What Drives Sales Leadership Success?

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.

Sales Training

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.

Three Tips to Handle Objections

For many inexperienced salespeople, the first thing they think about when it comes to selling a product or service is the fact that they will hear objections.  They dread the word “no” and try to avoid objections even when they can clearly see that they exist. They view objections as a minefield which must be avoided.  They plow ahead with their pitch hoping they’ll say some magic words that will make them evaporate. Unfortunately, they most often experience the unaddressed concerns rising up at some point and ‘tanking’ the sale.

Our One of a Kind sales team has completed thousands of cold calls.  And there is no doubt that salespeople will hear the word “no” many times.  But in our experience, we find it best to acknowledge a prospect’s objections and quickly determine whether they can be overcome. When you can overcome them, you can proceed with a greater likelihood of success. If you can’t, you then move on to another prospect quickly.

Disrupt the Pattern

Cold calls have a typical flow.  The way this happens may vary but at the end of a preliminary introduction, our team members may say something like, “how does that sound to you?” It is at this point when the prospect might say, “I’m fine – I don’t need anything.” That is a “no.”  The prospect’s expectation is that the salesperson will say “thanks for your time” and end the call.  This is the normal “pattern” of a sales call.  But our professional selling team is prepared with rebuttals that disrupt the typical pattern.

Prepare “Rebuttals”

A disruptive response to a “no” might be, “Wow, how did you manage to avoid this problem?”  What this approach does is keep the conversation going. Follow up questions could be: “Can you tell me how you did that?” or “How long did that take?” Followed by “I guess you must be hitting your revenue target then.” Moving further with “Would you like to improve that performance?”

You’ve read before that we believe in using scripts because they help us internalize our messaging.  Because we prepare in advance, we have an arsenal of rebuttals at the ready.  So, when the “no” happens, while it may be disconcerting, we don’t have to “figure out” what to say next.

Three Times is Enough

We adopt approach of using three rebuttals to a “no.” The rebuttals are statements we’ve prepared in advance (incorporated into our script) based on the objections we anticipate. Once we’ve had three unsuccessful attempts at this, we know it’s time to move on. We conclude the interaction, and we actually ask for a referral. For example, we’ll say, “it’s clear we can’t help you today, but perhaps we can in the future. Is there anyone else in your sphere of influence who might be able to benefit from our services?” You’d be surprised – we do get referrals in this way!

At One of a Kind Sales, we are sales experts, and we love cold calling!  If you need help taking your sales team to the next level, give us a call at 908-879-2911 to learn how we can help.

Six Steps to Improve Your Cold Calling Results

One of the most challenging parts of selling is cold calling.  Like all of us, salespeople dislike rejection and don’t want to hear the word “no.” And many have never been trained how to do cold calling.  As a result, many salespeople find cold calling intimidating. Aside from the fear of rejection, there is a concern that they are “interrupting” someone to make a pitch.  But as professional salespeople, they need to keep in mind that the person on the other end of the call may have a need for the potential solution they offer. If the prospect sees that value in having their problem solved, it is well worth the interruption.

In a recent Zoom Info article, cold calling was deemed “very to extremely effective” by almost 30% of professional salespeople.  Also, it was reported that almost 70% of buyers accept cold calls.   Given these statistics, it’s clear that cold calling presents a real opportunity to prospect for new business. In our experience as professional cold callers, once our callers reach their targeted prospects, most of them get the opportunity to make their initial case without the call terminating before that point.

What goes into making cold calling more effective?  I believe preparation is critical to success.  Below are just some of the steps we take to make our cold calling as efficient as it can be.

  1. The call list should be targeted to the segment you are pursuing. This ensures that your offering is relevant to the prospects you are pursuing.
  2. Develop a script that lays out what you want to communicate. Don’t repeat the script word for word. Use it to internalize your message. This prepares you to be able to say exactly what you want to say the moment you get the opportunity to connect.  You’ll only have seconds to make an impression.
  3. Check your mindset. Think of yourself as an equal to the prospect you want to connect with.  Remember they have a problem, and you have a solution.
  4. Make sure the purpose of your call is clear to the prospect, so they understand how what you are calling about is relevant to their business.
  5. Remember this is a dialogue. Let the prospect speak. This is when you’ll learn whether there is an opportunity for your solution now.
  6. Every time you speak to the prospect remember you are establishing a relationship – one that will earn you the right to speak to them again, whether for a follow up appointment if there is a current opportunity, or for a check-in several months from now if there isn’t a current need.

If your team can incorporate this approach, it can help take cold calling outreach to the next level and bring in new opportunities for growth.

At One of a Kind Sales, we love cold calling!  If you need help implementing cold calling within your sales team, give us a call at 908-879-2911 to learn how we can help.

Making Closing Easier

Closing new business is the main objective of professional salespeople.  Everyone knows sales is a challenging career.  To outsiders who know little about sales, closing new business seems to be the hardest part- a mysterious technique that is often unsuccessful.  But believe it or not, we’ve seen that closing can be easy if you’ve paved the way with your prospect by taking the right steps.  Closing should be a natural outcome of a discussion between you and your prospect. By the time you get to the close, your prospect has reached the unavoidable conclusion that your solution is just what their business needs.  The “hard work” of sales lies in taking the right steps throughout the process that result in an easy close.

What Makes Closing Easier?

First, be sure you are addressing the real decision maker. There is nothing more frustrating than discovering that you’ve walked through an entire sales process only to find that the person you’ve developed a relationship with needs to bring in another party who will ultimately make the decision.

Confirm that your prospect’s problem can be addressed by your solution. Take time to fully understand how the problem has impacted their business, what stress it has caused, what resources it has consumed, and what they’ve already done to address it. This allows you to adjust your script to speak directly to their challenges and their experiences.

Make sure that you are getting mini ‘buy-ins’ as you are progressing through the sales process.  Do this by ensuring that this is a two-way conversation. Check for agreement at key points in the discussion.  You’ll be able to assess your prospect’s level of engagement, confirm their level of interest, and address potential objections.

Above all, throughout the engagement, never forget that “people buy from other people”. Make sure that your prospect feels good about connecting with you and is looking forward to working with you.

If you’ve taken these steps, once you are ready to close, you can simply ask: “What would you like to happen next?”

At One of a Kind Sales, we are sales experts.  We provide services that help qualify leads, improve sales performance, and close more business.  Want to learn more?  Give us a call at 908-879-2911.

Disappearing Act

What do you do when you have a qualified prospect that gives every indication that they want your solution but they suddenly disappear?  It seems like they’ve fallen off the face of the earth. They don’t respond to calls, texts, or emails. I’m sure many of us salespeople have experienced this at some point.

This is where sales training comes into play because it gives you a set of tools to use in different circumstances. In this situation, you need to clarify whether in fact the sale is still alive.

One approach you could use is to express some vulnerability and offer to “close the file” on the sale.  For example, “I thought we were ready to move forward, but it seems like something might have changed that I’m unaware of, and I should probably close the file.”

The Takeaway

You could call this approach the “Takeaway.” Using this technique, you share what you thought, communicate your sense that there is a change in strategy or situation, and demonstrate your willingness and comfort to walk away. You give the prospect an “out” without putting them on the defensive. The goal here is to elicit a response while preserving the relationship you’ve built. Your ultimate objective is to ascertain whether the sales process will move forward.

If The Answer is No

If the client indicates that things have changed and they are unable to move forward, you know you can move on to the next opportunity.  You may get insight into why things changed, and then you can determine the type of follow up that should happen. The Takeaway sets you up so that you’ll be able to shake hands and walk away on good terms.

If the Answer is Yes

If the discussion resumes, then the client should be willing to make progress towards closing the deal.  This could be one of those situations where factors you have no control over have impacted progress: a change in leadership, a family illness, an urgent project, a financial issue.  But it also could be that they have questions that they have been able to verbalize.  You’ll take your cue on how to proceed based on their response to the Takeaway.

Equal Footing

I think what’s most important when using the Takeaway is remembering that you are on an equal footing with your prospect. You’ve committed your valuable time to them because you had a solution that fit the prospect’s needs. They have given you their valuable time for the same reason. When something fundamentally changes, it’s better to address it to understand what might need to happen so that the sale goes forward, or the file can be closed.

At One of a Kind Sales, we believe training is fundamental to sales success. If you or your team need help in using sales techniques to close more business, contact us at 908-879-2911.

3 Proven Techniques to Advance the Sale

My team and I make sales calls every day.  We focus on building a relationship of trust with a prospect while moving towards the close. To accomplish this, we use customized scripts that we’ve internalized, as well as a variety of proven sales techniques.

There are three useful techniques that we don’t use as readily as we might when we move deeper into the sales process. I have seen them be very effective in moving discussions forward when used strategically.

“My Biggest Fear”

Express a specific concern you have about how the prospect might perceive your solution.  An example of this is: “My biggest fear is that you see this solution as an instant fix.  In fact, it may take several months for you to see its impact.” This technique calls attention to a potential stumbling block and positions you as an honest presenter of the facts.  You’re calling out an issue that the prospect may not have paid attention to that could emerge later and derail the sale. If this is an issue for the prospect, it’s better to find out now and address it.

Justification

Get the prospect to justify why they need your solution.  During the discussion, you could comment: “It looks like this might not be one of your priorities now.”  This will either lead to confirmation that it isn’t important to them, or it will cause the prospect to explain to you why it’s a priority. The outcome is that your prospect develops a better understanding of how your solution is relevant to them.

Staying Negative

This is a variation on the Justification sales technique in which you suggest that the prospect doesn’t really need your solution.  You could say, “Perhaps you don’t need any help in addressing this.”  Once again, the prospect has a couple of obvious responses, the first being “you are right,” and the second being, “No, we need help.”  You’ve gotten the prospect to validate the need for your solution.

Using these techniques may reveal that there is no opportunity at this time. But experience has taught me that it’s better to know this as soon as possible so that you can move them into follow up mode and transition to the next opportunity.

You can see how these techniques might move the relationship forward and reinforce the value of your solution. Keep them in your sales tool chest and use them appropriately.

At One of a Kind Sales, we love sales, and we particularly love cold calling. We believe being well-prepared to sell is critical to success. If you or your team would benefit from learning more about these and other sales techniques, call us at 908-879-2911.