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Mark Trinkle

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Knock Knock…Is Your Prospect There?

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Jun 07, 2019

In today's world of selling, it is increasingly more difficult to get the attention of a prospective buyer after only a few outreach attempts. We know they're busy but let's face it, we're all busy. So, how do you stay consistent (and persistent) in your outreach with a prospect while remaining sensitive to their daily lives and the distractions they face?

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From the dawn of time until present day, it has always been a difficult task for salespeople to be able to reach the prospects they call and email each day. They call…and they email…and they keep following up, wondering if anybody will ever do one of two things:

  1. Answer the phone.
  2. Return a voicemail/reply to an email.

While certainly not a new development in selling, engaging with prospects has become increasingly and dramatically more difficult in the last 10 years.  If we go back to 2009, it took around 8-10 outreaches on average to engage with a prospect. In 2019, that number has risen to 16-18 attempts. Keep in in mind those are averages. Sometimes it takes even more attempts to get the prospect to pay attention to you.

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Recently I was leading a sales training workshop in Dallas and a high-ranking bank executive asked me why I thought the number of outreaches required had basically doubled in the last decade. In my judgment, there are three main reasons:

  1. Distraction: prospects are busier than ever before and are constantly battling the numerous distractions that come their way. Their mobile device buzzes and they have to look. The email notification on their computer sounds and they can’t resist. Some have estimated that the typical person picks up and puts down their mobile device between 600-700 times each day.
  2. Competition: there is more of it than ever before and it’s fiercer than ever.
  3. Commodity: the belief of the prospect that, in at least some industries, the vendor calling them and the vendor they currently use are essentially the same. The prospect just doesn’t see any meaningful difference. To them a bank is a bank. An insurance broker is an insurance broker. A technology provider is a technology provider.

Of these three reasons, #3 is the most concerning (or it should be). And here's why.  If you don’t differentiate yourself from your competition by providing value, your prospect will do the differentiating for you. But they won’t use a measuring stick of value. They will more often than not use a measuring stick of price.

Finally, here is another sobering statistic about the world of modern day selling. While the average number of attempts has increased to 16-18, most salespeople quit after less than 5 attempts. Maybe they think the prospect is being rude by not replying. Maybe they think that in the good old days people used to return calls. Regardless, the world has changed. Prospects are a hard fish to catch. 

You might need to be out there fishing just a bit longer than you would like.

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Topics: sales madness, contacting prospects, reaching prospects, phone calls, prospect engagement, prospect outreach

Four Reasons Behind Sales Madness

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Mar 28, 2019

In our follow up to last week's March Madness write-up, we discuss the idea of "sales madness", and the notion that it can be defined similarly to insanity, or doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

There are four reasons that make up our judgement into sales madness.  They are:

1.) Uncoachable Salespeople

2.) A failure to recognize that the game has changed

3.) Being allergic to hard work

4.) A failure to add value

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Like many of you, I always enjoy the month of March.  The temperature at least is supposed to start trending in the right direction…my birthday occurs in March (thanks to all of you who sent gifts)…and last, but certainly not least, is the NCAA basketball tournament that we have come to know as March Madness.  Wall-to-wall basketball with good food and good friends is something we look forward to each year here at Anthony Cole Training Group.

As a sales coach, there is another kind of madness I see that is not exclusive to the month of March.  I refer to it as "Sales Madness."  I define sales madness just like others have defined insanity: doing the same thing over and over while at the same time expecting a different outcome.

So, what about this other kind of madness?  Where does it come from?  I sense there are several reasons why salespeople keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, but, to keep our theme of March Madness alive, I give you my “Final Four” reasons that make up the madness. 

They are:

  1. Uncoachable salespeople - Some salespeople are simply averse to changing their game.  Maybe they are stubborn.  Maybe they have an inflated sense of how good they really are at putting the ball in the basket.  For whatever reason, the salesperson will push back when anyone attempts to coach them to higher levels of performance.
  2. A failure to recognize that the game has changed - It still surprises me how many salespeople are trying to sell like the famous musical artist Prince – like it is 1999.  Buyers today are on a journey.  They are more informed than ever before.  They are starting the process on their own instead of waiting for a salesperson to reach out to them.  Almost 80% of C-Suite level prospects have indicated they will not even come to the phone for a conversation with a salesperson they do not know.
  3. Being allergic to hard work - Some salespeople have concluded they can continue to have the same (or even better) results without hustling even more for rebounds and loose balls on the floor.  That won’t cut it.  There is more competition to deal with…not less.  Prospects are more cautious…not less.  Buying cycles (note that I did not say sales cycles) are longer…not shorter.  Sure, you might be really talented.  But remember this – hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.
  4. A failure to add value - Two things happen when salespeople don’t provide value along the buyers' journey that prospects take:  they don’t differentiate and they don’t build relationships.  Add those two things together and it might explain those unreturned emails and voicemails.

I always like asking the salespeople I coach one simple question: 

  1. How much are you willing to put on the table in terms of what you are willing to change?  Those that are willing to take the scary route of change generally score more often.

Enjoy your Spring…and here is to confining the madness to the hardwood!

 

Topics: sales career, coaching sales people, sales habits, getting better sales results, highly successful sales people, sales madness

Is Your Current Sales Opportunity Real?

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Feb 21, 2019

In this article, we discuss and identify the three main reasons why salespeople get duped into believing a specific opportunity will close and why some deals are not worth chasing.

They are:

  1. Weak pipeline
  2. Failure to ask tough questions
  3. Afraid to pull the plug

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“Reality is merely an illusion.  Albeit a persistent one.” - Albert Einstein

Throughout my sales coaching career, I have yet to meet a salesperson who does not understand that sales will require hard work.  Yes, they might all have a different willingness to put in that hard work, but they understand that selling is not for the faint of heart.  They know that there will be some rough days.  They also understand that when they accomplish what they need to each week, they will generally be tired come Friday afternoon.  They don’t mind working hard.

But what they do mind (and this is universal), is chasing hard after a deal that, as it turns out, they had no chance to win.  They were punching above their weight class.  And as a result, they wasted their time.  In my opinion, there is nothing more expensive to you as a sales professional than spending time pursuing an opportunity that you have no chance to win.  Simply put, you can’t get the time back.

So why does it happen so frequently?  If you knew you were lost, when would you want to know that?  I am guessing before you wasted more gas going in the wrong direction.  Right?

I believe we can identify three main reasons why salespeople get fooled:

  1. Weak pipeline – We know that weak pipelines "make cowards of us all."  If you have not eaten in a while, any food looks good to you.  It won’t matter if it is the right food…or if it is good food.  It is food so you will eat it.  Which is precisely why you should not go grocery shopping while you are hungry.
  2. Failure to ask the tough questions – The best day to lose an opportunity is the first day. The second best day to lose one is today.  Are you asking the tough questions of your prospect that will allow them the opportunity to self-select out of the decision?  Or are you asking the easy questions to get you to the next step in the process?  What are you pretending not to know?
  3. Afraid to pull the plug – Sometimes opportunities start well, but then the salesperson is met with radio silence from the prospect. And rather than “politely” confront the prospect with what the radio silence means, the salesperson keeps chasing.  Radio silence can mean the problem has gone away, the problem has been swallowed up by other priorities, or the prospect has solved the problem with someone else.

So, is it time for you to “get real” with a prospect in your pipeline?  The time you save is yours.

 

Topics: sales competency, how to improve sales results, sales advice, think it overs, salespeople, sales interjection, sales opportunity, radio silence

It's the Little Things in Selling

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Jan 16, 2019

people-2588594_1920Selling is a 'slight edge business' that is driven by one more phone call, one more prospecting effort, one more cold email outreach, one more social media push, and one more effort to build a new relationship and land a new client.

In this article, we cover the basic principles of control in sales and how the little things are actually the big things when it comes to selling effectively and separating yourself from the competition.


One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from salespeople is, What is the secret sauce to sales success? or, Can you just give me the magic?  I need to sell more business.  Actually, there is a secret sauce, and if you will permit me to enter your kitchen, I am going to serve it up to you.

There is no one thing that is a big thing in selling.  In our organization, we refer to selling as a “slight edge business.”  By that we mean that the line that separates high performers from mediocre performers is usually a very small difference.  Think in terms of maybe just one or two more conversations a week, or one or two more presentations a month.

The Olympics are a perfect example of this truth.  Think of almost any race, whether that be swimming, track and field or skiing.  Do you know what separates the athlete who wins the gold medal from the athlete who finishes just outside the bronze medal?  The answer is fractional seconds, sometimes even as little as tenths of a second.

There is very little you can control in selling.  You can’t make prospects take your call.  You can’t make prospects agree to meet with you.  You can’t make them move forward in your sales process and you certainly can’t make them buy from you.  There are only 3 things you are in control of:

  1. Your effort on a daily basis
  2. Your attitude on a daily basis
  3. Your investment in becoming a better or smarter version of yourself (self-improvement)

Selling is not going to suddenly become easier.  Leads are not likely to become more plentiful. So, the question that is worth asking is this:  What are you doing to shave fractional seconds off your sales time in the 2019 race you are running?  What are the little things that when done week in and week out will amount to big things in terms of your 2019 production?  Maybe it is the one more conversation you need to have each day with a prospect.  Maybe it is the one book you will read or the one new connection you will add to your network that will make all the difference.

Sometimes little things are so small you won’t even notice them when you look back at your sales success.  But that doesn’t mean that it is not a big thing to worry about the little things.

Topics: sales competition, sales growth and inspiration, things to do for sales success, how to improve sales, sales advice, sales acceleration, salespeople

"I Could Sell More if Only I Could _____"

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Nov 08, 2018

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I've got a fill in the blank for you.

Are you ready?

"I could sell more if only I could _____."

What comes after could? We had the chance to ask that question around the country with a variety of companies both large and small and it's interesting to hear what salespeople say when you ask them to fill in this particular blank.

Sometimes, you'll hear...dare I say excuses. Sometimes, you'll hear...dare I say, valid reasons for why they're not selling as much as they would like or their manager would like. When we hear that answer, we immediately think about the core steps in the sales process.  

You have to go see people. You have to call them first. Then you must go see them, you must have meetings, you must qualify them and deliver presentations, and of course, you have to win your fair share. 

As you think about calls, meetings, dials, qualifying prospects, and closing deals, ask yourself these major questions.

If you're not where you want to be in 2018, ask yourself,

  1. Why are you there?
  2. How long have you been there?
  3. Are you fully committed to getting back on track?
  4. What's going to be required to get back on track?
  5. Do you have to get there?
  6. What happens if you don't?
  7. What is the problem costing you?
  8. Do you have to fix it?

If you know anything about our organization, you know that is how we encourage the unveiling of the sales process. 

Asking your prospects questions like:

  • What is going on?
  • What do you have to fix?
  • How long has it been a problem?
  • What have you done to try and fix it?
  • Do you have to fix it?
  • What happens if you don't fix it?
  • What's this problem costing you? 

All of that fits into one of two categories: Excuses or reasons

Just remember as you answer the question, "I could sell more if only I could ____."  If your answer is an excuse...

"Excuses are the nails used to build houses of failure."

Now go out there and get it done!

Topics: sales productivity, solving sales issues, how to hit goals in sales, self management

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    About our Blog

    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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