Sales Pros! 10 Things You Must Do Before Leaving for Summer Vacation

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 01, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

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Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

Are you going to the beach? On a sail? On a tour? To another country? To a lodge? To a resort?  Regardless of your destination or purpose, make sure you bring some good books, disconnect from your email and social networks, and actually use the time to recharge. That's good old common sense. But if you really want to kick some ass when you return from vacation, you'll want to make sure you do these important things too:

  1. Turn on your auto-responders and leave a useful message - do not let it go out with the default note.
  2. Change your voicemail message.
  3. Schedule the first two days following your vacation with Office Time. You'll need it to respond to 300 emails, return 20 phone calls, and go through mail, documents, and issues that may have arisen while you were gone.
  4. Schedule half days of prospecting time for the 3rd-5th days back.
  5. Before you leave, make sure you have meetings scheduled for the other half of days 3-5 after your return.
  6. Before you leave, schedule meetings for your entire second week back. You must complete that before you can leave for your vacation!
  7. If you're like most salespeople, you have more prospects in your dead/lost/stuck folders than in your active pipeline. Contact all of them before you leave and see if anything has changed since the last time you spoke. Let them know that you're heading out for vacation and would love to talk with them in either late July or early August if they think there is a reason or if they would like some help.
  8. Make sure your CRM/Pipeline Management application is completely up-to-date and each opportunity accurately reflects where you are today, what the next steps are, the realistic projected closing date as well as the realistic spend, where you are versus your competition, and the realistic likelihood of closing. Also make sure that the notes for each opportunity are up-to-date.
  9. Check your task lists, calendar, Evernote, CRM and email and be certain that you do not have any outstanding proposals, return calls, follow-ups or promises that slipped through the cracks. It's easier to take care of those things with an apology before you leave, than it is to kiss those opportunities, customers and clients goodbye when you return.
  10. Identify any prospects or customers that could possibly have an issue while you're gone and ask someone you trust to help in case you aniticipated correctly. Prep them and go away without worries.

Have a great vacation and when you get back, please go out and kick some ass.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, sales CRM, sales follow up

How to End the Sales & Marketing Argument

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 11, 2015 @ 07:05 AM

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Republicans and Democrats argue all the time.  Fans of long-time rival sports teams argue too, regardless of whether the rivalry is at the high school, college or pro level.  Players argue with umpires, referees and judges.  Kids argue with their parents and everyone argues with their cable company and wireless phone providers.  So why is it so hard to understand why marketing argues with sales?Marketing generates leads and Sales tells them how bad the leads are. Worse, they fail to generate leads and Sales tells them how useless they are.  Sales follows up on the leads, gets traction with only 5 out of 100, and Marketing tells them they suck at lead follow-up and selling.  There must be a better way...

Both departments share the blame.

Marketing must stop confusing requests for free anything as leads.  These requests are simply people that requested free stuff.  They could become a lead at some point, maybe even tomorrow, but they sure as hell aren't leads right now.

Sales must finally learn, once and for all, how to more effectively follow-up on today's web-generated leads.  It's not the same approach as call-ins, write-ins, or bingo cards.

One thing that can help solve the problem is to put qualifiers on the (not leads) contacts.  Then, when a competent person follows-up, the contact can be objectively, rather than subjectively qualified.  The problem with this is that we should not be qualifying the opportunity, only scoring the quality of a contact.

Contacts can be awarded points for:

  • being an appropriate person by title,
  • being the right size company,
  • being in a targeted vertical or geography,
  • participating in relevant or related activities,
  • having appropriate interest, and/or
  • being in an appropriate timeline for buying.

They should not be qualified for whether or not they have the money to spend, whether or not you can speak with a decision maker right now, or whether or not they are ready to buy.  It's too early to be asking those questions and when salespeople or appointment setters start asking those questions, even a good lead will turn bad.  

There's a good reason why those types of qualifying questions can't be asked until a compelling reason to buy has been identified.  Until that point, a prospect has no incentive to share the answers to those questions because it's a waste of their time and salespeople are disqualifying a disproportionate percentage of opportunities because they jump the gun on qualifying.  On the other hand, at least those who are doing the disqualification are making an effort to qualify - even if they are too early...

There will always be some friction between Sales and Marketing, but the two can get along, collaborate and work together if they can agree on 4-5 subjective qualifiers that can place proper expectations on what constitutes a lead, who should follow-up on leads, and what that follow-up should sound like.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, marketing, leads, lead follow up, sales follow up

Selling - We're Going Back to AIDA And You Should Be Scared

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 @ 08:10 AM

back in timeAs wonderful as all the hype is about inbound, lead gen, and the new way to sell to these leads, one important fact is being ignored.

While the tools have changed, information is available in the blink of a click, and leads are in huge supply, people, at their core, have not changed the way they buy.

Sure, they may be meeting with or speaking with salespeople later in their buying process.  Sure, they may take longer to make decisions.  Sure, they may be more diligent about spending their money.  But the one thing that has not changed is that they still have some motivation - some compelling reason - to spend their money and spend it with you instead of someone else.

The rush to embrace inbound marketing comes with a false sense of security and a poorly grounded belief that the sale is somehow easier, faster and more demo-centric today.  

FALSE.  

Easier, faster and demo-centric leads to slower, price-driven and more difficult closing.  Closing percentages are DOWN! 

Remember, the motivation or compelling reason to buy has not disappeared.  It's just that suddenly, too many marketing experts and writers, lured by the sexiness of inbound marketing, are simply skipping over what they were never responsible for in the first place.

When we ignore motivation, we turn back the clocks by about 50 years, and return to the purely transactional sale.  The acronym was AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.  That's where the inbound marketing folks are taking it and it's not a good thing.

If you have a more expensive product or service than your competition - you're screwed with AIDA.

If you sell something that's an awful lot of money - period - you're screwed with AIDA.

If you have a new company, a new brand, a new product or a new technology - you're screwed with AIDA.

If you aren't the market leader, brand leader, or price leader - you're screwed with AIDA.  You can get away with a transactional sale if you have the cheapest price or you are the logical choice.  Anyone else?  Oh-oh...

Embrace inbound.  Embrace the leads.  Embrace the tools.  But don't be tempted to take the shortcuts that are a death sentence to winning business.  The good news is that there is an abundance of leads.  It quickly becomes bad news if you follow them up traditionally and allow your salespeople to sell them transactionally.

Getting found is the new way of identifying new business opportunities.  A consultative, buyer-focused selling approach is the right way to leverage their compelling reasons to spend their money with you.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Inbound Marketing, sales leads, sales follow up

The Connection Between Gas Prices and Sales Lead Follow Up

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 26, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

I was pumping gas yesterday and two things came to mind:

  1. When I was a kid, gas sold for 18 cents per gallon and the 5 neighboring gas stations were competing on price.  So it made sense that gas was priced to the 10th of a cent.  18.9 cents here, 17.9 cents there.  But at $4 per gallon, why on earth are gas stations still pricing gas by the 10th of a cent?  If your car takes 15 gallons, that 9/10 of a cent comes to the same 13.5 cents that it always did.  When you filled up your tank for $5, that extra 13.5 cents might have meant something, but when it takes $75 to fill the tank, 13.5 cents means very little to anyone.
     
  2. There was a sticker from the local department of weights and measures certifying the accuracy of the pump for another year.  Really?  In the digital age, do we really need to pay people to certify the accuracy of something that used to be hand-calibrated?

Why do we still do these things?  Which brings me to selling - of course.

Why do salespeople still do the things they used to do, even though those things don't work anymore.  For example, why do salespeople still sell transactionally when presenting/demoing, quoting/proposing and closing yields a 10-20% conversion ratio?  Even if they were in hiding, everyone must have heard by now that a typical B2B sale requires a customer-centric consultative approach. 

Why do salespeople still rifle down lists to make cold calls?  Everyone knows that doesn't work anymore.  As a matter of fact, yesterday I received a pretty cool infographic from Cypress North, who teamed up with Salesforce.com.  It has an endless number of metrics, the best of which is just below.  The first graphic shows the likelihood of a response from a prospect based on how quickly the salesperson follows up.

Sales Connections

Customers were 60 times more likely to convert if a salesperson follows up within an hour of the lead coming through!!!  So why do salespeople wait forever?  Never mind the first hour, what about the first 5 minutes?

This graphic shows how quickly the chance of qualifying an opportunity decreases after the first 5 minutes.

ResponseTimes

And less than 1% of companies get their salespeople to follow up in the first 5 minutes?  Why do salespeople wait so long?

It's time for companies to simply stop everything that they have been doing for years and start from scratch.  No modifications, bandages or minor changes.  It's time for complete redesign of sales processes, systems, methodologies, models and, yes, people.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Inbound Marketing, sales leads, sales follow up

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six 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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