Why This Salesperson Failed to Close the Deal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 @ 07:11 AM

Have you ever played golf?  Did you ever play a hole where you drove it perfectly off the tee, hit a great shot from the fairway, and still couldn’t get it on the green in regulation?

Of course you did.  Me too.  Almost always.

This is a true story about a salesperson who experienced the same thing – only different – because he didn’t get it on the green in his sales cycle.

Our story begins when I received a marketing email from a software company. Their email worked perfectly, as they succeeded in getting me to click on the link to take their 3-question survey.  Once there, I found that I was unable to answer the questions because my true answers weren’t among the available selections.  The choices only allowed for me to have a problem that I didn’t have.  Oops.  I aborted the survey.  But they knew I had clicked on the survey and apparently didn’t care whether or not I finished.  Despite the fact that Joe Kindergarten designed the survey, their email marketing had worked flawlessly – at least on me.

Moments later, the inside salesperson (we’ll call him Phil) left me a voicemail and followed up with an email about two minutes later.  Apparently, the inside sales team, and specifically Phil, were well aware of these statistics touting the importance of calling in the first hour and for even better results, in the first five minutes:

Connects-1ResponseTimes-1Infographic provided by salesforce.com and CrystalNorth

So the email marketing worked, and Phil immediately followed up on his new lead.

Of course, there’s the issue of whether or not I was actually a lead.  Had I become a lead because I began to take a survey or was I simply a contact?  Did I become a lead when and if Phil reached me and turned me over to a salesperson or was Phil responsible for taking me through their sales cycle?

This was the topic of a very lively discussion between Koka Sexton and me on Dan McDade’s excellent video-conference last week.  You can watch the 30-minute show by clicking here.

Back to Phil.  We may never know if he was in an Inbound marketing role, an inside sales role, or a traditional sales role but from inside.  Why?  Let’s discuss what happened next.

Nothing happened next!

It seems that Phil was unaware of the well-known statistics that reveal how many follow-up attempts are required to reach a contact or a lead.   It can take 10-15 attempts and Phil gave up after 2!

Should Phil have continued calling and emailing?  Should he have attempted to connect on LinkedIn or give up?

Phil couldn’t possibly know the answer to that unless he kept trying.

For example, it took 15 attempts before I was able to connect with the Worldwide VP Sales for a company that became one of our biggest and most important clients.  And this wasn’t a name and email address on a form after an internet download of a White Paper.  This was someone who was introduced to us by another executive in his company and had already indicated that he wanted to talk with us. Even under those ideal conditions it took 15 attempts.

Lessons: Don’t. Give. Up.

Don’t. Let. Your. Salespeople. Give. Up.

In my most recent White Paper, The Modern Science of Sales Force Excellence, one of the findings showed that only a small percentage of companies doing inbound marketing/sales were converting more than 40% of their leads/contacts to conversations.  Download the White Paper to learn what they are doing differently from all of the other companies.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, inside sales, reaching prospects, prospecting tips

The Sales Epidemic That is Neutralizing Salespeople Everywhere

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 04, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

The Selling Power Blog published a new article of mine, The Top 10 Steps Salespeople Can Take to Improve.  The article includes a really terrific video on the importance of tonality.  I thought it would be helpful to expand on item #5, Persistence, because selling requires more persistence than ever before.

While persistence has always been important in sales, we are in uncharted territory.  Despite the abundance of tools to help you connect with people, the physical act of speaking with these connections is becoming exponentially more difficult.  It might surprise you to learn that depending on how high up in the company you are calling, it could take 10 to 15 attempts to reach your contact.

Just 3 years ago, when I wrote this article about the subject, it was 8 attempts and I thought that was high.  And to give you a sense as to just how little persistence there is out there, I wrote this article last year.  Most of the focus on persistence is related to contacting new prospects. 

What about the prospects who are far along in the sales process and suddenly go missing?  

epidemicThey don't take your calls, don't respond to your emails, and don't let you know what's going on.  You think that only happens to you?  Think again.  It's happening all over the place to all kinds of salespeople and companies. Is there suddenly an epidemic of rudeness?  An alignment of prospects willing to take a stand against salespeople that are getting too close?  

I'll tell you what it is.

The epidemic is the emphasis on demos and the affliction known as happy ears.  Salespeople succeed at getting prospects to watch, participate or take a demo.  (The salespeople believe) they're impressed with what they see.  When they go to follow-up...nothing.

They get nothing because they deserve nothing because they did nothing related to actual selling!  

They didn't learn whether or not there was a compelling reason for their prospects to buy anything, to move their business to these salespeople, and they didn't do much of any qualifying.  And then, when they can't get their prospects to return calls, they blame the prospects when the real problem was that the salespeople sucked, their sales process sucked, their sales management sucked and as you would expect, their results suck.  Watch this one-minute video for a quick exercise you can do.  The results might be jaw-dropping...

What can be done about this problem?

Stop giving demos.  Just say no.  If that's what your prospect wants, then that's your leverage.  Once you part with it (your demo), your leverage is gone.  So hold on to it, man!  Hold on until you know there is a compelling reason for them to buy from you and you have thoroughly qualified them.  You'll be giving far fewer demos, but closing a much greater percentage.  You've heard this before, "Less is More."  This is new math that won't cause a headache!

Image Copyright: ginasanders / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, reaching prospects, presentations, demos, selling power

10 Steps to More Sales Opportunities

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 23, 2011 @ 05:05 AM

voicemailBack in March, I mentioned in this article that it takes, on average, 8 attempts to reach a prospect.  Unfortunately, that statistic won't help many salespeople because most of them aren't comfortable with the consequences of "8".  Most salespeople want to give up after about 4-5 attempts - and not 4-5 attempts over 4-5 days, but over 4-5 weeks!

Last week I received a voice mail from a commercial real estate broker.  He said just the right thing, at just the right time and I returned the call and scheduled a meeting.  I knew he had called me before, so I asked him how many times he had attempted to reach me.  He checked his records and reported back to me:  8 voice mail messages.  Wow, what a surprise!

Last week, no fewer than 8 salespeople sent emails to me explaining that they committed to the 8 attempts rule and, as a result, had scheduled meetings with prospects they had been chasing for a long time.  The key is not to only make 8 attempts, but make 8 attempts Halloween style - haunt them -  8 attempts in 8 days.  

Even if your salespeople leave the right message (nothing other than their name and phone number), the best outcome is that the message makes it onto their prospect's to-do list.  But will their prospects return the calls?  They probably won't return the call today and it will still be on their lists tomorrow.  That's when, after not returning the call for a 2nd day, a prospect realizes that the person (they don't know it was a sales call) did not make another attempt, so it must not be important and they remove it from their to-do list.  Your salespeople must continue to call in order to remain on the list.

So what can you do to make sure your salespeople reach more prospects?

  1. Explain the "Rule of 8" it to them
  2. Review what a proper voice mail message should sound like
  3. Tell them you will hold them accountable to 8/8
  4. Add "Repeat Call Attempts" to your KPI's each day
  5. Look for an increase in the number of connects, conversations and meetings booked
  6. If Meetings Booked does not increase, look to the conversation itself as the problem
  7. Listen to their calls
  8. Is it a tonality problem or verbiage problem?
  9. Is it a problem with not finding an issue or not learning if it is important enough to fix?
  10. Is it a problem with taking put-offs?

    Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, cold calling, reaching prospects, getting voice mail returned

    Top 6 Factors for Killing a Sales Opportunity or Prospect

    Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 @ 22:03 PM

    I hear this question a lot..."When should I move on?"

    You have left 6 messages and haven't received a return call.

    You have a prospect and things were moving along pretty well and now you can't get them back on the phone.

    Should you move on?

    First, the data is clear on this - it takes an average of 8 attempts - eight! - to reach a prospect.  And if it's a prospect that is already in the sales process, you probably screwed something up....

    Second, whether or not you should move on is dependent on six factors. I'll list them here:

    Factor #1 - The Size of Your Prospect Pool:  If you have thousands of potential prospects, it's easy to say, "next!", while if your pool of potential prospects is limited, "next" is not a viable option.

    Factor #2 - The State of Your Pipeline: If your pipeline is filled with quality opportunities, it's easy to say, "next!", while if your pipeline is on the empty side, "next" is not a viable option.

    Factor #3 - Competitive Nature: If you don't mind losing, it's easy to say, "next!", while if you can't stand to lose, "next" is not a viable option.

    Factor #4 - Odds: If you don't have much of a chance to win the business, it's easy to say, "next!", while if you have a good chance to win the business, "next" is not a viable option.

    Factor #5 - Profiling: If the prospect doesn't fit the profile of your ideal customer, it's easy to say, "next!" while if they are right in your sweet spot, "next" is not a viable option.

    Factor #6 - Leverage: If the prospect was using you to keep their existing vendor/supplier honest, it's easy to say, "next!" while if low price isn't a factor and there isn't an existing vendor in place, "next" is not an option.

    Can you think of any more?

    Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales tips, reaching prospects, sales opportunities

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    Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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