Celebrating International Women’s Day

Every year, on March 8th, the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to honoring the achievements of women and advocating for gender equality. It’s a day to recognize the immense contributions of women in every aspect of society – from politics and science to arts and business – and to reflect on the progress made toward gender equality while acknowledging the work that still needs to be done.

This year, as we commemorate International Women’s Day, we must recognize our strides towards gender equality. We’ve witnessed significant advancements in women’s rights, including increased access to education, greater representation in leadership roles, and the breaking down barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields. Women worldwide are making their voices heard, challenging stereotypes, and reshaping societal norms.

However, despite these advancements, women still face numerous challenges globally. Gender-based violence, discrimination, unequal pay, and limited access to healthcare and education persist in many parts of the world. This International Women’s Day, the theme “Break the Bias” calls for challenging stereotypes, biases, and discrimination in all its forms. It’s a reminder that achieving gender equality requires collective action and a commitment to dismantling the structural barriers that hold women back.

Promoting women’s leadership and participation in decision-making processes is essential for creating more inclusive societies. When women have a seat at the table, diverse perspectives are represented, leading to more innovative solutions and policies that better reflect the needs of all members of society.

On this International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the achievements of women worldwide, acknowledge our progress, and recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of advancing gender equality.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Business Etiquette: 6 Suggestions for Salespeople

There is no lack of lists of supposedly “unbreakable” business etiquette rules. The role of etiquette is to help us have smooth, respectful interactions with others. Salespeople can be particularly challenged by this because, in reality, customs may change from industry to industry and from prospect to prospect. A construction business may have different rules of etiquette from a white-shoe law firm.

I’ve found that it’s most important to know who you are developing a relationship with so that you can interact with them appropriately.  What this means is that the rules of etiquette are often “situational” and not rigid.

After more than 30 years in sales, I’ve compiled some basic observations about business etiquette.

  • Eliminate electronic distractions and focus on the prospect. This means that during meetings, alerts on mobile phones, tablets, and laptops should be silenced and unless they are being used to present information, they should remain out of sight.
  • Keep email communications brief and responses timely. If you have concerns about what you are communicating, take a moment to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes to see how what you are writing might come across. Does it sound like the business language they use?  If not, you should consider making some modifications.
  • When cold calling, be genuine and avoid selling. The prospect wasn’t expecting to speak with you. Empathy and common courtesy apply here. We always avoid selling on first contact, and we acknowledge that they are speaking to somebody that they do not know. We tell them briefly why we are calling and ask for a couple of minutes of their time. This communicates that we acknowledge that their time is valuable and sets the stage for us to make an appointment with them.
  • Don’t hesitate to leave a voicemail. Whether you are calling a mobile phone or a landline, voicemails are often transcribed for convenience. A brief message including your name and the purpose of your call is appropriate. It is also acceptable to ask for a callback or indicate that you will reach out to them again.
  • Virtual meetings can be as effective as in-person meetings. After 30 years of working virtually most of the time, we’ve consistently established and nurtured strong client relationships. We show up for virtual meetings dressed appropriately for our audience and with an appropriate background for a business meeting.
  • The definition of ‘appropriate dress’ may vary. Unless there are specific rules within your organization, salespeople should dress professionally, with attention to reflecting the style of the company that you’re meeting with. A salesperson meeting with a manufacturing plant manager might dress in business casual, while a meeting with a VP of IT for a Big 8 accounting firm might require formal business attire.

In the end, it’s important to use your judgment when it comes to business etiquette. It’s up to us as salespeople to do the research and “read the room” to understand the best approach for to a positive interaction with your prospect.

At One of a Kind Sales, we are experts at cold calling and lead qualification.  If you would like to learn more about our services, give us a call at 908-879-2911.

What is Combo Prospecting?

At a recent Sandler Training Session, I was inspired by a Sandler trainer, Emily Yepes, who spoke about the challenges of prospecting. In this competitive environment, we all need to “up our game” to reach the prospects we believe we can help.  Prospecting is often the biggest ‘pain point’ for my clients and to meet this need, I’ve become a student of different prospecting approaches.

What is most attractive about Emily’s approach, which she refers to as “Combo Prospecting,” is her simultaneous use of multiple channels to reach a targeted individual. She uses LinkedIn outreach, phone calls, and email to reach a targeted client.  She also leverages video in both email and LinkedIn. What’s important is that the targeted individual is someone who she knows is likely to be interested in her solution at some point. She personalizes her messaging by incorporating a topic that is relevant to the individual – something they’ve posted about recently or even recent media coverage that impacts their business.  She attempts to engage by asking a question.  She does not start to sell to this person immediately.  Her mission is to engage them and stand out.  Doing a bit of background research on each person enables her to do this.

As an example, on day one, a targeted prospect might receive a phone call, an email, and a LinkedIn message.  While this may seem like overkill, remember that your prospect is not 100% focused on any one of these channels. Some people don’t go to LinkedIn often, others never pick up the phone, and email is easily overlooked.  From consumer research, we know that it takes multiple exposures to get a consumer to recognize a new brand or name.  Likely, the message a targeted prospect takes away from this type of outreach is that you have prioritized reaching them.  Over 30 days, you can alternate between using one or two methods every two to three days.  By day 30 if there is no response you can send them a final goodbye email.   Like other outreach methods, you develop a routine that you should stick to, and over time the number of responses should accumulate.

I’m trialing this approach by targeting 20 prospects. I reached out with an initial phone call, followed by an email and a LinkedIn message.  In none of these contacts did I attempt to sell. My subsequent contacts will alternate between two of the three channels and will incorporate personalized videos.   What was striking to me was that in just 47 minutes I was able to make an initial outreach to 20 individuals through multiple channels. Think about how long would it have taken for me to visit 20 prospects in person! And, if I only used one method to reach out to 20 people, imagine how much lower my chances of generating a response would be.

Ultimately, I believe this approach will yield great results.  As I have just initiated this process, I don’t have the final numbers, but I am impressed with the productivity. (Stay tuned for a follow-up in 2024.)  And what we do know is that sales is a numbers game and the more outreach you do, the greater the opportunity for a sale.

If you’d like to learn more about this approach or if you have an organization that needs help generating leads, please reach out to One of a Kind Sales – we are experts at cold calling and we can help your team generate the sales you need.  Give us a call at 908-879-2911.

When Being Negative is Positive

I’ve written before about the benefits of getting to ‘no’ quickly. As I wrote in my last blog, the more no’s you hear, the closer you get to ‘yes.’ But you may have challenging prospects that thwart your efforts. For example, they drag their feet on making a decision, or they don’t give you much feedback, or they repeatedly reschedule meetings. A Sandler Selling Systems technique called “Negative Reverse Selling” may help.

In Negative Reverse Selling, you do the opposite of what a prospect expects. This changes the pace of the conversation and may help you uncover information that you might not have discovered otherwise.

Here’s a cold calling example: during an initial call, the prospect requests that you send them information via email. The normal approach would be to agree to send it right away.

Using Negative Reverse Selling, your response might be, “Sure, I’m happy to send it to you, but I’ve noticed that often when I’m asked to send information, it’s because the person wants to end the discussion without hurting my feelings. I will understand if this is the case –  but is this what is really happening here?”

In this scenario, the client expects that you’ll send them the information and end the call. They don’t expect you to ask about their motivations. In response, they may admit that they aren’t interested at this time. Then you can thank them and move on. Alternatively, they may confirm they’re interested but you’ve caught them at a bad time.

Negative reverse selling has three key elements. In the first – the ‘build up,’ you make a positive statement about their comment. In the second, ‘the takeaway,’ you share an observation about that comment.  In the third element, you ask a ‘question’ to confirm whether your observation is correct.  See the breakdown below:

Element Definition Example
The build up Make a positive statement about their comment or request. “Sure I’ll send this…
The takeaway Sharing an observation based on your experience. but often when someone asks, they are trying to politely end the call. I understand if this is the case,
The Question Test to see if you are drawing the right conclusion. but is this what’s happening now?”

This is an advanced sales technique that could be of use in a variety of situations. If you choose to use it you’ll need to practice and apply it strategically. This is not an approach to use for the first time in a high-stakes sale.

At One of a Kind Sales, we are experts at sales and cold calling.  We have many techniques in our “sales toolbox” to navigate through the selling process.  If you need help generating qualified leads for your business or you have a sales team that is not as efficient as you’d like, call us at 908-879-2911 to learn more about our services.  Consultations are complementary.

No Means You’re Closer to Yes

There isn’t a successful salesperson out there who hasn’t heard the word “NO” much more than they’ve heard the word “YES.”

I’ve written before about how salespeople are in the business of “NO” because they hear it so much.  This makes sense to me because not everyone is your customer.

Sales is a numbers game. If you approach ten prospects about an opportunity, you can expect that most will say no. But the more people who tell you “NO,” the closer you are to those few – possibly two or three – who might say yes and be able to move forward and have an in-depth discussion.   If you approach 100 prospects, with the same success rate you could be talking about 20 to 30 qualified and interested prospects.

My point is that we need to have the ability to hear the word “NO” without letting it impact our future activities. In my last blog, I mentioned how important consistency is in driving results and how critical it is for us to maintain our resilience to get those results.

Here are several approaches to try either separately or in combination to help us get past the negative feelings we have associated with hearing the word “NO”.

  • Change or reframe your perspective. What if you could perceive a “NO” as being one step closer to the yes, rather than just a setback?
  • Make sure you have realistic expectations. Again, not everyone will be your customer, and not every prospect will prove to be a qualified lead.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Practice self-compassion and don’t beat yourself up about a failed sales call.  Accepting the response and leaving the negative self-talk behind can help you move forward.
  • Seek feedback and support from your coaches and peers. They have all experienced the “NO.” You are not alone.
  • Refocus quickly and move to the next call. We know the steps it takes to generate new business.  After the “NO” it is exactly the right time to stick to your plan.

During my career as a sales professional, I’ve seen that if you can implement one or several of these approaches, you’ll develop the ‘growth mindset’ that is critical to ongoing sales success.

At One of a Kind Sales, we are experts at qualifying leads and setting appointments.  We understand that “NO” is not a personal rejection and it may in some cases mean “not now.” We have a proven method for generating the qualified sales leads that businesses need.  If you or someone you know needs more qualified leads, please reach out to me for a free consultation at 908-879-2911 or Nancy@OneofaKindSales.com.

Maximizing Peaks and Minimizing Valleys in Sales

I meet periodically with a group of professional salespeople who are dedicated to sharpening their sales skills using the Sandler Selling Methodology. In the most recent session, we discussed something we all see at times – the peaks and valleys of sales. We’ve all had that experience in which sales cycle up and down, making a sales revenue line that has repeated peaks and valleys. What we all prefer is that sales continue on the upward swing and never trend down. So why does this happen?

We talked about the contributing factors. The consensus was that these peaks and valleys represent the daily level of effort we put into our sales process. We all know what activities we need to do to generate sales (for many of us, cold calling is a critical part), but we’re not consistent from day to day or month to month to the level of effort that we put forth. And this inconsistency is reflected in our sales numbers.

And why weren’t we being consistent? As we talked more, it seemed that the most common challenge was procrastination due to anxiety and stress associated with the outreach process. Although we all know that cold calling is the first step to qualifying leads that generate revenue, we fret over it.

So a critical success factor is the ability to handle that stress and overcome procrastination.  As a sales professional and a professional “cold caller”  who uses the DISC personality profile to understand my sales team and my sales prospects,  I realize that each of the four DISC personality types requires a different approach to stress relief.

Stress Management Recommendations by DISC Personality Type

If you are a D (dominant) personality type, physical exercise is most likely the best solution for stress management.

If you are an I (Influencer), then social interaction is a great stress reliever as you thrive on connecting with others.

If you are an S (Steady Relator), getting adequate rest and having good sleep hygiene are important to recharging and handling stress daily.

If you are a C (Cautious/Compliant), then having time alone is going to help manage your stress.

Wherever you fall in the DISC profile, it’s important to make sure that you take active steps to reduce stress to remove the most common reason for procrastination.  By doing this you’ll be able to act consistently on the activities that you know will generate consistent revenue and you’ll see fewer valleys and maximize those peaks.

At One of a Kind Sales, we are masters of consistency and we love cold calling. We can help your team become better cold callers or we can take on that task for you so that your team can go out and convert the new clients that we have qualified. Call Nancy at 908-879-2911 to learn more.