ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Walt Gerano

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Stop Accepting Think It Overs (TIO)

Posted by Walt Gerano on Thu, Aug 15, 2019

Facing stalls and objections throughout the sales process is a common occurrence for many salespeople. What we find is that, often, it is due to ineffective qualifying and not asking for the prospects commitment to take action prior to presenting a solution.

In this blog, we will cover the 10 common symptoms that suggest you may accept put-offs from prospects and how that is affecting the strength and quality of your sales pipeline.

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While we are hoping to hear yes after our presentation, sometimes we hear a no. But how many times are you hearing “I need to think it over”?

Think about the last 10 sales opportunities in your pipeline that didn't convert to a "yes."  How many of them are still in the pipeline because you are “hoping” for a yes while they “think it over” and get back to you? 

Now ask yourself what percentage of the time when you allow “TIO”, do you actually get the business? My guess is that, if you are like the rest of us, that number is pretty small. So let’s stop kidding ourselves about the strength of our pipeline and quit accepting “think it over” as an answer.

Since we agree that “TIO” is not the most effective strategy for closing more business, let’s look at some of the symptoms.  You may not identify with all of these but it only takes one to derail your sales effectiveness.

  1. Do you keep going on appointments with prospects that don’t fit your ideal profile?
  2. Are you answering more questions than you are asking?
  3. Are you completing a pre-call plan for every sales call with questions you will ask and curve balls you expect?
  4. Do you rely on cold calls instead of introductions and referrals?
  5. Do you think “running faster” is a strategy?
  6. Are you too trusting of prospects and what they say?
  7. Are doing most of the talking on your sales calls?
  8. Are you talking too much about products and not enough about problems?
  9. Do you go on any appointment because you don’t have enough in your pipeline?
  10. Are you asking for the prospect’s commitment to a “Yes” or “No” answer before you come back, present your solution and answer all of their questions?

Eliminating “TIO” is easier than you think.  First, let’s agree that it’s OUR fault.  If you have a sales process that allows for “think it over”, then you are going to get the “think it over" response every single time. 

If you don’t have an effective sales process, then what are you waiting for?  It's time to get one and follow it consistently.  

Stop fooling around with prospects that want to “think it over” and go sell something!

Topics: sales commitment, think it overs, extra mile, yes or no

Who's in Charge Here?

Posted by Walt Gerano on Tue, Jul 16, 2019

A majority of sales people are so happy to get in front of a prospect that they sometimes allow them to control the sales process.

How do you get out in front of this and make sure that you are running the sales conversation? Stop wasting your time with people that don’t meet your criteria.  Failure to do so causes you to not only waste a lot of time, it keeps you from getting to real prospects that need your help.  

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A majority of salespeople are so happy to get in front of a prospect that they sometimes allow them to control the sales process.  Whatever question the prospect asks, we answer it.  Whenever the prospect asks for information, we give it to them.  When they want a proposal or quote, we go back to the office and begin to work on it.  

Who’s in charge here?

We didn’t really focus on how qualified they were, just whether or not we could get in front of them and how quickly we can present a solution.

Maybe we should find out if they are really a prospect.

  1. You have to find out why they took time to meet with you, the “why am I here?” question.
  2. You have to be of the mindset that they have to qualify to do business with you.
  3. You have the right to get all the information you need to do the job being asked of you.
  4. You have the right to make decisions that are not popular with others, remember don’t walk, talk, look and act like all the other salespeople.
  5. Finally, you have the right to walk away from anyone who isn’t a prospect.

Here are 4 things (at a minimum) you need to know in order to have a qualified prospect.

  1. Do they have a problem (PAIN) that they are committed to fixing?
  2. Do they have the time money and other resources to commit to a solution?
  3. Do you know their decision-making process, and have you met with ALL decision makers prior to agreeing to present?
  4. Did the prospect agree to a decision, yes or no, when you present your solution?

If you answered yes to all of those, then you have a prospect.

Stop wasting your time with people that don’t meet your criteria.  Failure to do so causes you to not only waste a lot of time, it keeps you from getting to real prospects that need your help.  Remember, no prospect, no problem. 

Next!

Topics: qualifying prospecting, Qualifying leads, closing sales, Business Development, qualifying sales prospects, sales preparation, prospect engagement

Declare Independence From Your Own Obstacles

Posted by Walt Gerano on Fri, Jun 21, 2019

As we approach the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, our own Walt Gerano shares his thoughts regarding the obstacles holding us back from experiencing the sales success we desire.

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243 years ago, 13 colonies declared themselves as newly independent sovereign states and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead, they formed a new nation—the United States of America.

Have you declared your independence from the things holding you back from experiencing the success you desire?

When you look at your business today, you might agree that you need to prospect more consistently, qualify better and know when to move on from a prospect. But you still have opportunities in your pipeline that are stuck. The question is why and what are you going to do about that?

Why don’t you prospect more consistently

  • You don’t have enough people to call on.
    • When was the last time you asked for an introduction or spent meaningful time on LinkedIn?
  • You don’t have the time.   
    • What activity is more important to the growth and success of your sales practice than prospecting? Schedule prospecting time first.
  • You are fearful of rejection. 
    • Rejection is nothing compared to failure.

What about qualifying?

  • Do you prepare with a pre-call plan for every call to make sure you know how you will get the answer to the question; “why am I here?” (First question you should ask on a call)
  • Are you ready for the curve balls? Those are the annoying questions that you wish they didn’t ask.
  • How and when will you deal with the incumbent?

Why are “opportunities” stuck in the pipeline?

  • Does the prospect really have enough PAIN to move forward and make a change?
  • Do they have the money to fix the problem?  Did you even ask about it?
  • Are you meeting with all of the decision makers prior to presenting your solution?
  • Have you dealt with the “return of the incumbent?”

There is nothing here that you don’t already know. It’s the middle of the year so take a few minutes and evaluate where you are and what you will do about it.

Claiming your independence requires nothing compared to what was sacrificed all those years ago. Let’s remember this week what was at stake and what an incredible gift their fight and sacrifice is to this day. God Bless America.

Topics: qualifying prospects, freedom, sales prospecting, getting sales decisions

Why Success in Sales Leads to Personal Freedoms

Posted by Walt Gerano on Thu, May 09, 2019

Achieving the work-life balance sales professionals all hear and dream of starts with having a personal vision and a set of non-negotiable goals.

In this article, we will discuss the 4 must-do sales activities and the characteristics that all successful salespeople share when striving for the freedom of success.

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We recently celebrated Cinco de Mayo, which is an annual celebration held on May 5th. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's (unexpected) victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza.

So today let’s commemorate the victory and personal freedoms that comes from success in sales.

There are two freedoms that successful people enjoy: the freedom of time and the freedom of choice. You see, when you are always playing from behind, you never feel like you can take time off or treat yourself to that vacation or long weekend.

Successful people aren’t successful by chance or luck. They all have (at least) four things in common.

  1. They all have a vision of where they want to go, starting with the end in mind.
  2. They have a mission. The “how you will achieve your vision” -in other words what are the behaviors associated with success.
  3. Goals become the mile markers that let you know when you’ve “left the road”.
  4. And they have a “WHY”- why they keep going when they don’t want to.

So, decide what freedoms you want. Determine what those freedoms require. Build your plan to get there.

  • It all starts with your success formula, the behaviors you must execute day in and day out to accomplish your goals.
  • Track your behaviors weekly and be accountable to someone other than yourself (we’re too good at explaining to ourselves why we didn’t do something).
  • Know your SMART numbers- what are the key metrics that really drive your business, those can’t miss numbers.
  • Build your Unique Sales Approach (USA) that is compelling to the people in your sandbox; those that fit your profile.

Finally, don’t do all of this and stick it in the drawer. You should review your vision, mission and goals annually and your success formula and SMART numbers quarterly.

Now go out and sell something and celebrate the freedom of success.

Topics: success formula, Sales Plan, freedom, achieving sales success

7 Rules of the (Prospecting) Road

Posted by Walt Gerano on Wed, Apr 10, 2019

There are a certain number of rules that must be followed when it comes to prospecting in sales. 

These include, but are not limited to, making the commitment to get out of the cold calling business, identifying who you will ask for introductions and referrals each week, ensuring exactly how you will evaluate your success, and creating a pre-call plan for every single call and/or face-to-face meeting.

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Some people say that rules were made to be broken. You might want to think twice about breaking some of these rules for prospecting.

The most successful salespeople I know are always challenging the ideas and methods of those that have succeeded before them, 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. 

Here are some rules to help you prospect and prosper:

  1. Play in your sandbox. Make sure you have a profile of who you need to be in front of. Call on the people and businesses where you have expertise, and can leverage that, along with your experience.
  1. If you are dependent on making cold calls, make the commitment to get out of the cold calling business. You will schedule appointments and make sales cold calling but the acquisition cost per sale is much higher than with referrals and introductions. Not to mention the sales process is generally longer.
  1. Look at your schedule each week and identify who you will ask for introductions and referrals. It could be face to face meetings, networking events or a meeting with a center of influence. Have a process for asking that makes it easy for people to help you. Bring your list of top 10 prospects to every meeting and ask them who they know on the list that would take a call from you? Better yet, make use of LinkedIn and look through their connections for people and businesses that look like your target prospect.
  1. How will you evaluate your success? Make sure to set objectives whether it is with a success formula or a commitment to specific behaviors and then TRACK IT!
  1. Have a telephone approach that when calling for appointments helps you sound like someone they want to speak with. What is your unique selling approach? What problems do you fix and why do people meet with you? It must be compelling.
  1. Do a pre-call plan for every call, on the phone or face to face, to help you stay on track. Know what questions you will ask, what questions you need answered and the tough questions they will ask along with how you will respond.
  1. Don’t quit, be persistent! Rejection is part of the process. It’s not falling down it’s staying down that defeats us all.

Topics: introductions, Cold Calling, Referrals, persistence, success formula, pre call sessions, effective sales process, hunting for sales prospects, ideal prospect persona, sales acceleration, salespeople, sales opportunity

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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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