ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

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.  

air-plane-fighter-night-sky-moon

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

March Madness Thursday and Selling

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Mar 21, 2019

The sales process, albeit its own animal, shares certain similarities with the monster that is March Madness.  From prospecting, qualifying, taking the big shot, closing, assessing the opportunity to win, and much more, selling and sport's greatest tournament are linked in more ways than meets the human eye.

MarchMadness123rf

This might be the biggest stretch ever in the history of my blog. How can I possibly tie the NCAA Basketball Tournament (also known as March Madness) to selling? Honestly, I’m not sure…so I will be making this up as I go. Let me begin by setting the stage for selling and how I see it is similar to the event of March Madness.

  • Prospecting > Games that are played by all Division I teams throughout the year.
  • Qualifying > Selection Sunday – based on performance of the teams, 68 teams qualify to make the tournament.
  • Assessing the Opportunity to Win > Selecting your teams from the ‘brackets’ that you think have the best chance to win OR the teams you want to win OR the teams you think will be the upset and give you a chance to win the office pool.
  • Presenting > The Madness begins on Tuesday and Wednesday night in the "First Four" games.  On Thursday, the real fun begins, with a full slate of 16 games where the participating teams play their hearts out, and let the ball bounce where it may.
  • Closing > In some cases, the game is over before it begins (or so it seems that way).  In other games there are more questions that need to be answered (Overtime) before a victor is declared.  In some cases, an unexpected outcome – an upset – a 16 seed beating a 1 seed (looking at you - UMBC - and you, Virginia!)
  • Get a decision > The loser goes home while the winner savors the victory before facing the next big challenge.

And as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now… the rest of the story.”

Think about some of the outcomes of the presentations you’ve made where you were the top seed, or where you were the one in the game with all the right things in place to help you win the business. You have the talent, bench strength, great coaching, and preparation in place.  You have presented to the prospect what you said you would present but then… in the final seconds… someone throws up a “buzzer beater” and there goes your sale.

What happened?

  • The prospect let the incumbent come in and they matched my price.
  • I couldn’t get underwriting to change a covenant.
  • They took it to the decision maker and that person didn’t want to change
  • They said it was too expensive
  • They are thinking it over
  • Etc. etc. etc.

And just like in the ball game, it’s easy to point to the last play in the game that seals the upset – RJ Hunter’s 3 pointer with less than 2 seconds left to win the game for Georgia State comes to mind:

But, when the losing coaches review the game tape with their team, they point out to their players that there were several opportunities that, if the team had performed better ordifferently, the outcome would not have come down to the last shot.

The same is true in selling. It hardly ever comes down to the last shot when determining if you will win or lose the game:

  • Matching price – You should have uncovered earlier who was going to win a price tie.
  • Changing covenants – You should know beforehand the exact specs you need to get the deal done and, if you cannot meet those specs, you don’t present.
  • Decision making – You should know the decision making process before presenting.
  • They said it was too expensive – Why didn’t you know the budget before you presented?
  • Think-it-overs – You must eliminate this as an option when discussing the decision making process.
  • Other – Uncover in advance what can go wrong and deal with those things prior to attempting to present and close.

As the sales manager/sales executive, it is your responsibility to:

  • Put the best possible team on the court.
  • Make sure you have provided your team the resources they need to win.
  • Prepare them with a solid strategy to win.
  • Practice what you expect them to perform.
  • Debrief after they perform so you can help them change behaviors and improve skill

Once you do your job, and you do your best to make sure they are doing their job, then get them on the court and see where the ball bounces.

Additional Resources:

Sales Management Environment – Building the structure to improve your chances for winning.

Sales Talent Acquisition Routine – Hire Better Sales People - get the right people to come to your team to play and WIN against the opponents in your market.

Goal Setting and Business Plan Development – Build a foundation so that your team has the required internal motivation to win in all market conditions.

Topics: Selling, sales prospecting, closing sales, march madness

Why Prospects are Like Fruit

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Feb 17, 2017

Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline.  He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.

“In The End, We’re All Just Fruit” – Watch the video!

we-are-fruit.jpg

That phrase has stuck with me all these years, and we continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System (this article has 2600 views – it’s worth reading) workshops and when we are working with our new clients for hirebettersalespeople.com. 

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"

Prospects:  They have a shelf life just like fruit: some of them a little longer than others.  Bananas – not so long, apples and mandarins a little longer, potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes.  The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either eat them or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves (prospecting in the market) for the produce you need for tonight’s meal or for meals over the next couple of days, you need to be somewhat selective so that the food you select today is fresh enough for cooking and or consuming over a short period of time.  I can buy a bag of potatoes and probably use them in two weeks.  Buy a bunch of bananas and we’ll need to eat them soon or else next week we will have to turn them into banana bread.

WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME

The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle.  They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week.  They may be in the looking, considering, “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!

Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle.  The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio where I had purchased vehicles in the past from the manager Bill Wentzel.  When the day came – my lease was expiring – I went to Bill, told him I had a check in my pocket and would like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked him if he would get me a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way and just let me buy.

Two hours later – that’s because the paper work takes that long- I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

***Note to bankers, advisors and insurance sales people***  
Your prospects are ALWAYS in the market.  EVERYONE you sell to is using, consuming and/or shopping for the services you offer.  Your timing has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be great. What has to be GREAT is your constant contact with them so that, when they are ready, you are top of mind.

 

DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

Here is my real point.  When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with produce/prospects that aren’t quite ready or are already past their prime time for consumption:

  • Potatoes too green
  • Bananas too green
  • Tomatoes too yellow
  • Peaches too mushy
  • Stickers on meat packages that say “reduced”
  • Just renewed my insurance
  • Our lease expires in 11 months
  • We have to wait until this election is over

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects – work with them on solving their problem. Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf.  Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready.

Additional Resources:

How Effective is Your Sales Process?

Do You Need Better “Shoppers” (sales people) Who Won’t Perish? Sales Mistake Calculator

How to Determine a Qualified Prospect – Post-Call Checklist/Scorecard

Topics: Pipeline management, sales prospecting, closing sales

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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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