As the sales leader of a B2B technology company I am simultaneously a promoter and target of prospecting outreach. I encourage my team to reach out to customers with respect, conviction, perseverance, and empathy. Yet, as a prospect, I’m very hard to reach. I don’t generally respond to cold emails or LinkedIn requests from business development reps. In the age of distraction I look for every opportunity to promote relentless focus and prioritization. Two of my favourite books, The One Thing and Essentialism, remind me that extraordinary results only come from knowing what’s important, how to bias towards those things, and block out distractions. It’s hard but apparently I’m not alone.Read more...
Unfortunately, as sales people we often get caught in our rut and start to do the ‘same ole-same ole’ with our customers; we ask a few questions, listen for our cue to pounce, and move in for the close. Customers can smell this a mile away. Time to get fresh! Time to really be curious and listen.
There is nothing better than genuine curiosity as a way to encourage people to tell you all sorts of things that are meaningful to them. I LOVE how Jason Calacanis described listening in his LinkedIn blog, If you want my money, you’ll have to answer to these four questions: Lessons from an angel investor. I can’t say it better myself, so I won’t.Read more...
Whenever I conduct a workshop or webinar training, invariably someone asks the question: “What should I say when the prospect says, ‘I’m not interested?’”
My response invariably is: “It’s probably too late.”
Certainly you can try to recover from that "I'm not interested" response. You can ask, “I understand that you are not interested. May I ask you why?” (Say this gently, as though you are confused and really, really want the answer.) This will often get prospects to start talking and explain themselves. They will tell you the reasons that they say they are “not interested.” The truth is, however, there are only two reasons that prospects say, ‘I’m not interested.”Read more...
The other day I was in the car with my 6-year-old, Mason, when we spotted a rainbow.
That led to a discussion of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
You can imagine how his eyes lit up talking about that one. For a 6-year-old, a pot of gold is about as good as it gets.
But that got me thinking ... everyone has a different pot of gold. Maybe your pot of gold is retiring early, or a fancy car, or more time away from work.
For most people who are in business, especially salespeople and entrepreneurs from professional services, there is one “pot of gold.”
They want to increase their client base and their revenue.
But here’s the problem… most businesses can’t handle what they wish for.
And if they double their customer base, it means double the workload while paying less attention to each customer. Not so good, right?
If you’re a typical consultant, coach, writer/speaker, or other professional services business owner who provides a “done-for-you” service like a huge chunk of the businesses that make up the U.S. economy, then getting a flood of new clients all at once would be both a good thing and a very, very bad thing.Read more...
Today, as a small business, it is virtually impossible to have a thriving business without a strong social presence. Social media has transformed from something that a few companies had to a marketing tool that all businesses must use. It has the power to create brand awareness, attract new clients, promote engagement with current and former customers, drive sales, and so much more.
Small business owners need to know that social media marketing isn’t just for Fortune 500 firms and national retail chains. Local businesses and smaller companies benefit from having and executing a strategically crafted social media strategy. However, many don’t because they think that they can’t. They think that they don’t have the resources, time, money, or skills needed for successful social marketing. Some post on their social channels sporadically, while others don’t post at all. I have witnessed it all and seen the companies that do engage grow, while the ones that dismiss it stay stagnant.Read more...
I was having breakfast with a client in Denver before a training program I was giving, and we were talking about the importance of asking questions and listening. He told me that a few years ago he was working for a company selling an IT solution, and that while dealing with the Director of IT, he suddenly had an opportunity to meet the new CFO. This was unexpected and he had to think fast!
Here’s what happened:
As he was leaving, and right after meeting with the IT Director, he asked him how he could get in front of the new CFO (knowing that the CFO was the ultimate decision maker). Just as he asked this question, an executive was walking down the hall toward them. The Director said, “That’s the new CFO right there. Let me introduce you to him.”
As he was introduced, my client asked the CFO, “I’d love to spend a few minutes with you and wondered when we could get some time on your calendar to do that?” To his surprise, the CFO said, “I have about 10 minutes right now, come on into my office.”Read more...
Daily, I hear sales leaders commenting how hard it is to find great candidates in this market. A search I ran on LinkedIn this morning bears this out.
In just the last 15 days, 468 companies posted “Account Executive” openings in Boston alone. That’s a rate of five new postings per business hour. Beyond the sheer volume, we’re also missing the mark in messaging (see below). It’s no wonder the majority of posts on LinkedIn get fewer than 10 applicants.Read more...
The world as we live in it today is not the same as it was even ten years ago. We’ve experienced a technological revolution unlike any we’ve ever seen before, and with the inception of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, big data and cloud storage, and advanced automation, it has become far too easy to fall into a set-and-forget mentality.
As we pursue the latest trends, the latest best practices, the latest response methods, we become entangled in a network of tools and processes, and as we travel further down that road, we begin to lose sight of where we came from. We begin to forget that marketing – lead, demand, pipeline, sales, and the rest – is all about the people.
This isn’t a blog post advocating we use technology less – quite the opposite, actually. Technology isn’t going away, so we need not fear the new tools at our disposal, but rather, we should better learn how to integrate these tools with a human-centered approach. Because at the heart of everything you do – behind the computer screen and on the other side of that phone call – are people. And people respond to people.Read more...
“Calm your breath. Control your chaos."
It was perhaps the best advice I’ve ever received from a coach.
He was encouraging me, and a few others, to push through our pain on a particularly steep, nasty and brutish climb on our bikes up a mountain that had stubbornly refused to get out of our way.
I was being challenged to the max. And, despite the coach's assurances that the pain was going to last for only 11 more (agonizing) minutes, my vision was blurring around the edges, my lungs were burning with every intake, my muscles were beginning to tremble under the stress and my concentration and desire were beginning to wobble like a bike with a flat tire.
Since founding Performance Methods, Inc. (PMI) 17 years ago, Craig Jones and I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most successful companies in the world. Each of these engagements is initiated in a similar fashion: a select group of top-performers, thought leaders and stakeholders were scheduled to be interviewed by us, and interview them we did. Our questions tend to focus on what’s working well, and what’s not. When the customer is delighted – why? When they aren’t, why not? When you win against the competition, what are the reasons? When you don’t, why not? And so on.
Conduct enough of these interviews and you begin to see trends…and one of those has been the level of difficulty of the sales job: regardless of the title Account Executive, Account Manager, etc.), selling is a competitive battlefield, and it always has been. But it’s worth taking notice that the intensity of the battle is not subsiding over time: in fact – quite the opposite.
There are a lot of things that go into a prospecting call, be that by phone, web, or live, with one key objective being to be perceived differently enough from the outset by the prospect that you gain engagement and conversion to an opportunity. While it is important to believe in your product, it is facile to believe that your product and “messaging” will drive that differentiation and achieve the desired results. There are a number of other factors at play that impact the message - factors that will determine whether the message will get to the prospect in the way you want, or miss them entirely.Read more...
Every business should have a digital marketing and search engine optimization strategy – whether it’s a small, medium, or large business. If you implement these strategies correctly, they’ll help customers find your website in online searches, resulting in more website traffic, increased lead generation, and sales. As a small business owner myself, I’ve developed and followed a digital marketing and search engine optimization plan, and along the way, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Read on for an overview of implementing digital marketing strategies for your business!Read more...
It really is 2017. All the celebration, hoopla and hype are way behind us…well, till next year that is. So, what are you going to do to make 2017 your most profitable year ever? Read on for my five tips to make 2017 your most profitable year ever!Read more...
“I know why people walk away and don’t buy from us, it always comes down to price and product features,” the VP of Sales said to me.
I was hired to do a buyer persona research project for his company, to really understand what goes on inside the heads of their buyers. One of the key insights I've uncovered in these studies is the perceived obstacles that get in the way of buyers moving forward.
And sometimes I can’t resist talking to the sales team ahead of time to get their opinions. Because they always think it comes down to a disadvantage in one of the 4 P’s, especially product and price.
But I know from doing dozens of these buyer persona projects that the real reasons buyers go from being all excited and taking up lots of your time one day, to disappearing from the face of the earth the next, fall into the bucket of the infamous breakup line:
“It’s not you, it’s me.”Read more...
Boiler Room is one of those classic movies that personified the sales development role. It defined for many of us the role of cold calling and ruthlessly closing business, with quotes like:
"Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn't have any."
Today, for most B2B companies, sophisticated measurement of customer acquisition costs and lifetime value economics run the show.
For enterprise organizations, big deals are worth 10-20 times more than the average deal size. These are company-making deals and they’re worth building a sales and marketing strategy around. If you haven't already, check out the Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development.
Account Based Sales Development is a coordinated strategy that combines personalized, multi-channel, multi-threaded, outbound activities to create high-value opportunities in new and existing customers. The new Account Based Sales Development model is light-years ahead of yesterday’s siloed sales development and demand generation models. New technology, better processes, and smarter people are changing the game.
Account Based Sales Development is a huge step from the original telesales ‘boiler rooms’ in a few key ways:Read more...
I listen to a lot of sales presentations during the week. Companies send me recorded calls of a variety of sales presentations, from many different industries, some lasting as short as seven minutes, to others of complete power point demonstrations lasting forty-eight minutes or longer.
My job is to analyze them, critique them, and find missed opportunities and ways to make them more effective. Having the full demo on a recording makes this process precise; I analyze every pause and intonation of the prospect, looking for cues to their receptivity, interest & buying motives, and possible objections.
As I listen to these recordings, what I’m concentrating on most is the sales rep’s performance. It is the sales rep’s competence in building relevant rapport, in hearing what their prospect is saying – or not saying – and their ability to guide the prospect through to a successful close that will determine not only the sales rep’s success, but the company’s as well.Read more...
I’ve worked with several organizations whose marketing teams create incredibly creative and insightful buyer personas. And then once these personas are finished…
They sit on a shelf. Salespeople are told to go read them, and perhaps they do, but they don’t incorporate the information into their day-to-day.
Why? I see two reasons. First, salespeople often aren’t educated on what’s in it for them. Second, buyer personas often lack details that would make it easier for reps to apply the information.
These content-based tools are usually created in Marketing, but if they’re not used by Sales, their value plummets. Here’s how I think companies can more effectively craft their buyer personas for a sales audience:Read more...
It’s pretty simple math. If you want more abundant sales, you need more buy-ready leads. If you want more buy-ready leads, you need effective messages that engage prospects AND make them respond.
Abundant Sales = Buy-Ready Leads = Effective Messages
It’s the "effective message" piece where things usually go awry. I should know, I see it ALL the time! It’s part of my job. When clients come to me they often have messages they created before I began working with them. They offer them up for evaluation in the hope that they can be salvaged and still used. Sometimes they can. Sometimes they can’t.
Here are some examples of the kind of statements I see in these poor performing messages:Read more...
We covered several strategic and operational keys to making sales enablement succeed in modern B2B organizations. If you missed our session, here’s a highlight of the five key areas of focus that we covered:
Win, loss. It's how we are trained to figure out why people buy, and didn't buy. But is it enough to help sales win more deals and close them faster?
Do you do Win-Loss Analysis? Most sales leaders do.
And it can be very valuable.
But have you noticed that you consistently hear that your wins are built on positive relationships, and losses are caused by price/feature shortcomings?
There is much more to your buyer’s decision, something ELSE you should be doing -- that would generate a higher return -- and have a much more significant impact on sales performance across the entire organization.
Why win loss analysis isn't enough.
How do you solve this?Read more...
The concepts of "company culture" and "company values" are certainly hot topics in today's workplace. Many companies use these defined sets of values to promote their brand - and they should. They should - that is - if they actually adhere to these values! You may be surprised by how many companies tout these values without actually following them up with actions. Your beliefs don't make you a more admirable or trustworthy business - your actions do! When you provide evidence that you practice your own values, people notice. When people notice, they talk. And when they talk, they become your ambassadors. Want to learn more about developing ambassadors who help market your business for you or other strategic marketing tips to help you build and grow your business?Read more...
Doing search engine optimization (SEO) correctly can raise the visibility of your website in search engine results, lead to more traffic and ultimately increase sales from your online marketing activities. For those people working in a small business, you may be thinking about getting an SEO program started or want to take it to the next level. It’s a great way to complement your existing email marketing and other outbound marketing activities. Identifying initial lists of SEO keywords, using keywords in your content marketing plans, and identifying important signals in local SEO are just a few of the practices that you might have heard of and can greatly benefit from, but you may not have had the training or resources you needed to get started.Read more...
“I want to do webinars, but I don’t know how to get people to show up.” I hear this all the time, and it’s heartbreaking. Why? Because I know the massive impact doing webinars has had on my business. In fact, in the past 3 years, webinars have been the #1 best thing I’ve done in my business. They are the most highly leveraged use of my time. Webinars have built my reputation as an expert and authority. Webinars allow me to build relationships with thousands of prospective clients and customers at scale. And webinars even allowed me to quadruple my email list in 7 months.
Think of all the time you’ve wasted going to “networking events” and cocktail parties. Think of all the boring conversations, the mind-numbing chit-chat, the business cards you toss in a drawer and never do anything with. Wouldn’t you like to have that time back? Guess what? You can!
Webinars are a radically different approach. With webinars…
If you’re reading this article right now, then chances are you want to perform better in your sales career. It shows that you’re willing to take the time to search out tips and techniques that will give you an edge over your competition. That’s a good thing.
But are you ready to really commit to doing the things that will catapult you into that rarified air of top sales producers?
And chances are, you know who these top producers are. They’re the ones who are always at or near the top of the sales production list every month, always winning the sales contests, and who always seem to be in a good mood. They’re positive, confident, and they have that feeling that no matter what happens to the leads or the economy or the company, they’ll find a way to succeed.Read more...
Imagine you’ve been working on a significant opportunity for several months. You’ve invested long hours with all of the key players and it’s almost time to go to contract. The final step is a simple “show-n-tell” presentation that you need to deliver to the executive committee. All you need is their nod and you’re off to the bank to deposit the commission check.
The day of the big pitch arrives and you’re feeling good. You walk confidently into the board room, connect your laptop and launch the presentation. Suddenly all eyes are on you and without warning you find yourself stumbling through a lame introduction that goes something like: “Hi, my name is Bob and I work for XYZ Company. Thanks for taking some time to be here today.”
You race through the deck until you get to the meat of the presentation (easily identified by the slides that have lots of words typed in small fonts). Finally you begin to feel strangely comfortable as you start reading these complex screen shots to the decision makers.
And then, without warning you find yourself staring at a blank slide. There is nothing left in the deck so you immediately ask for questions and of course there aren’t any. You awkwardly thank everyone for their time and head back to the office. Now you’re left with no clue if you’ll win this opportunity but you’re certain that you won’t get a second chance.
Sound powerful? Probably not, but I’ll bet it sounds familiar.Read more...
There is a lot of buzz about storytelling these days. But what kind of storytelling is most effective in sales? To answer that I’d like to share, well, a story.
My Value Storytelling “AHA”
In 2003, I was helping a small IT service firm to grow. They had great customers, a great team, and a great reputation in the market but just weren’t growing fast enough. They told me that what made them different and better was processes, methodologies and certain technical capabilities. Then I interviewed 10 of their best customers.
Guess what? NONE of those customers use the terms or points my client did. In fact, they didn’t even use the same LANGUAGE to describe the company. Instead, they talked about things like “being peaceful.” “Calm.” “Single point of contact.” Not one word about product, technology or anything like that.Read more...
Social media arrived very quickly -- Facebook had half a billion active users in about six years -- and it arrived without a ton of rules or scripts for how to use it. As a result, it disrupted hundreds of traditional business models. People who had come up in those business models, who were now often decision-makers at their companies, did one of two things: they embraced it and tried to figure out how to grow with it, or they denied its business potential. Years later, the companies who did the former are thriving, and the companies who did the latter are trying to catch up.Read more...
“Have you heard of us?” – if you’re a sales person, there’s a chance you’ve asked this question before. And you should probably never, ever ask it again!
Sales people love to ask this question when speaking with new prospects. The fantasy is that the prospect is going to say, “No, never heard of you, but I have loads of time so please tell me everything….” And of course, that hardly ever happens.
Sales people sometimes tell me that they ask this question in order to incite curiosity on the part of the prospect and thus more easily enable a conversation. And of course, that hardly ever happens either.
Unfortunately, more often than not, this question backfires. Instead of enabling a conversation, it puts the questioner in a hole that they now have to climb out of.
There are really only two possible scenarios in response to the “Have you heard of us?” question:
Selling the Future: 3 Surprising Principles Modern Sellers Need to Master
Presented by David Priemer
10:00 am PDT
Learn more about how you can win $250 by sharing your Connect knowledge, contributing to the Community, and helping other members!Read the blog post