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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Get that First Appointment — Master Your Approach

first appointmentHave you ever felt like taking a “Wild Wild West” approach to securing your first appointment? Think about it… if only it were appropriate to ‘lasso’ your prospect, ‘tie him down’ and force him to stay engaged so that you may cordially introduce yourself, establish credibility and politely present your value proposition. Honestly, if you could just get his undivided attention for 5-minutes… you know he’ll like you, and you know he’ll be intrigued and perhaps even excited or anxious to learn more, right?

Personally, I have indeed toyed with the idea (more than once) of taking the Wild Wild West approach to securing that first appointment. Fortunately wisdom intervened, because I’m certain I would have been greatly misunderstood and most likely thrown in jail if I had decided to draw from my Texas ancestor’s tactics and put those thoughts into action! Needless to say, my understanding of acceptable social behavior and, well… modern law kept me from utilizing an Outlaw Josey Wales sales approach.

Topics: setting expectations Setting Appointments new business development Sales salespeople prospecting

Sales Prospecting Tips from A to Z

sales prospecting tipsProspecting for new business is vital to the sustainability and growth of almost every business,  especially in today’s economy. And, whether you’re selling a service, product, or idea, it’s important to balance new business development (or prospecting) initiatives with key account development and growth. Following are sales prospecting tips from A to Z to guide and encourage you as you work to secure that first appointment.

Topics: new business development Sales prospecting

Improve Sales Performance by Changing the Conversation

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If you really want to develop new business with prospects—or even existing clients—try changing your conversation from WHY they should be buying your product to HOW they should use your products and all your other resources to meet their specific needs. (Of course, you have to know what those are, so plan and execute an engaging conversation to discover those needs.) Prospects don’t really want to talk about your product anyway—it’s boring to them.

Topics: new business development sales strategy Sales

A Great Sales Story: Getting the First Appointment

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After a workshop I was leading about earning a first appointment with prospects, one of the folks in attendance shared an incredible success story with me.

Topics: Setting Appointments new business development Sales

Stop Working so Hard! And Sharpen your Axe.

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Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe.” Honest Abe and I see eye-to-eye on this, but as I’ve often said, simply knowing what to do is never enough. It’s the matter of actually doing it that makes all the difference.

After speaking with a sales manager last week, I wondered, “How would Honest Abe’s philosophy apply to sales management today?” I’ll let you decide. Here’s what this manager said when she was talking about quality prospecting: 

Topics: new business development Management Talent Sales

Curiosity Killed the Cat, but Saved the Sales Rep

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Have you ever noticed how many questions little kids ask? Every parent has a story to tell about the funny or embarrassing questions their kids have asked at the most inopportune times, all those occasions their child has scrunched up their little face and asked, “Why is Grandma so wrinkly?" or "Why do we have to go to school every day?" or "Why do I have to eat those gross green things?” If you don’t take control of the conversation, the third degree can go on indefinitely—because the curiosity in children is limitless!

Somewhere on the journey from childhood to adult professional, though, much of that unfettered curiosity gets left behind. I would argue that we have become a society of head-nodders where people are often afraid they’ll look dense if they ask a question. You’ve seen it—people nodding in agreement, as if they completely understand, when you are certain they don’t. Their fear of losing the respect of others actually keeps them from learning. 

As we grow up, we naturally become more self-conscious, so much of this may be related to those normal insecurities. Or, who knows, maybe all those times our parents said, "Stop asking so many questions!" curbed a bit of our inquisitiveness. Or maybe expressions like "curiosity killed the cat" have actually impacted our innate desire to pry.

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis Sales

What is Your Sales Strategy—Pitching Proposals or Providing Solutions?

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The best B2B salespeople follow a sales strategy that includes the use of a needs analysis meeting with new business prospects or existing customers. Do you?

Without a needs analysis the sales process breaks down transforming salespeople into peddlers—pitching, hoping and praying… pitching, hoping and praying… pitching hoping and praying! 

A better approach involves a conversation with customers and new business prospects to uncover business problems or opportunities. 

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis sales strategy Sales

A Sales Strategy to Double Time Spent Selling

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When a colleague conducted a "time spent selling audit" for one of her clients, the data showed the organization's best sellers spent slightly over 20% of their time actually selling. Keep in mind, the audit included the best sellers in the organization! Here are five reasons why this happens:

Topics: Setting Appointments new business development lead generation Management Sales

How Do You Tantalize a Prospect?

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Is a prospect’s first impression of you a list of bold claims about your product and how superior it is to competing products? I hope not. It’s boring to the prospect. You see, dangling product in front of a prospect is usually ineffective for many reasons:

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis Sales

Speed Up Your Sales Cycle With Focus And Preparation

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You're only as good as your last great sale. Are you getting your next one fast enough to reach your goals? Many salespeople approach their next big win like it will take months. That's a bad assumption to make if you want to accelerate your sales cycle. With the right focus and preparation, one salesperson I work with got her "next great sale" in a short amount of time. Here's how:

Topics: Setting Appointments new business development sales strategy Sales