Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are persistent: they follow up after the call or meeting."

Month: November 2021

Send A Newsletter To Your Clients And Prospects

Send A Newsletter To Your Clients And Prospects

A newsletter is the best tool for maintaining a relationship with existing customers and qualified prospects that are uninterested at this time. I suggest that you send out your newsletter at least every quarter, but it would be more effective if you send it every month to your mailing list. I also suggest that you post your newsletter to LinkedIn using their blogging capability.

Of course, sending out a newsletter assumes that you are using a CRM to manage your relationships. If you aren’t using a CRM, you need to start immediately. I have written about CRM strategies in the past if you want a little more background.

Your customers should all receive your newsletter. Your customers need to be constantly cultivated for new business. Also, your customers may change jobs, and you want them to call you immediately. They will only do this if you have been consistently adding value to their working lives. Remember, the only way that you add value to a prospect is by making that prospect smarter. You can help an existing customer a few more ways by offering good customer service, but the most proactive method is to make them smarter.

It is not practical for me to put a template of a newsletter into this blog and have it be useful for every reader but below are some suggested sections:

  • Title/Subject: Make sure your title clearly states that this is a newsletter. Your title will be in your subject line of your email, and it will be at the top of your blog post on LinkedIn. You want your email recipients to know that this is an email to many people.
  • First section: A personal note of about 100-200 words on your industry or the local situation. Don’t be afraid to congratulate the local college for a great sports season. It should be personal and, if your prospects are local, it should be relevant to your geography.
  • Second section: News from your company. This literally could be a copy of a relevant or important press release. If someone in your product marketing group puts out a blog, that can be great content. Just make sure you include a URL link to the original content.
  • Third section: Links with a short description to download some new company content. Perhaps a new whitepaper was published, or a new video on YouTube.
  • Fourth section: This section contains selected paragraphs from a published article. This article should not mention your company but rather be about your industry. You don’t want this article to be a sales pitch, but rather it is included only to make your prospect smarter.
  • Fifth section: Links to upcoming events that you or your company is participating in. If you don’t have any events coming up in the next year, list a few links for events from your partners or maybe industry associations.
  • Sixth section: It may be relevant to have a bit of humor at the bottom of your newsletter. There are several open-source cartoons that you can embed. Of course, you need to be extremely careful that the humor is non-offensive to any demographic group and should be non-political. If you can’t do this well, skip the humor.
  • Seventh section: Give directions on how to unsubscribe and your contact information (including your physical address). This will help to keep you from being black listed by the various agencies that watch for spamming activities. If you use your CRM to create your newsletter or a campaign management tool (see below) then that template or tool should force you to put this into your newsletter.

Somewhere in the newsletter, either in the footer or in your opening section, make sure you invite people to connect to you on LinkedIn.

Building a newsletter is not difficult, but it may be a struggle for you depending on your skills or time constraints. There are a couple of tools that you can use:

  • Use your CRM: In many cases, your CRM will have tools built into the tool that will help you build and manage a newsletter. If it does, it will typically have a series of modifiable templates. This will make your delivery easier. Using that template, customize it to meet your company’s color scheme and then fill in the content on a monthly and quarterly basis.
  • Use a campaign management tool: Tools such as ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp are very easy to use if you are familiar with Microsoft Word. They each offer many templates that are easy to customize and save. They also easily accept a CSV import from your CRM or maybe Zapier has a direct integration between your CRM and the campaign management tool. If you want more options than the three that I listed here, simply search the web for “best newsletter tools” and you will see dozens of articles reviewing the industry. Don’t spend too much time reviewing all of the options though as no one is going to buy from you because you use one tool over another. They are all probably very good and you simply need to get used to the one that you choose.
  • Your email: Newsletters do not need to be highly formatted templates. In reality, you can simply create an email using your email client and then send it out your top prospects and customers. Just be very careful that you are not sending spam so don’t send more frequently than monthly. Also, if you use a simple email you should include a way for the receiver to unsubscribe from your list (and you should respect that request). It is better if you have a form that they can fill out but as a minimum you need to include similar to: “If you do not wish to receive this regular newsletter from me, please reply with UNSUBSCRIBE.”
  • Hire a service: There are many services available that will handle all of this work for you. Simply Google “marketing services” and then add your zip code and Google will give you several choices that are very close to you. If you don’t know someone in your immediate network that does marketing services, fill out my contact form and I will give you a couple of options of people that can help you that will do a great job. I personally do not offer this service but I have friends that do.

Start your newsletter today. Keep a schedule. The goal is to keep your name in front of as many people as possible and to start to establish yourself as a Trusted Adviser.

If you want to read more about creating a newsletter, there are probably thousands of articles giving you suggestions. Here are a few that are quite good:

  1. 7 Tips for Creating More Engaging Newsletters
  2. How to Create an Email Newsletter People Actually Read
  3. How to Write a Newsletter
Welcome To The Power Matrix

Welcome To The Power Matrix

As you meet people and develop a sales opportunity within your prospect, you need a tool to help you make sure you develop relationships with the correct people with the appropriate power and influence to help you.

The Power Matrix is a great tool to understand the organization. I promise you, if you can successfully fill out the Power Matrix in every account, you will be phenomenally successful.

There are two different versions of the Power Matrix. The Small Power Matrix is for deals that are relatively small. I advise salespeople that the cutoff for a smaller deal is one that is less than approximately 5-10% of your annual quota. This should be varied depending on the product that you sell and your industry in general, but it is unreasonable to use the Large Power Matrix (see below) more than 20 times in a fiscal year – it is just too much work for deals that are smaller than at least 5% of your annual quota.

The Small Power Matrix encourages you to map out nine different people at your prospect. These nine people are in three levels of the organization and three different departments. Graphically, the Small Power Matrix looks like Figure A.

Figure A – Small Power Matrix.

The people in this matrix are people who are in the Decision Group that you can learn about in other posts on this site or in my book Eliminate Your Competition (see below for info). They may not be all of the people, but they will be the most influential. If you think that your Decision Group is smaller than nine people, then I encourage you to do more investigation. There are very few decisions made by organizations that have fewer than nine people that are affected by the decision and therefore do not have an influence on that decision.

It is important to understand that the Power Matrix is not an organizational chart. Rather, it is an influence chart. These are the nine people most likely to influence the decision. Therefore, the end-user in Department 3 doesn’t have to specifically report to the coach’s level of Department 3. Rather, the end-user should respect the opinion of the coach and vice versa.

Similarly, the upper management of Department 3 may not necessarily have the Department Coach as a direct report. However, the upper management person must respect the opinion of the Coach in the Department.

The easiest way to understand the three levels is that people on the same horizontal row have virtually the same organizational power. One person may be a Director, and the other column may contain a Vice President, but that may not be a reflection of power. Often, titles are a reflection of employment tenure and not true power in the organization. It is not unusual for a very bright Director to have as much influence in an organization as a Vice President. This can be especially true between different Departments that may have larger or smaller communities. Don’t let titles sway your analysis; rather, observe the reactions and respect of others to make sure you have the correct person.

I like to put my primary Coach’s name in the center of the chart in the Department 2 column. The Department that the Coach belongs to will be the part of the organization that will most benefit from the final decision. Therefore the upper management person directly above the Coach should be your best possible Champion.

It is possible that your primary Coach is not in the department that will most benefit from the decision. If that is the case, you must consider that you need another Coach. A Coach is most effective when there is a direct personal gain from the decision. Since you can have multiple Coaches in any individual selling campaign, you should consider finding another Coach who is in the department with the most to gain.

In fact, everyone at the Coach level of the Power Matrix should be considered a Coach. One of the goals of the Power Matrix is to try to force you to develop three Coaches. The primary Coach will be the one who has the most to gain, but you should find and develop Coaches in other departments. You can never have enough Coaches to help you win your deal.

The Power Matrix is not an organizational chart, it is an influence chart

Large Power Matrix

The Large Power Matrix is very similar to the Small Power Matrix. The Large Power Matrix is used for sales opportunities that are forecasted to be more than 10% of your annual quota. In other words, these are decisions that, if guided correctly, could significantly enhance your earnings. With a reasonable win rate, it is doubtful that you would have to do more than 10 of the Large Power Matrix analyses in any given year.

The Small Power Matrix is a 3×3 matrix. It is asking you to have in-depth conversations with three people in three different departments. The Large Power Matrix is more of an investment in time; it is asking you to identify five people in five different departments. It is a 5×5 matrix and is shown in Figure B.

Figure B – Large Power Matrix

Similar to the Small Power Matrix, the Coach with the most to gain should go in the center of the Power Matrix. I encourage you to put Departments that have less to gain on the outside (columns 1 and 5) and those with more to gain next to the middle column.

In the Large Power Matrix, it is even more likely that it will not line up with an organizational chart. It is not uncommon to have several Vice Presidents and several Directors in any given department. The virtual influence on this one decision may be larger with one Director than another even though both are at the same organizational level. The more powerful person would be higher on the Power Matrix. Also, other Departments may not be devoting as many people to the effort, and therefore the rankings on any given column are different.

Below the Coach level are the end-users. In a larger decision, some end users will be more affected than others. Also, one end user may be asked to be involved in all aspects of the decision, but another will only be asked to occasionally help. The occasional user would be listed on the lowest row of the Power Matrix while the more active user would be listed closer to the Coach.

You should begin to use the Power Matrix to keep track of whom you know and how well you know them. You will need to put a plan together to meet and understand the people who are openings in your Power Matrix.

If you are confused about how to use the Large or Small Power Matrix, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via my contact form.

You can also get more information about the use of the Power Matrix by reading my book, Eliminate Your Competition. You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Header image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Marketing And Sales Is Like Football

Marketing And Sales Is Like Football

In a complex B2B sale, the salesperson’s job is to enhance and personalize the marketing message for the buyer. The salesperson is supposed to deliver the information from the company to the decision-maker in a way that effectively shows the product and company in the best light for that particular prospect. 

The easiest way to show this is via a vector diagram. While I understand that vector mathematics may be scary for some readers, they are not that difficult to comprehend.

Figure A: Marketing message for commodity products.

As we can see in Figures A and B, the goal is to convince the prospect that the company’s product is the best product for this purchase. Marketing has to deliver content to all prospects, so it cannot perfectly align the message to the specific goals of the individual prospect. Also, since Marketing has no knowledge of which competitors are in play in that particular situation, they cannot efficiently deliver traps in most cases. Therefore, we see that the messaging from Marketing is not the shortest distance from your company to the finish line of winning the decision by the prospect.

In Figure A, the product sold is a commodity-type product. In this case, the marketing message is entirely adequate to convince the prospect to buy the product. Even though the message is not perfectly aligned to the prospect’s specific needs, the product’s benefits are sufficiently understood to get across the line.

In Figure B this is not the case. In Figure B, the message is still not perfectly aligned to the prospect’s needs, and it is not adequate to make a decision. It may not be enough information, and it also may not be the correct type of information. Therefore, a salesperson needs to fill in the information to cover the gap.

Figure B: Marketing and sales message for non-commodity products.

This information gap is why it is so important for salespeople to exist. They need to take the information that is created by the marketing department and efficiently deliver it to the prospect. Great salespeople need to package information so that the prospect can make the desired decision. 

It is impossible for the marketing department to create a targeted value pitch to every prospect. The more efficient the salesperson is in packaging this information to control the buying process, the more products that the salesperson will sell and the higher his or her commission.

The above analysis is not to give the marketing department a break in delivering fantastic content. It should be the goal of all marketing departments to provide content that can be easily repackaged and tuned to the needs of the trap-setting salesperson. The marketing department needs to acknowledge that they are unable to convince the majority of the prospects to make a favorable decision and understand that if they work with imaginative salespeople, sales will come more frequently.

Let me try to explain this with some sports metaphors. In American football, the quarterback and team don’t go straight down the field. They do a series of plays going left and right but always trying for a net forward position. Some plays will be a run to the left, a pass to the right, or a run up the middle. 

Football is very analogous to a sales campaign. The amount sideways that the player travels doesn’t matter. It is only the forward progress that matters. The goal of the football team is to advance the ball to cross the end line, and it doesn’t matter if that is through the middle of the field or in either corner.

Your goal is the same as the football team. You are responsible for getting the ball into the end zone or, more accurately, for closing the order. In football, the offensive team has the goal of moving the ball down the field to the touchdown. They have this goal if they receive the ball on their 49-yard line. They also have this goal if they receive the ball on their 2-yard line. The goal doesn’t change based on the position of the ball on the field. It also doesn’t change for you based on the quality or source of the lead.

By accepting that you cannot use the excuse of a bad marketing department in your success or lack thereof, you will become more successful. Your job is to take the leads that you receive and make them orders. Your job is to take the content that you receive from the marketing department and make it understandable and persuasive to your prospect. The ultimate failure is yours, not your marketing department. It is your job on the line. It is your commission on the line. You must take what marketing has prepared and use it to be successful.

It is not the fault of your marketing department if your literature and website are not perfect matches for your prospects. You need to bridge the gap between the standard marketing message and the fine-tuned and tailored message that will resonate with your prospect.

Take the ball and get it down the field to score. That is what you are paid to do. The great quarterbacks of the NFL do not complain that they always get the ball on their own 15-yard line. They put a plan together and do everything in their power and the power of their team to score a touchdown. You need to do the same. You need to do the same thing because there is no crying in sales.