow-up activities, this less-than-streamlined process becomes nothing short of problematic. If excellent follow-up is at the heart of quota attainment, then having a poor process is immensely counterproductive. Read more