Depending on which articles your read; whose studies you consider, it is said that as much as 60 percent of business deals are lost due to indecision. The prospect opts to hang tight to the “status quo.” While there are times that it’s prudent to keep the status quo most of the time doing so inhibits progress. Historically had our nation not undergone challenges to change the status quo we would still be attending the Church of England; plantation owners would still be buying slaves to pick the cotton, and women most certainly would not have the vote. Without challenging the status quo we wouldn’t have advances in medicine, science, and technology, nor would we be searching the Universe for a backup plan. Embedded in the very definition of life is the condition of change. Without change; without growth all things die or get swallowed by the competition, especially in this age of technology. Each prospect that you talk to who chooses to make no decision has their reason. The trick is to learn their reason and address their concerns by opening a dialog. Dig Deeper. Respect Prospect’s Perspective Even a “no decision” is based on something. You prospect knows their balance sheet and they know the team under them. They may see all change as a risk, whether the company is still trying to gain a solid footing or is in a comfortable holding pattern. Rule of thumb: Remember, when your mouth is open, your ears are closed. Let your prospect lead the conversation, and then reflect back your understanding with questions and comments that prove you are hearing what they said. Example: “I hear that your current system is effectively meeting your needs when it comes to call volume, but that it doesn’t track activity history at an ideal level. How does that affect your analytics?” A pro/con dialogue will give insight to both you and your prospect.
Validate the Difficulty of the Change Process
Discuss the different aspects of the change process ahead of time. There should be no surprises at the eleventh hour. Keep the conversations real and compassionate about how the steps will affect the prospect.
- It will cost time. Production may have to slow while new software is implemented and the users are trained. Time lost may show a temporary drop in revenue. The new efficient system will quickly make it up and continue to push revenue up.
- It will take energy. It will take structured effort to get everyone trained and comfortable with the new system. Schedules will have to be coordinated for training, and progress fastidiously monitored.
- It will take encouragement. Reassuring reminders about the benefits of the new software during the training process will ease the transition. When you know your product everything seems simple, but to the person trying to learn it, not necessarily so. Take care not to assume that everything is understood. Check and recheck. Patient, consistent re-enforcement will get the job done.
Give Control of Change Process to Prospect
It’s important that the prospect has control of the change calendar within reason, and that they choose the initial trainees. When customizing the software to meet specific needs, it’s crucial to keep an open dialogue and gain approval for significant modifications. Avoid buyer’s remorse by encouraging conversations that addresses any fears that develop during the transition, and make it comfortable for the prospect to put all issues on the table.
Just Guide; Don’t Take Over
There are two ways to teach. You can do it and let the learner watch, or the learner can do it while you watch. The fact is, people learn better with their hands on, and your position as just a guide will result in a smoother process. Mistakes during training are a great clarifier of understanding; easily fixable. Guide, and resist the urge to take over. Dissecting the sales process and digging a little deeper into the reasons for no decision being made will payoff for all concerned. Build long-term relationships through communication.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” ~Steve Jobs
While it is true that sales is a numbers game there is a fine line between what is best, quantity or quality, when it comes to filling your call list with prospects. You can argue that it’s a hit and miss situation so the more leads you have the better your chance of connecting with a voice, over a machine. You can tell yourself that if the person who answers isn’t the right person that they will gladly give you the number to call of the one that is. You can tell yourself that your supervisor will be happy just to see that you made an impressive number of dials. You can hang onto the idea that it is totally about persistence – but is it?
Statistically, according to Leap Job – “only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment.” Is that a statistic you simply have to live with, or could you change it if you thought about how to fill your call list with quality, instead of quantity? What if you took the time to actually differentiate between a good lead and a nonproductive one, and communicated that to those who are harvesting your leads? Gartner Group notes, “Typically if a firm has somewhere between 100 and 500 employees there are only about seven people who are actually involved in the buying decision.” Wouldn’t you like to find them?
Bad Lead – Quantity Harvesting
- A person who by virtue of their job title doesn’t have the ability or authority to invite a second call.
- A lead to someone in an industry that doesn’t fit your product.
- A lead with incorrect contact information.
- A lead that no longer works for said company.
Imagine how much time and money is wasted when your call list is filled with bad leads. You might make an impressive number of dials, but you won’t make an earth-moving number of sales, because it isn’t possible when you’re talking to the wrong people. On top of that – how frustrating is it for you to make dial after dial that is met with a negative outcome? How do you keep up your spirit – not to mention enjoy any measure of job security? It’s no wonder that there is such a high turnover in sales jobs. Anyone who can beat your success statistics can have your job. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes.” – Einstein
Good Lead – Quality Harvesting
- A lead with the job title that authorizes them to invite a second call.
- A lead who works for a company that you know that your product actually can help
- Leads that have undergone routine data cleansing and are verified to still work for the company.
Imagine how it would feel to be calling the right people. Trading quantity for quality means a higher level of success, higher job revenues and increased job security. While it may seem that finding the right person to call is like looking for a needle in a haystack, it really isn’t. It’s a matter of defining criteria, and then looking specifically for that. If you do an advanced search out on LinkedIn you can eliminate much of the hay and get down to the needle. Often times you can find the right person on a company’s website. An experienced sales person knows which job titles have authority and passing the word down to those who harvest the leads can make a difference. Setting up a schedule that keeps your lead’s job verification current within 6 months or a year will keep things cleaner and more productive.
There is one other important step. Once you have a quality call list you need to put it in an application that allows you to truly attack it. Incite2, a Salesforce add-on offered by ShadeTree Technology will impart magic to your call list because it allows for momentum you can’t get anywhere else. It consolidates all Salesforce data so that on one page you can click through calls, schedule next steps, send appropriate communications and keep track of your sales history. A few clicks during and after your call, and you quickly move onto the next call. With Incite2 you can triple your call volumne.
It is fact, Gone With The Wind was rejected 38 times; Irving Stone’s, Lust for Life was rejected 16 times, and then went on to sell over 25 million copies, and Stephen King was told, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias They do not sell.” There is an uncounted number of authors who heard “no” tons of times before they got their foot in the door – William Faulkner; George Orwell; John Grisham; Joseph Heller, John le Carre, J.K. Rowlings; Rudyard Kipling…. Imagine the loss, had they given up.
Understanding the reasons for rejection and having a call list that is geared for success can increase your odds of garnering that second call. The bottom line is, when you work in a profession where you hear no repeatedly; you have to find your mettle and ramp up your persistence to turn the negatives into positives.
Human Factor in Rejection
Any number of a prospect’s personal issues may trigger a “no thanks.” Just thank them for their time, and call someone else.
- Discord at home
- Personal financial worries
- Discontent with their job
- In a bad mood
- Lack of confidence
While connecting with a live voice feels encouraging, if you aren’t talking to someone who can invite you into the sales cycle, your connection has no value, unless you can get them to give you a referral. Increase quality control at the lead generation level. Purpose is served if Sales talks to Marketing.
- Get selective about the job titles that are added to your data bank.
- Be aware in the subtle shift in language when you’re searching for specific types of titles. There is a fair amount of creativity at play when it comes to the exact wording of job titles. Some sound more powerful than they are: Sales Leader, Sales Representative and Sales Associate, for example.
- While it makes sense to import such titles as VP of Sales; Director of Sales and even to some degree Manager of Sales – don’t over look the terms “Sales Enablement” and “Sales Effectiveness.” They are titles less called, but they hold the power to invite the coveted second call.
Quality Control at Lead Generation Level – More Positive Calling Session
- Verify employment at LinkedIn and/or company websites before creating a lead.
- Know that software that mass imports leads – lacks quality control. It doesn’t check for employment.
- Set up a list based on date employment was last verified. By changing the date on it monthly you can re-verify employment on both your leads and contacts once a month, so no verified employment is older than a year – or whatever amount of time works for you. It sounds like a lot of extra work – but once you get it in hand and do it every month – it really only takes a brief amount of time, and the end result is that sales is more apt to connect with someone who is still actually working at the company. Save time; save money and live with a more productive call list.
When the Prospect Says No
- Know that it isn’t personal
- You haven’t reached the right person.
- You called at an inconvenient time.
- Your call script needs work.
If Your Enthusiasm is Low
- Engage in more shoptalk with your coworkers. Ask them about how they approach and handle different situations. Shared tricks of the trade are invaluable.
- Avoid the stress of stumbling. Be sure you know about all upgrades your product has under gone. Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough.”
- Set reasonable goals for yourself to keep you moving. Make it a game of personal challenge.
- Attend some seminars where positive energy can be recharged.
- If you haven’t taken any time off and treated yourself to a getaway – consider doing so.
While in sales “no” is heard more often than “yes” know that it doesn’t mean the end of the road. Don’t give up without exhausting all possibilities. If your product makes life easier and more productive for people, every “yes” that comes back and thanks you, will make the “no’s” pale in comparison. Persistence is the name of the game.
Speaking strictly from a scientific point of view, when the creation of life as we know it happened, many believe that it did so with a very precise, exacting set of circumstances. There is great debate in the scientific community about whether any variation of events would have obliterated all possibility of life or if there was a little fine-tuning wiggle room in it. Scientist Stephen Hawking sees things as pretty well fixed. He has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the Big Bang had been less by the smallest amount imaginable, that everything would have collapsed into a fiery ball, and life would not have happened.
Thankfully when it comes to humankind there seems to be purposeful wiggle-room. Religion and science may disagree on the creation of life – but they will both agree that humans aren’t perfect. By virtue of our very humanity, there is always room for improvement.
A – Allow a critical eye. Step back and look at the whole picture. Are you content with the number of calls being made, the new business relationships you’ve started, the established relationships that you’ve shored up with quality follow-up, and the dollars that have come in? Question the overall efficiency in all of your processes – and look for the weak spots. Where do you fall short – research, organization, call scripts, mailed messages, or activity documentation? How accurate are your analytics?
B – Buy into new possibilities. There is an old saying, “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.” Do you know how your competition operates? Do they have tools that you don’t’? Do they have any methods that nets them greater results than you’re getting? What kind of feedback are you getting from social networking/social media? Is there new software out there that can make your process stronger?
C – Congratulate yourself for having the wisdom to fine tune the process. More often than not life is about a leap of faith. If you’ve taken an introspective look at the way you do business and stepped out on the ledge of a new possibility that improved your sales efforts, congratulate yourself, and then go back to A.
There are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to products that can make your sales life easier, more efficient, and more profitable, but Incite2 offered by ShadeTree Technology is a Saleforce add-on that should be on your list of considerations. It efficiently collects the various pages in Saleforce and puts them all one page – which by itself is a time/money saving factor. Building call lists is the heart of the increased success rate that is a given with the product. Do put a view of their demo on your exploration into new possibilities.
In the United States of America we are guided by a Constitution that protects our right to be individuals in thought, deed, and beliefs as long as we don’t step on our fellowman. We thrive because we’re all different, and our differences are the threads from which our flag is woven. Lumping people and companies into groups; giving them a number, and dealing with them in a generalized mass handling method may not bode well with a nation where people value their right to be an individual.
The evolution of email marketing In 1978 Gary Thuerk, Marketing Manager for Digital Equipment Corp sent out the first mass emailing, earning him the title of “Father of Spam.” It didn’t take long for others to see his approach as a potential gold mine. In theory, it was. When the public protested, action was taken. In 2003 Spam laws were put in place, so the processors of mass emailing had to learn how to adhere to guidelines, and mailings went on. The afore mentioned article does make it look like mass mailing is the be all to end all – but there is a danger when you fail to keep your finger on the pulse of consumer attitude.
Mass Emails: The Seller’s Point of View
- Emails save money. Direct Mail is expensive.
- You save time. You can put your energies elsewhere.
- Emailing is efficient. Click the mouse and you’re done. No heavy bundles to drag to the Post Office.
- You reach an unlimited number of prospects.
- More people will know your company’s name and product.
- You can repeat the process over and over again.
If every ten emails nets you one chance to make a sale; it stands to reason that you’ll get ten chances if you send out 100 emails, and so forth. Do those statistics pan out in real practice or are consumers beginning to see the process as one that shows no respect for the hard work a business owner has put into making their business unique?
Mass Emails: The Prospect’s Point of View
- Who I am, what my company stands for doesn’t matter. I’m seen as nothing more than a random target.
- I’d rather have a meaningful conversation than a bulk sales pitch.
- Tons of time is spent cleaning out my online mailbox, when I have more important things to do.
- Opening emails from an online sender that I don’t know, puts me at risk for computer viruses.
- If I open your email and choose to discard it, I’m annoyed when you just come back at me wearing a variation of your original email address.
- I will remember your name – which may not serve you well.
The Future: Mass Conversations
The bottom line is mass marketing via emails might make a seller’s life easier, but you might be shooting yourself in the foot by forgetting that making a sale depends on you being able to make your prospect’s life easier. To do that you have to learn to adapt and stay current with changing attitudes. It might serve purpose to take Marketo’s fresh viewpoint under consideration in their article Conversations, Not Campaigns. In this whitepaper, Marketo outlines an approach that uses engaging emails that are sent based on the buyer’s interest and behavior. Since these emails are triggered by behaviors such as viewing pages on a website, clicking links in an email, and filling out forms, the content is delivered at exactly the right point in the buying process. These “conversations” become much more targeted and allow for a wide variety of content to be generated but only the relevant information is delivered to the prospect, when it is needed.
At a certain point, companies need to pick up the phone and have a meaningful conversation with a prospect. Incite2, the Salesforce add-on that is offered by ShadeTree Technology makes it easy. Paired with a Marketing Automation program like Marketo, Incite2 can help sales people pick up the marketing “conversations” without missing a step.
What about Bob?
We all know someone who goes through life with a rainbow overhead. He just does what feels right and makes his quota every month. Somehow, we all wish we could be like him. It would be such bliss, wouldn’t it? Just go out there and sell your socks off and live the life; carefree and bonus-bound. Park that in the category of dreams, because in reality, most of us could use at least some help staying on task in order to make our number. Think about this:
How can we get in front of the curve?
Wouldn’t it be awesome every sales professional could be a rockstar? Trust us when we say it doesn’t always happen by chance. In order to make quotas consistently, a solid plan needs to come into play. Once a plan has been established, measure and track execution of the plan. Track progress towards goals and make changes as needed. Sales will ultimately gain confidence in their work when they can effectively manage their time and resources.
Sometimes we are so focused on the design (our relationship with our customer, their needs, their timing, their sense of value) that we hate to leave the “important stuff” to go and figure out what we actually need to be doing next. When we get in “the zone” we get so focused on resonating with our customers that when we are finished talking with them, it’s hard to switch gears and start thinking about what comes next. Where am I now? Where do I need to go next? What do I need to do now?? How can companies automate this process so sales representatives know exactly what to do next?
With this question in mind, our developers here at ShadeTree have made it possible to automate this very process with our product, Incite2. To see how this tool helps sales professionals know what to do next, watch a short video or schedule a demo and process discussion with a sales advisor.
Sales conversations inevitably follow a specific course, down one topical path. It is a well-worn and often quite predictable track called “product and price.” To improve your chances for a sale, you may try to steer the conversation in other, more intellectual directions. Your intention of course is to engage the buyer in a higher quality discussion that addresses their precise challenges and objectives.
Every sales organization has one over-arching objective to which all other activities are in service and that is to meet or exceed its revenue goals. For sales teams, that is how “victory” is defined.
If you run a sales team, odds are pretty high that you’ve been focusing on the following in order to ensure your team is positioned and prepared for success: Read more
All inspired and resourceful reps that expect or intend to blow past their quota start their day in the same dedicated manner. They ask themselves two fundamental questions:
1. “What should I do today?” (Prioritization)
2. “What do I need in order to do it?” (Execution) Read more
Would you like your sales pipeline to be optimized, or to operate in a more streamlined fashion? I am not referring to the number of prospects currently in the funnel, or even the number of deals being worked. I am asking whether you would like to guarantee that every prospect and every deal is moving swiftly through the pipeline in the smartest, most efficient, and most effective manner. If you are nodding “yes”, then you are my kind of manager – forward-thinking, and motivated toward finding a practical and sustainable solution.
Optimizing the pipeline is the essential key to unlocking productivity. In the dynamic and constantly evolving world of sales, that is the equivalent to finding “the holy grail” is it not?
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So how can you begin to approach the strategy of optimizing your pipeline? I suggest laser-focusing on the all-important follow-up process. That is because consistent,persistent, and expedient follow-up is what actually moves deals through the pipeline. This means no hesitations, no hindrances, and no hurdles. In a recent post, I described follow-up as the single most important element of sales for those precise reasons. In today’s post, I will reveal the steps you can take to transition from good to better, and eventually, from better to best. Read more