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.

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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!

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

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

The Art of Silence in Sales

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Apr 01, 2021

Most salespeople are afraid of silence because they perceive it to be awkward or a sign that the prospect has mentally checked out. But that's simply not the case! It is critical that you let silence do some of the heavy lifting during your prospecting conversations.

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Ah, the unmistakable sound of silence. Wait a minute…does silence make a sound? If you are a professional salesperson, you would say it absolutely does. Susan Scott, the author of the wonderful book, “Fierce Conversations”, offers up some great advice when she suggests, "To make your conversations more impactful, allow the silence to do the heavy lifting."

I think what Susan could have in mind are the hundreds of thousands of salespeople who treat silence like it is a bad virus; they instantly run away from it. But, what if silence was good within the context of having a powerful conversation? What if silence took you to a deeper level in a conversation with a prospect?

Most salespeople are afraid of silence because they perceive it to be a) awkward or b) a sign that the prospect has checked out on them. But, remember that you can speak much faster than people can listen, so sometimes they just need to be given time to allow their internal processor to catch up.

Here’s one more thing I have observed with salespeople- they ask a great question, the prospect goes radio silent, and then the salesperson ruins the moment by collapsing like a poorly dug prison tunnel.

Let the silence do the heavy lifting.

I know it will be a strange feeling at first, but sometimes strange is actually a good thing. Give your prospect some space to process the questions you ask them.

Now, go do some heavy lifting…actually, let the silence do the heavy lifting for you…and sell like a champion today.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: Meaningful Sales Conversations, prospecting skills, Qualifying leads, Qualifying skills, sales prospecting

The Terrible Twos: Getting Your Prospect's Attention

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Tue, Feb 02, 2021

The pandemic has caused fewer face to face meetings, and many salespeople have yet to make the pivot (successfully) to virtual relationship building. 

In this article, we cover the impact and importance of speaking your prospect's "love language" when setting a meeting and engaging them further in conversation.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, the terrible twos has long been used to describe the changes that parents often observe in 2-year-old children. Generally, this perception comes as parents observe rapid shifts in their child’s mood and behaviors.

This brings me to the subject of prospects… and how they react to poorly prepared salespeople who fail to “tailor their message for resonance.” By that, I mean the salesperson fails to speak their prospect’s love language. And what exactly is the prospect’s love language? That means two things:

  1. The problems or challenges that the prospect is dealing with
  2. Future growth opportunities that the prospect may see on the horizon

If you talk about anything other than those two things, congratulations… you are guilty of wasting the prospect’s time (and yours).

As a national sales training and sales coaching firm, Anthony Cole Training Group has a front-row seat to the financial services industry and the problems they are facing in the first quarter of 2021. And we know there are two main concerns:

  1. The pandemic has caused fewer face to face meetings, and many salespeople have yet to make the pivot (successfully) to virtual relationship building. They are unable to deal with the resistance that prospects have to meeting face to face. Fewer prospect meetings have greatly reduced opportunities entering the early stages of the pipeline.
  2. And because of that, if the salesperson does get a deal cooking, they are all too willing to cave on rate or price to simply push the deal across the finish line. And that is eroding margin.

So, guess what? We lead with those two things… and nothing else. 

I may have been born yesterday, but I stayed up all night studying, and I figured out we would have more conversations with prospects if we led with things that prospects wanted to talk about.

So maybe the twos are not so terrible after all. But then again, you don’t have to change if you don’t want to change. But I would encourage you to be ready for the time-out chair the prospect will ask you to sit in while they spend time with another salesperson who is speaking their love language.

Go sell like a champion today!

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: qualifying prospects, sales meetings, sales prospecting

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

Increasing Sales: The G2 Formula

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 30, 2020

Lots of people talk about goals and having a plan to achieve said goals. And there is lots of information out there about how important it is to have an tracking system in place to make sure you execute your plan effectively. But what about the GRIND required to increase sales and achieve success?

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There is a sales production target out there – somewhere. It’s different for every person and every organization but it’s out there. And for every person and every organization there is the actual sales production result that is being achieved today. That is the Sales Opportunity Gap. 

The Objective Management Group Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis is the guide that makes you the hero to close the sales growth opportunity gap. The findings in this analysis clearly lays out the current status of the sales team in these areas:

  • Will to Sell and Will to Manage Sales
  • Sales DNA, Sales Management DNA
  • Sales and Sales Management skills
  • Systems and processes that support sales growth
  • And more

These items are critical to understand if you ever hope to strategically and intentionally grow sales in your organization (or for yourself).

But this alone is not enough. Goals and Grind are also 2 requirements to get you from where you are to where you could be.

I'm reading Bob Rotello’s “How Champions Think in Sports and In Life”. I am in the middle of the chapter: Goals, Plans and Process. Lots of people talk about goals, goals setting and having a plan to achieve said goals. And there is lots of information out there about how important it is to have an accountability system in place to make sure you execute the plan. But the thing that struck me about Bob’s chapter is the discussion about the GRIND.

GRIND: it’s not talked about enough when it comes to discussing how to achieve a goal. The grind is the day-in and day-out stuff that you have to do to leverage your natural talents. The grind is the hard stuff, the stuff where we have a tendency to procrastinate.

So, what’s the grind in Sales?

  • Making the prospecting effort on a consistent basis
  • Pre and post call sessions
  • Practicing your sales skills
  • Inputting data in your CRM
  • Going to sales meetings
  • Having 1-on-1 coaching sessions with your manager

This is the grind. This is the stuff day-in and day-out that, when executed properly, leads you to your definition of success. This is what leads you to accomplishing your goal. Without the grind your goal is just a dream.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: reaching sales goals, sales prospecting, sales goals, increase sales, 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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