ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Don't Dream It's Over: 1 of the Biggest Sales Challenges

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Oct 07, 2021

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “how do I/we increase sales” or “how do I become more successful in sales?” It starts with recognizing when your pursuit of a prospect is over.

In this blog, the two fundamental truths of more effective selling.

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If you are a consistent reader of this blog (and why wouldn’t you be), you know by now that I have an affinity for music. You also know that my favorite decade of my life was the 80’s. And when those two things intersect, watch out!

Considered by some to be a one-hit-wonder, the Australian band Crowded House got to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 when they released “Don’t Dream It’s Over” in 1986.  

“Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over.”

So, let’s apply that majestic ballad to salespeople and the one thing above all things that they struggle with the most. That’s right, recognizing that their pursuit of a prospect is over (even when the prospect hasn’t told them in those exact words). Many salespeople can’t even begin to think that it’s over. Most don’t want to entertain the possibility. 

So, the question before us today is simple – why? I mean, it’s not like it has not happened to them before.

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “how do I/we increase sales” or we are asked, “how do I become more successful in sales?” And the best answer I have is that you get better when you recognize two fundamental truths:

  1. You are going to lose more often than you win.
  2. When you are going to lose, you want to lose early.

Have you ever stopped to consider what your “pull-through rate” looks like? We use that term to explain a simple algebra equation:

Number of new clients / Number of initial sales conversations = pull-through rate 

If you have 100 initial sales conversations (or go on 100 prospect calls) in a year, and you wind up with 15 new clients, then your pull-through percentage is 15/100 or 15%. So, if that is your pull-through rate, don’t you think you should go on your calls with a bias for disqualification? Statistically, there is a far greater chance of you not doing business with a prospect than there is a chance that you will do business with them.

Stop dreaming and start asking questions. Ask questions that allow you to confirm that your prospect has a problem they have to fix and that now is the time to fix it. Operate with a bias for disqualification so you are not so surprised when the conclusion is that now is the time for you to move on. No is ok provided you hear it at the right time in your sales process.

Sweet dreams.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: Questions for Prospects, qualifying sales prospects, sales challenges

How Telling Stories will Help Increase Sales

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Apr 29, 2021

Storytelling is a powerful tool in sales. It can take prospects on a journey, assist in developing deeper relationships, and helps them connect to you as a sales professional.

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Now that my daughter is into her teenage years, our daughter-dad relationship has changed quite dramatically. Yes, I knew it was coming. Yes, I wish I could go back and retrieve some of that time when she thought I was more of a superhero than a "super dork." 

And yes, I was not prepared for the drama that surrounds teenage girls.

But I digress. One of my fondest memories of her toddler years was her request at bedtime that I tell her a story. Some of them I read to her, but the ones that she loved the most were the ones that I made up. 

Those stories captivated her attention…and, on occasion, actually made her fall asleep.

The same thing happens with salespeople, and with prospects when sales stories are told. One of the most powerful advantages to storytelling is that stories provide what Peter Guber described as emotional transportation.

Stories captivate attention. Stories, when properly told, are capable of moving prospects from their current state to a preferred state down the road. Perhaps you have heard the saying that, "If you are telling, then you ain’t selling."

But, of course, at Anthony Cole Training Group, we know that telling is the default mode for most salespeople.

I still remember the immortal words of Walt Gerano, one of the sales coaches in our organization. Walt once said, “Weak salespeople prefer to tell what strong salespeople prefer to ask.” 

He was speaking of the supreme importance of asking questions. Not just any question, but fierce questions – questions that are courageous and direct–questions that help the salesperson paint a story instead of "data dumping" a bunch of facts.

So, think about that next time you go on a sales call. What kind of sales story could you tell?

Thanks for listening…now go sell like a champion today.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: increase sales, qualifying sales prospects, sales stories

How to Handle Difficult Prospects: Why Prospects Are Like Produce

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 03, 2020

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.

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Ways of Dealing with a Difficult Prospect

Sometimes, reaching out to prospects is like pulling teeth.  

Some prospects are difficult because they don't understand the value of what you have to offer, while others simply do not want to be bothered by a salesperson right now.  

No matter the reason, you still need leads and so being able to move forward with a prospect

 

Not Every Prospect has the Same "Shelf Life"

Prospects- they have a shelf life and can have thick skin, just like fruits and vegetables.

Some of them last longer than others. 

While some produce is ripe for the picking, and others have a toughness to them.

Bananas – not so long, apples and mandarins- a little longer, potatoes and squash- they'll last the longest. 

The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either pick them now or find a way to preserve them for later.

Below, we'll give you some tips on how to help deal with some of those more difficult prospects and in hopes to get them closer to the sale.

 

How to Deal with Difficult Prospects

Practice Actively Listening

Listening is one of the most important, yet underrated forms of communication.

When people think of listening, they generally associate it with silence or not talking at all.

However, that is not completely correct.

Active listening means that you are trying to understand what someone is saying rather than just wait for your turn to talk.

It takes practice but can be a great tool for not only for your sales profession, but in any conversation in the future.

 

Practice the Beginner's Mind

The beginner’s mind — also known as the zen mind — is a strategy of approaching every situation as if you were starting from scratch.

When you open yourself up to the beginner's mind, your perspective on everything can change.

When we adopt this way of thinking, it becomes easier for us to enter conversations without any preconceived notions or prejudices about our prospects and their situations; instead focusing solely on what they are saying while putting ourselves in their shoes.

Instead of telling yourself "the prospect should have known this", or "they should have called me back by now", put yourself in the beginner's mindset and it becomes easier to recognize that no one is perfect and you can tailor your approach to better accomodate.

 

"Chunk" Your Problems

Chunking is the process of taking one big problem and breaking it into several smaller, more manageable portions.

These small pieces are easier for us to tackle because they allow our brain time-out from thinking about all those difficult details while still moving forward with progress made on previous sections!

Chunks can also be used strategically when coming up against challenging problems--chances are if given several tasks in order then maybe we'll find an issue that needs addressing immediately or at least feel less overwhelmed by responsibility alone.

 

 

Don't let Prospects Perish

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

  • That the prospect is too "green"
  • They just opened a new account with their bank partner
  • Just renewed their insurance
  • Their lease expires in 11 months

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects and 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.

 

For more online sales resources, check out some of our other sales articles over at our Sales Brew.

If interested in sales training or sales coaching, we have a dedicated professional team of sales experts that can help drive better sales performance and build better sales teams.

Contact us today to learn more!

Topics: prospecting skills, improving sales results, increase sales, qualifying sales prospects, contacting prospects

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

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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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