ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

The Two Truths and a Lie of Prospecting

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 11, 2019

Prospecting for salespeople is often a struggle due to varying factors including their ability to stay committed to the process and overcome rejection.

In this article, we cover the dreaded,  but mandatory, task of sourcing and creating new sales opportunities.

deceive-1299043_1280Salespeople have to prospect – that’s the truth. Salespeople can find their prospects through a variety of different avenues, including; introductions, direct mail, internet offers, networking, internal referrals from business partners, cold calling, campaigns, association memberships, and business networking groups. 

What is also true is that, no matter how a sales person gets a name, the next step is to contact them. You can contact them by mail (email or snail mail) or by phone (the most common method). If you are going to have any chance to schedule time to talk with them about their current situation to determine if they are a prospect for you, you must have contact. That’s the truth.

Prospecting is FUN! Now, that’s a lie. Prospecting isn’t fun. It’s not intended to be fun. Anyone that says it’s fun is lying. If you are a manager, don’t tell your people to “just pick up the phone and have fun with it”. They will know you don’t know what you are talking about.

They’ve had fun before: Water skiing, swimming, hiking, going to a play or the opera, having a picnic, watching a ballgame, getting a promotion, a raise, or recognition for a job well done. All FUN! However, facing rejection, not talking to anyone, having people curse or hang up on you, having people who schedule appointments and then cancel or don’t show up?  ZERO FUN.

If prospecting isn’t fun, then what is it? Back in the day when I was still trying to figure out how to be successful in selling, my coach told me this:  “You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it!” And that is prospecting.  It’s called work and not play for a reason. It is work. You have to put a lot of preparation, emotion, intellect and skill into being successful at prospecting. David Kurlan from Objective Management Group has found that the single biggest contributor to sales success is the ability to be rejection-proof. Even with all the skill, techniques, scripts and preparation, if you cannot handle the rejection and emotional roller coaster of prospecting, then you will struggle, be inconsistent and fail more than you succeed.

The bottom line is that this isn’t about making it fun. It’s about getting the job done so you have solid appointments that turn into solid opportunities that turn into closed business. THAT’S where the fun is!

Topics: salespeople, Prospecting, commitment, overcoming rejection, sales management, introductions, networking, Cold Calling

The 19 Keys to Selling Success

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Jan 04, 2019

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2018 was a great year here at ACTG and we are excited to wish you a Happy 2019!

However, the new year can be a bit overwhelming, don't you think? 

It's a new year filled with new quotas, new clients, new goals and so much more.

So, we decided to interview our Sales Development Experts here at ACTG with their keys to selling success this year and beyond.  What were they? 

Check out all 19 below!

  1. Stop worrying about selling and focus on helping.  Stop offering to come by and visit the prospect and instead ask “would you find it helpful if….”  Ask prospects what you can do to help them without regard for whether or not there is a sale involved. It is why the 3-step inoffensive close ends with:  Do you think I understand your problem? Do you think my firm can help you solve your problem? Do you want my help?
  2. Persistence. Stay with it whether it is making calls, following up or following through. What we know is 80% of sales are made between the 5-12 outreach to a prospect so persistence to win business is crucial.
  3. Be committed to doing what it takes. Often times, one of the reasons salespeople struggle to see great sales success is because they aren’t as committed as they need to be. Be willing to try and do whatever it takes, even when you are uncomfortable.
  4. Every exit is an entry somewhere else. Don’t give up or be let down just because someone said no – maybe they can help you with a referral or you’ll land a client with that next phone call or meeting after the discouragement.
  5. Have a non-negotiable extraordinary sales goal that you are committed to reaching. Most salespeople focus on just hitting their year-end goal, not exceeding it. When you strive towards an extraordinary goal (roughly 20% above your year-end goal), and that’s your only focus, even if you don’t hit it, you will likely meet or exceed your company goal.
  6. Be OK with “no”.  It frees up the conversation and lowers the walls of resistance when the prospect knows that it is OK for them to say “no.”  There are three different parts in the sales process where the salesperson should be letting the prospect know it is OK to say “no”: (1) on the phone setting up the first appointment, (2) at the last meeting before the proposal is delivered and then finally (3) at the meeting where the proposal will be shared.
  7. Be coachable and vulnerable. In other words, be willing to admit there is a lot that you don’t know and always ask for help.
  8. Be a giver. Support your internal partners as they prepare for conversations and presentations. Make sure that your ‘selling’ is all about asking great questions and listening to understand so that you can help your clients grow (vs sell them something).
  9. Have an attitude of success. Selling can feel like a solitary pursuit and you need to believe you will get there. Half the battle of success in sales is owning your own style and having faith in your skills, knowledge and abilities. If you believe you will win, your likelihood of winning increases substantially.
  10. Be resilient and tenacious.  Don’t let prospects squash you with think it overs, stalls, objections and “no’s”. There is always another door to try- it’s just about asking the right questions of the right person at the right time.
  11. Do the work. Selling is hard work and cannot all be done sitting at a computer. Get out and meet with current clients to leverage the relationship and ask for introductions. Also, attend networking events to meet different experts in your or target industries.
  12. Have a sense of urgency. Send the follow-up email the first time you think of it. Make the return phone call when you first get the message. Work when your competition isn’t.
  13. Don’t get in your own way. Eliminate roadblocks and excuses from your head space. Don’t let the anxiety of being turned away keep you from picking up the phone. Don’t allow internal “noise” interrupt what you get paid to do- which is hunt, qualify and close business.
  14. Properly build bonding and rapport. To many, bonding and rapport means liking the same sports team, enjoying the same weekend activity or frequenting the same restaurant as a prospect. To us, bonding and rapport means proving you deserve a seat at the table. Your proved benefit and value are more critical to developing trust and relationships than similar taste in food. Ask your prospect what the key challenges for their business and industry are for the year or what is in the way of their growth.
  15. Stick to the schedule. Different things can get in your way daily- emails, internal meetings, proposals, etc. Highly successful salespeople build and stick to a time blocking schedule religiously. Identify what your key activities are, when the best time is to do these activities and build a schedule you can live by.
  16. Utilize social networks. LinkedIn can be your best fishing net and your best safety net. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn to make connections and develop relationships, as well as explore new opportunities.
  17. Constantly focus on developing yourself as an industry expert. Continue to educate yourself on new trends, the changes in your market and developing different techniques. This will help you stay relevant in your space and position yourself as a leading professional.
  18. Don’t get happy ears. Don’t let soft buying signals like “This looks great. It makes a lot of sense. I’m interested” rush your process. Keep a level head and really drill down with your qualifying questions to identify if a prospect is really interested or just blowing smoke.
  19. Don’t forget to celebrate the successes. It’s difficult to win these days so don’t forget to enjoy those moments- no matter how big or small. Every sale gets you one step close to hitting your personal and professional goals.

We hope this helps you achieve greater sales success in this coming year! Successful selling in 2019 from your friends and partners at Anthony Cole Training Group.  Call us if you need help!

 

Topics: Selling Success, 19 keys to selling success, reaching sales goals, setting goals, setting sales goals, sales advice, goal setting

Success is Not a Resolution but a Revolution!

Posted by Alex Cole on Thu, Jan 03, 2019

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Sales success starts with a resolution, but finishes with a revolution.

Some important Revolution dates for reference:

1516 - Protestant Reformation

1776 - Colonial Revolution

1789 - French Revolution

1861 - Civil War

1800 - Industrial Revolution

1971 - Technology Revolution

These revolutions came about because individuals had resolved to "change". The changes were not easily started, executed or finished. There were significant costs in terms of money, resources and lives lost. In the end, however, the end justified the means.

Here are the changes I would like to make in 2019:

  1. Go Green. Not environmentally, but from an execution perspective. I will be tracking 5 metrics for success in 2019 and will inspect them weekly. When I meet or exceed my goal, I will inspect that effort and duplicate it for future efforts. I will also recognize that anything below 90% of my activity goal is a failure.
  2. Re-align my time usage to reflect my priorities and track my actual time usage for the first 90 days of 2019. By then, I should have developed my habits to reflect my objectives and priorities.
  3. Have an attitude for success. Half the battle of sales success is owning your own style and having faith in your skills, knowledge and abilities. If you believe you will win, your likelihood of winning increases substantially.

If you are going to have a "different" year in 2019 than you had in 2018, then something must change. Aside from solely talking about change, you must have a concrete plan to actually change, along with a process to stick to that plan. It will not be easy, it will probably not be fun for a while, and you will have your doubts. But you must "burn the boats" if you are going to succeed.

Happy New Year and best of success for you!

If you liked this article, check out more of our material at ACTG

Topics: time management, habits for success, sales metrics, sales attitude, Selling Attitude

Go for the "No" Early in the Sales Process

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 20, 2018

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One of the keys for more effective selling is going for the ‘no’ early in the sales process. I learned this concept years ago especially when I was vulnerable to ‘think it overs’ (TIO). I would get ‘think it overs’ at several stages in the sales process and maybe you get them as well:

  • On the initial phone call when you’re trying to get an appointment – “Let me think it over, give me a call next week.”
  • At the end of your initial meeting – “This sounds really good and something I should consider. Let me think it over and I’ll get back to you in the next couple of days.”
  • When you finish your presentation and you ask for the sale. “You made a very compelling presentation and we are impressed with your depth of knowledge and your very creative solutions to our problems. Let us meet as a group and go over this one more time and crunch some numbers.  Let’s plan on talking next week.”

Sound familiar?

Of course it does and these ‘think it overs’ are what is keeping you from being more effective in your sales process. That’s nice to know or consider but the question becomes, “What do I do about it?” (click here to listen to a 3-minute audio clip on eliminating TIO)

As I learned early on is to get ‘no’ as soon as you can. What is important to understand about getting ‘think it overs’ is the mindset of your potential buyer. Your potential buyer will tell you that they need to think it over because:

  • They really don’t intend on making any changes but you impressed them with some information that they want to take to their current provider and see if they can do what you can do.
  • They have a need for approval and instead of telling you they are not interested they want to let you down easy. Telling you they want to think it over gives you hope and get’s them off of the hook until the next time you talk.

To fix the problem, eliminate ‘think it over’ as an option. Let your prospect know that when you finish the next meeting, next conversation, the final presentation, they will have everything they need to make a decision. You can tell them that you will be prepared to answer all of their questions and when you are finished, they will be in a position to make a decision- yes or no. Then simply ask what objections they have to that process.

This one key will help you close more business, more quickly at higher margins.

For more tips on how to uncover a prospects real reason for wanting to ‘TIO’ watch our Sales Guy Unplugged video on the “Question Behind the Question”.

Topics: effective sales process, Sales Process, effective selling, think it overs

Sell Better, Sell Faster, Sell Smarter

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Dec 18, 2018

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When a company first starts out, there probably isn’t much of a sales process, or team, in place. The one or two advisors target prospects, introduce them to the company, and close deals according to their own preferred methods.

Of course, as the business grows, sales leaders must implement a repeatable, scalable process to turn a trickle of income to a steady, predictable stream. With all salespeople using the same systems and playbooks and adhering to the same process, the sales organization (hopefully) becomes a well-oiled machine instead of a Frankenstein-esque contraption stuck together with duct tape.

What’s the secret to accelerating sales growth? While people and process usually precede systems, sales is somewhat of an exception. The right Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) can help empower people and define process.

The right CRM system can accelerate your business’ growth, bring in profitable, happy clients, and enable your sales team to sell better and faster.

Sales today is a far cry from what it was just 20 years ago. The advent of search and social media means sales requires research and careful customization as well as knocking on doors and building relationships.

But different doesn’t always mean better. Even though changing times necessitate new approaches, some salespeople merely transfer their old methods to modern channels and sometimes they are still effective because of their relationships and network.

As with the introduction of technology into the workplace, change is coming if it hasn’t already- and change is hard. But the right CRM system can not only enable salespeople to update their practices, it can also give them a competitive edge in the market.

Read more of The Definitive Guide to Selling Better and Faster by clicking on the button below.

 The Definitive Guide to Selling Better & Faster

 

Topics: sell faster, CRM, sales acceleration

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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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