ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Jack Kasel

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The Similarities Between Politics & Sales

Posted by Jack Kasel on Tue, Oct 29, 2019

In this blog, we discuss what it takes to differentiate yourself as a salesperson in the market today, and how sales and politics can often be similar.  As the public tends to avoid political candidates that sound like all of the rest, the same can be said in sales. 

If your salespeople sound like every other salesperson out there, how can they become the best version of themselves? If this happens to us as salespeople when we conduct our sales calls, and there is no perceived difference between our competition and us, we become a commodity

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If you listened to any of the Democratic Debates, you listened to approximately a dozen people try to convince their prospects, (the voting public), that they are different.  Many people tend to think of politicians as being “all alike”. 

If that happens to us as we conduct our sales calls, and there is no perceived difference between our competition and us, we become a commodity.  If we are perceived as a commodity, the deciding factor usually ends up being price.

As the candidates prepare for the debates, their focus groups help guide them through how to say certain things on specific topics, with the hope that a certain phrase will resonate with their prospect, (the voting public). 

In sales, we don’t have that luxury. 

In order for us to stand out, be different, or be memorable (we refer to that as Sales Posturing), we need to focus on the business problems our clients, or prospects, have. 

The best, and only way to do that, is by asking questions.  When we get the response from the prospect, we must ask more questions to confirm and clarify the problem in terms of emotional pain and the specific dollar amount it will cost them if the problem isn’t fixed. 

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That’s how we become memorable, that’s how we differentiate ourselves, and that’s how we bring value to the people we meet.


Getting back to politics — over the course of the next several months, we will see many of the candidates fade into obscurity.  Their message just won’t connect with the voting public.  In sales, we see the same thing.  Our phone calls don’t get answered, our voicemails don’t get returned, and our wonderfully crafted e-mails get ignored. 

Why?  Because to our prospect, or our “voters”, we just didn’t do anything to be, act, and sound different

In short, we didn’t connect.

If I can leave you with one thing to remember before going into your sales calls, it’s this; we can’t talk our way into an opportunity, however, we can question our way into an opportunity. 

The more time we spend asking questions, the less time we spend talking.  When that happens, we are different and memorable.  If you become exceptional at it, your chances of  getting “elected” by your prospects greatly increases.

Someone needs what you do...now get out there and go find them!  

Topics: hire better sales people, increase sales, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, buyers journey, online sales training, politics, hire better people

The Solution vs. Budget Dilemma

Posted by Jack Kasel on Wed, Sep 25, 2019

There is an age-old debate about which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

While that debate may never be solved, there is one “which comes first” situation that shouldn’t be up for debate and that is, “See the solution first OR know the budget first?

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In our work helping client’s develop their sales talent, there are two topics that get avoided on a regular basis.  Plus, both are to the detriment of the salesperson.  Those two taboo topics are discussing the incumbent and discussing the budget.  We will address the incumbent discussion in a later blog.  For now, let's talk about the "dreaded" budget discussion.

When we refer to the “budget”, we are referring to it in three categories commonly known as
TMR—Time, Money, and Resources. It is our experience that the stronger sales professionals don’t shy away from that discussion.   They aren’t afraid to ask, “How much have you set aside to make this problem go away”?

They are successful because they follow these rules:

Rule #1Have the conversation.  The 800 lb budget gorilla is in the room, so talk about it.  If you have taken the OMG sales assessment, look at the section on “Ability to Discuss Money” to see if that is a weakness or strength.  If it’s a weakness, put a plan together to help overcome this obstacle.

Rule #2Provide context.  Regardless of the investment your prospect needs to make to fix their problem, it needs to be framed in the context of their pain and your ability to eliminate it.  If the pain is minimal, then your solution won’t seem that great.  We’ve had prospects tell us their problem is a “two comma” problem, meaning their cost of turnover was over $1 million dollars.  That’s context.  Know their cost before you proceed!

Rule #3Don’t show your solution until you know the budget.  It’s really that simple.  If you have ever provided a solution to a prospect only to hear them say, “that’s more than we intended to spend”, then you have an issue discussing the budget.  Does it make sense to know their appetite for change, including budget, before you provide your solution? Here is where the strong sales professional is different.  If the prospect doesn’t want to discuss budget, they know it can be for one of two reasons.  You haven’t uncovered enough pain or they simply want to use you as a pencil sharpener for the competition.  You don’t get paid to be a pencil sharpener so don’t become one.

In closing, don’t be afraid of the conversation.  In the history of sales, no one died from discussing budget, I doubt you will be the first.

 

Topics: Meaningful Sales Conversations, sales management, time, money, budget, solution, sales conversations

Know What You Aren't Looking for in a Prospect!

Posted by Jack Kasel on Tue, Aug 20, 2019

Prospecting isn't always the easiest task we are required to carry out in sales.  It can be daunting, monotonous, and inconsistent.  However, it must be done and it must be done well!

So, what are some ways in which you can make prospecting easier on yourself to get in front of the right people at the right time?  It all starts with knowing what you want and DON'T want in your ideal client, and being able to share this directly with your Centers of Influence in the marketplace.

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When trying to describe something obscene, William T Goldberg once said,  “I know it when I see it, and someone else will know it when they see it, but what they see and what they know may or may not be what I see and what I know, and that’s okay.” 

Confused?  Yeah, me too.

Unfortunately, many salespeople suffer the same challenges when attempting to describe what their ideal client looks like.  Why is this so important?  It eliminates wasting time (your most precious asset) and causing frustration for your Centers of Influence  (C.O.I.).

Even if trying to describe what you are looking for is challenging, it may prove helpful to first describe what you aren’t looking for

Here are some reasons why knowing what you aren’t looking for is important:

  1. It eliminates ambiguity
    • If you aren’t specific, it’s hard to get introductions. When I’m trying to make introductions for people and they are vague about what they are looking for, it makes it difficult for me to think of someone to make the introduction.
  2. It reduces frustration with your Centers of Influence
    • If you aren’t crystal clear on what you are looking for and what you are NOT looking for, your COI’s might make an introduction for you, only to find out you can’t help the person they introduced.
      1. When working with my introduction partners, I say “This is what type of business I’m looking for. Of equal importance, I really can’t help these types of businesses . . . and here’s why."
    • That brings clarity to the conversation.
  3. It reduces your opportunity cost.
    • Your opportunity cost is simply this . . . If you called on Company ABC, that means you AREN’T working on Company XYZ. Your opportunity cost is what you aren’t working on, which might be more viable for you and your organization.

So, in closing if you know what you don’t want and the reason why, it could reduce the quantity of opportunities in your pipeline, but the quality should increase dramatically.

Good luck and happy hunting.

 

Topics: qualifying prospecting, prospecting skills, centers of influence, sales prospecting

The Buyer Yesterday vs. The Buyer Today

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Jul 11, 2019

Today’s buyer isn’t your grandpa’s, or even your dad’s, buyer.  They are coming to you much deeper into the sales process, meaning they are much more aware and informed than ever before.

As a sales rep, if you discuss things they can find on your company's website or discover themselves, how valuable are you? 

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Should you choose to believe it was the Department of Defense or Al Gore that invented the internet, let’s just suppose that the internet did not exist today.  What would your client need to do to get information about your product or service?

  1. Talk to a friend, family member, or co-worker
  2. Do some research in trade magazines
  3. OR talk to a salesperson

Should they choose option three, the salesperson could discuss the product’s Features, Benefits, and Advantages, along with price and service guarantees.  All the things salespeople like to discuss.  Sadly (or not) the internet does exist, so the question I have for my brothers and sisters in sales is this . . .

Why in the world would you waste time talking about things that your prospect can find on the internet?

Today’s Buyer isn’t your grandpa’s, or even your dad’s, buyer.  They are coming to you much deeper into the sales process, meaning they are much more aware and informed than ever before. We believe if you are talking about you, your company, or your products and services too early in the sales process, you’ve lost.  Guess what?   If they are interested in that “stuff”, they will look it up.  Here’s are two things every prospect or suspect is thinking about when you call on them:

  • The goals they want to accomplish
  • The challenges they face in overcoming those goals

If you discuss things they can find on a website or figure out themselves, how valuable are you?  How different are you?  How memorable are you?  Yesterday’s buyer would tolerate you telling them things because that was the only way they could learn. 

Today’s buyer needs much more from you. 

 

Topics: sales reps, buyer, today's buyer, changing behaviors, sales differences

80/20 Prospecting Time

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Jun 13, 2019

The most successful salespeople are always challenging and adapting their personal sales process to be more effective, but they don’t challenge the notion of the importance of making prospecting their A priority every week. 

They know that no matter how successful they are, if they don’t continue to add new relationships, that eventually, their business will decline. 

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As we think about all of the things as sales professionals we're supposed to do, it really comes down to three things to get paid: 

  • Find Opportunities
  • Qualify them
  • Get a decision . . . We love Yes’, but No’s are OKit’s all the stuff in the middle that bothers us.

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I want to focus on the first thing we get paid to do and that's to find opportunities.  There are many ways we can find opportunities; cold calls, drop in’s, direct marketing, social selling (LinkedIn and Twitter), getting introductions, etc. 

Although there are many ways we can prospect, some provide a higher return on the biggest investment we can make, and that’s our time.  In a previous blog, I tried to debunk the “time management” problem.  It isn’t a time management problem, it’s a priority management problem

As we focus on prospecting, the least return on our investment is cold calling.  For all the time you invest in cold calling, the actual return (speaking to a decision maker) is extremely low.  We know it’s a necessary evil, but not a permanent problem.  On the other hand, it is a proven fact, the highest return on our prospecting timeis in getting introductions.  

So here is what I would like you to consider:

  1. Time blocking
    • Do you have time set aside each week to prospect? If you don’t, you would be well-served to block time to prospect
  2. Allocate your time within the time block you’ve scheduled
    • If you have allocated an hour a day, my recommendation would be:
      • If you have allocated 15 minutes to cold call, you should be able to get 15 calls in within that time. If you call 15, you will probably speak with two people.  How long does it take to NOT talk to 13 people?  You can make a lot of calls in 15 minutes if you are focused.
      • 15 minutes for social selling to find introductions—maybe not sell, but find introduction opportunities.
        • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogging—whichever you are allowed to do within your work rules, do it on a regular basis.
      • 30 minutes on getting introductions
        • Calling people and saying “I’m looking to expand my base of contacts” Or “I’m looking to meet great people such as yourself, when can we get together to determine if we can help each other?”
        • Identify your 15 best clients and make it a goal to get three introductions from each of them. How much success would you have with 45 new names to call?

This is just a rough outline on what you can do but the big takeaways are this:

  1. Prioritize prospecting—make it a significant part of your week.
  2. Prioritize how you are prospecting—get introductions—it will provide the highest return on your time invested.

Someone needs what you do, so go find them and start prospecting today to find more of them!

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Topics: Prospecting, introductions, Cold Calling, selling and social media, time blocking, 80/20 Principle

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    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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