Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are respectful: they treat all people with kindness and respect."

Category: Guest article

5 Sales Success Tips By A Multi-Decade Sales Professional

5 Sales Success Tips By A Multi-Decade Sales Professional

My good friend, Dean Wiener, published the following post on LinkedIn about some of the “secrets” to his success over many decades. He was kind enough to allow me to embed his post into this article.

Let’s explore each of these items in a bit more detail.

1. I attach my solution to a big problem/pain/goal.

As a salesperson, it is your job to understand your prospect’s needs and offer a solution that meets those needs. However, simply offering a product or service is not enough. You also must demonstrate how your solution can address a specific problem the prospect is facing. Doing so will make you much more likely to close the sale.

Attaching your solution to a goal the prospect wants to achieve has several benefits.

  • First, it helps you to focus on the most critical aspects of your product or service.
  • Second, it allows you to position your solution as the best possible option for solving the problem.
  • Third, it makes it more likely that the prospect will take action and buy from you.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for problems.

First, ensure that you are addressing the prospect’s real problem. If you try to attach your solution to a problem that does not exist, or one that is not relevant to the prospect, you will not be successful. This is why I suggest that salespeople look for company goals to attach to rather than simply looking for problems. By looking for goals, you can be confident that the company will devote resources to achieving the goal. They may choose to live with a problem because other problems are more immediate or damaging. A stated goal that they want to solve that problem ensures that resources are applied to the problem.

Second, clearly explain how your solution can solve the problem. The more specific and detailed you can be, the better.

Third, ensure your pricing is aligned with the market’s expectations. If your prices are too high, prospects will be hesitant to buy from you. But if they are too low, they may not perceive your solution as valuable enough to solve their problem.

Finally, attaching your solution to a big problem is just one part of the sales process. You also need to build rapport with the prospect, establish trust, and address any objections they may have. If you can do all those things, you will be much more likely to close the sale.

Start by attaching your solution to the prospect’s most significant problem or goal to increase sales. This will help you focus on the most critical aspects of your product or service and position your solution as the best possible option for solving the problem. Just remember to focus on real issues that prospects are facing, and be sure to explain how your solution can solve those problems clearly and concisely. Do all of this, and you’ll be well on closing more sales than ever!

2. Early and consistent engagement with the decision maker

To be successful, salespeople need to have early and consistent engagement with the decision maker. This statement may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many salespeople make the mistake of trying to engage with the decision maker too late in the process. By then, it’s often too late to turn the tide and win the sale.

Why Is Early Engagement Important?

Salespeople who engage with the decision maker early on in the process are more likely to build a relationship of trust and respect. This is because they can establish themselves as a credible source of information and insights from the very beginning.

Early on, engaging with the decision maker also allows salespeople to better understand their needs, wants, and pain points. This, in turn, allows them to tailor their pitch in a way that will be most relevant and resonant with the decision maker.

Finally, early engagement allows salespeople to establish themselves as trusted advisors. Being there from the very beginning, the salesperson can help guide the decision maker through every step of the process and ensure that they’re making well-informed decisions.

Why Is Consistent Engagement Important?

Once you’ve established early engagement with the decision maker, it’s essential to maintain that engagement throughout the entire process. This means following up regularly, keeping them updated on your progress, and proactively addressing any concerns or questions they may have.

Consistent engagement reassures the decision maker that they made the right choice in working with you and instills confidence in your ability to deliver on your promises. It also allows you to continue building trust and rapport, which are essential for maintaining a good working relationship.

3. A strong and effective champion selling on my behalf

A Champion is not a coach (although the Champion might give advice). Champions have influence and may have power. Regardless of power, champions have respect among the top decision-makers. The ultimate Champion says, “I will quit if we don’t buy this product.”

You can have more than one Champion, but the Champion must be loyal. It is not just about achieving the goal but about achieving the goal with your product.

Every single purchase ever made in a business had a champion. Since salespeople are rarely present during the final decision when the Decision Group is asking, “Is everyone ready to buy this product?” the Champion is the person that says, “We should buy this product from that vendor to achieve the goal of the company.” Someone always makes that statement; therefore, there is always a champion for every B2B purchase. The issue is that you may not know your Champion.

Champions are respected stakeholders within your prospect’s business who meet very distinct criteria:

  • They have power and influence (power and influence are non-negotiable)
  • They are selling internally for you
  • They have a vested interest in your success

If your Champion has the other two qualifying criteria but is without power and influence, they are a Coach, not a Champion. Whereas you can work with your potential Champion to help them sell internally for you and to have a vested interest in your success, power and influence are non-negotiable. If they lack it, you can’t change this factor, and you will need to find a true Champion. 

Selling Internally is easily identifiable.

Often sellers think it is not easy to identify if their Champion is selling internally for them, but it is easy. You ask your Champion: “Has our solution come up in discussions with other stakeholders?” If it hasn’t, then this is a red flag for your deal, but if it has, then it is vital to understand how your Champion acted in the discussions. 

  • Did they talk about your solution positively?
  • Did they stick up for your solution if anyone had any criticisms? 

You can find out the answers to these questions by asking your Champion. 

Having a vested Interest doesn’t mean bias.

For a Champion to have a vested interest in your success, your solution’s value must align with your Champions’ goals. This can mean your solution will solve your Champion’s problem, making their job more manageable, or they’ll get a bonus or promotion. 

Having a vested interest doesn’t necessarily mean a bias towards your or your company—quite the contrary. Your Champion will lose credibility if they are seen to be biased.

4. Clear/differentiated solution tied to value/metrics

If you’re in sales, you know that the competition is fierce. To succeed, you must ensure that your selling effort has a clear and differentiated solution tied to your product’s value. In other words, your product needs to offer something unique that sets it apart from the competition and provides value to customers.

A value proposition is a statement that outlines the unique solution that your product offers and the benefits that come with it. Value propositions are essential for any sales effort. For a value proposition to be compelling, it needs to be clear, concise, and tailored to the specific needs of your target customer. It should also be differentiated from the competition so that customers can see why your product is the better option.

A compelling value proposition will do more than list the features of your product; it will also address the pain points of your target customer and show them how your product can provide a solution. For example, if you’re selling a new type of software, your value proposition might address the need for a more user-friendly interface or faster performance. Whatever it is, make sure your value proposition is clear and easy for customers to understand.

Once you have a compelling value proposition, you must ensure it’s communicated throughout your entire sales process. This means using it in your marketing materials, such as website copy, brochures, and email campaigns. It should also be incorporated into your sales pitch so that potential customers can see how your product can solve their specific problems. By communicating your value proposition throughout the entire sales process, you’ll be able to increase closes rates and win over more business.

An effective selling effort must have a clear and differentiated solution tied to the product’s value. This solution must be communicated throughout the entire sales process to increase conversions and win over more business. If you’re unsure where to start, begin by creating a powerful value proposition that addresses the specific needs of your target customer. From there, make sure to use it in all of your marketing materials and sales pitches so that potential customers can see how your product can help them solve their specific problems. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to success in no time!

5. Committed compelling event (go-live) with a date attached.

To close a sale, salespeople must identify a specific event that will incentivize the prospect to purchase. This event is known as a “compelling event.” Without a compelling event, the prospect has no reason to act now and may never act.

Compelling events can take many different forms. For example, a prospect might face an impending deadline, such as the end of a fiscal year or the expiration of a limited-time offer. Or, a prospect might be experiencing pain points that your product or service can address. By understanding the prospects’ needs and identifying a compelling event, salespeople can close more deals and drive revenue for their company.

Types of Compelling Events

As we mentioned before, compelling events can take many different forms. Some common types of compelling events include:

  • An impending deadline: This could be the end of a fiscal year, the expiration of a limited-time offer, or any other time-sensitive issue.
  • Pain points: Is the prospect experiencing problems that your product or service can solve? If so, addressing those pain points can be an influential motivating factor.
  • A change in circumstances: Has the prospect recently changed their business (e.g., they’ve merged with another company, acquired, etc.) that has created new needs? If so, your product or service may be able to fill those needs.
  • Competition: Is another company trying to win over the same prospect? Positioning yourself as the better option can create a sense of urgency and help you close the deal.

Identifying Compelling Events

So how do you go about identifying a compelling event? There are four key steps you can take:

  1. Research the prospect: Start by doing your homework on the prospect. In addition to basic research like reviewing their website and social media presence, try to find out as much as possible about their specific circumstances. The more you know about them, the better positioned you’ll be to identify a compelling event. This research may require talking to others in their organization or conducting secondary analysis (e.g., reading industry reports).
  2. Build relationships: Once you’ve done your research, reach out and build relationships with key decision-makers at the target organization. The goal is to get to know them personally and understand their specific needs and challenges. The better you know them, the easier it will be to identify a compelling event.
  3. Listen carefully: When talking to decision-makers, ensure you’re really listening to what they’re saying (and not saying). Pay attention to both their words and their body language; they may give you clues as to what’s really on their mind. Frequently, prospects will provide you with information that will help you identify a compelling event without even realizing it.
  4. Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions that will help you uncover someone’s real needs and motivation for buying. For example, you might ask them what their top priorities are for the next fiscal year or what challenges they’re facing hampering their ability to achieve their goals. By asking tough questions, you’ll be able to get to the heart of what’s important to them and identify potential compelling events.

Compelling events are essential for closing sales; without them, prospects have no reason to act now and may never act. By understanding prospects’ needs and identifying a compelling event, salespeople can drive revenue for their company and close more deals. There are many compelling events—deadlines, pain points, changes in circumstances, and competition—and salespeople must identify the right one for each individual. Researching prospects, building relationships with decision-makers, listening carefully, and asking probing questions are all great ways to uncover someone’s real motivations and identify potential compelling events.”

Header Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash
How to write the ideal cold sales email to generate more meetings

How to write the ideal cold sales email to generate more meetings

The good folks over at Cloudura.ai published this post. It was so good that I wanted my readers to read it as well. With their permission, I am reproducing it here.

With over 4 billion email users worldwide, it is no surprise that cold emailing is at its peak right now. On average, a regular email user receives 147 new emails per day. While this is a positive number for reaching out via this medium, you’re in for a lot of competition if you’re a sales rep trying to stand out in the vast sea of emails. 

Unfortunately, while 8 out of 10 prospects prefer talking to salespeople via email over any other medium, only 23.9% of sales emails are opened, with the response rate going even lower. 

So, where are sales executives going wrong, and how can they fix their emails to realize the potential of cold emailing? 

We’ve curated a list of tried-and-tested tricks that will help you create the perfect cold email for a meeting by grabbing your prospect’s attention. 

1. Don’t Ignore the “From” Line 

The ‘from‘ line is usually set up when we configure our email, and that’s it. It hardly ever comes to our mind again to change it in any way. While that might work for everyone else, it’s a huge and unusually common mistake when you’re a salesperson writing a cold sales email. 

On average, an email user deletes 71 messages every day, and all of them under five minutes. This means that most of them are sent to trash even before your prospect opens the email. Apart from the subject line, the ‘from‘ line is the only other thing the user sees when the email is still unopened. As such, it needs to fittingly convey who you are and be consistent with the purpose of your email.

You can change the ‘from‘ line any time, depending on who your current campaign is targeted to and what your message is going to be. There are different combinations of your first name, your last name, your title, and the company’s name that can each affect your prospect differently when used as a ‘from‘ line.

A. First Name + Last Name + Company Name 

While this tells the receiver who exactly the mail is from at first glance itself, it can also seem a little impersonal and might not be enough to convince the individual to open it. 

Rachel Smith – Clodura.AI 

B. First Name + Last Name 

This may be a little too personal, thereby making you lose credibility. If you’re trying to sell the product or service your company offers without having their name attached, your prospect may feel you don’t have the authority to use it and may consider your email spam. 

Rachel Smith 

C. Title + Company Name 

An email with only your job title and the company name in the ‘from‘ line will definitely seem like one of the promotional, automated emails businesses send. Using a specific personal name can increase your open rates by 35%, and yet, a staggering 89% of email marketing campaigns are sent with a company name. These emails do not invoke the recipient to engage with them because they do not feel personal and are likely to be ignored or deleted.  

Account Executive – Clodura.AI

D. First Name + Company Name 

A little personal while still conveying where you’re from – this combination can work with most of your campaigns. 

Rachel from Clodura.AI 

Other Combinations 

  • First Name + Last Name + Title
  • First Name + Title
  • First Name + Title + Company

Do note that these are merely general suggestions on which combinations can be used, depending on the situation. However, in the end, the ‘from’ line you choose should be carefully selected based on your target audience for a particular campaign. Other factors like the context of your message and your end goal also play an essential role in its determination. 

To ensure you choose the correct ‘from‘ line, ask yourself these questions, and use the combination that best fits your answers.

  • Is the combination I’m choosing consistent with the rest of my email? Even though it is often ignored, the “from” line also plays an essential role in swaying your prospect’s opinion. Ensure that your “from” line is consistent with the subject line, the body of the email, the signature, the message, and everything else in your email.
     
  • Would I open this email if I were the prospect? 
    Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes to find out if the “from” line you chose has enough value to compel your prospect to open the email or not.
     
  • Have I carefully scrutinized my prospects to use a combination that they wish to receive? 
    As mentioned above, your “from” line depends on a lot of factors only you are fully aware of. These also include the persona of your prospect and what they expect from you. Ensure that you’re specific in your targeting and do not fall prey to the most popular idea around at the time. Each company and each campaign of that establishment will have a unique set of factors that will affect the message and, consequently, require re-evaluation to determine the ideal ‘from’ line.
     
  • Have I ensured that the “from” line indicates that the person on the other end of the email is someone they want to talk to? 
    Find out who your prospect wants to talk to and include that in your ‘from’ line. For instance, if you believe a campaign to target decision-makers will get better results if they see the Head of the Department (HOD) has contacted them, then create your email campaign and ‘from‘ line around the HOD’s name and title.

2. Create an Eye-Catching Subject Line 

Another element that forms the first impression, the subject line plays a crucial role in driving the prospect to open and read the email. Statistics support this statement — with 35% of recipients opening an email based on the subject line alone and 69% marking an email as spam based solely on the subject line.

While a prospect ignoring your email may make you lose that particular individual, marking it as spam will affect your email deliverability and, consequently, your entire campaign. To that end, it is very important to create subject lines that attract and interest the recipient. Here are some golden tips that can help you stay on track when choosing a subject line. 

A. Put Yourself in Your Prospect’s Shoes 

Ask yourself if your subject line is convincing enough to make the prospect open and read the email or not. Ensure that it responds to their needs and offers a solution to their problem. This way, you will change the subject line from being about your company and your product to their concern and how you can resolve it. 

B. Personalize Your Subject Line to Create a Highly-Targeted Email 

You know their problems, but do you know them? You can make your prospects feel like you see them by forming your subject line in a more personal way. In fact, subject lines with the prospect’s name in them can increase your open rate by over 29% and your click-through rate by over 41%.

For instance, in the image above, the third subject line is an excellent cold sales email example of how to personalize your subject correctly, and the first one is a generic one that you should avoid in your cold email campaigns.

C. Don’t Try to Lure Your Prospect With Click-Bait Strategies 

There are two ways a click-bait subject line can go. Either your prospect will be annoyed by the ‘sales-y’ email and ignore or delete it right away, or they will open the email only to be disappointed because of the misleading subject line and then delete it. So, stay away from trying to bait your prospect with shifty cold email ideas and simply write a subject that offers value instead.

D. Remember That You’re Reaching out to a Human 

Along with personalization, use other tricks so that the recipient knows that you’re human, and you’re treating them as one rather than a paying machine being cajoled by an automated system.  

Did you know that 56% of brands using emojis in their subject lines received a higher open rate than their peers? This implies that playing to the human emotions of your recipient can help you get better results. Moreover, only 2% of businesses use emoticons in their subject lines, ensuring that yours will stand out and be re-callable if you add emojis to it.

Have a look at this fun video by HubSpot to get a better idea of how to use emojis in subject lines.

E. Use Succinct Subject Lines 

Short subject lines with about 41 characters or around seven words tend to garner the most opens. Most subject lines are about ten characters more than this ideal one. You also have to take note of how your prospects are reading your emails. If it is on a mobile device, its interface will likely allow only about 30 characters of the subject line before the rest is cut off.

Source

3. Use the Introduction Smartly 

Okay, so if your prospects have reached the introduction stage through your “from” line and subject line, then you already have a pretty good understanding of them. Now, you have all of 5 seconds to make an impression after they have opened the email. Your opening line is crucial here.  

Instead of directly starting with your and your company’s introduction, write something meaningful for the recipient. Remember, it’s still better to keep it short, but you also want to establish a connection with your prospect that can get them to read the entire mail. You have to use these opening lines to show your prospect that you’ve done your research on them and are deliberately sending this mail to them. You have to make them feel special. 

Here is how you can do that.

A. Talk About Them 

Refer to their work that you’ve come across. It could be a blog, a tweet, a website, anything that has been personally created by them. Show your appreciation for their expertise. 

Here are some examples of how you can start your email. 

  • I loved your blog on….
  • I got your email through [Mutual Contact]…
  • I saw that both of us have [include personal connection]…
  • Congratulations on….
  • I heard that you’re in need of…

B. Talk About Their Company and Their Problem 

Next, ask them questions about the concern that your product is directly related to. For instance, “Do you know why [their company’s name] is not able to hire talent?” 

Remember that while the idea is to create a personal connection with your prospect by using mutual contacts or even flattery, do not overdo it by making this part of the introduction long. Also, stay away from including parts about their personal life lest you seem like a stalker. 

Immediately after these two sentences, add a transitional line and move towards your offer. 

4. Pitch Your Product 

Finally, it’s time to introduce your product or service. As a sales rep, you’ve already done it lots of time. You probably don’t even have to think about the features and the benefits of your product before talking about them anymore.

While that sales pitch might work in a face-to-face or even a phone conversation, emails are a whole different ballpark. Here, the prospect is not obliged to listen to or read your sales pitch. As soon as they realize that the mail is only about you selling your product, it’s a click on the trashcan. 

With cold emails, you have to present your product in such a way that the prospect finds value in it. If your pitch strays away from making the recipient the center of attention, you’ll simply become another salesperson whose business they don’t have to care about. 

You’ve already highlighted their issues in the introduction. Now, you need to seamlessly connect your product to their problems so that they can see the clear trajectory of your product being the solution.

Here is what the body should include.

  • The reason why you reached out to them personally and not anyone else – The idea is to make them feel special and valued.
  • The product that you’re offering. However, instead of including all the features of your product, add the specific benefits that they will enjoy.
  • How a business relationship with you can benefit them.
  • The testimonials or use cases of your previous clients to show how others have benefited through a business relationship with you.

Ensure that you avoid the salesperson tone at all costs and stick to proposing the value of your product to your prospect where they need you rather than the other way around. 

5. Invoke Action With the CTA 

Alright, you’re almost done now. All that is left is to put forward what you want your prospect to do. Do you want them to have a Skype call with you or a phone meeting or a physical meeting somewhere? Whatever it is you want them to do with your cold email ultimately, write it down in a short, simple, and straightforward manner.

6. Tie It All With the Perfect Signature 

Like the “from” line, the signature is also often ignored. As a part of your email, it deserves as much attention as the other elements. After all, it gives your prospect a way to know more about you and get easy access to your contact information. Here are the golden rules of email signatures. 

  • Include your phone number, email address, link to a social media profile of your choice, and link to the company website. You can choose to add or remove other points depending on your target audience and how they generally connect with you.
  • Do not add quotes and images to it. It’s not clean and takes the focus away from your real offering. Images are also easy to get automatically blocked by the email carrier, and it’s best to avoid any delivery issues.
  • If your signature is made up of messy HTML, it can be classified as spam and, again, decrease your deliverability rate.
  • Keep it minimalistic with not more than two font colors, a single font type, and no or only one icon. The more you add to it, the more cluttered it will look.
  • Include enough information to make yourself look trustworthy. If the information is too little, the prospect might think you’re not credible.
  • Aim for consistency among your organization so that you and your colleagues use the same template, font, etc. for your signature.

And send! 

What happens now?

Well, you wait for your prospect to respond. And if they don’t respond, you send them another mail to follow-up. 

7. Why Do You Need Follow-Up Emails? 

On average, about 80% of prospects don’t respond to the first 3 cold emails. Despite this, the average salesperson only makes two email attempts before giving up. In an ideal world, your prospects would understand the need for your product at first go and be ready to invest in it. But the world of cold emailing is no utopia. Professionals are busy and not willing to pay attention to a product they haven’t realized the value of yet. So, be prepared for your mail to be ignored the first time even if it is perfect. 

Source

Follow-up emails work as gentle reminders that there is something like your product in the market and that you’re still available if the prospect wishes to buy it.

Here is how you can write a follow-up email to increase the chances of a response. 

A. Take Care of the Subject Line 

Similar to our first email, the subject line of the follow-up email is essential too. Ensure that it is short, attractive, and shows the value of the email. 

  • Following up on My Email
  • Re: Introduction Call

B. Make the Introduction Contextual 

With the number of emails we receive every day, it is easy for your prospect to forget who you are or what you are talking about. To avoid that, always start by providing them with the context they need. 

  • Thank you for the meeting yesterday….
  • It was nice meeting you at the conference last Saturday
  • I’m following-up on the email I sent a few days ago….

C. Be Clear About What You Want 

Now that you’ve established where they know you from, you need to come to what the purpose of the current email is. What exactly do you want from them?

  • Are you available for a call next Wednesday / Thursday at 3 or 4 PM?
  • Can we schedule a meeting this week on Tuesday at 3 or 4 PM?
  • I would like to invite you to [the event] we’re hosting…

D. Hit Send! 

Different kinds of follow-up emails have different time-frames that they can be sent in. Of course, you’re the best judge of when you want to send which sort of email to your prospect. However, if you’re specifically looking for when to send a follow-up on a meeting request, it is best to do so within 1-2 months after the first email is sent.  

To know more about how you can carry an effective email campaign, check this blog out.

How Can You Take Your Cold Email Campaign a Notch Higher? 

Okay, so you have everything in order now. With a carefully crafted “from” line, subject line, introduction, body, CTA, and the signature, you can now kickstart your email campaign to generate more meetings. You can also follow-up with more emails to get the result you desire by taking care of their subject line, context, and purpose.  

While you have the information to rope in any prospect now, manually doing so with every lead may prove to be inefficient. To increase your sales velocity Clodura’s killer email sequence features helps to generate more interactions and book more meetings, with the right message at the right time for sales prospecting. 

Header Photo by ribkhan (Pixabay)
Good Managers Make You Better

Good Managers Make You Better

My very good friend and respected sales professional, Dean Wiener, published this post on LinkedIn. He allowed me to reproduce the post here. I think his comments are great advice for anyone that is a sales manager and even for salespeople that are looking at their current manager to see if it makes sense for them to continue with their current employer.

Today’s market is extremely competitive for salespeople. Most sales organizations cannot find enough high-quality talent. If your manager isn’t living up to Dean’s standards, you may want to find a better manager.

Conversely, every sales manager needs to look at these words from a sales expert. If you are not adding value to your sales team then you should re-think your style. The big question that you should answer for yourself is embedded in Dean’s original post:

Do you work for your sales team or do they work for you?

Header photo courtesy o f La solitudine del manager by Sgt. Pepper57 on 2017-05-31 14:59:13

Inbound vs. Outbound: Which Approach is Best for Your Global Go-To-Market Organization?

Inbound vs. Outbound: Which Approach is Best for Your Global Go-To-Market Organization?

My long-time friend, Craig Witt, recently posted the following article on Medium. He gave me permission to put it here on my site.

Most sales leaders agree that the goal of a Go-To-Market organization is to use predictable and precise approaches to engage the right decision makers in the companies they’re trying to convert.

But what is the most reliable way to find, engage and prove value to those decision makers? In debates among sales execs, two sales strategies usually wind up in the boxing ring to duke it out. In one corner: Inbound. In the other: Outbound.

These days, many sales leaders champion inbound sales strategies. The approach has its advantages, especially for offerings that appeal to wide audiences, have short sales cycles and low price points. When you need only a few touchpoints to illustrate your value and persuade a prospect to buy, inbound really shines.

But for organizations with longer sales cycles that offer high-value solutions — where the right prospect is more important than just any prospect — an outbound GTM strategy is the way to go. Here’s why.

The Shortcomings of Inbound

Outbound sales strategies deliver a level of control to the sales process that inbound can’t provide. At its simplest, an effective outbound strategy:

  • Leverages data-driven insights
  • Serves personalized outreach and content to specific personas at specific companies
  • These target companies match the sales organization’s Ideal Customer Profile
  • Rigorous processes ensure personas receive engagement and world-class content that addresses their unique concerns

While inbound enables brands to become practically omnipresent throughout a prospect’s online experience — thanks to their marketing departments’ retargeting ads, social posts and keyword-rich blog posts — their sales teams basically tread water until the prospect fills out a contact form.

The week-to-week quantity of inbound leads can fluctuate wildly, too. There’s very little predictability to when (or how many) prospects respond to an inbound organization’s content. This quickly clouds a leader’s visibility to accurately forecast the status of deals. Ultimately, a GTM team throws a lot of branded content into the wild and hopes that someone, anyone, responds.

Lead quality usually suffers as a result. When you’re casting a wide net for prospects across many channels, you can’t guarantee the quality of the fish that are dragged into your boat. Inbound leads may be from industries or markets you have no intention of serving.

Other inbound leads may simply not be a good fit for your business. Your solution may not fit their actual needs, or they may be unwilling to pay for your offering because they don’t understand its value.

And even if you do convert these disparate prospects into customers, you’ll likely face another challenge down the road. If you seek to improve your solution by soliciting their feedback, you may find yourself making changes that are informed by customers who probably don’t fit your ICP. Trying to serve customers whose needs are different from your ICP’s can dilute your solution’s value to the prospects you actually want to convert. This can sabotage your ability to scale the business.

Predictable Results Require Precise Control

With outbound, you fully control the list of prospects and personas your reps will target. You build an effective way to engage them. Once that’s in place, you can start providing them value immediately.

When properly implemented, this process is far more nuanced, direct and efficient than inbound. But closing the right deals for your organization requires research, vision and precision. Remember, you want to:

  • Sell to certain companies, not all of them
  • Engage specific personas, not everyone
  • Craft messaging that addresses a prospect’s precise concerns, not vague challenges
  • Provide valuable content that’s personalized for them

Outbound empowers you to individualize your content and outreach in granular ways: by role, company, industry and more. This personalization throughout the buyer’s journey culminates into much higher close rates.

You’ll also have much more visibility and confidence in your pipeline. Unlike the continuous uncertainty surrounding inbound’s lead quantity and quality, outbound helps you better predict the deals you’ll close in a given month or quarter.

This transparency also helps with staffing. If your outbound approach is refined, accurate and effective, you’ll always know when to hire more reps to scale your GTM organization.

Tips for Taking your Outbound Efforts Global

If your global GTM organization is considering a pivot to an outbound sales strategy, here are some next-step best practices to keep in mind:

Don’t Be Everything to Everybody: Develop your ICP and target your outreach only to companies and contacts that fit that criteria. Stay focused. Remember, when you try sell to everyone, you often don’t sell well to anyone.

Hold Your Nerve: Be willing to invest in your outbound efforts, and be patient. Successfully making the switch to outbound can take time — both to demonstrate financial return, and for your GTM team to acquire the right mindset, skills and resources.

Talk the Talk: If your GTM organization is targeting prospects in international markets, make sure your website and other key content is localized for their preferred languages. This ensures your digital channels can be highly tailored, authentic and relevant for global audiences.

Consider Localizing Your Business Approach: Also tailor your approach for the unique expectations of international buyers. Business customs vary from market to market. British marketers may be more technically savvy than their American counterparts, for instance. European B2B CMOs may have wildly different concerns than Asian CMOs. Confidently navigating these waters demands research and cultural fluency.

Conclusion

Outbound sales strategies empower you to exercise more control and creativity over the sales process. You’ll be able to proactively engage the right prospects, and deliver ongoing value with relevant, world-class content.

While the approach requires resources and a longer time to operationalize, the results are worth it. Remember, the ultimate goal of a GTM organization is to use predictable and precise approaches to engage the right decision-makers.

For low-velocity sales organizations, outbound is the best way to build credibility among prospects, and help you get, keep and grow your customer base and market share.

Your Personal Brand Is Important

Your Personal Brand Is Important

I have had the privilege of working with some of the best salespeople in the world. At the very top of that list of excellent salespeople would be Dean Wiener. Dean recently put out a post on LinkedIn giving advice to other salespeople as to the importance of his personal brand. With his permission, I am posting it here in its entirety.

Dean’s advice is perfect for all salespeople to follow. It follows with my oft-repeated advice from my book Eliminate Your Competition where I point out that all salespeople need to make sure they are effectively selling three things:

  1. your product
  2. your company
  3. YOU!

Since nearly all companies are outstanding, you will almost never win or lose because of your company. It is virtually always a tie in an evaluation. The same is true of your product. In today’s competitive environment, it is unusual to have a product that is a slam dunk better than the competing products. Yes, you can have a product that is better at a specific time than its competitors, but eventually, the advantage weakens as competitors step up against your leadership. There is one item though that you completely control and you can personally make better every day – YOU! You need to be as strong or stronger value to your customers as the first three legs of the selling stool.

Re-read Dean’s advice again, and I am sure you will see value in his approach. Learn from his leadership.

Thank you to Dean for sharing this advice with the selling community at large.

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 Photo by OpenClipart-Vectors (Pixabay)
I Don’t Recommend This Cold Calling Technique But…

I Don’t Recommend This Cold Calling Technique But…

This is supposed to be funny. Don’t be offended by the vulgar language and if you are offended by crude language, simply do not watch.

 

Header Photo by 3dman_eu (Pixabay)
Rate Yourself As A Winning Sales Coach

Rate Yourself As A Winning Sales Coach

This is a follow-on guest article by L. T. Dravis from the previous article 7 Secrets Of A Winning Sales Coach. If you haven’t read this previous article then it makes sense to jump over and do the pre-reading.

Take time to discover just how good you can be by taking time to understand how good you already are!

Respond to the following scenarios using five basic scales. A quick way to score this test is to simply use a highlighter to hit the number that most closely matches your response.

Your responses will not only help you determine where you stand on the following five critical elements of Sales Coaching but will also help you prioritize those areas you may need to improve:

1. GOAL SETTING SKILLS:

My goals are realistic, clear, compelling and support our company’s complete sales success in our territory. I discuss Sales Goals with Senior Management and with every Sales Player, individually and collectively, on my team. I supply lists of Sales Goals to Senior Management and Sales Players on a regular basis for their review, discussion, and final approval.

NEVER. . . [5] RARELY. . . [10] OCCASIONALLY. . . [15] USUALLY. . . [20] ALWAYS. . . [25]

2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS:

I communicate often, easily, and quickly. I double-check to make certain each person I speak with understands my position and I also double-check to make certain that I understand the other person’s position. I place a greater emphasis on listening than I do on speaking.

NEVER. . . [5] RARELY. . . [10] OCCASIONALLY. . . [15] USUALLY. . . [20] ALWAYS. . . [25]

3. JOB SATISFACTION AND PERFORMANCE:

I enjoy my work. I make a solid contribution to the bottom line with my Sales Coaching skills. I take good care of myself, physically and mentally, so I remain capable of performing at the top of my game.

NEVER. . . [5] RARELY. . . [10] OCCASIONALLY. . . [15] USUALLY. . . [20] ALWAYS. . . [25]

4. PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS:

I work to maintain a sense of balance between my position as Sales Coach and the responsibilities of my superiors and colleagues. I consistently challenge myself to improve my performance as a Sales Coach, as a colleague, and as an employee. I constantly search for newer, better ways to expand my skills and the skills of my Sales Players. I am willing to delegate wherever necessary and I freely share coaching responsibilities with Assistant Coaches and role models.

NEVER. . . [5] RARELY. . . [10] OCCASIONALLY. . . [15] USUALLY. . . [20] ALWAYS. . . [25]

5. TEAM BUILDING SKILLS:

I stay in close, daily touch with each Sales Player to coach, motivate and help in any way I can to increase sales and profits. I am quick to praise Sales Player successes and I never publicly criticize anyone in the organization.

NEVER. . . [5] RARELY. . . [10] OCCASIONALLY. . . [15] USUALLY. . . [20] ALWAYS. . . [25]

RATE YOURSELF AS A WINNING SALES COACH

What does this test mean? How did you score? Add up the total number of points and consider the following score analysis:

TOTAL POINTS – 125-115: EXCELLENT. You are doing a great job. Your goal setting skills, communication skills, job satisfaction and performance, professional relationships, and team building skills are well thought-out, realistic, and viable. Pat yourself on the back and keep up the good work.

TOTAL POINTS – 110-95: GOOD. You are performing well. Your scores tell you which areas need improvement. Prioritize objectively; select the single most critical area to work on first and take immediate positive steps to develop the skills you need. Put your ego aside and ask your Assistant Coach(s) and Sales Players for suggestions.

TOTAL POINTS – 90-80: FAIR. Review your responses. Pay special attention to high scores and low scores. On reflection, do your responses accurately portray you as Sales Coach? Would you change any response? If you wouldn’t change any response, change your behavior relative to the lowest scored scenario. A tip: The most critical scenario is number 1, Goal Setting Skills. If you didn’t score well on number 1, jump on the problem and get all the help you can . . . immediately.

TOTAL POINTS – 75 or LESS: TIME FOR A CHANGE? If you are not suffering some sort of temporary setback (domestic problem, health problem, personality clash at home or on the job, short-term financial crisis, etc.), stop what you are doing and discuss your situation with someone you trust. If you’re unable to immediately change your responses to these scenarios, you should seriously consider stepping aside in favor of someone else in the organization who is better equipped to perform as a Sales Coach.

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at LTDAssociates@msn.com (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/L._T._Dravis/204600

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The Seven Secrets Of A Winning Sales Coach

The Seven Secrets Of A Winning Sales Coach

I recently heard a fascinating story from a Fractional VP of Sales (a true Sales Coach) who told me how he succeeded in overcoming some significant challenges when he was recruited as a Fractional Vice President of Sales for a major-brand forklift dealership. Despite the brand name and the brand’s reputation for quality and excellent resale value, the dealer’s sales record for new, reconditioned, and used forklifts was abominable and had been lousy for quite some time.

At this Sales Manager’s request, I’ve agreed to keep him anonymous, so for our purposes, I’ll just refer to him as Steve and I have changed the industry (he doesn’t actually sell forklifts) and his location (he isn’t in California).

Steve had a long history of success as the VP of Sales for fairly large organizations including some in the forklift and material handling industry. He also had been the number one salesman for many years before transitioning to Sales Management and then starting his practice as a Fractional Vice Preside of Sales. Steve was relatively well known throughout the industry, so a failing dealership in the northwest desperately needed to sell or die, so management earnestly went after Steve.

This was nothing new for Steve. He’d been recruited for years by dozens of other dealers all over the country. But the dealership in the northwest was something else. Sales had been slipping for several years, market share had plummeted to historic lows, and the service and parts departments were experiencing a severe revenue shortfall due to the cumulative, drop-off in overall new, reconditioned, and used forklift sales. So, the dealer principal called Steve and literally begged him to meet for dinner so he could offer him tons of money and complete freedom to run the sales department any way he saw fit.

Steve is anything but dense. So he looked at this opportunity for what it could be, not for what it seemed to be. The new client would undoubtedly be a tough challenge with lots of inherent risk of failure. However, if he could turn this company around, he’d be able to write his own ticket with anyone, anywhere. On the other hand, even if he failed, he could always hit the road and earn six figures selling forklifts for any dealer, anywhere.

So, he looked the dealer principal in the eye, shook his hand, and accepted the position.

Steve inherited nine salespeople with his new job. The only producer in the entire sales department was a mid-forties salesperson we will call Jasmine (not her real name). Jasmine had only been in the industry for about five years, yet she was selling forklifts like there was no tomorrow. None of the other eight salespeople seemed to have the experience, training, motivation, or the character necessary to focus on much of anything beyond a draw, driving a company car, and taking paid holidays.

Morale had dropped as low as sales, profits, and the infrequent commissions check.

Steve immediately sat down individually with each salesperson to talk about what was really going on. He promised to keep each conversation confidential as he asked each salesperson to talk about why they weren’t generating more sales and profits. He was disappointed (but not surprised) to hear the usual excuses for the poor performance he’d heard from salespeople for years, “There’s no business in my territory because it’s saturated with forklifts.” And, “Our competitors outsell us because their prices are lower and I can’t compete.” And, “The economy is slowing down, and no one is buying.”

Within 3 months of Steve arrival in the sunshine, all those excuses faded like memories of last year’s Grammies, and the sales department was selling new, reconditioned, and used forklifts like never before.

So, what happened?

What did Steve do to change things around so dramatically?

Well, here’s what he told me:

STEVE’S SEVEN SECRETS

1. Steve’s First Secret – Do nothing:

For the first few weeks, after he became Sales Manager, Steve did nothing at all. He didn’t make any changes; in fact, he didn’t even make any suggestions.

The sales crew was delighted because they began to believe that Steve would never be as good a sales manager as he had been a territory salesman. There were two reasons for this unlikely attitude. First and foremost, the sales crew didn’t want things to change, not really, because they didn’t believe changes would do anything but make them work harder for less. Secondly, they’d heard all about Steve’s heavy-hitter reputation and thought it made them look bad, so they secretly rooted for Steve to finally fall flat on his behind.

Given the severity of the sales situation, the big question floating around the company was why isn’t Steve doing anything? Is he just lazy? Is this the Peter Principle in action? Is Steve not up to the job? Or, is he too much of a wimp, too scared to tackle this huge, long-term problem head-on?

Not hardly.

Steve did nothing because he was too smart to move too quickly, too soon. He knew that before he could institute changes to increase sales and profits, he first needed to invest some serious time and patience in learning to understand the dynamics that had killed sales for so long at this particular dealership.

This time and patience thing took more than a little courage on Steve’s part. It was tough for a results-oriented guy like Steve to overlook caustic comments from Senior Management and pass off the disappointed stares flashed his way by the few people in the sales department who really did want change. Nevertheless, he stayed focused on gathering information, analyzing sales records and call reports, talking with salespeople, managers, department heads, and customers, and digging for the root causes of the only problem that really mattered: Not Enough Sales!

2. Steve’s Second Secret – Build Relationships with Sales Team:

After Steve analyzed management support, financial resources, company image in the territory, facilities, equipment, customer service, parts and service support, product quality, and the company’s relationship to its factories, he concluded that he was right about the root cause: The sales team was utterly incapable of doing its job. Sure, like any warm body, each salesperson was capable of taking an order for a forklift, but nine of nine salespeople weren’t trained in the skills they needed to sell significant numbers of forklifts. Eight of the nine obviously lacked confidence and direction and had never experienced any consistent success … so they had no positive history to fall back on. Nine of nine salespeople worked – when they worked – only for themselves because not one of them had a clue about the collective importance of working together as a team. Last but not least, since Jasmine had always been off doing her own thing, completely disassociated with the rest of the group, her colleagues had no role model to emulate.

Steve made it his business to continue getting to know each salesperson, both as an employee and a person. Each afternoon, he would invite one of the nine to come to his office early the next morning for 15 minutes or so before the switchboard opened, just to talk. He provided fresh coffee, hot chocolate, and a variety of pastries to please any taste. Discussions were friendly and casual with lots of give-and-take. Over time, each individual came to learn that Steve wasn’t a threat and, at the same time, they began to believe in Steve as a leader and as a coach who could and would help them sell more and earn more, more often.

3. Steve’s Third Secret – Create a successful role model on the team:

If you’ve heard the term “Stepping Up” then you probably heard it in the NBA or NFL. “Stepping Up” means that a top-performing player assumes a leadership role on the team. Because Jasmine was the only real performer in the sales department, Steve decided to help her step up. He trained her thoroughly on the ins and outs of the Sales Trapping concept to help her realize that despite years of separation, the team really needed her to become a Success Role Model. Steve knew very well that the best way to transform eight below-average producers was to get them to emulate the one strong performer.

Steve also realized that if Jasmine’s sales began to drop – for any reason – she would lose credibility with the rest of the team. So, he worked to coach her, subtly and quietly, because he didn’t want to offend her sensibilities as a top performer. He worked with her consistently because he wanted to keep her numbers strong. In Steve’s second month as Sales Coach, Jasmine was able to generate nearly 200% of budgeted new, reconditioned, and used sales in her territory. And, senior management and others around the company began to drop their doubts about Steve’s abilities.

At this point, I asked Steve why he didn’t merely set himself up as the team’s role model. After all, his sales history was nothing to sneeze at!

His reply?

“I felt that my example wouldn’t be as meaningful as the example Jasmine could set,” he said with a smile. “After all, even though these salespeople weren’t particularly friendly with each other, they knew Jasmine well enough to respect her abilities as a top-notch salesperson and would, therefore, be more likely to emulate her strategies and tactics.

“We started slowly at first. In Team Meetings, I’d ask Jasmine to talk about her week was going. She’d tell us who she sold to and why. It was just a casual conversation. No lectures, no pressure. After a couple of weeks, I began to encourage the others to interact with Jasmine, to ask questions, and to talk about their successes or failures. And, in no time at all, we had our Successful Role Model working to help the team sell more, more often, with no resentments and no resistance.

“Over time, I realized that Jasmine had become Sales Coach in Team Meetings while I had become the moderator. Gotta tell you, I couldn’t have been more pleased that my plan worked out so well, so quickly.”

4. Steve’s Fourth Secret – Clearly communicate performance goals:

Steve refused to waste time with mealy-mouthed platitudes. Because he felt obligated to turn the company around as quickly as possible and forklift salespeople work in an incredibly competitive business, Steve refused to take anything for granted. He believed that he owed it to Senior Management, to himself, and especially to the sales team, to come clean and communicate his expectations to everyone concerned.

So, Steve established the following three categories of Performance Goals for the team:

Activity Goals, Behavior Goals, and Results Goals.

An ACTIVITY GOAL, for example, requires each salesperson to have a minimum number of planned meetings for at least 45 minutes. In Trapper parlance, we call these Customer Interaction Hours (CIH).

A BEHAVIOR GOAL requires each salesperson to provide a quote to the customer within 24 hours of the initial contact.

The RESULTS GOAL that got the most attention requires each salesperson with at least one year in a territory to sell a minimum of $100,000.00 in sales of new, reconditioned, and used forklifts each and every month.

5. Steve’s Fifth Secret – Set your standards high:

No matter how productive you are as a Sales Coach, Steve says, no matter how hard you and the company work to support the sales department, there will always be someone who won’t step up to the plate. Steve doesn’t hesitate to confront poor performers because he refuses to tie the team’s performance to the lowest common denominator. He focuses on the only thing that really matters:

Consistent, profitable sales!

If a salesperson can’t or won’t generate enough profits to exceed the company’s cost in payroll, commissions, benefits, etc., Steve recruits a replacement and immediately cuts the player from the team.

If a salesperson is a marginal performer but is willing to admit the shortcomings that need to be fixed, Steve, the Sales Coach, works to bring that person to the point of making the final decision. This means they either ‘decide’ to join the team, immerse themselves in the Sales Trapping process, and start selling or they ‘decide’ to leave the company… immediately.

Steve told us that the only thing worse than someone who resigns and leaves is someone who resigns and stays… so he never allows anyone to stay if they are already checked out.

6. Steve’s Sixth Secret – Emphasize dignity and respect for all:

“Look,” Steve says, “after the dust settles, we are all just people. We are fallible human beings who make more mistakes than we care to admit.” So, Steve makes it his business to admit his own mistakes, no matter how tough it may be to do so. Because he agrees with Dr. Phil when he says you can’t change what you won’t admit, Steve expects salespeople to accept responsibility for their own shortcomings. Irrespective of performance failures and character flaws, Steve continually reminds the team of his expectation that everyone – salespeople, senior management, department heads, key personnel, and, of course, the coach – will treat everyone else with complete dignity and respect.

Steve promotes by taking the entire sales team out of the office once a month – every month – for a fun dignity and respect-building group activity – go-karting, golfing, dinner, lunch, breakfast, something.

7. Steve’s Seventh Secret – Coach hard, play hard, and win:

Steve believes that his job as the Sales Coach is just as critical as an NFL coach. Like any winning NFL coach, Steve recognizes that he has to stay close to the action. To be a capable, credible coach, he has to be visible to salespeople, customers, prospects, senior management, department heads, and key personnel in the company. So, like any good coach, Steve spends a great deal of time each week talking to people, on the phone, in meetings in his office, traveling with salespeople, in front of prospects and customers, asking questions, and observing how sales plays are won and lost.

As a result, Steve has gained incredibly accurate and timely insights into his performance, the performance of the Sales Team, and the real needs of customers and prospects. These insights, of course, have helped Steve set realistic team goals, reward winning salespeople, supply real customer needs, and thereby triple sales within 12 months.

You can do the same and more… if you really want to.

Right?

EPILOGUE

This team thing is nothing new. We all play our lives out on a variety of teams … the team at home with our families, the on-the-job team with colleagues, the team we play on with good friends and close neighbors, and on and on.

Some of us stand on the sidelines, watching and cheering… we are called receptionists, sales coordinators, service, and parts folks, truck drivers, and senior managers. Some of us take the field and compete… we are called salespeople. And a crazy few of us do it all: we watch, we cheer, we train, we cajole, we motivate, we even play… we are called Sales Coaches!

As a Sales Coach, your primary responsibility is to create a winning environment in your company, an environment that comes about only when you:

  • Identify precise goals… be clear and very vocal about what you want to achieve and when you want to complete it, and colleagues & friends will hold you to your goals!
  • Clearly communicate winning ideas to your team
  • Transform winning ideas into winning realities

When you clearly communicate your goals to individual salespeople, they will begin to adopt your goals as their own. And, when your salespeople understand the value and significance of your goals, they will work harder to help you achieve them.

Unfortunately, if you cannot do all of these things then you likely need the assistance of a Fractional Vice President of Sales. If you want to learn more about that, check out http://newsales.expert/.

Header Photo by geralt (Pixabay)