Today we have a guest post from Sherrie Roberts. Sherrie has been crushing sales goals and breaking records for over 20 years from local broadcast to national networks and rep firms. Serving in roles as salesperson, sales manager, General Manger and Founder.
Government is not the only entity wrought with bureaucracy. It’s known to rear its ugly head in all businesses. Systems and policies are certainly vital to accomplish missions and keep chaos at bay. Yet bureaucracy is proof you can have too much of a good thing. Too often we become so ensnared by rules and with making them, that common sense takes a back seat.
There’s this thing called the “naked rule” that has become somewhat of a mantra in my management career. Once, in a meeting discussing a unique issue that had arisen, one leader proposed a new policy to address said issue. Yet another leader responded, with brilliant hyperbole, “So if an employee showed up naked to work, would we really need a rule that says you have to wear clothes to work?” Thank you Captain Obvious for saving us that day from yet another policy that wouldn’t solve anything. In this case, it would have created unnecessary complication—as is so often the case.
Salespeople often slow down a sale or lose it altogether because they are not willing to create tension. I am not talking about relationship tension. I am talking about task tension.
You want to get to task tension as quickly as you can. This is what sales acceleration is all about. However, smart salespeople know you need to create a foundation of relationship—essentially reducing relationship tension so you can create task tension. You can’t rush to task tension until you remove relationship tension. You remove relationship tension by helping the prospect see that you are someone who can be trusted and could bring value.
The traditional ABCs of selling were "always be closing." Coffee was only for closers, and closing was a single, major event. The concept of "always be closing" is valid in that it’s important to always be moving the sale forward.
Before Google, LinkedIn, or social selling, Steve Marx, founder of The Center for Sales Strategy, taught that closing is a series of small yeses leading to the ultimate yes that confirms the sale.
Some say that the holy grail of sales is consistent and predictable revenue. Many are on this seemingly never-ending quest but find it both elusive and always just out of reach. A strategic sales process is the only thing that will help you reach your goals.
You can make the best and the most spectacular recommendations to your prospects, but what use is it if the prospect doesn’t share your point of view?
In B2B sales, you’ve probably spent a lot of resources to score an appointment. You’ve generated leads, qualified them, answered initial questions. And you don’t want to lose your ideal prospects now. Consumer psychology can help you reel the prospect in to sign on that dotted line.
So, what is the line between persistent and pest when it comes to securing appointments? Two calls? Three calls? Six? When have you crossed the line between getting noticed and risking arrest for stalking? Well, a national study published in the Harvard Business Review recommends at least six approaches. After six approaches is when 90% of appointments are set. So, how many salespeople make six approaches? About 4%. Yes, 4%. The majority of salespeople give up after two. To put that into perspective, making six contacts will give you a 70% increase in new appointments. Would that change your life?
So, why are so many approaches necessary? Think about your own life. Are you busy? Yes. If I am approaching you for an appointment, do you know about my company? Probably not. What do you know about me? Likely nothing, except you know I want to sell you something. What do you know about my track record in helping people like you? OK, so I have a job to do. And, so do you.
The numbers are very compelling but you also have to think about how to communicate your concern for indivduals as customers, the expertise you and your company bring to the table, and your problem-solving capabilities. We recommend you follow these steps:
Anybody who knows me knows I enjoy a glass of red wine. I am not a connoisseur by any means, but I do love a good glass of Cabernet.
While traveling recently, I requested a glass at dinner and the server went above and beyond the call of duty. Instead of serving me the house Cabernet (honestly, I would probably have been fine with that), he immediately asked what I liked. Full bodied? Heavy? And then he proceeded to pour me three samples to choose from. The dollar-per-glass charge for samples became a moot point. I knew what I was getting and that I would enjoy my vino with dinner. What service!
This server also called most customers by name when they entered, poured their “usual,” and asked about their kids and pets. Oh, to have more servers like this….
Since the first salesperson roamed the earth in prehistoric times (yes, we know what she was selling, but that’s not the focus of this article!), prospecting has been defined as looking for people who might become customers, or simply, looking for customers.
There’s a slightly different definition, not nearly as well known, that opens up a whole new vista of opportunity: Looking for customer needs. Just one word is different, but it changes the entire meaning.
The first thing that happens when you add that word is that you automatically—instantaneously! —start focusing on customer needs instead of the products and services you handle. Your empathy, expertise, and problem-solving capabilities take center stage, making you more interesting, more useful, and more likely to be viewed as a trusted and valued source.
If every time your prospect or customer felt like you were pushing your products, rather than focusing on his business, he transformed into a Hollywood film director and screamed, “Cut. Boring! You’re out of here!” He’d be doing you a favor. What happens more often is that the prospect is bored and finds a semi-polite reason to show you the door. He’s just polite enough that you don’t get the bigger message—that you were boring.