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Managing 80/20 Prospecting Time to Increase Sales

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Apr 08, 2021

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

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They know that no matter how successful they are, if they don’t continue to add new relationships, that eventually, their business will decline. If you really want to increase sales this year, you MUST block off time every week for prospecting new clients.

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

  1. Find Opportunities
  2. Qualify prospects
  3. Get a decision

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-ins, 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 time is in getting introductions.  

So here is what I would like you to consider:

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

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, prospecting skills, sales prospecting, increase sales, time blocking

The Importance of Profile Fit in No Assembly Required Hiring

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 18, 2021

Your potential sales candidates have to have a successful history selling the way your company sells, to the people you sell to, in the environment you sell in.

In the 5th installment of our blog series, No Assembly Required Hiring, we discuss the importance of recruiting salespeople who not only fit your selling requirements but also match the specific criteria of your organization.

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You believe you recruited Wonder Woman: someone with a great resume, OMG findings that showed strong Will to Sell, great Sales DNA, and they scored well in Sales Competencies. You could reasonably expect Wonder-Woman-level sales results. However, 12 to 18 months later, the results you see more closely resemble Aquaman (the 1967 version- not the new and improved Jason Momoa model). 

So what happened?

There could be a couple of explanations:

  • All salespeople need coaching – it could be that your sales manager is great at managing performance but not at coaching.
  • The onboarding process didn’t address some of the findings that needed work in either the Sales DNA or Sales Competencies categories.
  • The OMG is 92% predictive – you may have hired 1 of the 8 that got through.
  • Or, and this is the topic for our discussion today, it could be that there was a poor role fit.

When using and establishing the OMG pre-hire assessment, the sales executive answers a series of questions about the environment that exists within the company and what is required to be successful in that environment. The questions asked revolve around, but are not limited to, areas like the following:

If this is what it takes to succeed in your organization, and your candidate doesn't have success selling within your environment, they will struggle despite the Will to Sell, Sales DNA, and Sales Competencies. When we see overall strong results, but there is a mismatch with your criteria, “Recommended for Hire" doesn’t mean hire! You have to be ready to take on a project, adjust your onboarding expectations, increase the frequency of coaching, and change the type of coaching you would typically conduct.  

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Here is a sample from the pre-hire assessment that provides information about role match:

Imagine for a minute that the candidate did meet OMG Criteria scores for the Will to Sell and Sales DNA. There would still be a yellow flag in the category of Meets your Criteria if the candidate didn’t answer the questions the same way you did for role experience. This example tells you that your candidate wasn't successful as a high ticket seller, and they will not hunt for new business. This is a mild case of mismatched historical success and predicted success for your organization.

Over 25 years ago, we got our start on the big stage with USI Insurance. Back then the focus of that company, and many in the insurance brokerage industry, was organic growth from current salespeople and occasionally hiring a hotshot broker from one of the larger firms. They looked for brokers that would bring a high level of experience to the firm and possibly bring some large accounts with them. 

Often these highly touted recruits would fail. Why? Because the environment for success was different. They didn’t have a business card that had the name of a company that was easy to defend if something went wrong. Their success was based on the ability to show a card that said Aon or Marsh. In addition to having the right stuff, your candidates have to have a successful history selling the way your company sells, to the people you sell to, in the environment you sell in. 

They have to be a fit, and they have to be coachable. As you think about your next hire, think about the reasons people have failed in the past. Structure your recruiting, vetting, and onboarding process to uncover problems early and/or address them if you decide to take on a project.

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Topics: Sales DNA, performance management, increase sales, hire better salespeople, will to sell

Solution vs Budget: The Great Dilemma

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Feb 11, 2021

Typically, when a salesperson doesn't win an account it's due to a few different factors; the prospect didn't have a compelling reason to make a change, the salesperson didn't do enough to uncover their capacity to invest, or the incumbent wasn't properly eliminated from the running.

In this article, we discuss the 3 Rules every successful salesperson must follow in order to eliminate stalls and objections during the sales process.

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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?” 

In my work with helping client’s develop their sales talent, I know there are two topics that get avoided on a regular basis, and both are to the detriment of the sales person. Those two “taboo topics” are discussing the incumbent and uncovering the budget. I will address the incumbent discussion in a later blog.

When I refer to the budget, I am referring to it in three categories commonly known as ‘TMR’—Time, Money, and Resources. What are they willing to commit, in the context of time, money and/or resources to make their problem go away? It is my experience that the stronger sales professionals don’t shy away from that discussion. They are successful because they follow these rules.

Rule 1#

Have the conversation. The 800 lbs. budget gorilla is in the room so talk about it. Don’t make it part of your opening conversation, but don’t ignore it either. If the need is big enough, and your solutions fixes it, most of the time, they will find the money.

Rule #2

Provide 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 #3

Don’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. They haven’t uncovered enough pain or the prospect simply wants 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.

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Topics: qualifying prospects, Selling Success, asking questions, Qualifying skills, increase sales

Some Assembly Required Hiring

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 04, 2021

How important is it that your new hire be able to identify a prospect's compelling reason to make a change or the resources they have set aside to fix their business problem? Our guess is probably pretty important.

In the 4th article of our series Hiring No Assembly Required Salespeople, we discuss the questions you must ask yourself of a candidate's skills and what critical selling competencies you must look for before making a hiring decision.

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Occasionally some assembly is required when you hire a new salesperson. I have been using the Objective Management Pre-Hire Assessment with 92% predictive validity for over 20 years. OMG has assessed over 2 million people for over 31,000 companies worldwide. (Go to STAT FINDER for a high-level summary) They know what makes up an effective salesperson. And by extension, with the dozens of companies we have evaluated and the thousands of salespeople we have assessed and observed, this is what we know at Hire Better Salesperson.

 

Elite salespeople (the top 7% of the over 2,000,000 assessed) are evaluated just by how they score on the evaluation but are identified by their company as successful, hitting and or exceeding goals, and when stack ranked are top performers. not

 

What the assessment finds is the following:

  1. They score 613% higher in the comfortable talking about money competency than weak salespeople.
  2. They score 23% higher in the selling value competency
  3. They score 74% higher in the uncovering budget competency
  4. They score 55% higher in reaching decision making competency.

 

These findings beg the question or several questions, but I will start with this one:

 

How important is it that your new salesperson be able to...

  1. Ask and talk about the capacity a prospect has to invest time, money, and resources to buy the products and solutions you provide?
  2. Uncover and position value instead of selling, attempting to compete, or winning just on price?
  3. Uncover the available budget and meet with the person, or persons, that have the authority to write the check?
  4. Get to the actual decision-makers, or make sure that all resistance to making a decision has been eliminated, using a strategic approach working collaboratively with the inside champion?

The second question is; when would you want to know that your new salesperson is NOT capable of doing the things mentioned above? Or, somewhere in the first 12 months of their employment with you, when do you discover that they are not closing because they do not possess these competencies?

The purpose of this article is NOT to discourage you from hiring someone with these weaknesses. It's to help you better understand that by using a sales-specific assessment, instead of a personality or behavioral-based evaluation, you know in advance what assembly is required. 

 

When you know this information, you can create a series of intelligent hiring decisions based on the answers to these questions:

  1. Is this candidate coachable and have the Will to Sell competencies necessary to fix or improve these areas?
  2. Does this candidate have the supportive Sales DNA to improve in these areas? 
  3. Does my current sales manager know how to address these deficits? (look at your current production report. If about 36% of your people are at the bottom of your production report, that is a sign. Not hitting a goal, or 2, is another. In these cases, chances are you do not have a manager that can address, fix, or improve someone that needs assembly).
  4. If I have someone that can develop people, do we have the appropriate finances, time, and bandwidth?
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Topics: increase sales, hire better salespeople, highly successful salespeople

The 3 Things Keeping You From Connecting With Your Prospects

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jan 28, 2021

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 that 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 mind that these are averages. Sometimes it takes even more attempts to get the prospect to pay attention to you.

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 before!
  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.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: prospecting skills, sales prospecting, increase sales, contacting prospects, prospect outreach

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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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