You have probably heard the popular statistic that 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to a company or sales rep.
And have read that 95% of B2B buyers research companies online before making purchases (that was in 2014 – my guess is that has only gone up!) And 53% of B2B buyers are using social media to make buying decisions. I think that 53% sounds low, too.
These statistics underscore just how much technology has empowered buyers to drive the buying process.
But there are still a number of ways that we, as salespeople, can stay out front and in charge of the buying process. Here is how to stay in the driver’s seat when it comes to sales.
Be first on the scene
Cold calling is still one of the BEST ways to get your product and services in front of a prospect FIRST.
If they are already doing their own research, you can be the first rep to contact them. If they are not yet ready, they will now be aware of your services, know YOU are the person to reach out to when they are and they will be in your database so you will continue to stay on their radar.
Yes, I know that cold calling is probably your least favorite task. And I need to remind you that if you are NOT making Cold Calls, you ARE leaving money on the table!
Give us a call – we can do your Cold Calling for you. Call me at 908.879.1322 to set up a time to learn more.
And reach out again
Have a plan in place to re-connect with prospects on a regular basis. Whether it is in 4 weeks or 3 months depends on your business cycle, but this allows you to be there, and top of mind, when they ARE ready.
According to a buyer insights study, 91% of prospects don’t mind engaging with a sales rep in the early stages of their buying journey, including 34% of new buyers who are particularly interested in engaging with a sales person early on. Make sure that sales rep is YOU and not your competition!
60% of B2B buyers actually WANT to contact a sales rep. Be sure that your website and social profiles are easily found during searches and that they include all your contact info. Having an established and active social media presence will also help ensure that they find you, or better yet, that they are already familiar with you.
A recent study showed that 65% of salespeople who use social selling, have a full pipeline – be sure that you are one of them!
Listen and engage
During this entire process, really LISTEN to the information they are providing. Confirm if they are, in fact, a good fit. If they are, engage and build a relationship.
If not, ask for a referral and move on.
Not every prospect is going to be the right match. Being able to identify who is and who is not, is a skill that will save you much time, money and aggravation.
Yes, technology has empowered buyers to take control of the purchasing process, but that doesn’t mean that we, as salespeople need to take a back seat. Use these tips to stay in charge and to drive the buying process.
Cold Calling has a terrible reputation!
Salespeople avoid making cold calls because they fear being rejected. This reticence leads to fewer calls being made and in the end, fewer sales being closed.
Prospects too, dislike cold calls. They are turned off by the thought of being ‘sold’ to and don’t want their time wasted. And who can blame them? Years of poor selling techniques and a barrage of robo calls have killed the cold call.
I think that Cold Calling needs a new name.
At One of a Kind Sales, we refer to it as Conversational Selling and I believe that, as an industry, we will have more success if we all made that change!
The difference between Cold Calling and Conversational Selling
What is the difference between Cold Calling and Conversational Selling? Well, to be honest, the only real difference in is the salesperson’s attitude!
Conversational Selling follows the same basic steps as Cold Calling. You pick up the phone and call a potential prospect. You speak with them and set an appointment. You follow up and make a sale. But the biggest difference is in the way you approach this.
It’s all about your mindset
On a typical Cold Call, the salesperson is trying to ‘sell’ from the moment they pick up the phone. This is immediately apparent to most prospects and is frequently a real turn-off. It is as if the salesperson is actually setting themself up for failure.
With Conversational Selling, we approach the call as a CONVERSATION. We want to speak with the person to see if they are a good fit for the product or services we represent. We aren’t trying to ‘sell’ them – we are ‘qualifying’ them. We are asking them the questions we need answered to determine if they are a good fit and we are LISTENING to the answers.
Because of this major shift in attitude, we have better conversations with prospects, gleaning more valuable information that leads to setting more, and more qualified, appointments!
It’s not a ‘COLD’ call, it’s a ‘DISCOVERY’ call
At One of a Kind Sales, we refer of the initial call as a DISCOVERY call. We are curious and ask questions. The goal isn’t to sell, but to determine if they are a good fit, and if they are, to set an appointment. The change may sound subtle, but the shift in mindset can seriously shift the tone of the interaction and drastically improve your results!
Cold Calling has died a tortured death. Let’s retire the term and move on. Long live Conversational Selling!
Do you and your team need help making this important shift? Give us a call – we can get you and your team up to speed and setting qualified appointments with Conversational Selling.
And if you just need results, we can make the calls and set qualified appointments for you. Give us a call at 908.879.2911 to get started TODAY!
I frequently hear salespeople say, “Once we get back to ‘face-to-face’ sales, I will be back on my game!” This is often used as an excuse for poor performance over the past months of Virtual Selling. Well, the reality is that Virtual Selling is the new sales ‘normal’. We may get back to more face-to-face interactions but to succeed in sales in 2021 and beyond, you MUST master selling virtually.
A recent article on Forbes included the following stats about virtual selling:
- “High-performing sales reps now spend 22% more time with customers — and they often prefer that time to be spent remotely.What’s more, 70 to 80% percent of B2B customers say they prefer remote interactions.”
- “Since the pandemic, the power of video as a way to connect with customers has surged, and digital interactions with sales reps are up 41%.”
- “The health crisis is reshaping the profession, with sales organizations in the U.S. and Europe finding remote sales models to be as — or more — effective than traditional approaches.”
Studies show that salespeople prefer to work from home.
I was speaking to a colleague who said, “I don’t want to fly all over the place anymore.” He has embraced virtual selling and is using the time he saves to reach and engage with more prospects.
And he is not alone. In a 2020 report by the Center for Sales Strategy, of the salespeople surveyed, the vast majority said that working from home has made them more productive.
Companies are also noticing the savings.
In a Global Sales Enablement Survey report compiled by Hubspot, they found that “64% of sales leaders who invested in remote selling met or exceeded revenue targets” in 2020. And that is for a year where ‘surviving’ was considered a ‘success’!
In the same report, they stated, “the adoption of remote selling is creating a competitive advantage” and found that “63% of sales leaders believe that virtual meetings are just as, or more, effective than in-person meetings”.
Virtual selling is the new sales ‘normal’ and we need to embrace it if we want to stay competitive!
What changes when you move to virtual selling?
Getting comfortable with the new, virtual venues can be a challenge. Technology has advanced tremendously in just the last year. Tools like Zoom and Teams that you may have not used before are now needed daily. Make sure you are familiar with and comfortable with these new options.
For some, this can be daunting. Like anything, learning something new can take a bit of time. Allow yourself some time to practice and don’t worry – you can do this!
Changing your mindset may be both the biggest and most important change. Virtual Selling is the new sales ‘normal’ and embracing that reality is key to your success. Read back through the stats if necessary and the EMBRACE this change. Your future success depends upon it.
Many things will stay the same.
I am a strong believer that many things will actually stay the same when you shift from live to virtual selling. Most of the important skills remain key across all platforms and modes. Memorize your script so you can deliver it naturally and use a CRM to track your prospects. Listening is just as important and invaluable as ever!
Selling is COMMUNICATING – it is about making a human connection. That hasn’t changed and successful salespeople know how to communicate, no matter the venue or platform.
Focus on the prospect, whether it is in person, over the phone or via video call. Make that connection and make that sale!
Do you need help making this transition? Does your team need training to get them ready to succeed with virtual selling? Give us a call at 908-879-2911 – we can provide you and your team with the skills and training you need to succeed.
I was recently asked what I thought about texting Sales Prospects. Here is my response; it really depends on the industry and the individual prospect.
First some stats*:
As of January 2020, 292 million people in North America use text messages – that’s 80% of the total population.
The country with the highest percentage of mobile users is Russia where 89% of the population sends and receives text messages.
China and India have the most people who send SMS messages – China comes first with 1,081 million people and India second with 730 million.
For prospects who actively text, texting CAN be a HIGHLY effective way to follow-up and keep in touch with them. Some people totally avoid using the phone wherever possible and for them, it may actually be NECESSARY to use texts to interact.
But there are still many industries, especially white-collar organizations in the US, which have not yet embraced texting. Texting a prospect there may be a turn off, or worse yet, may never even be seen!
The same is true of some of the older “C suite” occupants. It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good fit or a strong prospect, it just means that texting might not be their ideal choice of platform. And making the prospect COMFORTABLE it key. Texting them, if they are not used to texting, could be the reason you don’t get an appointment. Why take that chance?
We often talk about how you should ‘mirror’ a prospects tone, speech patterns and speed. This helps create a connection and builds trust. The same applies to your messaging. If they are phone people, pick up the phone to connect. If they are wedded to texting, by all means, text them. If you aren’t sure, pick up the phone and ASK THEM.
I also want to caution Salespeople who use texts, to be sure they are not using it as a crutch. In my training experience, I have seen many people who prefer to use texts for outreach, rather than picking up the phone. Yes, it can be easier, and it can give you a (false) sense of control, but it is NOT an effective way to Cold Call and is especially ineffective for building relationships.
Remember, Cold Calling is NOT about SELLING but about creating RELATIONSHIPS. Interaction doesn’t happen on platforms like texting – at best, it is just a messaging platform. The phone allows you to interact, hear, and really LISTEN to the prospect. And then you can pivot and respond appropriately. There are way too many ways to miss what is being said (or being left unsaid) when texting so keep it to appointment confirmations and quick follow-ups.
Another caution is that it can be very easy to get too ‘casual’ when texting. I know that I personally DISLIKE it when someone I don’t know sends me a text or email with a really casual opening like ‘Hey Nan’ or ‘Hi Nance!’. If you are going to use texts, keep them professional. They don’t have to be FORMAL but don’t get too ‘friendly’ in your messages with the Prospect until you are actually that comfortable in person.
Note that I am not asking or concerning myself here with which communication mode the SALESPERSON prefers. That is not a factor. The goal is to identify the platform or mode that the PROSPECT is most comfortable with and then utilize that. For those of you who are not yet comfortable texting, you may want to consider it. If nothing else, it is yet another communication tool for your toolbelt.
As salespeople, we need to take advantage of ALL the tools available to us. Texting is a valuable one for some – use it where appropriate but don’t rely on it exclusively.
Two of the most important components to the success of your business are your Client Base and your Sales Team. Select these carefully and you will have greater success, both in your day-to-day interactions and your bottom line.
What qualities should you look for when building your ideal Client Base and Sales Team? We each have our own impressions of the people we deal with but here are five key characteristics to look for when pursuing Prospective Clients and hiring Salespeople:
- Young: By this I mean YOUTHFUL. Age is just a number and we all know people who are much ‘younger’ (or older!) at heart than their chronological age. Surrounding yourself with clients and a team of ‘youthful’ energetic people who embrace change easily will foster a positive outlook, companywide.
- Attractive: We don’t mean Miss America here. This too, is not to be taken literally. I am talking about looking for, working with and hiring people who attract other people. People who are socially adept and that others like to be around. Interesting people who, in some way, have a magnetic personality. People YOU are attracted to and enjoy being with.
- Verbal: Being able to communicate is a KEY trait in any Salesperson – period, end of story. Hiring people who speak well and are easily understood check this box. Identifying clients who say what they mean will also make your life easier.
- Intelligent: We’re not talking about IQ here. Your team members need not have a degree from Harvard to deliver excellent sales results. Being ‘street smart’ and ‘getting it’ is what we want.
- Successful: This is not about money, but it does impact the bottom line. Here, we want to look for people who can accomplish what they set out to do. They finish things. They are responsive and take responsibility for their actions and their success.
These five traits create the acronym YAVIS. We can train for skills, but these are innate traits that people are born with. Look for them as you interview clients and prospective employees. You may not be able to consistently find people with all five of these qualities but aim for at least 3 or 4.
Once you start looking for and requiring these characteristics of those you work with and hire, you will find that building your ideal Client Base and Sales Team will bring YOU more success!
Which traits do YOU value most in your Sales Team? Is it the same for your Clients? Let us know in the comments below!
This may sound like a hokey statement but there is truth to it. Read on to see how identifying the real root of a prospect’s objection – the truth – early on, can save you time, money and aggravation.
How many times have you had someone tell you they were interested but they need more information. Interested but they are not ready? Interested but they aren’t in the position to make the decision needed? Interested but they cannot afford it? Interested but, but, but.
Selling is a ‘No’ business – you know you will get No’s. Yet it is the ‘BUTS’ that can waste even more of your time and money. Stalls and objections are common in sales, and maybe never more so than now. My advice is to focus on cutting through the BUTS to get to the TRUTH.
If the truth IS that they need more information, ask them for their email address so you can send them a follow-up package. Ask them what services are of interest and make sure you have prepared materials to send. Set-up an appointment to review the information and then follow through.
If the truth is that they aren’t ready, ask them when they think they WILL need your services. Get out your schedules and set a date – be specific – pick a time, get it on their calendar.
If the truth is that they are not the decision maker, ask for names, numbers and an introduction to the correct person.
But if the truth is that they are just trying to blow you off without hurting your feelings, let them know that you would rather KNOW that now, than to waste more time.
Here is a sample of what you can say to get a truthful response:
“Gee,(or something similar, to soften the statement) oftentimes when I am asked/told this it is because the person is afraid to tell me that they really are not interested. I don’t know if this is the case here, but if it is, that is okay.” (at this point, be quiet and let them respond!).
If this is the case, let them know you appreciate the honesty, schedule a call back and move on. A NO is NOT NOW. Recycle them for future contact, perhaps 3 – 4 months. Things change and you want to be in front of them when they do. The truth will set you free – free to move on to your next prospect – moving you closer to a YES and a real sale!