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.

The Value of Being ‘Top of Mind’

Recently, I attended a group meeting with other sales experts focused on sales growth and best practices.  They suggested a simple challenge: see what happens when you pick three prospects that you haven’t spoken to in several months and reach out just to reconnect.

I was inspired to take this challenge to the next level. I went to my database and identified prospects that I hadn’t spoken with in the past several months.  My outreach to these prospects packed my calendar with 30 appointments! Three of these prospects expressed an interest in discussing how I might be able to work with them in the near term.

How did this happen?

I believe three Critical Success Factors led to this result.

  • First, it was easy for me to identify the prospects that I had not contacted in several months because I used a customer relationship management tool. It took little effort to identify these individuals.
  • Second, when I reached out, it was clear that my objective was to reconnect and not to sell. In reconnecting, we talked about the business environment and life in general. I don’t believe a hard-sell approach would have resulted in as many meetings.
  • Third, I have always made it a point to conclude any discussions I have with prospects who aren’t able to use my services immediately on a positive note. This way, reaching out again in the future is not uncomfortable.

As a sales professional who has led and coached sales teams for years, I’ve observed that when we salespeople don’t close a prospect, we often move on, and don’t look back. But what this experiment demonstrates is the value of keeping in touch.

In a different discussion, I recently had a wonderful conversation with a colleague I hadn’t spoken to in a while.  Ultimately, we agreed to keep in touch even if we only ‘ping’ each other on LinkedIn every few weeks. We both believe this will keep us ‘top of mind’ so that we’re more likely to refer to each other when the right opportunity presents itself.

These experiences reaffirm that maintaining connections with prospects (and colleagues) adds value to your business by making it less likely that you will miss opportunities by not being ‘top of mind’ for the services you provide.

At One of a Kind Sales, we love helping businesses grow their leads.  We are experts at cold calling for appointment setting.  If you need our services, please reach out to us at 908-879-2911.

Cold Calling vs. “Dropping In”

When it comes to lead generation and closing new business, it’s probably not going to be a surprise to hear me say that I believe that cold calling is a critical component. I have had potential clients challenge me, asking: “Why not just ‘drop in’ to a likely customer? If you drop in and they’re willing to talk to you, you might even  be able to close business that day.”

As owner of One of a Kind Sales, I work with businesses that provide solutions that may represent a significant investment for their customers.  In my experience, a successful, same-day close is highly unlikely for this type of sale

The Pitfalls of the “Drop-In” visit

  1. An in-person visit requires non-productive travel time. A 30-minute drive means an hour wasted.
  2. If you happen to catch a prospect who is willing to talk to you, this person may have agreed because you’ve asked for a very short period – not what you’d need to close new business.
  3. You may be unprepared to have an in-depth discussion because you can’t predict which of the prospects you plan to visit will be able to see you.
  4. It is unlikely your prospect is prepared to have the conversation that you would need to have to close new business.

Ultimately an in-person visit to someone who does not know you (a cold visit) should have the same objective as a cold call: to qualify the prospect and make an appointment for a more substantive meeting.

Why Cold Call?

  1. Since the objective of the call is to qualify the prospect and set an appointment, there is no need to do any research on the prospects you speak with. Preparation is minimal.
  2. You can qualify more prospects more quickly by cold calling. There is no wasted “windshield time”.  There is only the gap between one cold call and the next.
  3. Making an appointment allows your prospect the time to collect their thoughts so that the discussion will be more fruitful.

There is a direct relationship between the number of appointments with qualified clients and your sales numbers. Increasing the number of qualified appointments we make will result in increased sales. As an experienced cold caller, I would place my bet on using cold calling to drive sales growth any day. Cold calling is a skill that is often neglected in sales training.

If you would like to explore how cold calling can impact your business, please reach out to me at 908-879-2911.  At One of a Kind Sales, we are experts at cold calling and would love to help.

Does Cold Calling Work?

Businesses that consider using call calling often ask questions about its effectiveness. At One of a Kind Sales, having made thousands of cold calls, we can attest to its effectiveness in generating leads.  But I recently came across some statistics from the RAIN Group about how direct outreach, including cold calling, is regarded by business decision-makers.  Their research showed that more than half of senior decision-makers prefer to be contacted by phone.  When businesspeople are actually in the market for a solution, more than 71% of them say that they want a salesperson to reach out to them directly.  And up to 50% of sales go to the “first mover” – the solution provider that reaches out first to the potential buyer.

Often, we hear salespeople complain that prospects don’t pick up the phone, but the statistics show that 67% or two-thirds of buyers have picked up the phone at least once for a new provider in the past year.  Making a direct phone call to a prospect is regarded as the most effective tactic by almost one-third of salespeople and you’re more likely to get new business from this type of direct outreach than from an email campaign. Yet many salespeople who are tasked with lead generation don’t have specialized cold-calling skills.

For people who sell for a living and any business that has a sales objective, evaluating the effectiveness of your lead generation efforts is important. Because we have limited time those resources must be allocated effectively.  We believe that a business should have multiple channels to generate leads – a mix of inbound and outbound methods.  Our experience combined with the statistics regarding the perception of cold calling among decision-makers strongly suggests businesses should be using cold calling as one of the lead generation channels.

What’s important about these statistics is that they show that if you are calling a list of people that are likely to need your solution you have a strong likelihood of qualifying strong leads and converting them.

Do you wonder if Cold Calling would work for your business? If so, give us a call to find out. At One of a Kind Sales, cold calling is our specialty.  We qualify leads and set up appointments for our clients so that their salespeople can go in a close new business.  We also train sales teams to do cold calling and can ensure that you have the proper systems in place to maximize the impact of cold calling.  Reach out to us at 908-879-2911.

Cold Calling Is About More Than Making a Sale

When people think about cold calling, they envision an aggressive phone call in which the caller pressures the person on the other end of the line into making a purchase. To me, this is the worst example of cold calling. This is what gives cold calling a bad name. One thing they have right is that cold calling involves making a call to someone the caller does not know, but there is a great deal of difference between what professional cold callers do and that negative image.

My business, One of a Kind Sales, uses cold calling to qualify leads and set appointments. Generally, we work from a curated list of prospects that have been identified because of their specific role in a business. Our objective is to understand whether any of these prospects have a need for or an interest in a particular product or service.  This is sharply differentiated from attempting to sell the solution. Often the selling process is handled by a different person who is a solution expert. In our process, which we’ve used successfully thousands of times, if the caller determines there is no need or no interest in the solution, we end the interaction on a positive note.  However, if a lead is qualified, meaning that they have a need and an interest, our team sets up an appointment for the expert who will speak to the prospect about the solution.

These cold calling interactions also have the potential to generate referrals. For example, if a lead is not qualified, the caller may ask whether there is another business they might recommend that we speak to that may need the solution.

Beyond the objective of near-term sales, cold calling can be used in other ways:

Market research –  Speaking to a potential prospect is an effective way to gauge interest in a new product or service and get a better understanding of market needs.

Competitive research – Talking to your ideal prospects can help you gain insight into competitive activities.

Education – When a product or service is complex, cold calling can be done to provide general information that will give the prospect a better understanding of the product.  Sometimes this is done in anticipation of the launch of a new product or service.

No matter the objective, cold calling should always be thought of as a way to establish a positive relationship with a connection that would enable you to re-approach them as a “warm” contact at a future point in time. Well-trained professional cold callers are skilled in establishing rapport quickly, and they have a genuine interest in learning more about their prospects’ needs.

When thinking about cold calling, it’s time to leave behind that old stereotype of the-high-pressure phone call. Given the competitive marketplace and the proven utility of cold calling, we need to think strategically about all of the options in the sales toolbox and deploy them when and where they can have the greatest impact.

If you are wondering whether cold calling could be a good approach for your business give me a call at 908-879-2911 or email me at nancy@oneofakindsales.com.

Becoming Resilient in Sales

Have you ever been in a sales slump? I think all of us have at some point. But one of the things that I’ve realized over the years is that how we think about these situations and how we speak about them makes a real difference in how resilient we are. Ultimately, our resilience impacts how successful we are at managing through a period of slow sales.

I was struck by a recent article I read on the topic of resilience that was published on CNBC.com. A Harvard-trained psychologist said that we can identify resilient people based on how they talk about the situation that they’re in. They tend to be very deliberate in what they say about their challenges. Typical statements that a resilient individual might say to describe a difficult circumstance might be: “I can get through this,” “What can I learn from the situation?,” or “This is something I need to let go of.” To me, these statements reflect a recognition that they have control over how they respond to any given situation.

While the psychologist focused on what was being verbalized, my thoughts turned to ‘self-talk’ – the internal dialogue that we all engage in on an ongoing basis. I think that what we say to ourselves about a situation impacts how we feel and how we are able to respond. Our ‘self-talk’ shapes our reality and regulates our emotions. As a result, ‘self-talk’ can impact the outcome because it affects behavior.

If you find yourself thinking only negative things about a challenging situation like slower sales, you may be headed for trouble. Try thinking about whether you can turn the situation around in your head and look for aspects that you can control, whether it is how much you think about it or whether you can take steps to address a portion of it.

I’m not suggesting that we all become unrealistically optimistic, but I am suggesting that how we perceive a situation (as expressed in our self-talk) influences how effectively we can act. I believe that we can manage our thoughts to achieve the resilience that is going to help any salesperson work their way out of a slump.

Have you recently felt challenged by this? If so, reach out to me, and let’s get a conversation going about we might be able to find a way to help. Contact me at One of a Kind Sales by calling 908-879-2911 or emailing Nancy@OneofaKindSales.com.