Inc Magazine Gets it Wrong on Sales Prospecting

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 01:05 AM

I have to question Geoffrey James for an article that he recently posted on Inc. Magazine's online site.

He opens the article by saying that for most companies "the ability to find potential customers is the difference between growth and bankruptcy."  His opening might be a bit of an exaggeration.  The reality is that it could be the difference between growth and lack of growth because most companies that aren't growing aren't going bankrupt.

In his article, he shares a systematic approach for prospecting "loosely based upon a conversation with Thomas Ray Crowel."  My interpretation of his use of the word "loosely" is that he contributed his own opinions to this systematic approach.  That makes the article all the more disappointing.

In the fifth step of the prospecting call, he says that if the prospect sounds interested, you should skip the script and jump right to the close.  Really?  Isn't this a prospecting call?  He makes it sound more like telemarketing than prospecting for appointments or meetings.  It certainly doesn't apply to a complex B2B sale!

He also suggests that you create a qualifying script using the old - very old - method of authority, budget and need.  If you are selling something that requires authority and budget, then you'll require more than need to get them to spend their money and you certainly wouldn't be able to jump right to the close.  Why would we want to qualify this early?  Until we have heard that they have a compelling reason to buy, they won't have an incentive to answer any qualifying questions!

This systematic approach (250 cold calls/week) is based on a salesperson making cold calls all day.  That in itself is very archaic and when it is performed as a full-time function, it's usually by the lead generation team, not salespeople.  After all, if the salespeople are making 250 calls per week, when would they have time to conduct their scheduled sales calls and meetings?

Geoffrey's subtitle for the article is a "step by step approach for building up a sales pipeline."  Lead generation people don't have pipelines and people who close on the first phone call don't have them either.  His steps and examples are not consistent with salespeople who actually build sales pipelines!

If you need to connect with business prospects and build a sales pipeline, read Frank Belzer's terrific book, Sales Shift.  His book has some truly relevant, modern, effective and efficient methods for finding and closing new business - the new way.  And if you want to pound the phones and dial for dollars, my book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball, has a terrific prospecting section and you can get some terrific tips on reaching 1st base at the Baseline Selling site.

You can also find some good articles on prospecting right here on my Blog.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales shift, frank belzer, cold calling, geoffrey james, sales prospecting

Major Changes in Buying Require Major Changes in Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 02, 2013 @ 08:05 AM

Sales ShiftLast week I wrote this article and talked about how much selling has changed.  But in that article, I only mentioned the need to differentiate and sell consultatively.  The articles I wrote and mentioned here talk about it greater detail.  But to really understand how completely sales has shifted, you absolutely must read Frank Belzer's new book Sales Shift: How inbound marketing has turned sales upside down making it more difficult and more lucrative at the same time".

Frank has not only written the entire story, but goes really deep and wide on the impact of social selling and how you can and should leverage tools and resources like LinkedIn, inbound marketing, blogging and more.

I'm especially excited about Frank's book because he has worked alongside me at Kurlan & Associates since 2008 when these changes first began to take shape in a lasting way.  As you know, 2008 was also the year the economy collapsed and that says a lot about Frank.  Anyone who can survive a start in the sales development business during the worst economic climate in decades has to be strong.

If you want to know more about Frank's book, there is a great interview with Frank here.  If you would like to order Frank's book - and you should - you can get it here from Amazon.

Finally - if you would like to master the art and science of managing, coaching and developing salespeople in these changing times, this is the last call for our spring Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston May 14-15.  You can read about the event here and check out the testimonial videos here and here; but if you would like to attend, there isn't much time.  I recommend that you just drop me a line instead and we'll make the arrangements for you.  You'll get to work with Frank and me and 3 other great experts on my team.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales shift, frank belzer, sales management seminar

The Other Rejection - How Salespeople Struggle to Cope

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 09, 2012 @ 13:05 PM


My colleague, Frank Belzer, just posted a terrific, thought-provoking article on Rejection.  Please read that first for the rest of my article to have the proper context.

Five years ago, Passive Rejection wouldn't have been an article topic because back then, it was rare to not get your repeated calls returned.  By contrast, today it's unusual when a prospect returns one of your first 5 voicemail messages!

Let's take a deeper look into Passive Rejection.  Frank mentioned a former colleague who handled Active Rejection just fine but didn't handle Passive Rejection in an acceptable way.  If Passive Rejection is akin to being ignored, then what is it about being ignored that causes the problem?

After reading Frank's article, I gave this some thought and identified the following 10 reactions to Passive Rejection:

  1. Fear - What if I never reach this person?
  2. Anger - How rude!
  3. Abandonment - They don't want me in their life...
  4. Hurt - How could they do this to me?
  5. No Respect - If they respected me, they would call me.
  6. Distrust - They haven't returned my calls, so I don't trust them.
  7. Approval - They don't love me!
  8. Self-Importance - I don't have time for this!
  9. Self-Image - I'm not very happy with myself right now.
  10. Revenge - They haven't returned my calls, so I won't call them.  Hmmph.
As you can see, the other rejection, Passive Rejection, is simply another trigger for salespeople to become emotionally involved, a hidden weakness which I touched on in yesterday's article about chain reactions.  So, when a salesperson experiences Passive Rejection, the severity of emotional involvement increases, as each of these reactions kick-in, until the salesperson has effectively been neutralized.  Emotional Paralysis would be an appropriate phrase to describe what happens at this point, where the salesperson is no longer able to function in the sales role until they have finally recovered.  OMG's long-standing finding of Difficulty Recovering from Rejection would come into play here.  Do you have salespeople who don't seem to have enough conversations and new meetings each day?  Do they claim to be doing the work?  Could they be suffering from Passive Rejection?
As it becomes more and more difficult to reach prospects whose priorities make it impossible to be reached, Passive Rejection and the resulting Emotional Involvement play larger roles among the many weaknesses that interfere with a salesperson's ability to perform.
Photo Credit - Fever Pitch on PhotoDune

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, frank belzer, sales rejection, sales emotions, objective management group

Sales Management - Eagerness vs. Resistance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 12, 2010 @ 08:02 AM

I received more email from this week's episode of Meet the Sales Experts than I usually get following the show.  I was trying to understand what we talked about that resonated so well with listeners.

For one, Frank Belzer, my guest, is known for his ability to keep his pipeline filled and he discussed the things that motivate him to consistently do that.

He also talked about his revelations from the training he conducted in Shenghai last year.  The Chinese sales management executives were thrilled to hear how they should be managing their salespeople.  Franked talked about how different that audience was from his US audiences where resistance, rather than eagerness to learn, is the norm.

Frank also talked about the vast difference between selling the "why me" - they're going to buy, but it's only a matter of from whom - and "why" - they weren't planning to buy and had no interest until right now.

He finished up with some great advice for salespeople and sales managers.

Click here to listen to the show.  Click here to contact Frank.

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales culture, Dave Kurlan, sales management, frank belzer

Chinese Salespeople May be the Next Group to Outsell Your Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 25, 2009 @ 22:08 PM

What are you going to do when, not only are you out priced, out sourced, out willed, out shipped, and out produced, but also out sold - by the Chinese?

That is the question posed by my Kurlan & Associates colleague, Frank Belzer, who is blogging from Shanghai, where he is spending the week training Asian companies in the art of sales management.

Read more of Frank's interesting post right here.

Another one of my colleagues regularly visits Bangalore to train their salespeople that call into the US Market.

So now, you not only have to worry about the effects of the economy, global competition, crazy low pricing from desperate competitors, reluctant buyers, cheaper products from the far east, and salespeople who aren't able to get it done the way they used to, but you also have to worry about getting outsold by salespeople from Asia.

So when will you stop waiting for things to improve and make the improvements to your sales organization? It's the only thing you can control!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, frank belzer, china, india, outsourcing

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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 nine 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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