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Inbound Marketing Part Three – The Other Hidden Weaknesses

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Tue, Oct 08, 2013 @ 14:10 PM

Screenshot 2013 10 30 16.32.03In Part One of this article series, I talked about how Inbound Marketing leads have changed the nature of selling and how sales and marketing must interface better.  I also talked about how an information feedback loop between sales and marketing is critical to the growth of sales and the success of the organization.  Frank Belzer’s book, SalesShift, best captures this change in the market and in how sales must be done in an Inbound world.

In Part Two, I discussed how the selling process is necessarily different as a result of the nature of leads generated through Inbound Marketing and how there are certain key skill sets, such as consultative selling, which must be mastered to survive and thrive in this new environment.  I explained how two important, potential, hidden weaknesses can thwart a salesperson’s efforts to master this kind of selling.

In this article, Part Three in the series, I'm going to look at three other hidden weaknesses which can get in the way of salespeople.  Hidden issues are important to understand because they can trump your knowledge and skill.  Training your people on how to sell consultatively will give them the knowledge which they need to sell in an increasingly Inbound world, but that won’t be enough to execute it.  To do that, the barriers, preventing them from performing at their best, must be removed .

In Part Two, I discussed Need for Approval and the tendency to get Emotionally Involved.  These two are of particular importance for consultative selling.  As I described in that article, Need for Approval can prevent one from asking tough questions; getting Emotionally Involved can result in losing control of the conversation.  When these weaknesses are strong, you’re missing your rudder and will have trouble navigating through the buoys and obstacles under the surface.

Three others of the most common hidden weaknesses include Discomfort Talking about Money, a Non-Supportive Buy-Cycle, and Self-Limiting Beliefs.  Let’s look at each one individually and think about how these might be affecting your sales people.

When someone is uncomfortable talking about money, it is harder to have conversations which lead to uncovering the budget, trial-quoting, and otherwise getting over the hurdle of price.  Ask yourself, "What is a lot of money?"  Find out if your salespeople are asking for more money than is comfortable for them.  Dave Kurlan wrote about this problem in this article a few months ago.  How uncomfortable are your prospects talking about money?

A non-supportive buy-cycle is referring to the strong correlation between how a salesperson makes purchasing decisions for themselves, and what they are willing to tolerate from and empathize with the prospect.  Most of the time, we think of empathy as a good thing.  And it certainly is a good thing in a sales setting if it contributes to your understanding of your prospects’ issues, concerns, fears, and desires.  When you empathize with your prospects’ put-offs, it becomes non-supportive.

Self-limiting beliefs (or as we call it, your “record collection”, if you are old enough to remember what records are) refer to the thoughts which we have about an outdated reality, even if they once served you.  Dave Kurlan has written about this issue as well in this article and he points out that our assessment research of over 650,000 salespeople reveals that the following three beliefs are the most common ones standing in the path of success for most sales people.  They are, "I must make a presentation", "It's not OK to ask a lot of questions", and "It's OK if my prospects shop around".  

Are any of the above hidden weaknesses getting in your way or getting in the way of your sales people?  Do you ever suspect that the ability of your sales team is really a lot better than their achieved results, but you don’t know why?  More than ever in the new world of Inbound marketing, the keys to success are moving past these issues and building a sales force of people who have no fear asking enough or the right questions, and who are able to engage in a business conversation rather than a sales pitch.

Need some help with your sales force?  Feel free to contact one of our Sales Development Experts or consider Kurlan & Associates' Sales Leadership Intensive.

 

Topics: sales competencies, Dennis Connelly, Inbound Marketing, Hidden Weaknesses, sales training, sales force development, record collection

Inbound Marketing Part Two - Leads Are Up But Why are Sales Down?

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 @ 15:08 PM

Inbound Marketing, Inbound13, sales, sales leads, Need for Approval, Emotionally Involved, Dennis Connelly, Hidden Weaknesses, HubSpot, SalesShift, Baseline SellingIn Part One of this Inbound Marketing blog series, I talked about how the fundamental nature has changed of what we traditionally think of as a lead due to the profound impact of Inbound Marketing.  Hubspot has played a huge role in both the service which they provide and in their thought leadership.  Their too-numerous-to-count, value-added resellers are helping to determine the outcome of that change on a global scale.

How do we cope with these new, very different leads?  Inbound marketing has cast the net much wider and dramatically increased the potential prospects with whom to follow-up.  We find, however, that most of these leads are not very strong.  That doesn’t mean that they cannot be converted.  Frank Belzer’s book, SalesShift, provides great insight on how to do that.  There was, after all, some reason why your prospect expressed interest in the first place, regardless of their level of commitment to solving any particular problem or desire to find some great opportunity.

I promised, in the last installment, to share with you two of the most important selling weaknesses to overcome in order to be successful with inbound leads.  First, I’d like to make an analogy about inbound leads versus traditional leads so that we can better grasp how important it is to handle these leads differently.  Think of a traditional lead as a prospect shining a spotlight at you signaling their interest, “Hey, I’m over here! And I’m interested in what you have.”  Think of an inbound lead as a firefly.  It’s much less bright, and it’s fleeting.  Look away, and you’ll miss it, “Just browsing, thanks.”

The firefly analogy goes a bit further when you add the fact that inbound leads burn out almost immediately.  So one rule of inbound leads is to jump right on them because they dissipate quickly.  Another rule is to use consultative selling as your number one tool - ask lots of questions, research their business, dig around, challenge and push back.

  1. The first hidden selling weakness which might get in your way when you take this approach, is what we call “Need For Approval” from your prospects.  To challenge your prospect, you cannot shy away from asking tough questions.  “At first, you said everything is great at Spacely Sprockets. But then you shared some problems which suggest to me that everything is not so great. Have you lowered your standards?”  Learn much more about this kind of questioning in Dave Kurlan’s bestseller, Baseline Selling.  Of course, to ask a question like that, you need to have some rapport skills. But it’s important to ask and show your prospect that you can be trusted to be straight, regardless of the interpersonal consequences.
     
  2. The second hidden selling weakness which might get in your way is the “Tendency to Get Emotionally Involved” in the conversation with your prospect.  Can you be open, present, and in control at all times?  When we get emotionally involved, we go into our own head.  When that happens, we lose control of the conversation.

To be a successful consultative seller, we must overcome both of these weaknesses: need for approval and emotional involvement.  It is through consultative selling that we cut through the clutter and find the opportunity to close new business with these fleeting, dimly-lit, passers-by, inbound leads masquerading as hot prospects!

  • Are your people asking good questions?
  • Are they asking enough questions?
  • Do they build rapport quickly?
  • Are they making presentations too early?
  • Are the uncovering the real reason to buy?
  • Do they know exactly how their prospect makes buying decisions?
  • Do they take certain information for granted?
  • Will they ask tough questions even if they believe it will put the relationship at risk?
  • Do they have the presence to listen intently and ask follow-up questions easily?

In Part Three of this Inbound Marketing blog series, we’ll explore three other hidden selling weaknesses which could cause your salespeople to get in their own way and lose more of these opportunities than they need to.  

If you are interested, have your sales force evaluated to see whether they can be effective at selling in an inbound world and whether they possess any of the hidden weaknesses which could be preventing them from succeeding.  If you’re heading to Inbound13 in Boston, please introduce yourself to us at the Kurlan Lounge on the third floor.

 

Topics: Dennis Connelly, Inbound Marketing, sales leads, Inbound13, sales, Need for Approval, Emotionally Involved, Hidden Weaknesses, HubSpot, SalesShift, Baseline Selling

Inbound Marketing Part One - Leads Are Up But Why are Sales Down?

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Wed, Aug 07, 2013 @ 16:08 PM

Inbound Marketing, sales call, sales force evaluation, sales and marketing, Frank Belzer, Dennis Connelly, Dave Kurlan, Trust of Salespeople, sales leads, Sales, Social Media, Sales LeadershipIn Frank Belzer’s recent book, SalesShift: How inbound marketing has turned sales upside down making it more difficult and more lucrative at the same time, he convincingly demonstrates that the nature of the lead has changed and many salespeople are having trouble adapting.  It’s true that in an Inbound world, marketing must work in tandem with sales creating an information feedback loop which propels new sales.  That is also one of Frank’s points.  Where salespeople get into trouble is thinking that a lead is a lead is a lead.

The reality is that all leads are not created “equal.”  As different as a referral is from a cold call, an inbound lead is different than those generated through traditional marketing channels.  When marketing works well, it performs the first part of the sales function.  It generates interest, exposes a potential issue, and may even lead to someone picking up the phone and calling your company for a rep appointment.  When it’s done well, the sales department can get hooked on this approach, even to the point of developing an “order taker” reputation.  The prospect, in this case, is already interested.

But inbound leads are different.  They are born on a different continent.  They are ethnically and culturally different from a traditional lead.  A potential prospect might have been doing research on the internet, watching a cool video, or simply wandering around on the web when an opportunity presented itself.  Taking advantage of the opportunity might have involved a simple mouse click.  Then after typing in an email address and answering a couple of multiple choice questions where your computer usually fills in all the details for you - free stuff arrives on your screen.  Behind the scenes, a company is collecting that information and calling it a lead.  The “prospect” barely lifted a finger in this case, and might not have thought about it very much.

Now back to that lead that is sitting in the rep’s inbox. It has the look and feel of someone who wants your product - just like a traditional lead.  It looks "bigger and badder" than it is.  But it is fundamentally different.  The person on the other end actually might be stunned to get a call from you - “What?! You mean I triggered a sales call? I just wanted to see the video. I’m not in the market for anything.”  But this is exactly the point where the path forks.

What is this fork, you ask?  Yogi Berra said to “Take it.”  Okay, let’s take it.  And here are your choices.  You can continue reaching out to leads who appear to be deer caught in headlights, make assumptions, and watch them run away, or you can develop your selling skills, approach them differently, and convert them.  That’s why Frank said that it’s more difficult, yet more lucrative.  With a few critical tweaks, your sales team can convert more of these kinds of leads and outproduce the competition.  And isn’t that the point?  As the economy comes back and as it lifts all of the boats in your market, are you concerned that your vulnerability to the competition will be masked in the short run as sales increase?  The market winners will be those who outpace the competition or those who beat the competition relative to each other rather than where they were last year.

Throw away "solution selling".  Toss aside spin, dodges, and dropping five dollar bills.  (Reminds me of the Barry Levinson movie, Tin Men, about two rival aluminum siding salesmen!)  Read Dave Kurlan’s Whitepaper on Trust for additional insight in that area. Get rid of "technique" altogether and embrace a conversational and consultative style, like you might with a friend or an uncle.  Back off.  Don’t push.  Ask questions.  Assume nothing.  And most of all, slow down.

In Part 2 of this Inbound Marketing blog series, I will let you in on few secrets.  There are two key selling weaknesses, which most sales people have, that prevent them from having this consultative-style discussion.  Having or not having these two key weaknesses makes all the difference.  And there are three others which could also cause your people to get in their own way and lose more of these opportunities than they need to.  But your staff can overcome them with help, and open the doors to a wealth of opportunity generated by Inbound Marketing.  You may want to consider having your sales force evaluated to see whether the current team can executive your objectives and whether they can both embrace and be effective selling in an Inbound world.

 


Here is the link to "Inbound Marketing Part Two - Leads Are Up But Why are Sales Down?" 

 

Topics: Dennis Connelly, Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, sales leads, sales, sales force evaluation, sales call, sales leadership, frank belzer, sales and marketing, Trust of Salespeople, Social Media



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