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Sales Tips From Jonathan London

Prospecting – Initiate a Multipronged Attack

Posted on Wed, Nov 06, 2013

Funnel

Many salespeople prospect to one person and one person only. They keep knocking on the same door and it isn’t opening. This is frustrating and non-productive.

Identifying the best positions/titles/functions to contact is critical for your prospecting success. In general, in a B2B environment, there are usually four to five departments or functions in an organization that can probably benefit from your offer, including:

  • Finance
  • Executive
  • Functional (HR, sales, manufacturing, etc.)
  • IT
  • Procurement

Of course, different industries have different functions that may limit you. For example, when selling to the government, healthcare and education verticals in particular, there are often more centralized or regulated models for an organization to buy things. Federal government sales need to abide by Government Securities Act (GSA) rules or an existing contract that has been awarded to a specific company or companies. If your company doesn’t fit into either of these, it makes it much more difficult to sell to the government. Large companies may force you into selling only to the procurement department, limiting your ability to penetrate an account.

If this is the case, you can play by their rules and see where it gets you. If you don’t succeed, then you might consider talking to other people in the company to influence the main buyer, or someone else who might be able to act on his or her own, if necessary, and if your offer is really compelling. It is very doubtful that if the general counsel or CFO said he or she wanted something, procurement would say, “No, you can’t have it.”

Using the database of your choice, search for the titles and names you want to sell to. For example, if you sell a product for a sales organization, you might search for several titles, including VP of Sales, VP of Channels, VP of Customer Service, VP of HR or Training, and CFO, because they can all benefit from your services. Who else can benefit from what you are selling?

You should also use your own connections and contacts to see if you or an acquaintance knows any of the people, specifically, or in the companies you want to sell to. Social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook, Pinterest, and even MySpace (if you are in the music or entertainment industry) are good for this. Of course, if you are using a database you pay for such as Hoover’s, The List, OneSource, or others, you need to refer to these as well.

Tags: Sales Skills, Prospecting, b2b lead generation, b2b Sales

17 Sales Tips and Questions on Lead Generation

Posted on Tue, Aug 06, 2013

pipeline funnel resized 600

When thinking about your lead gen strategy, here are 17 interesting questions that are relevant for a salesperson or sales organization:

  1. How many leads are you getting in total from both inbound and outbound activities?
  2. Are the ratios correct from each? Is lead gen giving you the number of quality leads you need or should you spend more money and time on outbound?
  3. Do the 2 feed off each other?
  4. What is your close ratio on each?
  5. Are you getting enough leads (stupid question to ask a salesperson) to meet your number or do you need more leads or a higher close ratio
  6. Quality of leads – which lead is better regardless of volume – your own outbound or the inbound
  7. For your outbound do you have named accounts that you are going after
  8. Are they verticalized? They should be if they aren’t
  9. How many accounts are on this list?
  10. Rotate accounts – how often do you rotate them? What is your criteria for this list? Do you have an ideal profile?
  11. Assign by contacts – are you taking advantage of social media and assigning accounts by who knows who?
  12. Do you allow people to trade accounts based upon criteria that gives them a better chance to sell them?
  13. If you are a manager, do you take accounts away from people since they are not active?
  14. If you are using a lead gen capability, how and when do accounts go back in for a “drip” campaign?
  15. If you are a manager, what is your lead distribution philosophy? Is it round robin, or do you have someway of distributing leads to those who are performing better and doing better with the leads?
  16. as a sales leader are you giving your lead gen/marketing group enough direction?
  17. should you be using more targeted lead gen activities if you are in a very tight

Tags: Sales Skills, b2b lead generation, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Advice, Territory Management, Inside Sales

Sales Tips - Which Part of The Sales Process is Most Difficult

Posted on Mon, Jun 17, 2013

describe the image

In a recent Linkedin Survey I asked “which part of the sales process is most difficult”  and here is what I was told:

Prospecting to get a meeting and meeting with a decision maker are the most difficult. This might be one and the same since people are usually calling at the highest level. Could also mean that people don't know how to prospect or are resistant to doing so. Mighht also mean people are shooting way too high because they are told do.

Prospecting is not usually an activity that salespeople like doing since they haven’t had to or are getting by without doing so. Lead generation is such a big part of today’s sales environment that many sales people have become dependent on it. It really isn’t difficult, it is just hard and tedious and takes a commitment of time and your own creativity. Here is what we suggest to people to make their prospecting more effective:

  • Never cold call – in your email or phone call reference something about them, their company, their industry or a bigger event. I just got a call today with a very pleasant sounding person saying she had “just been on my website and been calling companies like mine”. That was enough to get me to listen. Even better would have been something from my website or of course a referral. Start using technology, Linkedin, Twitter, google alerts, etc. to stay on top of what is happening in your assignment.
  • Give me a couple of reasons – tell the person you are calling, in a very conversational tone it would be worth it for them to speak with you. The call this morning mentioned that I could “make money on a referral basis and/or I could add value to my existing clients”. Both are appealing to me as an entrepreneur
  • Beware of objections – objections or resistance come fast and furious when you are prospecting. Don't be surprise or put off by them. Embrace them by acknowledging them.  I mentioned to the woman who called me that I was planning for a meeting and she answered “no problem, why don't I send some information and get a better time on your calendar” which we did
  • Close for the call  - this is the basics of basics but you are calling to make an appointment not to sell anything so keep that in mind and find a date, even if it is further out than you like to meet with someone. 

Is there a part of the process that is even more difficult. What do you think? If you want a nice easy form to help you then email me JLondon@ipgtraining.com.

Tags: Prospecting, Sales Skills, Prospecting, b2b lead generation, Sales Tips, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, technology enabled selling, Sales Productivity

Prospecting – Are you Boring and Making Mistakes Like Everybody Else

Posted on Tue, Apr 30, 2013

Prospecting

Prospecting is becoming a more popular and important skill, yet salespeople don't know how to do it and keep making the same 3 main mistakes.

Mistake #1 - Saying the same thing everybody else does that has no relevance to the client. Salespeople tend to think about what their product does vs. what the person they are callng or e-mailing cares about. So they make a list of features that nobody understands or cares about. 

What to Do Instead: Pick your 3 best markets or functional areas and really understand what they need and how your offer helps them. For example, an attorney's office cares about billable hours, client satisfaction and client retention. That is not what a hospital cares about.

Mistake #2 - Not using Compelling Events - Similar to Mistake #1, since they are changing the message, they aren't looking for something that grabs the prospects's attention, what i call a compelling or current event.

 What to Do Instead: Again, to use a law firm as an example, they might be expanding, or starting a new practice or hiring aggressively. All of these are compelling events or current events that have meaning to the prospect and will get their attention. The most powerful of these is a referral which iswhy you need to use social media, Linkedin, Google+, etc to see who you might know to make introductions for you.

Mistake #3 -  relying on others to do what you need to do - marketing or lead gen is reaching out to everyone and noone in particular. THey are catching as many fish as they can in their wide net but may not be catching those that are best for you.

What to Do Instead: Work with marketing to divide and conquer. Figure out who is best suited to reach out to what type of prospect and then you both work together to penetrate your chosen markets or companies.

Pass this along and/or let me know what you think!

Tags: Prospecting, Prospecting, b2b lead generation, b2b Sales, Sales Effectiveness, Sales Productivity

Prospecting and Other Often Asked Questions

Posted on Tue, Jun 26, 2012

Questions on prospecting

Of the many questions I get, here are some of the most common and important:



Q:    How do I get more appointments?


1.    Prospect more and ask for referrals. 


2.    Like brushing your teeth, do it regularly.


3.    If you are really religious or spiritual, you can ask whatever G-d or spirit you pray to        but I wouldn't count on it.



Q:    What is the best way to prospect using e-mail?


1.    Make sure the subject line gets their attention. I had a customer, now a friend write a subject line like “Kick XM’s Ass” when he was trying to sell to Sirius radio (this is before they merged). He sent it at the lunch break of our class and got the appointment at the afternoon break. This might be a bit too brazen but something that is relevant to them at the time you are sending it is the rule!


2.    Use the no scroll rule which is:

  • 1 ½ lines to introduce yourself and why you are writing
  • 3 benefits with key words bulleted on one line each
  • an active close where you ask them to respond by a certain time or you will reach out to them

3.    Intersperse email with the phone or some other form of communication


4.    Send the same email to more that one person who will be interested. Try doing it at the same time to trigger their own internal competition and politics.



Q:    How do I get people to call me back?


1.    Make sure it is a real deal and don't give them everything they ask for too quickly or all at once. 


2.    If you do then they have no need or reason to speak to you.

3.    Have a thick skin and plenty in the pipeline



4.    Polite persistence

Q:   How do I handle the prospect asking for a better price?


1.    Anticipate the objection during the sales process.

2.    Understand the financial value of your solution.

3.    Have a counter offer of equal or greater value than the price they are asking for

4.    Be willing to say no below a certain price.

5.    Have plenty in the funnel so you aren’t desperate.

Click me

Tags: Sales, Prospecting, Sales Skills, Sales Training, lead generation, b2b lead generation, sales deal, Sales Strategies, Sales Tips

Go On Vacation To Close Your Biggest Deals

Posted on Thu, May 31, 2012

 

 Go On Vacation

 

Closing deals, become more effective closers, how do I close more, etc. are common subjects and questions raised.

The largest deals I have ever closed happened while I was away on vacation. Now how does that happen?
Clue:  the answer is not to go away on vacation.

Do you want to know how to close more business?

Are you willing to do what is needed?
Another Clue: it is not about “closing techniques” although they are good to know.

OK, here is how you close more business:

Do all the right things beforehand and the business will close for you. Then, all you will need to do is give them the contract to sign.

What are all the right things beforehand? There are so many but here are the most important:

1.    Don't chase bad business
2.    Prospect a lot so you don't have to chase bad business
3.    Know what bad or good business looks like by defining your sweetspot and comparing it to the opportunity in front of you
4.    But what if it is a HUGE deal?
    a.  Don't bother unless you can actually service and support it and/or make it repeatable
5.    Prospects fall into 3 categories and the earlier you know the better:
    a.  Will never buy from you, ever (stay away from these)
    b.  Are open minded about buying from you (see how open minded)
    c.  Want to buy from you (should have 100% close rate)
6.    If it is too good to be true, it just might be. Don't ever mistake somebody’s desire and eagerness for their ability to buy.
7.    If somebody else is better able to close the deal, ask for their help and split the proceeds (especially for deals that require people at multiple locations).
8.    Don't propose something over a person’s buying authority unless you are certain those above that person will rubber stamp the deal.
9.    Sell to people you are referred to, and if possible, easy to visit (not necessary but nice).
10.   Be a mensch. A good, well intended, honest person. People will want to buy from you.

What do you think are the best ways to close business?

Click me

Tags: Sales, Prospecting, Sales Advice, lead generation, b2b lead generation, Closing, Presentations, Sales Strategies, Sales Process

Technology For Every Stage of the Sales Process

Posted on Wed, May 02, 2012

Technology for Every Stage of the Sales Process

Every profession goes through transitions and technological improvements. The equipment that Tiger Woods uses today (no pun intended) is better than Jack Nicklaus'. The tennis racquets that Roger Federer uses is far superior to John McEnroe. Baseballs and gloves are far more sophisticated today than in the days of The Original Bronx Bombers of Ruth and Gehrig (that's for all my Red Sox fans). And I am glad my dentist uses the equipment she does and I don’t have to be in pain when she works on me.

Sales technology has also made quantum leaps. There is amazing technology for every stage of the sales process (be on the lookout in July for my newest book "Technology and Selling") but salespeople or sales organizations don't take as much advantage as they should. I think most organizations pick and choose one or two technologies to help salespeople. CRM is a favorite although most salespeople would beg to differ. E-mail doesn’t count any more.  It is plumbing. Maybe some companies are using some conferencing technology or great slide share technology, the next generation of PowerPoint, but little else.

There are amazing technologies for every stage of the sales process beginning with prospecting through the negotiation stage.

Imagine if you had technology that:
• made your prospecting more effective to get more appointments
• guided, tutored and supported you during your initial meeting
• allowed you to create the sexiest proposals, presentations and demonstrations
• build better teams and strategies to win bigger deals
• show you how to have a better negotiation and advantage so you didn’t give away so much and negotiated better
• gave you back one or two more hours a day to work or live.

Well they are all available, many don't cost much or anything at all and can standalone or integrate with your CRM.

So why don't sales people take advantage of this?  Several potential reasons:
1. they don't know about them
2. they are too dependent on having things done for them
3. they don't want to be bothered
4. they are doing well without

And why don't companies take advantage:
1. they don’t know about them
2. they don’t want to spend the money
3. it takes people to choose and support and that costs money which they don’t want to spend
4. they can’t get people to use what they have already invested in, like CRM or web conferencing

Tell me what you think? And if you want a free chapter of my new book.

Click me

Tags: Sales, Prospecting, Sales Advice, Social Media, Sales Skills, Sales Training, sales technology, technology enabled selling, b2b lead generation, sales management, Presentations, Sales Effectiveness, Sales Productivity, Sales Strategies, Sales Process

Prospects and Customers Are So Damn Rude or Bend Over and Smile

Posted on Tue, May 01, 2012

Prospects and Customers are Rude and Disrespectful

What do 6:15 AM (AM, I repeat AM) and 12:40 PM have in common?

It is when a happy customer that I have a very good relationship with, and I like very much,and a prospect were incredibly rude and disrespectful.

It is when one of my UK customers didn't show up for, or notify me that he wouldn't show up for a meeting at 6:15 AM EST.

It is when a prospect’s decision maker of a VERY BIG COMPANY, in front of 4 of his people, and me, the seller and one of his 3 finalists:

  • walked out of a presentation
  • 2 minutes after it started
  • without notice, comment or apology

HOW DARE THEY! What must they think of salespeople, or their potential partners if they treat them with such disrespect! I know in both cases they were busy (everybody is always busy) and in the first case, was called away by their CEO. I also know that my customer thinks I will understand since we know and like each other. I think he knew I was going to get the order we were discussing, and I did.

In the second case, I think his boss pulled him away? It could have been a personal issue (I hope not) but nobody really knew where he was or where he went. Maybe in this case the decision maker trusts the other people implicitly and didn't need to be there. Maybe he is always that way. I don’t know. It happened so quickly. He was literally there one second and gone the next, I was shocked.

But in either or any instance, couldn't they at least:

  • give notice as soon as possible to reschedule
  • apologize, yes apologize about the situation at the time, or at least afterwards, explain   what happened with an email, call, chat, smoke signal, pigeon carrier. Something?
  • try and tell their boss they have a previous commitment they want to keep and can they wait for 28 minutes.

In either, and most instances of a similar nature, there is rarely something a salesperson can do about it but smile and ask how much further they should bend over.

Sure I could have made note of the time I got up and asked the customer to be a bit more respectful. Or in the case of the prospect, let him know that I had worked about 14 hours and changed my, and my wife’s schedule to accommodate him. Or maybe he didn't want to see or hear me in the first place, or I did or said something in the first 2 minutes to turn him off. It’s possible. Maybe he doesn’t like Albert Brooks the comedian which is how I started my presentation.

I could also tell the prospect how amazingly disrespectful it is to treat somebody they are considering to be a partner with in that manner. I could tell them I don't want to do business with anybody or company that would treat me like that. I could tell them to take a flying you know what but that would have been disrespectful to the others.

When the prospect’s decision maker left, and I told everybody (yes I am a Dominant personality type) I would like to wait till he gets back because of the short time of their decision process, and the presentation, I was asked if I wanted to reschedule. I said no. Maybe I should have said yes, it that was a real option. Maybe I should have said no, thanked them for their time, expressed my opinion, picked up my stuff and walked out the door.

I should have handled it like an objection. I should have paused, asked respectfully what happened, if he was coming back, should we wait, what do they suggest we do. But I didn’t, because:

  • I was literally shocked at the lack of respect
  • have either been in there shoes (though never that rude), 
  • know how crazy things are in today’s world
  • or because I want the sale so badly and don't want to compromise my chances

Where do you stand? What would you do? What have you done? Please comment (below pictures). Thanks.

Tags: Prospecting, b2b lead generation, Presentations, Sales Productivity

Sales Training: Lost In The Sea of Internet

Posted on Tue, Mar 20, 2012

Stormy Sea: Lost in the Sea of Internet

 

I admit it. I got lost in the Internet Sea.  I was thrashing around trying to get my bearings, looking for information, and comparing myself to others. Wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything, keep my competition at bay, making sure I was the best.

So much anxiety and time wasted! It is a big sea to get lost in. It is never ending. One thing leads to another thing, and another, and when you realize you are lost it is too late with too many open windows to close.

So now I see the horizon and it isn't a mirage. It is terra firma, I am staking my IPG flag in the ground and building my sales community.

Town Hall and Community Center is of course R.E.A.L. Selling - this is where the foundation is and all the major work is done. The cornerstones (it is a big building with a lot of cornerstones) of the building are:
 
 1. Goal Setting, time and territory management
 2. Gaining Access to Power
 3. S.PRI.N.G. Dialogues - what, did this S.PRI.N.G. on you baby!
 4. Presenting my Unique Solution
 5. Objection Handling and Closing
 6. www.ipgtraining.com
 7. My network - Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter (maybe Pinterest) - only 30 minutes a day
 8. My family, business partners, friends and co-workers - more than 30 minutes/day

My outposts and security guards (for now) will be:

 1. Jill Konrath

 2. Sales Benchmark Index

 3. SF.com and all its ApExchange Partners

 4.  Harvard Business Review (HBR.com)

 5. Phinkit.com (coming soon)

My search, expand and explore members are:

 1. Google search and Google Alerts

 2. CSO Insights and ESResearch

 3. My 3-5 biggest and more respected competitors for all the research they do

Here is what is not on my plan:
 1. EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT THE NY KNICKS AND NY YANKEES!

Tags: Sales, Sales Advice, Sales Training, Social Media, b2b lead generation, Sales Productivity, Internet

Lead Generation:Sales Close Ratios

Posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2012

 Ted Williams Chart, Lead Generation:  Sales Close Ratios

 

I was thinking this morning how overly dependent sales people have become on lead generation, and how in turn, sales skills have declined or been defined. It is comparable to how quickly somebody can find a location on a map if all they ever used in their life was a GPS. It is easier with a GPS, you become dependent and you are not as effective, or even lost without it.

So I was wondering if there is any scoring or efficiency ratings to determine how good a lead is in relation to how good a salesperson or team’s closing ratio is. In baseball, they can tell how well or poorly a player hits based on where the ball is pitched or how effective a pitcher is based on his strike:ball ratio

You would think that this would help in some many ways:

1. holding both marketing and sales accountable for generating the quality and quantity of actions they are responsible for

2. assigning leads to the most effective sales people based on what they are strongest at closing, or assigning a higher % of leads to your better closers

3. it could even affect the structure of your organization so it is more lead based vs. account or geography based

I also wonder if there is an expectation that close RATES will be higher, not just sales. You would think a company would expect close ratios to increase significantly if the sales organization was being fed qualified leads. I know companies that are lead generation machines and have noticed that close ratios DECREASED because salespeople got lazy. They knew if they didn't close one opportunity, another lead was right behind.  Every time they reduced the number of leads the close ratios INCREASED.

So what do you do?

1. hire more salespeople

2. slow down your lead flow

3. OR TRAIN YOUR SALESPEOPLE TO BE BETTER to take advantage of marketing and leads being generate, which allows you to hire more salespeople or get more out of the people you have

THE CORRECT ANSWER IS 3.

What would you need to make salespeople better? To start:

1. create and inspect more stringent standards re. your sales process

2. determine if your salespeople are asking the right questions in the right way to differentiate and qualify an opportunity

3. teach them how to present, demonstrate or propose their solution

4. anticipate and handle objections more effectively

5. and more.

Tell me what you think or ask me what you want.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales, Prospecting, Sales Advice, Sales Training, technology enabled selling, b2b lead generation, Closing, Presentations, Sales Effectiveness, Sales Productivity