ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

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.

pexels-snapwire-618613

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!

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: Prospecting, prospecting skills, sales prospecting, increase sales, time blocking

3 Rules to Improved Candidate Selection

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 25, 2021

When you don't have a pipeline of sales talent to go to when making a hire, you can become desperate. You become desperate because you believe having someone in the role is better than a vacancy.

In the 6th blog of our series No Assembly Required Hiring, Tony discusses how to avoid making reactive hiring decisions and the 3 rules you must follow to improve your candidate selection.

gerald fishing

What are your expectations of your salespeople when it comes to prospecting activity and a healthy pipeline? If you were going to go fishing, what is one of the keys to catching more fish? Not into fishing, then let us talk photography. If you want to capture the perfect sunrise picture, what is a fundamental principle to improving your probability of success? Last question to help make my point. If you want to improve any skill you have, change any outcome that you are unhappy with, what must you do?

The answer to these questions can be summarized here:

  • You expect your salespeople to consistently prospect
  • You need to have your lure in the water
  • You need to snap hundreds of photos to get the ONE
  • If you want to get better at a skill, you must practice thousands of times

What does this have to do with improved candidate selection?

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

Rule #1 Always be prospecting

As in the movie Glengarry Glen Close, when Alex Baldwin tells his salespeople to always be closing, I’m telling you to always be prospecting. 100% of the time over the last 25 years, when I ask sales managers, sales executives, and presidents if their prospecting was more proactive or reactive, they say reactive.  That is a problem because you are now acting out of desperation. When you become desperate, you feel pressure to find someone to fill the chair because your mindset is that you cannot let that chair go empty. Someone in the chair is better than no one in the chair. Do not believe that lie.  

The problem is, when you are reactive, it can also mean that you are being held hostage by someone. Let us assume that the recent open chair is a result of a termination you had to make. Chances are it was a decision that you made months ago but could not pull the trigger sooner because that employee:

  • Had tenure
  • Managed a single large account
  • Had a significant book of business or portfolio
  • Wasn't costing you anything

I want to challenge you on this. If you budgeted to hire two but could only grow headcount by one, who would be gone tomorrow? Then why are you waiting? You're waiting because you don’t have a pipeline of potential salespeople.

Rule #2 Own lead generation

I am not going to suggest that you stop using recruiting or placement firms. What I am suggesting is to stop using them as the reason you are not seeing enough candidates.

What do you do when your salespeople blame their lack of sales on the competition, the economy, or the mindset of your company? I am hoping you ask them: “If you didn't use that as an excuse, what would you be doing differently?" You must have that same attitude about filling your candidate pipeline.

If you own it, then you will fix it. Also, you can't blame HR or the hiring managers. You hired them; they have a responsibility to make sure the job is getting done consistently both in activity for candidate lead generation and execution of your recruiting process. 

Rule #3 Inspect what you expect

If you expect salespeople to report on sales activity, pipeline opportunities, and client retention meetings, then you and the executive team must submit to inspection on candidate lead generation, and execution of the recruiting/hiring process.

  • If you have a team of 5 people assigned to get introductions, network within associations, talk to former/current employees or connect with product partners, you need to inspect monthly their activity compared to the goal.
  • If your hiring procedures identify that assessing is the first step in the recruiting process, then you need to inspect that it's being done. No one should go rogue on this just because it is a candidate they know, and or the local president knows all the players in their market.
  • If you use a scoring process that objectively evaluates candidates every step of the way, then everyone that touches the process must follow and use the same process.

Failure to have a documented hiring process like the one we use, the Sales Talent and Acquisition Routine, will lead to inconsistent steps and processes. That will eventually result in the variability of performance from your new hires.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: Prospecting, sales talent acquisition, hire better salespeople, recruiting sales talent

80/20 Prospecting Time

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Jun 13, 2019

The most successful salespeople are always challenging and adapting their personal sales process to be more effective, 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. 

alarm-clock-calendar-close-up-908298

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

  • Find Opportunities
  • Qualify them
  • Get a decision . . . We love Yes’, but No’s are OKit’s all the stuff in the middle that bothers us.

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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 in’s, 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 timeis in getting introductions.  

So here is what I would like you to consider:

  1. 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
  2. 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, introductions, Cold Calling, selling and social media, time blocking, 80/20 Principle

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

Motivating Prospects to Take Action

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Thu, Nov 22, 2018

action-backlit-beach-1046896

Another day, another great resource available from us here at Anthony Cole Training Group.  

Are you ready to change the way you approach prospects to close more sales?

In his audiobook, Motivating Prospects to Take Action, Tony Cole shares with you how to identify the 3 different types of prospects and how to tailor your approach to help prospects make decisions.

You will learn the right questions to help identify severe mental anguish and get prospects to take action!

This 13-clip audiobook along with the worksheet will help you:

  • Identify the 3 types of prospects
  • Learn various strategies for uncovering pain including The Takeaway Technique
  • Identify the obstacles that prevent prospects from taking action
  • Know when you are seeing the REAL issues and pain
  • Develop a process for asking the right questions to uncover pain

Interested in receiving a Free copy?  Download available below!

Motivating Prospects to Take Action

Topics: Prospecting, sales plans, motivation, sales prospects, prospect communication, sales motivation, how to prospect, action

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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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