What do these people have in common: Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison, Brett Favre, and Abraham Lincoln. Yes, they are famous. They are considered to be among the greatest of their respective professions. But the primary link is that they all failed frequently, some historically.
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
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.
To paraphrase a famous quote from Douglas MacArthur – “Old deals never die; they just fade away.” Odds are, most of the deals that fall out of your pipeline you don’t technically ever “lose”, they just lose momentum until the deal is eventually gone. This can happen when a client has other priorities pop up, over vacations and holidays, or because the sales person loses focus (or interest) on the deal.
Deals require consistent action in order to move through the sales process. The problem is that during a longer sales cycle (60 days or more), there is likely to be a period of inactivity. Most sales people don’t want to come across as a pest, so they just wait a couple weeks, or even months. Unfortunately during that time the prospect often will redirect their attention to new priorities, and the pain they were feeling has subsided (usually because the incumbent staffing firm caught wind they were at risk of losing the account, so they stepped up their game).
But there are ways that you can maintain momentum even during the longest of sales cycles, and do it without coming across as the pushy sales person. Here are 8 ways you can keep communication flowing without irritating the prospect:
If you're like most sales reps, you tend to take on each day as it comes. Make a bunch of phone calls, read and respond to your emails, and hopefully go on a couple of appointments. The more activity the better, right? Well yes, and no.
Certainly there is a correlation between activity volume and sales results, but activity for the sake of activity is not a strategy. We refer to this as the “shotgun”, or “throw spaghetti against the wall” approach – throw enough of it and something has to stick.
Unfortunately this hit or miss approach yields hit or miss results. Without a clear plan, opportunities are missed or lost, and you can spend much of your time spinning your wheels. This is why it is so important to take a few minutes to review your accomplishments from the prior week, and plan out your most important tasks for the coming week.
One of the most frustrating aspects of sales is when a seemingly hot deal grinds to a complete halt. That prospect that was in dire need of your services has suddenly stopped returning your calls and emails. So why does this happen, and what can you do to get the momentum back?
Here are the most common reasons that deals stall, and some ways that you can get them back on track.
So you’ve landed the big deal – congratulations! Now its time to get your recruiting team involved. After all the work you’ve done to build trust, credibility, and value with the prospect, it is absolutely critical that the internal hand-off is handled with as much thought and care as the rest of your sales process. If you don’t have a formal hand-off process (and most staffing firms don’t), then you are jeopardizing your deal before the ink has even dried.
Here are 3 things you can (and should) do to ensure a smooth transition from sales to service, and to separate yourself from the rest of the pack:
There are currently no less than three reality shows on TV about finding Bigfoot, the elusive creature that falls somewhere in between humans and apes on the evolutionary chain. For decades people have sworn that they have seen, been attacked, hung out with, and dated them (ok, maybe not that last one). There have been grainy videos, out of focus photos, even plaster castings of their footprints. Yet no one has ever actually produced definitive proof of their existence.
That pretty much sounds like the One Call Close. The One Call Close conceptually is awesome. You make your very first cold call to a prospect, and walk away with legitimate, fillable orders. That sounds great! Unfortunately it almost never happens. I’ve worked with hundreds of sales people making literally millions of sales calls, and it has happened so infrequently I can’t actually think of a single specific example. (By the way, skill marketing is different, and can be an effective way to close business more quickly. See my previous blog on Skill Marketing to learn how.)
The problem is that this myth is still so pervasive in staffing that it affects the way sales people approach the sales process. They treat the first phone call like a one-time event with a win or lose outcome. I either come away with an order (or at least an appointment), or I failed. Salespeople are trained and managed to close on the very first call, and so they come across as a pushy, phony sales person.
We make a lot of assumptions as sales people. Some turn out to be true, but some also cost us business. Here are five assumptions that can lose you significant revenue (and commission).
When I started out in the staffing business 20+ years ago, every Monday morning we would get out the classified ads from the newspaper and start calling all of the companies that posted jobs to see if we could help them fill their position. In some cases, we had a specific candidate that we were presenting to them, which of course was the early iteration of what we call skill marketing. Of course, every other staffing company did the same thing, so I can imagine Mondays weren’t much fun for the people posting these jobs.
Twenty years later, skill marketing is still an important sales tactic for many staffing and recruiting companies. It is particularly popular and effective in perm recruiting. But, as with any other sales approach, skill marketing is only effective if you approach it the right way.