We often pass judgments on people because of our experience with them. In Keith Rosen’s article, “Evolving or Devolving? How Managers Brand their Team to Fail”, Rosen talks about an experience he had at a recent sales conference. A manager asked him what to do about the people who “aren’t open to feedback or change…The difficult people who frustrate you to no end and don’t want to listen to what you have to say.” Essentially, this man was talking about people he deemed as uncoachable. After listening to the man’s details about these people on his team, Rosen asked “Okay. What else could be possible here?”
Rosen then asked why some deals have been closed when before they had seemed unclose-able. The audience agreed that it had to do with the salespeople not making assumptions but still pressing forward. That's when it clicked. “They now see how the assumptions they make about others based upon their own judgment and past experiences impact their communication, relationship, and level of trust with them.”
Making assumptions limits the ability to create new learning opportunities. If a particular rep is deemed "uncoachable," the way a manager goes about attempting coaching will be negatively impacted. Since the manager has already assumed the task insurmountable, the result is a foregone conclusion. Rosen continues:
“Once you remove the limiting labels you have placed on others, rather than walk into every conversation with a preconceived outcome based upon how you assume the person will react, it allows you to hit the reset button on any relationship you want to improve. Now, you have the awareness needed to change your approach and disposition, how you communicate and how you engage with others. Only then can you authentically create new possibilities, breakthrough results and become an elite, transformational leader.”
How have you seen the negative effects of assumptions?
In Mark Hunter’s article, he points out ten mistakes you need to make sure you’re not making.
- Failing to schedule time to prospect on a regular basis and sticking to it. A task procrastinated is a task unfulfilled.
- Sending emails that aren’t phone savvy. Most likely your audience is viewing on a mobile device, make sure it looks good.
- Failing to ask for and leveraging referrals. These are an easy source of new leads.
- Starting what you can’t finish. Creating a follow-up plan is essential to a proper prospecting strategy.
- Failing to realize voicemail is an effective prospecting tool. The perfect voicemail is between 11 and 14 seconds- and is a very effective tool alongside email.
- Thinking email is the only way to prospect because you can send hundreds and thousands of emails quickly. Quantity does not equal quality. Email is a very useful tool, but it should not be the only one.
- Thinking social selling and pushing a ton of content out on social media sites will make the phone ring. Don't rely too heavily on social media. Everyone uses social media, and it far too easy to get lost in the noise.
- Taking an idea from one industry and thinking it will work for yours. "Each industry has their own nuances, and to be successful, you have to know what they are."
- Thinking more is always better. "Time is the new currency," Hunter says. Shorter emails and messages show a respect to the prospect's time that lengthy monologues do not.
- Thinking more leads is always better. The objective should be to move better leads through the pipeline quickly. Don't let it clog with distractions.
Any more to add? What has helped you prospect in the past?
In Tamara Schenk’s article, Schenk talks about the importance of context. If you were to plant a garden, it would matter your location, climate, and availability of sun. “In sales, it’s not different. The garden is like the customer’s journey.”
“The better the customer’s journey alignment, the better the sales results-improving win rates by 15% and quota attainment by 13.6%.” No one can ignore the performance impact of this. Customers’ needs and preferences change constantly, and sales strategies should be updated right alongside them. This is why a reviewed formal alignment won’t end up helping much. It will be a burden. “Your customer’s journey alignment has to become dynamic, step by step.” Here are steps to make your alignment more dynamic:
- Assess the current state. Include buying scenarios and unforeseen challenges.
- Equip sales managers first. "Make sure that your sales managers are fluent in all things related to customer's journey alignment and coach their salespeople appropriately." A sales coaching platform can go a long way toward providing real-time updates as the situation changes.
- Enable salespeople accordingly. Tailor content and training to the customer's journey.
- Leverage analytics. Quantify the effectiveness of this new sales process, and make changes accordingly.
How do you align your enablement services to the customer's journey?
In Colleen Francis’ article, she says that one of the “cold, hard facts about this profession is that you can’t sell to everyone.” There will always be someone who, for whatever reason, won’t want to buy from you. This is why prospecting is vital.
“Prospecting outranks every other skill and every other business habit simply because frankly you can’t really do much in sales unless you first have people you can sell to.” Her ten facts/tips:
- Make it your livelihood. Prospecting is not something you only do when business is slow. Keeping a steady supply of new prospects in the pipeline ensures that there is always work.
- Prospecting is not about short-term goals. It is an investment in not only the current sales quarter, but those to come- and investing time into it now has the potential to pay dividends in the future.
- It’s a discipline, you need to be persistent. It is difficult to close deals when prospects do not exist. Skills at the negotiating table can only translate to business success if prospecting is done in a persistent, diligent fashion.
- It takes hard work to get it right. Triple your sales target: that is the number of prospects you need. Make sure your sales funnel is big enough.
- Never lose sight of what needs to be done. "For sales professionals who have enjoyed a string of successfully met sales quotas, it can be really tempting to forget about prospecting," Francis says. It is easy to neglect what is seen as a "final quarter push" when targets have already been met.
- Get a handle on the daily time commitment. Know that often it’ll take time. Make prospecting a habit, not a chore.
- If you don’t do it now, it won’t get done. If your heart is beating, it’s time to work and get things done.
- Be choosy. Zero-in on those with capital and decision-making power.
- It’s the easiest of sales skills to master if you work hard and put in the time.
- Prospecting is how you take charge of your success. Prepping for the future with forward-thinking prospecting gives you the opportunity to meet sales targets long after the easy leads have run dry.
There is a common theme here: persistence. Prospecting should be like brushing your teeth- not necessarily enjoyable, but performed daily to ensure long-term sales health.
Authors Frank V. Cespedes and David Hoffeld write about the customer. Normally we see the sales model as a funnel, but research shows that more likely the customer works their way through parallel streams “as they explore, evaluate, and engage in purchase decisions via websites, white papers, social media, and contact with other buyers.” This is why the end is the worst time to handle sales objections- chances are these have been considered long before the deal is about to close.
“Research has shown that incremental commitments can boost charitable giving, increase show rates for blood drives, and reduce smoking.” It also improves sales results. A commitment is an action taken on the part of the prospect. For example, Paccar (a manufacturer of premium trucks), provides an online resource to explore the expenses that accrue over a truck's lifetime. Things like gasoline costs, tire rolling coefficients, and vehicle weight can be compared across brands- and Paccar comes out on top every time. With this approach they are able to increase sales while maintaining a price premium of 10-20% over that of other comparable brands. The same can be done with sales.
Interactive content, white papers, and other forms of content marketing allow the prospect to engage with the product on a level that goes beyond buying. With each white paper and blog post they read, they commit to your product just a little more.
Sales enablement tools can even make it possible to make incremental commitments a measurable component in the pipeline. By providing the right content at the right time, the prospect is led to make incremental commitments, ever improving the possibility of a sale.
Find Frank: LinkedIn
Find David: LinkedIn