This season on Improving Sales Performance, we’re analyzing the findings from our latest Media Sales Report. With data collected from surveys conducted in Q4 of last year, the responses from sales managers and salespeople alike will help us chart a solid path forward through the media sales landscape.
In each episode, Matt will be joined by a rolling roster of outstanding experts from our team at The Center for Sales Strategy.
Here, Matt is breaking down the Sales Process section of the Media Sales Report with VP/Senior Consultant, Alina McComas and Senior Consultant, Michael Mayer.
Both Alina and Michael have such awesome takeaways on some top questions that arise from the report, like:
- Why do you think appointments are becoming harder and harder to secure?
- With 41% of salespeople telling us that finding qualified leads is only getting harder as well, what do you think is causing this?
- What would you say to sales managers that are having a tough time with CRM adoption amongst their team?
Click here to listen to this episode on your preferred podcast platform or keep reading as we break down the conversation from this episode.
Securing Sales Appointments is Becoming Harder
Kicking off the conversation, Matt says, “52% of salespeople say that it often takes five or more attempts before successfully scheduling a sales appointment. And both sales managers at 83% and salespeople at 80% agree that appointments are harder to secure than five years ago.”
“So, Alina, why do you think appointments are becoming harder and harder to secure? And are there any tips or pieces of advice that you would give to salespeople in order to help them be more successful?”
“It's a couple of things,” Alina says. “But I think the really big one is that there's more competition for people's time than there ever has been, right? There are a lot more people out there just in the media space.”
“You think about the fragmentation and the low barriers to entry when it comes to the digital space and the number of people that call on the same individuals within a company or an organization. It is more important than ever to give them a reason to say yes to a meeting with you.”
“I think the other side of it is when you look at how little [salespeople] are diversifying their approach. I think that's a big problem, right? Consumers are fragmented and you've got to reach them on multiple platforms. I think getting appointments is the same exact way.”
“So, if you're only using phone and email, you're doing yourself a disservice because some people are not phone people, some people are not email people, some people are not either.”
Michael says, “I one hundred percent agree with Alina. It's [also] really starting with a valid business reason at the very beginning.”
“The most important thing you can ever do, as a former buyer myself, you have to talk to me, you need to talk to me as a buyer and talk to me about what you know about me personally and also what I care about with my company.”
"And if you don't include that in your own opening VBRs, you probably won't get the appointment at any time.”
Alina and Michael share tips for securing appointments faster:
Tips for Securing Appointments Faster
- Personalized Video: “We see that sellers who are using video are having much more success,” Alina says. “Use those tools and make sure you have your alerts set up so that when they watch your video, you get an alert, and you can follow up in a timely manner and use that intelligence.”
- Break-Up Emails: “FOMO is very real,” Alina says. “People don't want to feel like they're being left out. They don't want to be bothered, but they also don't want to feel like you're walking away. And so having a really strong breakup email template that you can use as that last effort as you're trying to get up appointments, I see it time and time again that that is a difference maker with a lot of salespeople.”
- LinkedIn Connections: “I've had a lot of success recently with the LinkedIn connections,” Michael says. “But I don't send out LinkedIn connections until between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM at night because I have a candid audience that's not working at that time. I tend to get people to respond to at a very high rate...if you're really trying to break through the clutter, [try] not doing it at typical times during the day. That would be very, very sound.”
Finding Qualified Leads is Tough Right Now
“So, two-part question. What is causing this? And, even more important than that, what advice do you have?”
“Well, first and foremost, researching,” Michael says. “Doing research on the companies you're going to go after to find the right lead is critical to your success.”
“Qualifying a lead involves clarifying their dollar potential, their access to a decision maker within the organization, and whether they have a fit for what you're trying to sell them.”
“In my opinion, if you don't put the time in to do the research, you're not going to develop a VBR which is going to take you further away from getting the appointment.”
“I would say that what I see the most in a typical discovery call...let's just imagine, I talked to you Matt, and, all of a sudden, you tell me you're looking at scheduling a program starting next Saturday. That's the first thing you tell me.”
“So, that becomes a squirrel to the typical sales rep and they're going to go chase that. And so, what was going to be a discovery call, a more comprehensive close opportunity, becomes going after this one little squirrel.”
“I think it's staying focused on what you're trying to accomplish in those meetings.”
“I would agree,” Alina says. “I think it all comes down to: are we doing the homework ahead of time? And not taking appointments because nobody else is calling on them, right?”
“I think having that set criteria that you are looking for... it's a matter of really fine-tuning how you qualify them, right? And having that set criteria. What is the right dollar potential that is worthy of your time to sit down and have a conversation? And what are the things that you should be looking at to determine that dollar potential, right?
“You know, I always tell people, ‘the goal is to get a good appointment, not just any appointment.’”
“I'd rather you go on three really good appointments than 10 so-so appointments that don't go anywhere.”
“I think that the definition of ‘qualified’ needs to be examined,” Matt says. “I think a lot of times the mode that sellers are in these days is: ‘qualified means that they're ready to buy right now.’”
“Where, to me, if you change your definition to qualified means ‘they're capable of buying my product’ versus ‘ready to buy right now.’”
“I think if you wait until you meet someone that's ready to buy right now, you probably missed the opportunity to make a significant sale, right?”
Matt continues, “The other thing is, I think one of the things driving this [issue] in a big way is the rise of product-focused salespeople. And I think for a while it had gotten customer-focused.”
“There's a lot of companies that have more products to sell than ever before. And that's a wonderful thing. I love that there are more products to sell, but that doesn't mean you should become product focused.”
“I've been saying this a lot lately, ‘it's not what you sell, it's what you solve.’”
“And if we could just go back to that, it's like, I don't care about all the things that you sell. Just tell me what you solve. I think that we could help people close more sales because they wouldn't be so focused on this pro buying this product.”
Ensuring CRM Adoption Across Your Entire Team
“48% of salespeople say they don't find their CRM useful for automated automating some basic tasks,” Matt says. “So, what do sellers need from a CRM to make them use it? And what would you say to sales managers that are having a tough time getting CRM adoption?”
“I think it all comes down to what's in it for me as a salesperson, right?” Alina says.
“Like, I think that the reason salespeople are hesitant to use CRMs is because, A: they're allowed not to. And B, they see it as big brother micromanaging every step of the process. They see it also as duplicative work, right?”
“And so, you need to look for a CRM that makes it easy for people to use. You shouldn't have to have a PhD to figure out how to use your CRM. There should be some automation in that. Emails and phone calls are, uh, automatically tracked and entered so that there's not an additional step that your sellers have to go through.”
“And as a manager, you have to tell the salesperson what's in it for them. How does it help them make more money? How does it help them be better at their job?”
“Because most sellers are going to work to make money. So, if you can bring it back to what's important to them, what is the problem that the CRM solves for them as an individual, I think you'd get greater usage.”
“I can piggyback a couple of things,” Michael says. “For the leaders who are struggling with getting their folks to use their CRM, they should really focus in on the areas where [their salespeople] are struggling the most within the pipeline so that they know where the breakdowns are occurring.”
“I think that the one thing I've always found with CRM’s is that they’re a great tool as long as you use it. It's as good as what you put into it.”
“And that's the one singular thing that a manager has to do. They really need to hold their teams accountable... and, to Alina's point, you've got to show them what the benefit is to them. Show them how much money they can generate for themselves and for the organization.”
Matt jumps in to say, “People are either in the habit of using a CRM or they're in the habit of not using the CRM, but either way it's a habit.”
“And I just think, if it's that important to the organization, you just need to say, ‘listen, if you want to work here, you're going to choose to use the CRM. And if you don't choose to use it, then you're not going to work here.”