Recently, I had a discussion with a sales leader who told me that she believes her success – and that of her team – is primarily determined by the sales compensation plan. While this may play a strong role, in my experience, sales leaders need to engage in three critical activities beyond compensation and incentives to be effective. These include: having good goals and metrics; hiring and retaining the right sales team members; and providing ongoing coaching, training, and mentoring to the team.
Goals and Metrics
Understanding how your team is performing relative to expectations is critical to identifying where the focus needs to be placed. We’re all familiar with the acronym “SMART” when it comes to defining your goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. As an example of a SMART goal, at One of a Kind Sales, we require each sales team member to make 20 calls per hour.
In addition, a good CRM is critical to tracking performance goals versus metrics. While a CRM may be an investment for your organization, being able to easily track performance gives you the opportunity to assess and make adjustments as needed.
The Right Team
Working with team members who have a passion for their work is important. As a sales leader, you need to be able to assess whether an individual demonstrates that passion and is a good fit for your team. For example, at One of a Kind Sales, we value sales training and coaching. Our team members need to love learning and have a desire to continuously improve their sales skills. We also value sharing key learnings based on experiences with prospects as well as sharing success stories. We look for that willingness to share in our candidates.
Once you have the right team, keeping the team ‘on point’ with strong sales skills is critical. By investing in ongoing sales training, you strengthen the capabilities of your sales team and improve their ability to reach and potentially exceed sales goals. If individuals are identified as underperformers, sales training and coaching may help them correct their course. If not, it’s important to determine whether or not they should be in that role. In addition, when your team sees that you are investing in their skills, it demonstrates that you are interested in their personal development and increases their commitment to the job.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love selling and we are experts at cold calling, in particular. If you would like to discuss how we can help you and your team please contact us at 908-879-2911.
When seeking more qualified appointments for their sales team, many businesses outsource to an appointment setting service. These services focus on the “pre-sales” process, which includes implementing professional telemarketing campaigns designed to prospect from a list to set up appointments. One of a Kind Sales provides this service to a variety of industries and has made thousands of calls on behalf of its clients. We’ve found that there is one common misperception that some of our prospective clients come to us with. This is the belief that a professional outbound prospecting and appointment setting campaign will work “like magic,” and that appointments will appear almost instantaneously.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Just as a new sales representative needs time to gain momentum, so do outbound telemarketing campaigns. Depending on the source, a new salesperson can take between 6 to 9 months to become fully effective. Similarly, an outbound telemarketing campaign also needs ramp-up time to optimize.
We believe it is important for our clients to have the right expectations about our services. We are not a “magic bullet”, but our services are key to a robust strategy to drive sales conversions for any organization. Outsourcing the “pre-sales” process allows for an organization’s sales team to focus on the best opportunities for conversion and can result in more growth for the business.
What you need to know
It’s important to understand that when you’re working with a professional outbound sales team, the objective is to get well-qualified appointments. This means that the appointments that we arrange are with prospects who have an expressed need for the solution you offer. This increases the likelihood that your team will be able to close the sale.
Engaging a professional outbound sales team is not a short-term commitment. You should commit to working with a professional service like ours for at least a minimum of 6 months. All campaigns take time to optimize and show results.
With an average telemarketing conversion rate of 2-4% from a purchased list (source: businessdatalist.com), we make hundreds of calls a week on behalf of our clients. We take pride in the fact that our year-to-date conversion rate is 7% – significantly better than the industry average. In fact, we are consistently better than average on a monthly basis, ranging between 6% and 9%.
Our professional outbound sales team is particularly skilled at quickly establishing good relationships with prospects right from the start. If there is no immediate need for your solution, we make sure that we “earn the right” to re-contact that prospect at the end of 90 days to inquire again.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love cold calling! If you would like to learn more about our services or if you are considering outsourcing the pre-sales process to support your sales team, reach out to us at 908-879-2911.
At One of a Kind Sales, I lead a team that does cold calling of prospects to set up initial meetings for our clients. Companies like ours often use one of two methods to accomplish this: either the ‘features and benefits’ approach or the consultative selling method. I have a strong preference for the consultative selling method.
‘Features and Benefits’ Selling Focuses on You
When you’re selling using the ‘features and benefits’ approach, you’re focusing attention on yourself and your offering. The core messaging centers on how the offering’s features will benefit the prospect. These kinds of conversations feel more like a hard sell, and I believe that they are perceived that way as well by the prospect. From the moment the conversation starts there’s little focus on understanding where the prospect fits in the equation. Because of this, features and benefits selling tends to lead to more immediate rejections.
When cold calling using the ‘features and benefits” approach the objective is normally to schedule 15 minutes with a prospect to talk to them in greater depth. But this is 15 minutes spent with a client that has not been qualified. I can’t image that anyone would think this is a good use of time. We also find that appointments arranged using the ‘features and benefits’ approach result in a high percentage of ‘no shows.’
Consultative Selling Centers on the Prospect’s Needs
In Consultative Selling, the prospect is the focus of the discussion. The discussion is about their needs and challenges with the objective of determining whether they are a fit for our solution. Then, and only then do we schedule an initial meeting. We request a 30-minute initial conversation. During that meeting we continue our conversation with the prospect about their specific situation. This approach fits with what we know about psychology of most buyers: it’s all about them, not about us. In our experience, the consultative selling approach has yielded higher quality initial meetings and an overall higher conversion rate.
If you’re in sales and you’re transitioning from a ‘features and benefits’ approach to consultative selling, you’ll end up sharpening your skills. Admittedly the transition may be somewhat uncomfortable because you are accustomed to talking about the offering right away. As salespeople, we are excited about what we are selling and have a natural desire to talk about it. But delaying this gratification and focusing on the prospect’s needs first results in a better qualified prospect. You’ll have a greater likelihood of being able to close a deal.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love to do cold calling. We also train inside sales teams to do cold calling. If you’d like to discuss how we can help move your business to the next level by increasing your sales opportunities reach out to us at 908-879-2911.
They say that optimists see the glass as half full. I say that optimists see a full sales pipeline!
Let me explain.
Which would you rather spend time with – a person who is grumpy and glum or a positive, happy person? I would take the positive one every time! And when making cold calls, that positive attitude can be the difference between keeping a prospect on the phone until they set an appointment and having them hang up.
Now don’t get me wrong, hang ups happen, and sometimes, if they weren’t a good fit, that works in your favor – saving you time and effort. But if you want to keep people on the phone long enough to see if they ARE a good fit, a positive outlook is key.
Put on those ‘Rose Colored Glasses’.
Optimism is defined as “A tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.”
In a business where so much of your day can be determined by the actions of others, it is great to know that this is something you can drive. What you ‘expect’ and what you ‘dwell on’ are both within YOUR control.
Control those and you gain more control over your results.
Data supports the claim.
Studies show that optimists outsell pessimists, in some cases by many times over! Here is an example of the results from a study done by Dr Martin Seligman, an expert in ‘positive psychology’, from just two industries:
Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 38 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 88 percent.
Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 33 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by a whopping 319 percent.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be unrealistically optimistic. You need to be able to acknowledge challenges and obstacles. I am suggesting that you confidently address them and move one. That you focus on the silver lining rather than the clouds. Don’t dwell on the hang-ups or the unanswered calls, rather, focus on the person you are going to speak with next. Be present and enjoy meeting them. Learn about their needs and see how you can help!
And yes, you can take this too far. Being blindly optimistic can be detrimental to your sales goals. Sitting at your desk, or worse yet, on a distant beach, imagining that prospects will start calling YOU probably won’t fill your pipeline.
But a good dose of optimism WILL boost your confidence, your outlook and your bottom line!
For more on this see our post Control What You Can in Sales and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter for daily sales tips, advice and periodic boosts of optimism!
According to the RAIN Group, a sales training and consulting firm, 58% of prospects say they currently find cold calls useless. Wow! Are YOU wasting YOUR time making ‘useless’ calls? Here is a better approach to Cold Calling.
What is a ‘useless’ call?
If a prospect is finding your call ‘useless’, it is a good bet that you are calling people and doing what I call the “F&B Dump”. You are dumping a bunch of information, about the Features and Benefits of your product or services, on whoever is unlucky enough to pick up your call.
That, or you are monopolizing the call with info about you, you, you.
Or maybe you are just launching into a hard sales pitch.
Or worst of all, you do all of the above!
A better approach to Cold Calling
A better approach to Cold Calling is to start by confirming who you are speaking with. Make sure they are a decision maker and that they actually have a minute to speak with you. If they don’t, set up a time that works better for them. You are both busy, why waste each other’s time?
Asking permission like this can set you apart from all the other cold callers they encounter and sets you up for a CONVERSATION, among equals.
Make sure they are worth YOUR time
Once you are speaking with them – not talking AT them or SELLING them, you should have a few, tightly scripted questions you can ask to determine if they have a need for your product or services.
Ask your questions and then really LISTEN to their answers. Use that information to determine if they are worth pursuing. If they are not a good fit, ask for a referral or a recommendation of someone they know who might need your product or services and then exit the call (click here for more on how to ask for a referral)
Make it worth THEIR time
Another sales study found that 84% of buyers complain that sales reps are annoying in their efforts to convince them to buy.
If prospects are finding YOU annoying (as evidenced by rushing off the call, hanging up or otherwise uninterested in speaking with you) it is probably because you have either rushed to the sales pitch or bowled over them with all your talking.
The initial cold call is not for hard selling – it is an exploratory call to see if they are a good fit. Going into sell mode will definitely annoy your prospect.
Respect their time, identify if they have a need you can fill and if they ARE a good fit, move to set up a first meeting. (click here for what to cover in that meeting)
Useless calls are a waste of time for you AND your prospects. Use our approach to have real conversations that convert to qualified appointments and sales.
Need help? We train salespeople in the skills and tactics that deliver RESULTS – give us a call at 908-879-2911 to learn more!
Back in High School, I was the co-captain of our Kick Line Squad where we cheered on our sports teams by performing precision dance routines in the style made famous by the Rockettes.
This came up the other day on a call with a basketball playing colleague. I mentioned that basketball had been my favorite team to cheer for. I loved the energy, the pace and, most importantly at the time, that it was played indoors!
Though, I said, I don’t know why they didn’t give each team 100 points and let them just play that last 5 minutes of the last period since that always seemed to be when the game was won or lost. It always seemed to be a tie til those last plays.
My colleague quickly pointed out, ‘No, no, no! You are missing the point.’ Basketball, he explained, is a game of ENDURANCE. It is a game won or lost based on the focus and stamina of the players over that entire 48 minutes – all four of those 12-minute periods. Yes, it may come down to the last play at the buzzer but the team that trained and practiced and stayed focused the entire game, will be the one who wins.
I got it. And I immediately realized the similarity to the SALES process!
Sales too, is a ‘game of endurance’. It can be a tiring slog and can frequently come down to a last minute play – a close – at the buzzer, but it is the player and team that has trained, focused and practiced that will more reliably deliver and more importantly, succeed.
Do you and your team train regularly? When was the last time you actually had someone ‘coach’ you on your sales approach, scripting and tactics?
At One of a Kind Sales, we train you and your team on the sales tactics and techniques that WORK. Then we monitor progress and meet to track and improve delivery. This work helps ensure that you can get past all the ‘no’s’, properly identify and convert the ‘yeses’, to deliver the leads and sales you and your company need to succeed.
Think YOU or YOUR team could benefit from some sales ‘coaching’? Click here to set up a time to discuss how we can get YOU and YOUR team into the big leagues!
More Sales tips and advice:
Successful Cold Calling Starts with Asking Permission
Overcoming Cold Calling Objections