Follow This Advice to Schedule More Meetings and Spend Less Time Doing It

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 25, 2021 @ 13:08 PM

toadYesterday I watched a toad walk across the outdoor side of our kitchen window.  Picture it!  I wish I had video but it ran so counter to what I have observed toads doing over the past 65 years that I froze.  I performed a google search and found exactly one image of a toad on a window. Please understand that the dirty window and sill are not mine - I found the image via a Google search.

Regular readers know that I'm all about the data and I have written nearly two thousand articles based on data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessments of more than two million salespeople.  Occasionally however, I see data where incorrect conclusions have been reached and like the toad on the window, my conclusions run counter to theirs.  One such example is a beautiful infographic from sales playbook company Xant. I am going to share some of their data, graphics and conclusions and I'll provide my counter argument to their conclusions.

I'm not challenging the data, only their conclusions.

They cited data from tens of millions of outbound follow up calls to leads showing call conversion rates being significantly better on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Their conclusion was that salespeople should make their outbound calls on those three days.

I see it a bit differently.  Wednesday is hump day and Friday is the beginning of the long weekend.  Both days are notorious for being slacker days so it's not that prospects are less likely to schedule meetings when you call them on Wednesdays and Fridays as much as salespeople tend to be far less effective on Wednesdays and Fridays.  So if Xant is suggesting that salespeople focus their calls on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays you should absolutely make your outbound calls on Wednesdays and Fridays when there is less noise and competition but while being as effective as you would on the other three days.

The data also showed that contact rates were best in the morning and they suggested that you make your calls then. Of course, I see it differently!  I have always suggested that outbound calling be performed for no more than 4 hours per day because salespeople become exhausted and less effective as the day goes on.  I believe the poorer afternoon contact rates are due to salesperson fatigue; not prospect behavior!  Therefore, if Xant is suggesting that you call in the morning, begin making your calls in the afternoon when fewer salespeople are calling!

There was one conclusion that I wholeheartedly agreed with and that is the time elapsed from lead to follow up call.  Five minutes does seem to be magical with a conversion rate that is 8X better than waiting even ten minutes before your call!  FOLLOW UP IMMEDIATELY!!

Their data shows that most salespeople - 81% - make fewer than 5 follow up attempts but the data isn't filtered by title. Calling the C Suite requires more attempts than calling a manager but salespeople suck at reaching decision makers.  Read these articles.  Despite that, it is very clear that you must be persistent! The reality is that the contact rate for between two and six attempts is much better than for one attempt and more than eight attempts.  My advice, call every day until you reach the person that generated the lead.

When it comes to lead follow up, I have a few suggestions.

Do it quickly and you won't have to do it a lot.

Do it effectively and you'll have a better conversion ratio.

Do it a lot to become more effective.

Let's pivot to a baseball analogy.  If the batter fails to get a hit, one of three things have occurred:

  1. They made solid contact but hit it right at a fielder - bad luck.
  2. The pitcher got them out with good pitching.
  3. They got themselves out with lack of plate discipline.

Don't get yourself out with lack of outbound calling expertise.  Practice every day and become awesome.  When I first began selling I hated cold-calling with a passion.  Since I was spending 6 hours per day doing what I hated I vowed to become good enough at it so that I could do it in one hour.  Remember, the better you are, the less calling you'll have to do!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, prospecting, cold call, outbound

Nothing Beats This One Tool When You Can't Sell Face to Face

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 19, 2021 @ 10:08 AM

abc

The "ABC's" is an alternate term for fundamentals.

Unless ABC stands for Afghanistan, the Border, and Crime. The US Government has seriously botched the ABC's in 2021 and there's no way to easily undo what's been done.

However, there are some misguided selling strategies that can be undone and in today's article we'll discuss the benefits of the single tool that is the real deal and a huge difference maker.

Email sucks for everything except sending links and attachments, confirming meetings, saying hello, catching up, and sending along meeting agendas.  You should never sell over email and you know this.  How many unsolicited emails do you delete each day with offers to generate leads, appointments, SEO, website design, IT help and more?  Would you like to know what is always more effective than email?

The Phone is a much better way to have a conversation because you simply can not have a conversation over email.  You lose context, tonality, meaning, timing, spontaneity, and all of the dynamics of a conversation!  Please choose the phone for prospecting, following up on inbound leads, making outbound calls, and for follow up conversations.  Would you like to know what is always more effective than the phone?

Video is best.  While you can have an actual conversation over the phone, you can't see how your prospects and customers are reacting and for building trust, they can't look you in the eyes.  Video solves that.  I'm going to use my dog, Dinger, as an example.  You may recall that last year I proved that Dinger has better listening skills than most salespeople.

This 14 second audio provides an example of what you might hear when asking a question over the phone.

Link to Audio 

Now listen to the audio - but WITH video and watch how vastly different it is from what you expected.

Seeing how they react, how they respond and what they do is even more important than hearing their words.  I know, my example is with a dog.  Would it be any different if you asked a person?  Suppose you asked, "Is this something you would find useful?" and the human said, "yah, sure."

Let's assume you have the ability to observe them and you see them responding to email while they absentmindedly say, "yah, sure."

It's more important than ever that you choose video over phone if you can't meet face to face.  You want to have every possible advantage, tool, weapon, strategy and tactic at your disposal and video is the closest you can get to the good old days of face to face.

One of the new competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) now measures is Video Proficiency.

When evaluating a sales team we also capture two videos of your salespeople delivering their elevator pitches and value propositions.  When assessing sales candidates, the Video Proficient competency, while not one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, is still very nice to know.  Check out our best-in-class, sales-specific, accurate and predictive sales candidates assessments here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, video, selling skills, sales assessments

First Steps to Generate More Sales Opportunities Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 05, 2020 @ 18:11 PM

buses

I experienced a number of firsts this week!

I saw school buses for the first time since early March and with the buses, came traffic congestion!

Some of the television networks began announcing that new episodes will return in January.  I don't know how much longer I can wait to learn what happened after all of those season finales.  Come to think of it, I don't even remember the season finales.  Whatever, finally something new to watch!

My office phone rang for the first time all year. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration but it is the first time it rang since I returned to the office in mid-August.  Not only did it ring, it was a cold call!  I ran a complicated set of analyses on all the pertinent data, and with some comprehensive deductive reasoning, I concluded that it was the first cold call received since mid-August.

According to Objective Management Group (OMG), only 3% of all salespeople prefer to prospect by phone, so it's no surprise that this call was an aberration.  More about that in a moment.

Unfortunately, there were several things I experienced this week that were not firsts.

On LinkedIn, 13 more of the people who asked me to join their networks immediately attempted to schedule calls to sell me something.  In Microsoft Outlook, my email inbox received 17 fairly awful unsolicited emails, 16 from companies who do various forms of lead generation promising more customers and sales.  Why would anyone hire a lead-generation company that demonstrates how poorly they will actually perform this service for you, while lying about which mediums *plural* they will use?  None of them ever reach out by phone!

Using the above data, if you have 17 competitors sending completely delete-worthy emails from the workflows in their email marketing applications, 13 more reaching out with equally woeful LinkedIn messages, with almost nobody reaching out by phone, why in the world would you prospect using anything other than the phone, unless wasting your time sending delete-worthy emails is less painful than using the phone?

In 2015 I wrote this article about the power of the phone.    

This article has a boatload of prospecting tips.

This article has suggestions on how to improve your emails.

This 2014 article has great tips for both phone and email.

Luckily for you, this is the end of today's article, but if you want to watch a 2-minute video rant from yesterday, you can find my rant about the problem with Value Propositions and Elevator pitches here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, scheduling sales appointments

FDR and Sir Isaac Newton on Why Salespeople Fail

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 25, 2020 @ 07:08 AM

fire

There we were, in the dark, in the middle of a hotel parking lot, at 3:45 AM.  Why?  The hotel fire alarm went off and we didn't want to ignore the warning that was so loud my wife and I couldn't hear each other speak.  Why was every other guest in the hotel parking lot with us?  Well, what if the hotel was on fire?  What if our lives were truly in danger?  

Unlike the made up fears that prevent salespeople from asking tough questions, qualifying more thoroughly, or picking up the phone and making a cold call, the fear of burning alive in a hotel fire seemed like a pretty justifiable one.

What are salespeople so fearful of?  Rejection?  Not being liked?  Not getting a meeting?  Not closing a sale?  Oh yes, incredibly scary.  If I had those fears I might not want to leave the house.  Oh wait, most salespeople aren't leaving their houses.  Is it because they're afraid of the virus?  No.  It's more likely that they're home because their companies have asked them to work remotely.  But make no mistake.  Even if they won't admit to it they are afraid of the things I wrote a few sentences back. And today, more than ever, they are loving their convenient excuses for hiding behind their laptop screens, churning out emails instead of making phone calls, and hoping that as Ray Kinsella's daughter, from Field of Dreams said, "People will come."

Why are these imagined fears so debilitating? 

Because we allow them to be.

I'm guilty of having debilitating, imagined fears.  When my son got his driver's license, my wife and I worried endlessly. Where is he? Do you think he's OK? Could he have gotten in an accident? Do you think he is paying attention? I hope he's not playing his music too loud. Could his friends be distracting him? Why isn't he home yet?  Did I ask, "Where is he?"

Turning back to salespeople, suppose the things they worry about were to actually happen?  Who would care?  How would life change?  The only ramification would be their inadequate pipelines.  The only ripple effect would be in the size of their commission checks. Their inaction is the only thing that can hurt them.  Remaining in their comfort zone hurts them.  Failing to change hurts them. 

In his 1933 inaugural address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "The only thing to fear is fear itself." 

Sir Isaac Newton's third law of Physics states that for every action there is an opposite reaction.  What would the opposite reaction be to the action of not taking action? 

NOT taking action, and that includes not asking the tough question, IS an action against your pipeline, your income and your success. 

NOT taking action due to fear IS an action against your self-worth. 

NOT taking action, whether due to laziness or complacency, IS an action against what your company and your customer expect and deserve from you.

I'm sounding the alarm.  This is why salespeople fail.

Image Copyright 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, closing, prospecting, sales fears, fear of rejection

Are You Using This New Technology to Generate New Opportunities?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 13, 2019 @ 13:11 PM

rainbow-flatware

Do you have Rainbow flatware?  Biomagnetic ear stickers? A diamond-shaped ice cube tray? Baby feather wings?  Yah, these things exist here.  You don't?  Me neither.

Have you signed up to use a company that uses AI to generate leads for you?  You haven't?  Me neither.

It seems to me that the only companies using AI to generate leads are the companies trying to sell you their services using AI to generate leads.  How ironic!

AI-generated emails make up the majority of the digital solicitations I receive and they are all from companies offering their lead generation services.  These emails are very easy to recognize.  The personalization is nearly non-existent, the formatting is awful, the message sucks, and they lack traditional signature panels.  But the easiest way to recognize that these are AI-generated emails is the workflow.  They never send one email.  There are usually five or six more that follow and they all seem to include some of the same requests to "bump" their email to the top of the inbox, to "take another look" at their offer, "acknowledge" how busy I am, and the one that drives me crazy, that they "hope" I'm doing well.

In addition to AI, some marketers and sellers utilize workflows from their Marketo, Hubspot and similar marketing/prospecting applications.  Emails and workflows from these applications are usually better composed and formatted.  I'm looking at one of those now, from a UK-based technology firm, attempting to sell outsourced IT consulting.  This particular workflow has sent me 9 emails in the last 5 weeks.  They all begin with "Hope you're doing well."  Then they follow with:

  • 1st email: I am getting in touch to make sure your fieldwork and data collection needs are met.
  • 2nd email: This is a quick note to make sure you received my previous email
  • 3rd email: In case my previous email was an educated stab in the dark,
  • 4th email: I am connecting with you to ask if you need additional support
  • 5th email: I hope you had a chance to review my previous email and hope it didn’t get buried in your inbox.
  • 6th email: I am sorry if I caught you at the wrong time with my previous email.
  • 7th email: see 1st email (back to the beginning)
  • 8th email: I am getting in touch today to see if there is a chance for us to collaborate on your current/upcoming projects.
  • 9th email: I was just curious to know if you received my previous email, and if you had all the information you need in order to get going!

She incorrectly assumes that after 9 emails, she has developed a relationship, participated in positive, constructive conversations with me, and that I have moved from cold prospect to closable prospect.  All this despite hearing nothing but crickets from me.  This is insane!  Why are people wasting their time on these "please delete me" emails?

Back to the AI-generated emails.  They are exponentially worse than what I just shared above!

My recommendation?  Use this powerful game-changer instead or use video conferencing.

Are you in?  Share your comments on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, lead generation, email prospecting, AI

A Tale of 3 Squirrels and Their Human Counterparts in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 28, 2019 @ 11:10 AM

squirrels2

It was rainy and cool so the leaves are dropping from the trees, the peak color has passed and it's time to focus on something else.

Speaking of focus, this morning I was watching 3 squirrels each doing their thing.

Squirrel #1, who I named Ernest, was finding lots of nuts and burying them.  His nest was full and he will reap the benefits of his hard work over the winter.

Squirrels #2 and #3, who I named MT and LayZ, were playing.  They were running up and down tree trunks, jumping from limb to limb, running in circles and generally chasing their tails.  They don't yet have nests and unless they make a commitment, become disciplined, and get to work, they will starve to death this winter.

Ernest, MT and LayZ are no different than their human counterparts who find themselves in sales roles.  The top salespeople are like Ernest and the bottom salespeople are like MT and LayZ.  For evidence of that claim, take a look at the table below with a sprinkling of data from Objective Management Group (OMG) which has evaluated 1,910,915 salespeople from  companies.

squirrels

Ernest would be an Elite salesperson.  Elites make up the top 5% of all salespeople.  MT and LayZ would be weak salespeople who make up the bottom 50% of all salespeople. As you can see from the 6 findings I included in the table, elite salespeople like Ernest are 208% stronger than weak salespeople like MT and LayZ.

The 2 findings most consistent with Ernest's focus and discipline are Commitment and Prospects Consistently, where Ernest is 92% and 82% stronger than MT and LayZ.

Even more importantly, Ernest is 326% stronger in the Hunter Competency.  The Hunter, and Commitment to Sales Success, are two of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures. The other four findings listed above are all attributes of the Hunter Competency.

No matter how much selling evolves and how many complimentary selling tools become available, one thing will always remain constant.  B2B sales requires a full pipeline and a pipeline that yields results is built from a consistent prospecting effort, born from commitment and discipline.

With or without leads, a BDR team, or outsourced appointment setting, it is a salesperson's responsibility to be sure that the pipeline always has the 3 F's:

  1. Full (consistent daily effort to keep the pipeline full)
  2. Filled (qualified opportunities in the pipeline, lesser ones out)
  3. Fluid (opportunities in, opportunities moving and opportunities closed or archived)

Most salespeople don't even know the threshold for a full pipeline.  It's the number of opportunities required to sell one multiplied by the number that must be closed.  It doesn't matter if it's one account, one order, or one contract as long as the same definition is applied universally throughout the pipeline.  Additionally, the number required to sell one is not the number of proposals required to sell one.  It's more like this (if you close 33% of your proposals):

  • Closed: 1
  • Proposals Required (Closable): 3
  • Qualified Opportunities: 4
  • Opportunities with Compelling Reasons to Buy (Prospects): 6
  • New Opportunities (Suspects): 8

You can see that the typical pipeline requires 21, not 3 opportunities to sell 1, .

Don't be MT or LayZ.  Be Ernest with your pipeline building efforts.

Share your comments in the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Images Copyright iStock Photos MT and LayZ, and Ernest

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, sales pipeline, prospecting, sales tips, discipline

How to Transform Your Sales Pipeline Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 08, 2019 @ 06:07 AM

pipeline2

Big ones, little ones, sharp ones and stubborn ones. I was pulling weeds from the garden when it became crystal clear to me.  The various weeds were like the many types of opportunities in most sales pipelines.  Big ones, little ones, those that hurt (we're behind the competition) and those who are stubborn (they aren't sharing important information).  The flowers in the garden are allowed to remain and are nurtured with sun, water and plant food. Similarly, we must leave and nurture the opportunities that will grow and produce sales, and weed out the undesirable opportunities that distract us from what is most important.

Flower gardens can be large, colorful, impressive and calming to look at.  Unfortunately, most sales pipelines are full of weeds, not large enough, and certainly not impressive.  From its evaluations and assessments of 1,875,978 salespeople, Objective Management Group (OMG) has found that only 46% of all salespeople maintain a full pipeline.  It breaks down as follows:

Elite  (the top 5%) 76%
Strong 65%
Serviceable 57% 
Weak (the bottom 50%)  41%

And when it comes to full pipelines, we must ask, full of what?  Generally undesirable opportunities.

Why do those undesirable opportunities remain in the pipeline?  They provide salespeople with a sense of security. Unfortunately, what they perceive as a safety net, is really denial of the reality of their pipeline.

Step one in transforming your sales pipeline is to perform a thorough weeding, which leaves you with a smaller pipeline, but with the same number of quality opportunities.  This is where a well-built, predictive scorecard will help.

Step two is to determine how many opportunities must be in your pipeline at all times.  To find the answer to that question you must know the size of your average sale or account, your closing percentage, and monthly sales goal.  Let's assume the following three metrics:

  • Monthly sales goal of $100,000,
  • 25% Closing percentage
  • $20,000 Average sale or account

With those numbers, you must have 20 opportunities worth $400,000 in your pipeline at all times in order to close 5 of them each month.  Complete the same exercise using your own historical numbers.

Step three is to determine the gap between what you need and what you have.  Using the example above, let's say you actually have 4 good opportunities worth a total of $80,000.  Your gap is 16 opportunities worth $320,000 - just for this month!

Step four is to add 16 new opportunities.  How?  Referrals, introductions, inbound leads, cold calls, whatever it takes.  But do it!  Today!  Now!  Referring back to OMG's findings again, only 40% of all salespeople are strong at Hunting.  That breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 88% 
Strong: 77% 
Serviceable: 58% 
Weak (the bottom 50%): 26%

When it comes to generating referrals and introductions, only 35% of all salespeople are strong.  It breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 48%
Strong: 42%
Serviceable: 39%
Weak (the bottom 50%): 32%

[Update - I was asked whether weak Sales DNA is responsible when a strong rep is weak at getting referrals and introductions.  It turns out that for 97% of strong reps, it's not Sales DNA but for weak reps Sales DNA is responsible 97% of the time.]

And as for making cold calls, only 33% of all salespeople prospect consistently.  It breaks down as:

Elite (the top 5%): 70%
Strong: 54%
Serviceable: 43%
Weak (the bottom 50%): 25%

If from among the bottom half of all salespeople, 50% of them won't make cold calls, 64% won't generate referrals and introductions, and 82% won't fill their pipelines, then nearly half of your salespeople may not do much of what was laid out in this article.

But there is hope for the serviceable, strong and elite salespeople - the other half.  Many of them will be able to do most of this but the key is holding them accountable.  Their sales managers must set expectations, designate this as non-optional work, impose a deadline, and enforce penalties for non-compliance. 

These four steps are not a one-time fix; they are requirements for continued success in sales that continue into perpetuity. 

Comments?  Questions?  Leave them on the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, closing, sales pipeline, prospecting, objective management group

What You Should Never Do on LinkedIn to Do Business with Your LinkedIn Network

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 16, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

linkedin

I don't know about you but for every benefit I get from LinkedIn, I get an equal amount of frustration.  Some people, like me, have criteria for who they will invite and whose invitation they will accept on LinkedIn. How many times has this happened to you?

Someone invites you to join their LinkedIn network or asks if they can join yours.  You accept.  And then it happens...

In the first example, I received this message a week after I accepted this individual's invitation:

Hello Dave,   I noticed we haven’t had a chance to talk yet having been connected now for over a week. I am following up to see if you have reviewed our [their product] that has changing the shape of businesses nationwide. If you want more info let’s schedule a time to get connected personally here: [their personal landing pageto gather more detailed information.   As always, if there is anybody you want me to connect you with in my network let me know and I will make it happen. I look forward to your response!

In the second example, I received this message from someone in a business similar  to mine who, as with the first example, sent this to me right after I accepted his invitation:

Hello Dave, I am reaching out because it looks like you are doing some exciting things that are really making a difference! I know the true value of an online network comes from creating meaningful connections through start-up conversations. I am passionate about helping organizations of all sizes to improve their sales performance. For over 25 years I have designed and implemented knowledge management and performance support systems for many companies including Hewlett Packard, ExxonMobil, Pepsi Co. and many others. Let’s chat. Please call me at [phone number] Ps. Here’s an article I thought you might find interesting. It explains more about the importance of Content Strategy in Sales Look forward to talking to you soon, [his name].

In the third example, the message was sent to me the same day I accepted his invite. While it was more tailored to me than most others, it was still wrong:

Hi Dave, I came across your profile recently on LinkedIn, and I got to know that you already are a published author. I’m the CEO of [company], one of the world leading “Done For You” Publishing company which provides all the services related to book publishing and marketing. You can find more about us at [their website[. Recently we have launched a Press Release Distribution service for authors which is worth $2,500 (FREE for you). If you avail this offer, then we will get your book featured in press releases to around 300+ media sites, including Top-Tier Newswire (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, etc.) which positions you as the go-to expert in your field. In exchange, we would just need your testimonial (video & written) which we can use to get paid clients. If you find that this is the right fit for you, then you can schedule a free 30 min strategy call with me today at [scheduling link]. I would love to spread your book with our PR service (for free). Thank you, [signature line].

Inviting someone to your LinkedIn network and immediately trying to pitch them is not cool and not how to effectively leverage LinkedIn.  There are plenty of LInkedIn experts out there and I'm not going to pretend to be one of them. The way to do business with people in your LinkedIn network is for them to notice your expertise on LinkedIn.  Engage in conversations.  Create and share content and ask specific people to comment.  Pitching your new connections will only cause them to remove you as a connection.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, linkedin, social selling

Have the Promises of Inbound Sales Come to Fruition?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 @ 06:11 AM

inbound.png

Last week, I spoke at Inbound, where 19,000 people attended this sold-out event in Boston.  Ironically, I spoke to a crowd that wanted to learn how to be more effective at engaging prospects by phone and converting those conversations to meetings.  Why is it ironic?  Well, the promise of the Inbound movement is that cold calling is dead. Salespeople will reap the benefits of inbound leads from prospects who had already expressed interest.  Has that happened?

There is no doubt that inbound has been a huge success.  Companies that effectively utilize the power of inbound generate a tremendous number of web submissions for their sales teams.  But whether we can call them leads is another story altogether.  Some of the contacts are interested and ready to buy.  More will be interested at a later date.  Most will never become customers, but were happy to take advantage of a free trial, sample or white paper.  Others subscribe to newsletters and Blogs but may never read a single issue or post.

At some point, a BDR, SDR or salesperson will attempt to contact the person whose name appears on the web form.  We know it may take 10-15 attempts before that person is reached.  But when they do answer their phone, what will happen?

The reality is that even though the caller knows something about the person being called, the contact knows nothing about the caller.  Do you know what that means?  After all the promises stating that cold-calling is dead, even the follow up calls to inbound leads are cold.  That's right, cold calling is alive and kicking, but it's less effective than ever before.

Back in the golden age of cold calling, a salesperson might spend two hours each day, make 40 dials, hope to speak with 10 decision makers and book 2-3 meetings.  And those were icy cold calls.  Today, a salesperson working the top of the funnel might spend the entire day trying to reach people who submitted a form from one of the company's landing pages.  They might make 100 dials, hoping to speak with 7 people, and book only 1-2 meetings per week!  Worse than icy, these calls are frozen solid.

Seth Godin first named what we now call inbound, permission marketing.  But most people who request a free download, white paper, sample or trial don't feel like they have given anyone permission to call.  They seem more annoyed over the calls from inept top of the funnel salespeople than prospects were in the old days when salespeople made traditional cold calls.  One reason is that most of the sellers in top of the funnel roles are millennials, many of whom are not well suited for the role.  If you want to see how poorly they fit, look at the science in this article.

None of this is bad, but it is confusing, misleading and ineffective.

Cold calling has not gone away but the approach has changed.  The problem today is that callers are still using outdated, ineffective scripts to follow up with people who requested anything except a call and are appropriately resistant.  None of the call approaches that I've heard deal with this obvious dynamic.

When we help clients make changes to their approach, teach them how to get the prospects attention, and show them how to get prospects engaged on the phone, everything changes.

But people are resistant to change and in this case, the people are often those leading sales teams.  And they have big egos.  It's simply time to set aside the egos, acknowledge that things are not working anywhere nearly as effectively as they should be, and make the necessary changes.

Some of it is simple excuse making - speaking of which, Will Barron of Salesman Red, completed a terrific interview with me and you can watch it right here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, Seth Godin, inbound, cold call

The 5 Questions That Get Prospects to Buy so You Don't Have to Sell

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 30, 2016 @ 18:03 PM

Questions.png

It's a catch-22 that I find myself in all of the time.  In this business, I can't ever be better at training, coaching, evaluating, consulting, and general sales expertise than I am when actually selling.  If I am less expert at selling, I will lack credibility.  I become one of those people who, if they can't do it, they teach it.  On the other hand, I can't be better at selling than at providing expertise because it is often very threatening to potential clients. They fear being sold something - especially consulting services - from someone who could possibly fail to meet expectations, and my business would fail if I caused that to happen.  So what is a sales expert to do? Let's answer that question, discuss how it applies to you, and share some questions that will help you sell more of what you have!

I need to let and help people buy from me and cannot, under any circumstances, sell.  I've been doing it that way for 30 years and it has worked so far!  The balance is so, so important.  This is something that can be transferred to any sales force.  If you understand the delicate balance I described, you and your salespeople can apply the same balance to your prospects and customers.  Make sure they buy from you, but don't be found guilty of selling to them.

If you get the hang of that approach, you'll have taken the first step to becoming a consultative seller!  Because in order for you to help prospects buy, you must become adept at listening and asking questions.  If you do nothing but listen and ask questions, everything will change.  Of course, they need to be good questions.  As soon as you ask a dumb, stupid, moronic question, that conversation will end.  So what are good questions?  Any question that:

  • Helps your prospect to go wider and deeper in response to what you just heard,
  • Encourages your prospect to provide further details,
  • Uncovers the consequences of an issue they shared with you,
  • Gets your prospect to share how those consequences impact them, and
  • Monetizes the issues and impact they have discussed.

The only problem with all of this is that most salespeople can't do it!  This article discusses why more salespeople suck than ever before and this article explains consultative selling in much more detail!

Recently I was asked to take a look at this article on the Salesforce.com blog about the 3 must-have elements for building sales teams that soar.  They were hoping that I would not only share the article, but especially the infographic that you see below. They did a great job on the infographic. Some of the information in the article is good, some is good common sense, and some - well some contains made-up statistics!  When you see numbers like 50% and 100X, you know there isn't science behind those numbers.  And the days of reps calling 120-170 prospects per day?  Sure, maybe in 1970 when prospects answered their phones.  Sure, if the same reps don't also have to conduct actual sales calls/meetings.  Sure, if the sales manager wants to burn their reps out after a month.  Seriously,  if a dial that goes to voicemail takes an average 3 minutes and you have a ten-minute conversation with 10% of the 170 people that you dialed, you would have spent :

  • 10 minutes x 17 conversations for 170 minutes or nearly 3 hours,
  • 153 dials x 3 minutes for 459 minutes or 7.65 hours,
  • And with four 10-minute breaks and a lunch hour, that's an 11.5 hour day and no time to conduct any sales calls or meetings!

If reps are still doing dialing-for-dollars, 3 hours per day is plenty unless they are in a call center and all they do is schedule meetings for account executives.  Half a day for prospecting and half a day for following up with sales calls makes much more sense! And remember, you won't have time to sell consultatively if you are cranking out that kind of call volume.  That can only lead to transactional selling which, unless you sell something extremely simple, very inexpensive, and for the lowest price, transactional selling won't accomplish anything.

 

Click To Enlarge

The Three Must-Have Elements For Building Sales Teams That Soar

Via Salesforce

Topics: Dave Kurlan, growing a sales team, prospecting, salesforce.com

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About Dave

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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