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The Single Most Important Element of Sales (and No One is Talking About It)

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

Bridging the Pipeline Chasm: 3 Essential Elements for Converting Leads to Closed Business

As sales leaders, we place a high degree of focus, energy, and resources on lead generation to keep our sales pipeline full, and of course, flowing steadily. And rightly so, we direct an equally high degree of these same assets toward the other end of the pipeline where – if all goes according to plan – we chalk opportunities up in the plus column as closed deals.

Your success at both the beginning and the end of the pipeline is crucial for obvious reasons. Yet it is how effectively we move deals through the middle of the pipeline that calibrates our over-all level of success.

To build an analogy, the beginning and the end of the sales pipeline are the pillars of the sales process. They are the columns supporting the bridge to revenue. But it is, in fact, the middle of the pipeline where a salesperson must perform their greatest feats. Read more

To Leave or Not to Leave (a Voicemail Message)

The debate about whether to leave a voicemail message on a cold call is as old as voicemail itself. You all know that leaving a voicemail rarely results in a callback, no matter how great your technique. Statistics found on various sales web sites show a range of five- to ten-percent of voicemails are returned. So even if you are spectacular at your VMs, you might top out at 25-percent call backs. So is it really worth it?


I say yes. Definitely. You just need to change your reason and expectations for leaving that message. Instead of expecting a callback, use the voicemail as a friendly, personal, targeted billboard. If you do it right, the next time the person sees or hears your name, they’ll have some kind of positive brand recognition. Read more

Three Quick Tips for a Better Interaction

The next target name and title for your new B-team salesperson pops up on his screen. He takes a quick look at the company web site and then punches “dial”. His conversation starts the exact same way his last conversation did. He doesn’t have any context for how your company can help his target, instead using a “One Conversation Fits Most” approach.

How much better would his sales numbers be if he could cater each conversation to the person on the other end of the phone?

1. Research the company as it relates to what you’re selling: It’s not enough to get an overview of the target, for example, understanding that they manufacture and sell lenses. Your team needs to get a quick overview that is relevant to the product that they want to sell. Using recent articles about the company might have tremendous hints for their needs (for example, if they have new management or if they recently opened a new location). In addition, current articles about their industry might point to pain that they’re having that your company can address (for example, if there is a huge market for a new size of lenses and they are going to need to ramp up production). If you can start your conversation with a relevant bridge between what you’re selling and what they need, you are much more likely to engage a sale… than with a generic conversation. Read more

4 Simple Steps to Building a Perfect Escalator – Not Elevator – Speech

By Jim Domanski

The trouble with a classic elevator speech is that in tele-sales no one has the time or the inclination to hear what you have to say.

Communicating by phone is different than face to face where a suspect or a prospect will grant you a few more moments if only to be courteous. On the phone it is simple and easy for a prospect to terminate the call and that’s one of the main reasons why you need an escalator speech.

An escalator speech is an abbreviated version of an elevator speech and it is absolutely vital in the world of B to B tele-sales. Whereas an elevator speech is based on the premise that you present what you do over the time it takes to travel a few floors up an elevator, the escalator speech is based on the premise that you present what you do in the time it takes to travel only one floor. Read more

2011 Strategies for Improvement – Increase Call Volumes

Most sales organizations will have a goal of increasing the following in 2011:

  • Number of qualified leads
  • Number of opportunities in the pipeline
  • Number of closed deals

All of these goals have one thing in common – increasing current output levels.  There are many ways to arrive at making the gains in output – add more people, work longer, etc.

With many organizations using the telephone more and reducing travel, one place to look at in more detail is productivity on the phone.

More Calls = More Results

The wonderful thing about increasing call volumes is that the results of those call tend to track consistently across all of the milestones in your sales cycle.  All things equal, a 20% increase in call volume will equate to a 20% increase in: Read more

WIIFM – What’s In It For Me – Your Secret Weapon to Getting Your Prospect’s Attention

Change.  Inevitable,  Constant.  Everyone’s talking about it.  Social media, the new (2.0) customer, the downsized organization – and how selling strategies need to change to adapt to today’s customer.

As sellers, I think we can all agree on a few things, today’s customers:

  • Are harder to get on the phone
  • Are less likely to respond to email
  • Can discover a lot more about us and our solutions than they used to be able to (because we help them)

Oh yeah… one other thing:

  • Our solutions and services are still relevant… helping improve and optimize our prospect’s businesses.  Read more

Results from ShadeTree’s Who To Call Survey

In October 2010 ShadeTree send out a survey request to sales vp’s and managers, inside sales managers and marketing vp’s and managers.  The short survey was focused on understanding how salespeople go about the job of prospecting:

  • Figuring out who to call
  • Where to find names
  • Building list / call queues
  • Related challenges

Key Findings:

  • Over 60% of salespeople report difficulty determining who to call
  • 82% of salespeople reported that better lead pipeline reporting would be valuable to them
  • 73% of salespeople have difficulty building call queues within their CRM system

Below are results from the survey.   Read more