Tags: Networking, RSS, Sales Tips, Sales2.0
Your network used to be the people you knew, the people who referred you, the people you had some degree of trust with. Then there was the rest of the world – your customers, your prospects and the people who will or would buy from you. These are the people you “followed up” with.
Communicating with the people you know = networking
Communicating with the people you don’t know = selling
This is old school thinking.
If there is one thing that most sellers are genuinely poor at – it is following up. Most follow up opening statements go something like this:
“Hi, it’s Carson from Direct Contact calling – it’s been a few months since we last spoke so I thought I would give you a call today.”
This kind of follow up has absolutely no value for the buyer. It is simply asking/stating that “It has been at least 3 months since you bought something or last said no to me – are you ready to buy something now?” All this kind of salesy talk does is reinforce stigmas and frustrate buyers.
In the paradigm of Sales2.0, this kind of separation no longer exists. Effective sellers do not follow up with but network with their prospects and customers. Who exactly is in your network today? Everybody is. Your customers, your prospects, your friends, your contacts… etc… Sellers are connecting with business people daily – surely there are referral opportunities between prospects and customers in your pipeline right now.
So how do you do that exactly?
Give people something they value – information.
There are a couple of very easy ways to do this. RSS feeds are a great example.If you don’t know what an RSS feed is – click here – and then come back to this post.
Using RSS (or Google Alerts) to collect information to share with your market is an effective way of staying in touch and providing value at the same time. Include the article link in an email with a brief statement such as:
“I came across this and thought of you today – hope things are going well. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you and keep in touch.”
Pretty simple. To the point, No selling allowed.
Stop following up and start networking.
Tags: Closing, Sales, sales process, Sales Tips
Sales is a numbers game – how many times have you heard that?
Managing sales by numbers is part of it, but these metrics are more applicable to early sales process functions like business development activities.
X number of calls – Y number of appointments – Z number of meetings
It makes a lot of sense to track these ratios as they will indicate strengths, gaps and required efforts to keep a sales funnel on track. Later sales process management by numbers is focused on average sale value, closing ratio and funnel management.
Here is where I am going with this… Sellers have a direct impact on their numbers early in the sales process, and their ability to control and affect the sale decreases as it moves along… Sellers have direct control over their own production, but buyers have control over the dollars (by and large). Too many sellers try to take back that control far too late in the process – at the close.
The Math Analogy
Closing is simply like the “=” in sales. It is a function – a result. Mathematics does not happen at the point of “=”, it is a process that results in a value and the same goes for sales. In order to achieve the correct value in math, the process needs to be completed by following the rules and doing them in the right order. The calculations are similar to qualifying in sales – I have said many times that in order to be a better closer, you need to be a better qualifier – either way – if you rush through the calculations or the qualifications, you will get a result, but likely not the correct one. Sellers who focus too much attention on the “=” are missing the point of sales as it has already happened; the “work” of sales is complete, closing is simply the result of a competent sales process.
This math process analogy can help sellers envision what closing is all about. Math is like sales in a vacuum – a repeatable process. In the real world, sellers are using psychology, presentation skills and benefiting from good timing.
Tags: Busine, Sales Tips, Voicemail
Sellers are continually frustrated by voicemail.
It’s one of the main reasons why sales people dislike cold calling. Call – voicemail – hang up… Call – voicemail – hang up…
Cold calling is essentially marketing – and sellers should embrace VM as a marketing tool. We readily accept direct mail as a viable marketing strategy and the results of which are very comparable to cold calling – around a 1% or 2% response rate. So why should VM be any different? VM Marketing has many advantages over direct mail:
- It’s very inexpensive
- It’s results are easily measurable
- You can launch a campaign any time, any day
- The returns immediate/short term
Build a VM Marketing Strategy in 3 Steps
- Create Attention – Craft a brief message, 10-15 seconds. Make sure to leave a strong value prop that addresses a specific target market and need (EG: “Small businesses in a recession need…”)
- Set Expectations – Plan VM Marketing for a determined amount of time, perhaps 1 hour. Expect to leave a VM on every call, but be ready for a live person to pick up too…
- Measure and Adapt – If you do not receive a call back, adjust your message… Reconsider your target market… Try another value prop. Track your call backs.
Today, voicemail is the real gatekeeper. It has to be – especially in the current economy, there often just aren’t resources available for businesses to answer phones and keep sellers away. But with voicemail, sellers need to consider that every voicemail presents an opportunity to deliver a message; it is a marketing opportunity. A seller can spend hours cold calling with nothing to show for it – but if the seller takes advantage of the opportunity to view VM as a marketing opportunity, there is the possibility for engagement.
So don’t call it cold calling – this is VM Marketing. Launch a campaign, measure it and adjust it. Try it again. Change it again. Stick with what works. VM is not going away anytime soon, so it’s time to stop complaining about it and leveraging it for what it can do for you.
Tags: Sales, Sales Tips
There’s been some great discussion and debate about selling on price vs. value.
You can see the Q&A from Linkedin here.
It’s interesting that my repositioning on Price was perceived as selling “cheap”, and that selling “value” was important than ever. One of the main take-aways here is that there are industry and product/service specific factors. Blanket statements cannot solve these issues, but can generate some ideas and discussion that can result in solid strategies.
While I would never suggest that value is no longer important – consider the following:
A rep for a professional sports organization selling luxury box suites can stand on the “value” of these seats on a vareity of customer loyalty and engagement perspectives. But the client has it’s marketing budget cut in half – and right now, “valuable” seats will simply not get approval. An empty stadium of “value” will not drive revenue for the sports team and they will lose any concession or related merchandise sales as well.
A rep attempting to sell “value” through a total solution approach may miss the opportunity to grow future business from a potential client because they were unable/unwilling to fulfill the simple need quickly. Not filling the simple need now may cost even larger in the long run when times get better and the client’s growth plans come along.
Value isn’t going away, but price seemed to be a dirty word in sales for some time. Let’s embrace it, and recognize that it is a strategy that we can employ and layer value on over time. Right now, we need to keep moving, keep talking, keep rolling.
Tags: Consulttative Sales Process, Sales, Sales Tips, Selling on Price
Back in September, I wrote about the commodity sale.
When I originally positioned the commodity sale and shift away from the consultative process, I received a lot of feedback that I was way off base.
The consultative sales process brings some key elements that should not be abandoned, but have become less important when facing the current economic realities that we are today. At that time, we were on the brink of a recession. Now, selling on price has become a recessionary sales strategy – brands are positioning on price alone.
So much focus has previously placed on the concepts of value – I think many sellers have stopped listening, and their customers have stopped caring. The subjective concept of value is of course important, but let’s also be clear that the pure dollars that any solution costs has value as well. Some how, this became lost in the quest for value.
As I look to the current economy for some positives, or for some ideas on how to provide strategies for sellers to succeed – perhaps we should come to re-embrace the commodity sale in its simplicity. Good sales people will layer on elements of the consultative process, but back at the core – the hard realities of the current economy dictate a return to price driven sales.
How bad can that be?
Tags: Sales Cycles, sales process, Sales Tips, Value Drivers
How do you know when a deal will close?
It’s what the sales funnel is all about. But forecasting when sales will close is something that most sellers are fairly bad at.
There’s only one way to know when any sale will close – Prove it.
So how to you prove it? By coming back to the Value Drivers behind the opportunity. Value Drivers are the core of any solution building process. Locating the business case for the solution, determining the impact of the prospect having solved/addressed their problem/goal… Value Drivers are the business reasons anything happens in a sale.
If you know what the Value Drivers are, then you will also have the reasoning and clarity behind timing and implementation. If you are unable to determine the Value Drivers, you are relying on the loneliest of all sales skills – Luck.
Tags: Commodity Sales, Consultative Selling, Sales, Sales Methodologies, sales process, Sales Tips
The Consultative Sales Process – The dominant methodology in today’s sales thinking. I’d like to test that idea for a moment…
If you have ever worked with me, you’ve certainly heard it a lot – the migration of Value from Product to Seller, the challenges facing sellers today and how solution consulting can address those requirements to help sellers succeed in today’s market.
But to be honest – I’m seeing cracks in the plaster. There are alternate voices from smart people that I trust (check out Jeremy Miller) who are increasingly putting messages out there that we are moving into different paths and paradigms.
And I think this is a good thing (no Martha intended).
The role sellers provide in the sales process is changing again. Here’s my thought…
The move and positioning focused on employing the consultative sales process as a way of preventing or subverting the commodity or price driven sale is increasingly not the right path. It is a defensive stance that is losing ground – it is time to give in and embrace the commodity sale.
Now my thinking does not go so far as to throw out the consultative process altogether – but this is something I’m going to look closer at.
What does it mean to embrace the commodity sale?
Better yet – think I’m wrong?
Tags: Sales Tips, value proposition, Voicemail
Last night, I was organizing some old documents I found from one of my first sales jobs. “No more useless voicemails!” was a note I had written with stars around it.
I couldn’t disagree more.
There’s still a current debate (among some at least – but don’t group me in there) about whether to leave voicemail or not. I think it’s a must.
With today’s VoIP technology and unified messaging, a voicemail is as good as an email – assuming that both are done well. Here’s 2 reasons:
- Not Leaving a Message Still Sends a Message: With call display, the seller’s phone #/name/company comes up, but when no message has been left, then the real message is, “I’m just another sales person, you were next on my list and I’ve moved on to someone else. Disregard me when I inevitably call back.”
- Your Message is Marketing: With unified messaging, your vm can be saved and even shared (via email) with other people. By leaving a brief value prop, and being specific in your info, your message can get legs rather quickly if there is an opportunity present. This is not the voicemail of 10 years ago – unified messaging presents marketing potential.
Aside from those key points – I hate it when I get a “missed call” with no message. It bugs me. And another reason can be found in the fact that you can spend half a day pounding out calls and get absolutely nothing in return. If you leave a vm, there is a chance your call will be returned and a meaningful discussion can take place.
One last point – when you leave your message, keep it short and to the point. Who you are and why you are calling. No pitch, just the facts. And don’t ask for a call back, think of it as a 15 second commercial.