I just received at least the 10th email this week from a different sales rep trying to sell me prospect leads – and its Tuesday. Now as a sales professional, trainer, and coach, I tend to probably be at the same time more critical and more sympathetic to sales reps trying to do their job. I’m critical in that I dissect their message and approach more than most. But I also feel sorry for many of them because I can tell by their email that they are either new, untrained, or misguided. And when I talk to sales reps about their sales activities, most sheepishly admit that they know what they are doing isn’t working, but just don’t know what else to do. Unfortunately many of the sales activities that we utilize cause more harm than good, labeling us as “salesy” and irritating the prospect.
Like an assembly line, sales is a process that builds on itself. Regardless of how many stages are in your pipeline, the sales process boils down to four essential areas;
- Prospecting – The initial stage of identifying your potential clients, reaching out to them, and getting them to agree to meet with you
- Understanding and analyzing prospect needs and wants – We need to know what the prospects challenges, opportunities, and desires are to best align our solution
- Creating demand for our solution – This part of the process includes building credibility and interest, presenting your solution, showing how it addresses their challenges, and ultimately how working with you is the best choice for the prospect
- Closing the sale – Converting the prospect to a customer and generating revenue
I’m a big fan of leveraging technology, and now more than ever there are some great resources for sales reps that are free, or almost free. Here are three that I use regularly to make my activity more efficient and drive sales.
Sales is a process. And like any other process, it is only as good as its weakest step. If you are great with one or two steps of the process but weak in others, you will still struggle. But if you focus on improving in each area, you will exponentially improve your sales results. Here are the 5 critical sales steps and how to improve.
“Why do they continue to put up with such high turnover?”
“They keep telling me their current vendor can’t fill their positions, but I just can’t get them to make a change!”
One of the most frustrating aspects of the sales process is when we know the prospect is not happy with their current situation, but they still won’t pull the trigger. Why do they continue to deal with such major issues, when they have even told us that we are a better solution?
Its because we tend to focus on “issues” rather than the consequences associated with these issues. We talk about turnover, time to fill, no shows, the quality and productivity of employees, etc. All of these are issues that the prospect deals with, but in many cases they are not enough to compel them to make a change.
Image courtesy of num_skyman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
While waiting to board my flight back home, the gate attendant made the following announcement:
“This will be a completely full flight. For those of you boarding in later groups, we recommend checking your carry-on as we will run out of overhead space. You will not be charged to have your bag checked – we are performing this as a courtesy to our customers. I repeat, we will check your bag as a courtesy to our customers.”
A courtesy? They run out of overhead space and yet they act like you are doing the customer a favor to check their bag? Come on, they should be apologizing for the inconvenience, not trying to spin it like they are offering some sort of free benefit.
The number one knock I hear on networking as a sales activity is that it doesn’t tend to result in new business. And for many sales people this is true. But in almost every case, it is not because networking doesn’t work, but because the sales person doesn’t network the right way.
Most sales people don’t network enough, and the ones that do typically approach it from a “show up and see what happens” approach. Most of the time, this results in limited interaction with the right people, awkward periods of not having anyone to talk to or butting in to existing conversations, and ultimately frustration. The sales rep then blames the event or organization for being “clickish”, unfriendly, or just plain bad. After one or two attempts most salespeople just give up.
This is where your opportunity lies! That same organization that other salespeople have dismissed could be a gold mine for you, IF you network the right way. Here are 4 ways to get the most out of a networking opportunity and increase your sales.
If you are like most sales people, you struggle to get prospects to read and respond to your emails. There are a variety of likely reasons prospects are deleting your emails:
- It looks too much like spam or mass email
- Its too wordy
- The subject line and/or opening sentence is too salesy
- There is no value in your message
- You sound like every other staffing sales person trying to get their business.
While no sales email is going to result in a 100% success rate (or 75 or 50% for that matter), we’ve identified 7 essential components that significantly increase your odds of a response.
In sales, we are taught how to overcome objections, get past gatekeepers, push for appointments, and close sales. We bombard prospects with generic pitches over the phone and email. Sometimes we stop in unannounced and ask them to stop what they are doing to talk to us. And we wonder why some prospects don’t like salespeople?
Most salespeople essentially are taught to go against basic human nature when approaching prospects. We do things to prospects that we hate when they are done to us! Do you like getting calls from telemarketers that won’t take no for an answer? No, of course not. But we often do the same exact thing.
The problem is that we get so focused on the goal of making a sale, and quickly, that we start to look at prospects as just a means to an end. We essentially dehumanize the prospect, thinking of them as this faceless entity on the other end of the phone just waiting to hit us with objections. Instead, we need to approach prospects the way that we want to be approached in a sale. Get to know each other, build trust, and ultimately help them make the best decision for them and their company.
Here are some do’s and don'ts when interacting with prospects.
A few years ago I was working with a new sales rep (we’ll call him Bill) that was struggling to hit his activity numbers. In fact, he wasn’t recording ANY activities after several weeks in the position. So I of course asked him what was taking up his time.