Loading...

Follow John Barrows Sales Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Too many of us get stuck going through the motions in life/business/sales and just do what we think we’re supposed to do. I have two examples, one personally and one professionally, that made me stop and think otherwise.

First the personal story. I went to college a single man, had a blast and then found someone towards the end of my freshman year. I stayed with her through the rest of college, into my young professional life and we even moved back to Boston together. After 7 years I ended up doing what I thought I was supposed to do after you’ve been with someone for that long, I got engaged. I took the leap even though I knew the relationship wasn’t right but I felt like that was what I had to do. Thankfully she ended up breaking it off with me. When she told me, my initial reaction was devastation because that’s how you’re supposed to feel after your fiancé dumps you, right? However, after about two days of feeling sorry for myself, I woke up and literally felt a massive weight lift from my shoulders. I eventually reached out to thank her for having the courage to do what I knew should have been done but didn’t do. Now I’m married to an incredible woman with an awesome kid and couldn’t be happier.

The second example is a professional story that ties to the post I wrote a while back (“What’s the Risk?”) about one of the biggest learning lessons of my career when I got fired from Staples after they acquired my first company. When we were first acquired I spent the first few months being super optimistic about the acquisition and what it meant for me, the employees and the company’s future. After about 6 months of me smashing into red tape, fighting constantly with the executives and getting frustrated with my new corporate world, I went from being very optimistic to very pessimistic. I remember telling a few people that “I” was going to be successful regardless and “beat” them at their game. I even remember watching the movie 300 and thinking of myself as Leonidas and my team of 300 against the Persians (Staples). It was twisted. I then had the sobering realization that Leonidas and the 300 died in the end which is what ultimately happened to me. I fought and fought even though I knew it wasn’t right because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. Eventually they ended up firing me. Again, I was devastated for a few days but then woke up and just like when my fiancé dumped me, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. It was the best thing that could have happened to me in my professional career because it helped me wake up and find my true passion of being out on my own and I couldn’t be happier because of it.

My point with both of those stories is that I was going through my personal and professional lives doing what I thought I was supposed to do. Thankfully in both instances, someone made the decision for me that I really wasn’t meant to do either of them. I think many of us go through the motions in many ways and do what we think we’re supposed to do. My goal of this post is to get you to wake up a bit. If you don’t feel right in your company, career, relationship go do something about it! Stop doing what you’re supposed to do.

How to try this at work

If your boss is telling you to do 50-100 dials a day and blast through a list of calls/e-mails but you think by taking a more strategic approach would be more effective, try the more strategic approach for a week. Take the abuse but then show the numbers that will hopefully prove you right.

If you think you’re being forced to regurgitate the corporate slide deck slide by slide to customers but you think a more personal dynamic approach would be more valuable to the customer, try it out a few times. Get feedback and then share the feedback with your manager or team.

If you’re consistently at the top of the leaderboard but your boss is telling you that you need to spend 2 years in your current role before you can get an opportunity for a promotion (which will be at the same time as other reps who are not producing like you), either leave or get creative in your existing role and take on additional responsibilities.

There are so many opportunities out there if we just pick our heads up and stop following the typical path. If you’re not doing what you love or living the life you want to go do something about it. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to rely on anyone else for me to live the life I want to live.

Make It Happen!

The post Stop Doing What You’re “Supposed To Do” appeared first on JBarrows.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Nothing is more frustrating than prospecting all day long to find that needle-in-the-haystack potential client who finally agrees to schedule a meeting with you only to have them never show up.  A close second on the frustration scale is when they do show up but dive right in with questions about specific features or pricing without even giving you the chance to ask the right qualifying questions.

I have a simple but very effective way of addressing both these challenges – The Shared Agenda.

Here’s the way it works.  The day before a scheduled meeting with a client (regardless of the type of meeting – qualification, follow up, demo, negotiation, closing), I send them a shared agenda around 12pm that goes something like this:

Subject: Our meeting tomorrow

Hi,

I’m looking forward to our meeting tomorrow at 10:00 am EST to talk about your sales training needs. In order to get the most out of our time together I’ve put together a brief agenda below. Could you review it and get back to me with what you’d like to add so I can make sure I’m as prepared as possible?

1. 2018 goals and priorities
2. Current initiatives to achieve goals
3. Specific components of JBarrows training that align with your goals
4.
5.
6.

Thanks!

I only get about a 25% response rate on this with them filling in what they want to talk about, but those meetings are always way better than the ones that don’t.  Then, regardless of whether or not they responded, I update the meeting invitation the morning of the meeting with the agenda in it. I don’t put the agenda in the initial meeting invitation because no one looks at those. But, when I update the meeting invitation the day of the meeting and the time doesn’t change the client is almost forced to open it up and look at the agenda.

When the meeting starts, I use the agenda to set the stage for the meeting and guide the conversation.  Have you ever gone into a meeting with a mental agenda and then 5 minutes into the conversation they ask you that random ass question that takes you down the rabbit hole for the next 45 minutes only to realize you have about 5 minutes left to talk about what you actually want to talk about?  Without an agenda they’re in control, you’re not. With an agenda you at least have a chance to keep the conversation focused.

Here’s my talk track on how I use the agenda to start off the meeting:

Thanks again for your time today.  Just to double check, do you have a hard stop at 11:00? Excellent, we’ll try to stay under that. I’m not sure if you saw the agenda I sent over, but I wanted to make sure we got the most out of our time together today.  Here’s a few things I want to make sure we cover (repeat the items from the agenda). What else do you want to make sure we hit on?

Add whatever they say to the agenda so you build it together.  Then start going through the agenda topics. When they ask that random question you can then lean back on the agenda and say something like:

That’s a great question. Would you mind if we finish going through the original agenda topics that we both agreed on and if we have time left at the end of the conversation I’d be happy to address that?

In my experience, most of the time they will agree to stay on track.  But if they don’t, then you know whatever topic they brought up is important to them so you should stop and dig into it.

I know this sounds pretty basic, but by implementing this into my process I’ve been able to reduce my no-show rates by about 50%.  Try it out and let me know if it makes a difference for you.

#MakeItHappen

Want more tips? Join Morgan J. Ingram and myself every Friday at 4pm ET for our Friday Happy Hour live chat.

The post Confirming and Controlling Meetings <br /> (Specific Technique) appeared first on JBarrows.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I’m usually a big fan of avoiding my weaknesses and playing to my strengths. At the end of the day, my weaknesses are my weaknesses for a reason and it’s mainly because I don’t like doing them. With that, we all have weaknesses that we need to improve on which is which is why I try to address them in a structured way and one at a time.

The first step in the process is identifying what your weaknesses are. As G.I. Joe said, “knowing is half the battle.” Sometimes we don’t really know what they are so we need to ask for some help. We all sit next to someone in the office or have a significant other that is more than willing to point them out. Set the stage by asking them to pay attention to certain things you do, phrases you use, mannerisms you have, etc and ask if they would respectfully point them out when they notice them.

Some examples of things that have been pointed out to me and I’ve worked on in the past are the overuse of certain words or phrases such as touching base, checking in, like, you know, ummm, basically, in terms of, etc. I also had to go take presentation skills training to improve issues I had with things like where I held my hands or hand gestures, rocking back and forth while standing, pacing, fiddling with my ring, etc. These are all small but important things we need to work on to help improve our ability to communicate and connect with people.

Once we identify what we need to work on we shouldn’t try to tackle them all at the same time. My recommendation is to pick one a month to focus on. When someone pointed out to me how bad I was at “touching base” and “checking in” I wrote both of those phrases down, crossed them out with a big red marker and taped them to the front of my computer. I also told everyone I knew to call me out when they heard me saying them at work or at home. I ended up removing them completely from my vocabulary and am much better for it. Another phrase I’ve almost completely eliminated from my vocabulary is “let me know,” specifically when dealing with customers. I wrote a blog post about this a while ago called “The Friend Zone” if you want to find out why.

By identifying your weaknesses, focusing on them one at a time and asking for help you can make improvements without losing focus on what makes you great so you can become even greater. Good luck and happy selling.

Make It Happen!

The post Continuous Improvement appeared first on JBarrows.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Episode 57 of the Make It Happen Mondays podcast featured Chris Orlob of Gong and it was filled with so much value, we decided to try something new and transcribe it as a blog post. If you enjoy this format, please let me know in the comments or by hitting me up on social.

57: Cold Calling with Chris Orlob from Gong - SoundCloud
(2041 secs long, 1865 plays)Play in SoundCloud

Top Takeaways from this Episode

Phone as a channel isn’t going anywhere.

The validity of the phrase “cold calling is dead” may be debatable in terms of making 100 dials with no information per day versus calling 20-40 targetted accounts and having a first touch by email or social, but phone as a channel is not dead. Whether it’s an actual phone call or Zoom meeting, at some point you will need to jump on the phone with your prospects.

Phone has become a novel channel

Looking at what’s novel as being what fewer people are doing, rather than what’s new, there is no better time to get on the phone with your prospects. When LinkedIn first introduced InMails, it was novel because nobody was using them, now it’s crowded and most people who get an InMail automatically think it’s spam. With less people using the phone, it’s the perfect time to get dialing.

Talk more on your first call

It might sound counter-intuitive, but the data showed, on a first call, the most successful reps talked more than prospects. This is why it’s so important to lead with an attention grabber that has your prospect saying, “Tell me more!”.

Use different tactics in different situations

This is why whenever someone asks me the best books, I rarely recommend sales books. Tactics come and go, but the timeless techniques like The Reason for My Call, work because they’re rooted in human psychology. It’s the same reason cold calling is so hard because we’re going against our survival instinct and avoiding rejection.

Voice is the future

There is a reason companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google, are spending some much time and money investing in voice and audio. One thing we discussed is that when you see the demo of Google calling to make a hair appointment or make a food reservation, there are only a finite number of paths to take, and those people are paid to pick up the phone.

Closing happens throughout the sales cycle

The things you do early in the sales cycle are far more important than at the end of the sales cycle. No matter how much enthusiasm you have, there is no magic line or technique that can help you close a deal if you haven’t laid the proper foundation early on in the buying cycle.

If you prefer to read, rather than to listen, find the full, near verbatim transcript below.

JOHN BARROWS: Good afternoon, everybody. This is John Barrows with Make it Happen Monday. Hopefully you all had a fantastic weekend. We actually didn’t have a podcast last week or a Make it Happen session to recognize Memorial Day, but did want to pause here for a second and just say thanks to all of those men and women overseas who are kicking ass for us and letting us live this incredible lifestyle of ours.

And, just as a reminder everybody, the JBarrows store, where you see all this Make it Happen gear, 100% of profits and proceeds goes to veterans and the arts. So, if you’re looking to support veterans, and get some cool gear to motivate yourself, please check out the store, and we write that big fat check at the end of the year for all the profits that you guys … so I want to thank everybody for their support on that, and also thank you for your support on the podcast, because we hit 100,000 downloads recently, which blows my mind. I really appreciate all the feedback and insights.

And, with that, I am actually super excited for today’s, not that I’m not excited for other ones, but I’m really excited for this one, first of all, we had to reschedule it once, so we’re back on track, and this is one that I have a lot of questions about, so I wanted to introduce and welcome a friend of mine, Chris Orlob from Gong. Chris, say hi to everybody, give a little background, your little 30 second about where you’re coming from, and what Gong’s all about.

CHRIS ORLOB: Yeah. Super excited to be here. It’s been too long time of a coming I think, but, my name’s Chris, I run product marketing over here at Gong. Short story is, previously I was co-founding a company that was competing with Gong, or probably attempting to compete with Gong. That’s probably the more accurate situation. We ended up joining forces, but before that, I was a regional sales manager over at InsideSales.com in Provo, Utah. I started off as an SDR, worked my way as an account executive, ended up in that last position, and that’s my background. Super excited to talk about what we have on the table here.

JOHN BARROWS: I love it, and by the way, I got to give you guys kudos, first of all, you said that new branding is coming out today.

CHRIS ORLOB: Yeah. New brand. No more Gong the blue, it’s like the vintage stuff that’s hopefully going to be sold on Ebay for thousands of dollars 20 years from now or something like that.

JOHN BARROWS: I’m sure you got cabinets of it, too. Keep it closed. So, your new brand, new website looks awesome, and one of the things that I just want, for everybody out there listening right now, I get asked all the time, “John, what podcast should I listen to? What blog should I read to educate myself.” The number one that I almost always recommend is Gong’s, because you guys put out some incredible content. It’s not just about somebody’s opinion or whatever, but really is backed up with data. So, I wanted to give you huge kudos on that.

CHRIS ORLOB: Thank You.

JOHN BARROWS: We’re going to dive into some of those, but I wanted to start with kind of a bigger picture, and the whole idea about is cold calling dead? I hate that question, but I’m going to put a little bit of a different spin, because I think it’s absolute BS. I think cold calling is still alive and well, if done right, and if it’s part of a package, right? It’s no longer 100 dials a day, and just blindly making cold calls, but the phone is not dead.

But, something shook me a little while ago, and this is why I’m really interested in your perspective on this. I wrote a blog post probably, I want to say a year ago, that said, “I think the phone is going to make a raging comeback,” because I saw a couple of emails written by these artificial intelligence bots that were highly personalized and better than a sales rep could ever write.

So, I’m like, “Well, jeez. In a year or two, none of us are going to trust a single email that in our inbox, because it’s all suspect, right?” With that, I was like, well, phone, that’s the final frontier. That’s the part that robots and technology is not going to be able to take away from us, because of empathy, because of listening to tone and that type of stuff.

Then I saw the Google Home thing, call up and make a hair appointment, and then the hair appointment was like, “Holy shit.” But when it ordered Chinese food from somebody who could barely speak English, and was able to navigate that conversation, and be able to understand what that person was saying, I was like, “Uh-oh.”

So, I guess my question for you is, with your background at InsideSales.com, where now … and starting another company, and I mean, you guys are all in on phone. That’s it, right? I mean, that’s what your focus is, so you’ve bet your entire business, and there’s a huge amount of money going into this space, too. So, there’s obviously something that says phone is still going to be around, but where do you see the future of phone going? Based with the Google and all that other stuff, and AI stuff going on?

CHRIS ORLOB: So, the first part of it is whether cold calling is dead or not, there’s still going to be a phone interaction that’s required to close a deal, like usually over a web conference. But, let’s just narrow the conversation for the sake of having this argument about Google. Is AI going to kill that stuff? And if you think about those Google Home demonstrations, and you think about the person who is on the receiving end of that phone call, they’re literally paid to take that call. They’re not going to hang up on you. And so, AI yes, it’s very impressive that it was able to navigate the various paths that that conversation could have gone down, although I would argue there’s probably only three to five paths, so it’s not that complicated.

Cold calling is a little different because you’re pushing a boulder up a hill, the person on the other line is in constant threat of hanging up on you, because they generally don’t want to be hearing from you. So, when people come to the conclusion, “Well Google Home booked a hair appointment for me, so cold calling is dead.” It’s totally a different scenario.

It’s the same medium, which is a phone call, but worlds different scenarios. One of them, somebody is literally paid, no matter how bad of a conversationalist you are, they’re not hanging up on you. The other one is, you could say the same words just with the wrong tone, or you could change one word from a sentence, and they’ll hang up on you. It’s much more sensitive.

With all of that said, my prediction is AI is not going to replace professional sellers making calls, but, humans are also horrible at predicting the future. In 2001, we all thought nobody’s going to be writing code in 10 years, in 2011, and it’s 2018, still people are writing code.

JOHN BARROWS: Well, yeah. We all thought the world was going to end in 1999 because all of a sudden there was four decimals, instead of two right?

CHRIS ORLOB: Yeah. In 2012, even me in 2012, I was like looking out the window to see if the Mayans were right on December 21st or whatever it was.

JOHN BARROWS: That was my birthday, so I threw a bender. So December 21st was my birthday, on 2012 …

CHRIS ORLOB: 23rd, represent, December.

JOHN BARROWS: There you go. So I’m like, “Hey, if I’m going out, I’m going out strong. So F it. Let’s party.”

I agree with you. I think that context is perfect in the sense that when it’s somewhat of a predictable path, and you’re talking to somebody who is paid to take your call, I think yes, AI and Google, take care of that for me. My assistant, “Hey Google, make me a hair appointment.” “Hey Google, make me a reservation at a restaurant.”

Cold calls differ when it can go a million different tracks. Although you see the intersection to a certain degree because people have tried to script out. When you go and do an outsource cold calling company, they try to script out, “Hey if they say this, then do this. If they say that, then do this.” So I can see where somebody is going to try to do it, whether it’s going to be successful or not is the other story.

The other layer to this though is the generational divide. In the sense that, one of the things I tell kids when I am doing my training is, one of the big reasons I recommend you make phone calls, well there’s two and I’ll get to the second one, but the first one is, Gen-Xers, I’m a Gen-Exer at 42, we’re now the decision makers, and I grew up on the phone. So there are people, and you bring in neuro-linguistic programming, and there’s different types of communicators. If you send all emails, you’re reducing your chances of connecting with a decent part of the population.

Do you think that cold calling, when Millennials take over, really take over decision making, when they hit their 40s and that type of stuff, where do you see phone fitting into that? Millennials didn’t grow up with a phone like this, they grew up with it like this. Do you think that that’s going to have a big impact on the actual usage of phone in the future?

CHRIS ORLOB: Here’s what I would say. First of all, if the phone dies in the most literal sense of the word, meaning it is no longer a communication platform, then obviously cold calling is going to be dead. That’s very uncertain as to whether that could happen.

The second thing I would say is, part of the effectiveness of a communication channel is its novelty, not necessarily its newness, but how infrequently are people bombarded on that channel. Right now, very few people are getting hit with the phone, because either people think cold calling is dead, or most Millennials are, frankly, the real underlying reason is they’re scared to make a cold call. It’s a terrifying thing to do.

JOHN BARROWS: It totally is.

CHRIS ORLOB: So it’s kind of like LinkedIn email. When LinkedIn first became popular, if you got an InMail, it was like, “Oh, goodie, I got a message from somebody. I never get messages.” So you would respond, and it was super effective. Now you’re spammed to Sunday on LinkedIn, you don’t respond. That’s a really long way of me saying, if nobody is making calls, but people still have phones, you have the opportunity of a lifetime to bring novelty back to the phone. Now they’re bombarded in email, and social media, and they’re getting Tweeted at. So when they get a phone call, again, I’m a human, could be horrible at predicting the future, but, the one phone call they get a week, it’s a novelty. They’re going to answer it, and it’s going to be an effective conversation.

JOHN BARROWS: I love that, because I was at a conference a little while ago, it was actually two years ago, same questions, cold calling dead bullshit, whatever, and somebody asks this panel of executives who were sitting up there, “Hey, what’s the newest, coolest app, to get in front of ad executives? What’s the newest thing that gets your attention?” All of them, in unison, said, “Phone.”

CHRIS ORLOB: See, and I think the app thing, it’s just a way for us to avoid our fears of doing something difficult, and scary, and looking for instant gratification. What app can I go download that’s going to suddenly help me book a bunch of meetings? It’s the wrong question to ask. It’s just fear of words.

JOHN BARROWS: I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I just get on the damn phones. That’s what I tell kids, “What’s the absolute worst thing that can happen with cold call?” Unless you’re blatantly disrespectful and doing something super unethical and shady, then you do that and they might call your boss and get you fired. That’s okay, but that’s you being an asshole.

If you’re taking a legitimate approach, and you’re making a phone call, and you might get a little bit more aggressive, or whatever it is, the absolute worst thing they can do is hang up on you. That’s why I don’t understand that fear. I get the fear, but if you have some fun with it, then you can flip it around pretty easy.

CHRIS ORLOB: I think the fear comes from this lizard brain concept. As humans, I won’t get into brain science, but we have this amygdala, and that part of the brain developed in a time when humans lived in very small tribes. The reason we’re scared of getting rejected on the phone, in today’s day and age when we don’t live in tribes, is our brain is built for the day and age when we did live in these small tribes. If we got rejected from a tribe, a million years ago, it literally meant we were going to die, because we were ostracized from the tribe, we were kicked out into the wilderness. Getting rejected was actually a big deal a million years ago.

Now we live in these big, metropolitan cities where our survival is not dependent on being accepted by one specific tribe. Our brain’s evolution has not caught up.Consciously our brain thinks that if we get rejected, it’s going to mean death in one way or another.

Cold calling success is really simple. It’s not easy, but it’s really simple. You just have to go against your brain’s natural wiring. You’re going to be scared. Eventually you’ll do it enough. You won’t be as scared anymore, but initially, what separates successful people from unsuccessful people is, can they take action in the face of fear.

JOHN BARROWS: I love that. Actually that’s a great segue here for us, as far as the data. You look at data, and science, and those type of things, and they tend to debunk a lot of stuff that our perception of is, right? People say cold calling is dead, but I look at the data and I say, “Look, the kids who make cold calls actually have a much higher conversion ratios than the kids that don’t.” People who are on the phones, likewise. Out of all the posts that you’ve done, because I want to dig into a couple of them, but out of the posts you’ve done, has data shown you something? Has there been, for you personally, based on your experiences in SDR and those type of thing, has there been something where data has shown you like, “Whoa, my perception was wrong, because the data says this”? Is there something that stands out that we can learn from that?

CHRIS ORLOB: Yes. We analyze all different types of calls, discovery calls, demo, closing calls, cold calls. There’s actually a lot of counter intuitive insights, but I’ll just talk about once, since it’s kind of thematic and addresses what we’ve already been talking about, which is cold calling. In every type of sales call we’ve analyzed, discovery calls, demos, etc, there’s been a strong correlation between talking less, and success rate, eventually closing the deal or moving it to the next step, except for cold calling.

So what we found in cold calling, and this is correlation, not necessarily causation, I would like to make sure that point is well understood, is that successful cold calls actually involve higher talk to listen ratios on the rep’s part, longer monologues where it’s like the rep was talking for a very long time uninterrupted, and very little talking from the customer’s end.

Again, how you interpret that data is important. Probably many people have different interpretations of that data, which means correlation and causation are different things, but what that means to me is that cold calling is not about discovery. If you open a cold call and say, “John, what are your biggest strategic priorities coming into this year?” You’re probably going to laugh in my face or hang up on me.

Cold calling is about making a highly targeted and resonant pitch to sell the meeting. The best way you can do that is knowing your buyers. Part of that is research, and that’s going to be on the shoulders of the rep or the SDR. Maybe I’m biased, a lot of that comes down to product marketing. Is product marketing helping you understand your buyer personas, their pain points? Are they doing research into the market to arm you to speak resonantly? Or are you going in and guessing?

JOHN BARROWS: I absolutely love that, because I preach that. One of the things I use to train reps on is, the old school GlenGarry Glen Ross. Great movie, but depressing as shit. But in there, he does his, “Always be closing“, but he talks about AIDA, attention, interest, desire, action. I looked that up, 1898 a guy by the name of St. Elmo Lewis came up with these. These are the four mental stages we have to go through before we buy something.

ALEC BALDWIN GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS ALWAYS BE CLOSING FULL SPEECH - YouTube

First, something needs to get our attention. Then we have to be interested in it. Then we have to have a desire. So what I say, you have five to fifteen seconds to get someone’s attention. That earns you a couple of minutes where you can create interest. That’s what you’re selling. When you’re making cold calls, you are not selling your solution. You are selling time. You are selling interest. You are selling the next step.

So that makes total sense to me on a cold call because I couldn’t agree more. If some kid calls em up out of know where and says, “So John, tell me about your priorities for the year.” I’m like, “Dude, screw off. Who are you?” But if somebody comes at me and says, “Hey, John, thanks for taking my call. Real quick, the reason for my call today is, we’re showing VPs of sales, like you, in your industry, how to drive these type of results with our solution. I just wanted to see if that was worth having a deeper dive conversation or two.”

CHRIS ORLOB: Yes, good cold calling follows the same rule as really good writing. If you’ve ever studied writing, there is a rule that says, the purpose of every sentence you write, is to compel the reader to read the next sentence. Cold calling should be exactly the same. You should be economical with your words, not frivolous. Every word and every sentence you say should design, be designed, to prolong the conversation, whether it’s getting them talking, or getting them listening to your next sentence, which in turn is designed to get them to linger.

JOHN BARROWS: That’s awesome. I think that’s what a lot of people make the mistake of when cold calling or leaving voicemail messages. They are literally trying to sell their product or service during that call. So they treat it as a quick discovery. Let me ask you fifteen questions before I throw up on you, or let me just tell you literally everything about what we do to see if you’re interested in buying from it.

If you segment that down into, that’s why I love the AIDA, because it’s the same thing with emails. The subject line gets my attention. The first sentence tells me whether or not I’m interested in reading the rest of it. The next part is your value proposition to create my desire to say, “I want that”, and then there’s your call to action. It’s the same thing with calls. Literally the first few words that come out of my mouth make a difference.

CHRIS ORLOB: I was just going to say, selling doesn’t come down to knowing the tactics and..

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
John Barrows Sales Blog by John Barrows - 3w ago

The days are long, the temperature is hot and the Red Sox and Yankees are battling it out, which means summer is here. Unfortunately for us in sales that means a summer slowdown is coming before the hockey stick of Q4 hits. Instead of falling victim to the slowdown and struggling to get by in the summer there are some things we can to do drive both short and longer-term results if we’re willing to put in the effort. Here are a few that come to mind:

1. Start building pipeline now

If you have a 30-90 day sales cycle, that means waiting until August will be too late. You have to start building pipeline now. One of my favorite quotes is that a big fat pipeline solves most problems, and the summer slow down is no exception. Even if the deals won’t be able to close in August, by having a big fat pipeline, you reduce the need to discount and set your Q4 up to hockey stick even further.

2. Strengthen your relationships with your existing customers

Instead of being annoying and calling or emailing prospects that are probably on vacation, set up some informational calls with your existing customers. Ask them how they are leveraging your solution and what a difference it has made and what else you can do to make sure they get the most out of it. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like about the sales process. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn, and what you can share with them. It will also go a long way in your relationship capital for when you need something like a referral down the road. Lastly, you can turn those conversations into stories you can use when talking to other prospective customers.

3. Work on your personal brand

A few years ago, you would be able to build a personal brand by simply sharing blog posts on social. Now, the most effective way to build a brand is to add value by providing context on much of the content that is already out there. Written long-form posts and videos are the most effective, but they take time. By curating information on specific topics through tools like Feedly you can start to read and learn about your industry, the personas you are targeting and your competition. When you learn something based on what someone else wrote you can then share it with your perspective and what you learned about it. You can also spend time engaging with people on social platforms and answering or asking questions. The more people see your name and associate it with someone who is trying to add value and learn the more people will start to come to you.

4. Try something new

I’m a big fan of practicing on my tier 3 accounts. If we don’t have real deals in the pipeline for the summer months, why not practice some new offerings or service bundles? Not only can this increase your average deal size, but it could discover something your customers want. For example, they’d be happy to pay a bit more for active consulting. It also gives you something you can negotiate on without discounting.

It’s also a great time to try out new tools like Vidyard, Drift or Nudge.ai with a subset of your team if you aren’t using them already.

5. Work on your personal development

When was the last time you took a course or invested in your own learning? For most of us, it was college or something that an employer set up for us. Take some time and even a few of your own dollars to sharpen your skills by investing in your own knowledge. If money is tight, there is a ton of free and low-cost content out there or premium investments like my portal.

6. Take a break to get ready on Q4

Last summer I launched my Instagram account documenting my trip to Italy. While sales is one of the few professions where we’re directly rewarded with how hard we work, we’re also easily burnt out. Since we’re not heart surgeons saving lives, why not unplug for a few days and come back sharper than ever.

Again, don’t fall into the trap of slowing down just like everyone else does during the summer. Instead, speed up and fly past them while they’re not paying attention. One of my favorite quotes is “Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

#MakeItHappen

The post Summertime Slowdown appeared first on JBarrows.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Episode 57 of the Make It Happen Mondays podcast featured Chris Orlob of Gong.io and it was filled with so much value, we decided to try something new and transcribe it as a blog post. If you enjoy this format, please let me know in the comments or by hitting me up on social.

57: Cold Calling with Chris Orlob from Gong - SoundCloud
(2041 secs long, 1287 plays)Play in SoundCloud

Top Takeaways from this Episode

Phone as a channel isn’t going anywhere.

The validity of the phrase “cold calling is dead” may be debatable in terms of making 100 dials with no information per day versus calling 20-40 targetted accounts and having a first touch by email or social, but phone as a channel is not dead. Whether it’s an actual phone call or Zoom meeting, at some point you will need to jump on the phone with your prospects.

Phone has become a novel channel

Looking at what’s novel being what is nobody else doing, there is no better time to get on the phone with your prospects. When LinkedIn first introduced InMails, it was novel because nobody was using them, now it’s crowded and most people who get an InMail automatically think it’s spam. With less people using the phone, it’s the perfect time to get dialing.

Talk more on your first call

It might sound counter-intuitive, but the data showed, on a first call, the most successful reps talked more than prospects. This is why it’s so important to lead with an attention grabber that has your prospect saying, “Tell me more!”.

Use different tactics in different situations

This is why whenever someone asks me the best books, I rarely recommend sales books. Tactics come and go, but the timeless techniques like The Reason for My Call, work because they’re rooted in human psychology. It’s the same reason cold calling is so hard because we’re going against our survival instinct and avoiding rejection.

Voice is the future

There is a reason companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google, are spending some much time and money investing in voice and audio. One thing we discussed is that when you see the demo of Google calling to make a hair appointment or make a food reservation, there are only a finite number of paths to take, and those people are paid to pick up the phone.

Closing happens throughout the sales cycle

The things you do early in the sales cycle is far more important than at the end of the sales cycle. No matter how much enthusiasm you have, there is no magic line or technique that can help you close a deal if you haven’t laid the proper foundation early on in the buying cycle.

If you prefer to read, rather than to listen, find the full, near verbatim transcript below.

JOHN BARROWS: One good afternoon, everybody. This is John Barrows with Make it Happen Monday. Hopefully you all had a fantastic weekend. We actually didn’t have a podcast last week or a Make it Happen session to recognize Memorial Day, but did want to pause here for a second and just say thanks to all of those men and women overseas who are kicking ass for us and letting us live this incredible lifestyle of ours.

And, just as a reminder everybody, the JBarrows store, where you see all this Make it Happen gear, 100% of profits and proceeds goes to veterans and the arts. So, if you’re looking to support veterans, and get some cool gear to motivate yourself, please check out the store, and we write that big fat check at the end of the year for all the profits that you guys … so I want to thank everybody for their support on that, and also thank you for your support on the podcast, because we hit 100,000 downloads recently, which blows my mind. I really appreciate all the feedback and insights.

And, with that, I am actually super excited for today’s, not that I’m not excited for other ones, but I’m really excited for this one, first of all, we had to reschedule it once, so we’re back on track, and this is one that I have a lot of questions about, so I wanted to introduce and welcome a friend of mine, Chris Orlob from Gong. Chris, say hi to everybody, give a little background, your little 30 second about where you’re coming from, and what Gong’s all about.

CHRIS ORLOB: Yeah. Super excited to be here. It’s been too long time of a coming I think, but, my name’s Chris, I run product marketing over here at Gong. Short story is, previously I was co-founding a company that was competing with Gong, or probably attempting to compete with Gong. That’s probably the more accurate situation. We ended up joining forces, but before that, I was a regional sales manager over at InsideSales.com in Provo, Utah. I started off as an SDR, worked my way as an account executive, ended up in that last position, and that’s my background. Super excited to talk about what we have on the table here.

JOHN BARROWS: I love it, and by the way, I got to give you guys kudos, first of all, you said that new branding is coming out today.

CHRIS ORLOB: Yeah. New brand. No more Gong the blue, it’s like the vintage stuff that’s hopefully going to be sold on Ebay for thousands of dollars 20 years from now or something like that.

JOHN BARROWS: I’m sure you got cabinets of it, too. Keep it closed. So, your new brand, new website looks awesome, and one of the things that I just want, for everybody out there listening right now, I get asked all the time, “John, what podcast should I listen to? What blog should I read to educate myself.” The number one that I almost always recommend is Gong’s, because you guys put out some incredible content. It’s not just about somebody’s opinion or whatever, but really is backed up with data. So, I wanted to give you huge kudos on that.

CHRIS ORLOB: Thank You.

JOHN BARROWS: We’re going to dive into some of those, but I wanted to start with kind of a bigger picture, and the whole idea about is cold calling dead? I hate that question, but I’m going to put a little bit of a different spin, because I think it’s absolute BS. I think cold calling is still alive and well, if done right, and if it’s part of a package, right? It’s no longer 100 dials a day, and just blindly making cold calls, but the phone is not dead.

But, something shook me a little while ago, and this is why I’m really interested in your perspective on this. I wrote a blog post probably, I want to say a year ago, that said, “I think the phone is going to make a raging comeback,” because I saw a couple of emails written by these artificial intelligence bots that were highly personalized and better than a sales rep could ever write.

So, I’m like, “Well, jeez. In a year or two, none of us are going to trust a single email that in our inbox, because it’s all suspect, right?” With that, I was like, well, phone, that’s the final frontier. That’s the part that robots and technology is not going to be able to take away from us, because of empathy, because of listening to tone and that type of stuff.

Then I saw the Google Home thing, call up and make a hair appointment, and then the hair appointment was like, “Holy shit.” But when it ordered Chinese food from somebody who could barely speak English, and was able to navigate that conversation, and be able to understand what that person was saying, I was like, “Uh-oh.”

So, I guess my question for you is, with your background at InsideSales.com, where now … and starting another company, and I mean, you guys are all in on phone. That’s it, right? I mean, that’s what your focus is, so you’ve bet your entire business, and there’s a huge amount of money going into this space, too. So, there’s obviously something that says phone is still going to be around, but where do you see the future of phone going? Based with the Google and all that other stuff, and AI stuff going on?

CHRIS ORLOB: So, the first part of it is whether cold calling is dead or not, there’s still going to be a phone interaction that’s required to close a deal, like usually over a web conference. But, let’s just narrow the conversation for the sake of having this argument about Google. Is AI going to kill that stuff? And if you think about those Google Home demonstrations, and you think about the person who is on the receiving end of that phone call, they’re literally paid to take that call. They’re not going to hang up on you. And so, AI yes, it’s very impressive that it was able to navigate the various paths that that conversation could have gone down, although I would argue there’s probably only three to five paths, so it’s not that complicated.

Cold calling is a little different because you’re pushing a boulder up a hill, the person on the other line is in constant threat of hanging up on you, because they generally don’t want to be hearing from you. So, when people come to the conclusion, “Well Google Home booked a hair appointment for me, so cold calling is dead.” It’s totally a different scenario.

It’s the same medium, which is a phone call, but worlds different scenarios. One of them, somebody is literally paid, no matter how bad of a conversationalist you are, they’re not hanging up on you. The other one is, you could say the same words just with the wrong tone, or you could change one word from a sentence, and they’ll hang up on you. It’s much more sensitive.

With all of that said, my prediction is AI is not going to replace professional sellers making calls, but, humans are also horrible at predicting the future. In 2001, we all thought nobody’s going to be writing code in 10 years, in 2011, and it’s 2018, still people are writing code.

JOHN BARROWS: Well, yeah. We all thought the world was going to end in 1999 because all of a sudden there was four decimals, instead of two right?

CHRIS ORLOB: Yeah. In 2012, even me in 2012, I was like looking out the window to see if the Mayans were right on December 21st or whatever it was.

JOHN BARROWS: That was my birthday, so I threw a bender. So December 21st was my birthday, on 2012 …

CHRIS ORLOB: 23rd, represent, December.

JOHN BARROWS: There you go. So I’m like, “Hey, if I’m going out, I’m going out strong. So F it. Let’s party.”

I agree with you. I think that context is perfect in the sense that when it’s somewhat of a predictable path, and you’re talking to somebody who is paid to take your call, I think yes, AI and Google, take care of that for me. My assistant, “Hey Google, make me a hair appointment.” “Hey Google, make me a reservation at a restaurant.”

Cold calls differ when it can go a million different tracks. Although you see the intersection to a certain degree because people have tried to script out. When you go and do an outsource cold calling company, they try to script out, “Hey if they say this, then do this. If they say that, then do this.” So I can see where somebody is going to try to do it, whether it’s going to be successful or not is the other story.

The other layer to this though is the generational divide. In the sense that, one of the things I tell kids when I am doing my training is, one of the big reasons I recommend you make phone calls, well there’s two and I’ll get to the second one, but the first one is, Gen-Xers, I’m a Gen-Exer at 42, we’re now the decision makers, and I grew up on the phone. So there are people, and you bring in neuro-linguistic programming, and there’s different types of communicators. If you send all emails, you’re reducing your chances of connecting with a decent part of the population.

Do you think that cold calling, when Millennials take over, really take over decision making, when they hit their 40s and that type of stuff, where do you see phone fitting into that? Millennials didn’t grow up with a phone like this, they grew up with it like this. Do you think that that’s going to have a big impact on the actual usage of phone in the future?

CHRIS ORLOB: Here’s what I would say. First of all, if the phone dies in the most literal sense of the word, meaning it is no longer a communication platform, then obviously cold calling is going to be dead. That’s very uncertain as to whether that could happen.

The second thing I would say is, part of the effectiveness of a communication channel is its novelty, not necessarily its newness, but how infrequently are people bombarded on that channel. Right now, very few people are getting hit with the phone, because either people think cold calling is dead, or most Millennials are, frankly, the real underlying reason is they’re scared to make a cold call. It’s a terrifying thing to do.

JOHN BARROWS: It totally is.

CHRIS ORLOB: So it’s kind of like LinkedIn email. When LinkedIn first became popular, if you got an InMail, it was like, “Oh, goodie, I got a message from somebody. I never get messages.” So you would respond, and it was super effective. Now you’re spammed to Sunday on LinkedIn, you don’t respond. That’s a really long way of me saying, if nobody is making calls, but people still have phones, you have the opportunity of a lifetime to bring novelty back to the phone. Now they’re bombarded in email, and social media, and they’re getting Tweeted at. So when they get a phone call, again, I’m a human, could be horrible at predicting the future, but, the one phone call they get a week, it’s a novelty. They’re going to answer it, and it’s going to be an effective conversation.

JOHN BARROWS: I love that, because I was at a conference a little while ago, it was actually two years ago, same questions, cold calling dead bullshit, whatever, and somebody asks this panel of executives who were sitting up there, “Hey, what’s the newest, coolest app, to get in front of ad executives? What’s the newest thing that gets your attention?” All of them, in unison, said, “Phone.”

CHRIS ORLOB: See, and I think the app thing, it’s just a way for us to avoid our fears of doing something difficult, and scary, and looking for instant gratification. What app can I go download that’s going to suddenly help me book a bunch of meetings? It’s the wrong question to ask. It’s just fear of words.

JOHN BARROWS: I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I just get on the damn phones. That’s what I tell kids, “What’s the absolute worst thing that can happen with cold call?” Unless you’re blatantly disrespectful and doing something super unethical and shady, then you do that and they might call your boss and get you fired. That’s okay, but that’s you being an asshole.

If you’re taking a legitimate approach, and you’re making a phone call, and you might get a little bit more aggressive, or whatever it is, the absolute worst thing they can do is hang up on you. That’s why I don’t understand that fear. I get the fear, but if you have some fun with it, then you can flip it around pretty easy.

CHRIS ORLOB: I think the fear comes from this lizard brain concept. As humans, I won’t get into brain science, but we have this amygdala, and that part of the brain developed in a time when humans lived in very small tribes. The reason we’re scared of getting rejected on the phone, in today’s day and age when we don’t live in tribes, is our brain is built for the day and age when we did live in these small tribes. If we got rejected from a tribe, a million years ago, it literally meant we were going to die, because we were ostracized from the tribe, we were kicked out into the wilderness. Getting rejected was actually a big deal a million years ago.

Now we live in these big, metropolitan cities where our survival is not dependent on being accepted by one specific tribe. Our brain’s evolution has not caught up.Consciously our brain thinks that if we get rejected, it’s going to mean death in one way or another.

Cold calling success is really simple. It’s not easy, but it’s really simple. You just have to go against your brain’s natural wiring. You’re going to be scared. Eventually you’ll do it enough. You won’t be as scared anymore, but initially, what separates successful people from unsuccessful people is, can they take action in the face of fear.

JOHN BARROWS: I love that. Actually that’s a great segue here for us, as far as the data. You look at data, and science, and those type of things, and they tend to debunk a lot of stuff that our perception of is, right? People say cold calling is dead, but I look at the data and I say, “Look, the kids who make cold calls actually have a much higher conversion ratios than the kids that don’t.” People who are on the phones, likewise. Out of all the posts that you’ve done, because I want to dig into a couple of them, but out of the posts you’ve done, has data shown you something? Has there been, for you personally, based on your experiences in SDR and those type of thing, has there been something where data has shown you like, “Whoa, my perception was wrong, because the data says this”? Is there something that stands out that we can learn from that?

CHRIS ORLOB: Yes. We analyze all different types of calls, discovery calls, demo, closing calls, cold calls. There’s actually a lot of counter intuitive insights, but I’ll just talk about once, since it’s kind of thematic and addresses what we’ve already been talking about, which is cold calling. In every type of sales call we’ve analyzed, discovery calls, demos, etc, there’s been a strong correlation between talking less, and success rate, eventually closing the deal or moving it to the next step, except for cold calling.

So what we found in cold calling, and this is correlation, not necessarily causation, I would like to make sure that point is well understood, is that successful cold calls actually involve higher talk to listen ratios on the rep’s part, longer monologues where it’s like the rep was talking for a very long time uninterrupted, and very little talking from the customer’s end.

Again, how you interpret that data is important. Probably many people have different interpretations of that data, which means correlation and causation are different things, but what that means to me is that cold calling is not about discovery. If you open a cold call and say, “John, what are your biggest strategic priorities coming into this year?” You’re probably going to laugh in my face or hang up on me.

Cold calling is about making a highly targeted and resonant pitch to sell the meeting. The best way you can do that is knowing your buyers. Part of that is research, and that’s going to be on the shoulders of the rep or the SDR. Maybe I’m biased, a lot of that comes down to product marketing. Is product marketing helping you understand your buyer personas, their pain points? Are they doing research into the market to arm you to speak resonantly? Or are you going in and guessing?

JOHN BARROWS: I absolutely love that, because I preach that. One of the things I use to train reps on is, the old school GlenGarry Glen Ross. Great movie, but depressing as shit. But in there, he does his, “Always be closing“, but he talks about AIDA, attention, interest, desire, action. I looked that up, 1898 a guy by the name of St. Elmo Lewis came up with these. These are the four mental stages we have to go through before we buy something.

ALEC BALDWIN GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS ALWAYS BE CLOSING FULL SPEECH - YouTube

First, something needs to get our attention. Then we have to be interested in it. Then we have to have a desire. So what I say, you have five to fifteen seconds to get someone’s attention. That earns you a couple of minutes where you can create interest. That’s what you’re selling. When you’re making cold calls, you are not selling your solution. You are selling time. You are selling interest. You are selling the next step.

So that makes total sense to me on a cold call because I couldn’t agree more. If some kid calls em up out of know where and says, “So John, tell me about your priorities for the year.” I’m like, “Dude, screw off. Who are you?” But if somebody comes at me and says, “Hey, John, thanks for taking my call. Real quick, the reason for my call today is, we’re showing VPs of sales, like you, in your industry, how to drive these type of results with our solution. I just wanted to see if that was worth having a deeper dive conversation or two.”

CHRIS ORLOB: Yes, good cold calling follows the same rule as really good writing. If you’ve ever studied writing, there is a rule that says, the purpose of every sentence you write, is to compel the reader to read the next sentence. Cold calling should be exactly the same. You should be economical with your words, not frivolous. Every word and every sentence you say should design, be designed, to prolong the conversation, whether it’s getting them talking, or getting them listening to your next sentence, which in turn is designed to get them to linger.

JOHN BARROWS: That’s awesome. I think that’s what a lot of people make the mistake of when cold calling or leaving voicemail messages. They are literally trying to sell their product or service during that call. So they treat it as a quick discovery. Let me ask you fifteen questions before I throw up on you, or let me just tell you literally everything about what we do to see if you’re interested in buying from it.

If you segment that down into, that’s why I love the AIDA, because it’s the same thing with emails. The subject line gets my attention. The first sentence tells me whether or not I’m interested in reading the rest of it. The next part is your value proposition to create my desire to say, “I want that”, and then there’s your call to action. It’s the same thing with calls. Literally the first few words that come out of my mouth make a difference.

CHRIS ORLOB: I was just going to say, selling doesn’t come down to knowing the tactics and strategies. It comes down to knowing which tactics and strategies apply to which situation. AIDA, if you took that as a generalized strategy to apply to all of your sales calls, you’d fail miserably. If you enter a discovery call, and you’re thinking of terms of AIDA, it’s not going to work.

When you apply AIDA to your cold call, and, I won’t be attached to the methodology here, but spin, or solution selling to your discovery, and challenge your sale to your presentation, that’s where people become super successful at selling. They know which tactics apply to which parts of the sale cycle.

JOHN BARROWS: I love it. It’s actually interesting, because going back to the A, attention, you put out a post a..

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As most of you know I’m not a huge fan of templated e-mail cadences but I do appreciate creating efficiencies throughout the sales process and adding structure where appropriate. One area in which we can add structure to is how we follow up with a prospective client after a good discovery call.

Too many of us don’t have a process and end up ‘touching base’ and ‘checking in’ until the frustration kicks in and we start doing some unnatural things to get a response. It becomes subjective and emotional which doesn’t do anyone any good.

You want to make the process as objective and unemotional as you can. It’s about setting very clear expectations with the prospect about the process, documenting it and holding them accountable along the way. If they don’t respond there is only so much you can do before you need to move on, which is why making it objective matters. It allows you to know when to move on.

Here’s the process we follow. If you decide to implement this approach PLEASE make it your own and don’t just copy word for word.

Set Expectations at the End of Qualification Call
  1. Set expectations for summary e-mail:
    “I’ll be sending you a summary e-mail with what I was able to gain from our conversation. Could you do me a favor and look it over and e-mail me back to let me know if it’s all accurate and if I missed anything?”
  2. Get a defined next step:
    “When do you want to schedule a follow up call so I can get your feedback and talk about next steps? Do you have your calendar in front of you?”
After the Call
  1. Send the summary email. Subject line = Your JBarrows Sales Training Follow Up.
  2. Send the meeting invitation for the follow up call.
  3. Follow up (if they don’t agree to a scheduled follow up call). See our suggested sequence below.
The Follow Up Email Sequence

Email 1 (1 week after qualification call)

(‘Reply all’ to summary email, keep original subject line)

Hi [name], have you had a chance to look through the content yet?  Let me know if you have any questions and what the next steps are.

Email 2 (4-7 days after email 1)

(‘Reply all’ to summary email, keep original subject line)

Hi [name], when are you free for a quick follow up call?

Email 3 (3 days after email 2)

(‘Reply all’ to the summary email, change the subject line to “Still interested?)

Hi [name], could you let me know where things stand and if you’re still interested in the training either way so I don’t continue with unnecessary follow up?

Email4 (3-4 days after email 3)

(‘Reply all’ to summary email, change the subject line to “Did I lose you?)

(no content in the body other than your signature line and the other 3 emails you sent previously)

Email5 (3-4 days after email 4)

(‘Reply all’ to summary email, keep subject line “Did I lose you?)

I’ll leave you alone at this point.  If training/prospecting ever comes back up to the top of the priority list feel free to reach back out to me directly.  Good luck with everything.

Closeout activities and set another activity for 3-6 months out to see if they want to re-engage.

Good luck. Make It Happen!

The Summary E-mail: Aligning Expectations - YouTube

The post The Qualification Call Follow Up Process appeared first on JBarrows.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Cars can drive themselves. Filmmakers can replace actors with CGI. Conversations can be automated with a computer program. For years, we’ve needed a human element to get where we want to go, to build connections with people, and to communicate with others, and everywhere you look, that human element is becoming more and more irrelevant. What’s more, it’s starting to wreak havoc in the sales industry.

If you’re like me, you’re already starting to see artificial intelligence and automation making human sales reps more and more superfluous.

Think that sounds a little wild? I bought a Tesla last year online. I didn’t talk to a single sales rep. I went online, I configured it, they drove the car to my house, and that was it. Artificial intelligence and automated communication took over the sales part of buying a car. There was zero human intervention.

With the technology to automate conversations with customers and the logistics of a sale, what’s the value of a sales rep anymore?

The most compelling answer that I know of is that the value of sales reps is closely tied to their ability to provide context. Pulling from a presentation I recently did for Visualize Summit for Sales, sponsored by Lucidchart, and a keynote I did recently at the Sales Assembly Summit, I’ll share my insights on how to use context to make yourself more valuable than the sales robot.

What is context and why is it important?

One of my favorite influencers is Gary Vaynerchuk (and if you’re not following Gary Vaynerchuk, I highly recommend you do). Everybody talks about how content is king, but Gary’s response to that statement is “Fine. If content is king, then context is God.” And that statement got me thinking about the role of marketing versus sales.

Marketing’s job is to provide content, relevant information that customers can reference as they learn about a product. Sales’ job is to provide customers with context, tailoring generalized messages from marketing to be specific to individual customers.

But that’s not what sales reps are doing these days. If you think about it, the average sales rep is starting to look more and more like a marketer: blasting out template emails, pressing play on scripted demos, sharing stuff on social without an opinion. That is just providing content, and I do not need a human being to do that anymore. Providing content is where the average sales reps will meet their downfall.

So how do sales reps rise above average to provide context instead of content? I want to dive into some tactics for email writing, for building social presence and your personal brand, and for presenting and demoing so that you can walk away and apply context to your sales during your day-to-day activities.

Providing context for emails

There are plenty of cool tools out there right now like SalesLoft, Outreach.io, and Yesware that are supposed to be sales efficiency tools. The problem is that average sales reps are using them as sales automation tools. They’re just taking template emails that marketing gives them, putting them into cadences, and pressing play, without putting any thought behind them. That’s providing content.

Personalizing emails with “why you, why now”

In my training, I build off of Jeff Hoffman’s email technique called “Why you, why you now” to help sales reps learn how to provide context in their emails.

The technique is pretty self-explanatory. You need to find a way to answer the two essential questions: why I am contacting you and why I am contacting you now.

In order to answer these essential questions, you need to visit the company’s website and do some research. For your top accounts, it’s also helpful to do some listening via social media (I like to use social listening tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Owler) to find out what big initiatives are driving the company forward. As you do your research, you are looking for buying triggers. Did they open up a new office recently? Launch a new product? Grow a lot?

Once you have some context to provide around the two essential questions—”Why you, why you now”—you can craft your email. Here’s a quick example where I start with the “why you?” (context) and then show the “why you now?” (buying trigger):

Hey xxxx,

I was doing some research and I noticed … [insert context / buying trigger here]. I’m reaching out to you because a lot of our clients leverage our solutions when [context/trigger] happens, and these are the results they get: [list some results]. Whom can I talk to about that?

I know what you’re thinking: “I can’t spend a half an hour writing every email that I want to write. I have to do 20, 30, 40, or 50+ dials a day, so I can’t spend a half an hour writing every email.”

Here’s a way to make these emails efficient: Pick five specific events or triggers that commonly occur across your customer base where your business typically adds value. Some examples include:

  • Opening up a new office
  • Launching a new product
  • Merging with another company
  • Growing quickly

Then come up with messaging about how your solution addresses those triggers specifically.  When I hear about one of these triggers through social media or information on the website, I open up my trigger template, scrub it up a little bit, and fire it off. I’ve just done some really high-quality prospecting in a very efficient way.

Also, try out these tips to make your emails shine:

  • Don’t start your emails off with “I’d like to introduce myself to you” or “We’re the leading provider of…” Nobody cares about that. The only thing readers care about is themselves.
  • Add a call to action. Tell them what you’d like them to do next.
  • Keep your emails short—under one or two scrolls on an iPhone.
  • Sign up for marketing email blasts so that you know what your prospects are already getting from you/your company in their inbox, especially if those emails have your name on them.

That last point is especially important—I don’t want a client to get inundated with templated emails from me when they are already receiving marketing emails, only to hear from me a couple weeks later in a more personalized way.

Using mass marketing emails to your advantage

When I see a piece of content that marketing sends to the masses, whether it’s a newsletter or a webinar invite, I find the 5 to 10 clients in my territory who I want to stay top of mind with and who could get value out of that piece of content. I send the content to these clients directly and say something like this:

“I’m sure you probably saw this from our marketing department. I was reading through this piece the other day, and I thought it was interesting because it addressed [insert relevant information here]. Based on our previous conversations, I thought you might want to take a look at it.”

It’s even better when you can point out specifically where they’re going to find value. For example:

“Based on what I know about your company, at around minute 15 to minute 32 is really where the core value of this webinar is. The presenter was talking about some very tactical things there. Thought you might find that interesting.”

If a rep would ever send me something as valuable as that, I would fall out of my chair.

So as you personalize your emails and show your customers exactly where to draw connections and find value, you’re well on your way to adding the valuable context to content from an email standpoint.

Providing context for social and brand building

Another way sales reps can go above and beyond robotic selling is to build their personal brands, especially on social media. Again, I’ve seen automation be the enemy here: marketing departments sometimes tie a marketing engine to every sales rep’s Twitter account and blast out robotic tweets from all of them. I don’t need a live sales rep for that.

So how do you do social the easy way? When social selling first came out, I was not at all excited that there was yet another thing I had to do to be successful in sales. It flipped for me when I started looking at social selling as self-education. I started using tools like Feedly to send me content that improves my business acumen and helps me learn about my clients and the industry that I focus on or even about the personas that I sell to.

When I read an article that I think is actually valuable, I take an extra two seconds to:

  1. Put some context around the article that explains why I think it’s interesting.
  2. Share it on LinkedIn and Twitter.

For example, I might write something like:

“Really good ebook here. If you’re a VP of sales in the SaaS industry trying to integrate social selling into your routine, you should take a look at pages 3, 8, and 12. There’s some tactical stuff that you can do immediately after reading this article.”

This approach saves you the time it takes to create your own content. You can just provide people with great content that is already written. You’ll still be the one your clients will thank when you provide them with valuable context around the content.

Providing context for presentations and demos

My least favorite part of the sales process is the demo because every single demo is exactly the same. I listen to three to five demos every week because all of these sales technology companies want to pitch their products to me so I can potentially introduce the technology to my client base.

Here’s what to avoid in the standard sales demo:

  • Asking “Is this still a good time?”—What kind of a response are you expecting? “Please hang on a minute while I check my email?” The client scheduled this time for you to spend with them. Get started with the conversation.
  • Going through every single slide—Sales demos should not simply be you reading through all of the slides. Clients don’t need you for that; they can do that part themselves.
  • Constantly saying “Does that make sense?”—People will generally say “yes” to this question, and then at the end of the demo, they’ll say, “I’m gonna need a little time to digest what you said.” If you ever hear that, stop and apologize to the person because you just wasted their time. It is our job to help people digest information.

How do you make your demos outstanding? You provide context. Here’s how:

Email your prospect the day before the demo

You can get the essential information you need to tailor a demo if you learn first about your prospect’s goals and priorities. Provide an agenda for the demo and ask if your prospect would please add to the list of items to cover. This initial email is also a great opportunity to confirm the qualification information you received from your SDR or BDR.

Here’s an example:

“I’m looking forward to our meeting tomorrow. In order to get the most out of our time together, I’ve put together a brief agenda that will cover [insert key presentation points] items. I heard from my colleague that [BDR/SDR information] is also important to you and wanted to confirm if that is still the case.

Could you do me a favor and email me back to let me know what else you’d like to add to the agenda and to confirm that I understand your priorities?”

It doesn’t actually matter whether or not they respond. The important thing is that I can later use this email to start our conversation with goals, priorities, initiatives, and the bigger picture so that I can tailor my demo (more details below).

Figure out when you’re going to lose their attention

When you start the demo, you want to know when people are going to start tuning you out. So just ask them.

“Do you have a hard stop at 2:00?”

If they have a hard stop at 2:00, around 1:50 or 1:55 they are going to start thinking about their next meeting. Plan to get the essential material in early.

Use the agenda email to drive a value-based conversation and tailor your presentation

Because you sent an agenda email, you can set expectations for the content of the demo and start the conversation as a big-picture, value-based discussion. I usually start by saying something like this:

“You may or may not have seen the agenda I sent out yesterday. I just want to make sure that we get the most of our time together. I have a 30-page slide deck here to show you, and it usually takes about 30 minutes. Instead of going through the whole deck with you, I would like to focus on what’s most important.

If we could start here by talking about what you want to get out of today’s presentation, that would be very helpful. Help me understand from a business standpoint where are you trying to go. How are you trying to scale?”

Based on that 5- to 10-minute preface conversation, you can start going through your presentation with the customer’s priorities in mind. You can highlight the areas that they were most interested in, and you can diminish or skip the ones that weren’t as important for helping them achieve their goals.

Check for understanding by asking the client to put your solution into their business context

Instead of asking “Does that make sense?” every few minutes, you can pause intermittently and say:

“Okay, this component of our solution is actually something that you said was a priority for you. Could you explain to me how you see our solution fitting into your existing workflow? Or could you share with me how our solution compares to what you’re doing now?”

If your client struggles to explain how your solution fits in, you know you haven’t communicated your solution clearly enough. Ask some more questions to understand where the gaps are and fill them in to make sure your message comes across crystal clear.

Adding value with context

Your email cadence approach, personal brand building, and demoing tactics are huge areas of opportunity for any sales rep, but they can also be danger zones if you’re one of the reps who continues to just push play, providing content instead of context.
I don’t have all the answers about what it will take to stay relevant long-term. Start thinking about how you can improve and how you can stay relevant in today’s world. Look at every single aspect of the sales process, of your business, of the tools that you use, and ask yourself, “Is this content? How can I put my context around this to add a valuable human element there?”

To learn how other thought leaders are answering these questions, check out other sessions from the Visualize Summit for Sales.

During the event, Lucidchart made an exciting announcement about the Lucidchart Sales Solution, which is designed to drive success for sales reps, technical sales, sales operations, and sales leadership at every stage of the sales cycle. The solution includes Lucidchart for Salesforce, a brand-new integration that allows you to automatically import your Salesforce contacts into Lucidchart to easily build account maps. Account maps can be a great way to enable collaboration with marketing, customer success, and sales leadership so that your customers receive consistent, personalized communication. Give it a try!

Make it happen!

The post How to Sell Smarter than Automated Communication and Artificial Intelligence appeared first on JBarrows.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Something I get asked a couple of times a week and usually has a lot of engagement when I share it on social, is the topic of voicemails. There is always a debate if leaving voicemails still makes sense in 2018. The answer, for a number of reasons, is yes.

Why you should leave a voicemail

Look, I get it, no one calls anyone back anymore. Many people don’t even have desk phones at this point, so why should you even bother leaving voicemails? There is one main reason I still leave voicemails and it’s not because I expect a callback. It’s because my e-mail response rates go up when I leave voicemails. Here are some other reasons to consider:

Practice

Voicemail can be a great opportunity to practice your “pitch” or value statements and getting them down to a short, concise message that gets people’s attention. The more you practice the more confident you become in your approach, so when you get someone on the phone and only have a few seconds (less than you even have on a voicemail) you have a chance at getting them engaged.

It’s a good idea to cold call yourself every once in a while as well so you can hear what you sound like. I used to cold call myself and leave a message for the last call of the day, so when I got into the office in the morning it was the first message I heard and I could evaluate whether I liked it or not and make adjustments as needed. I also recommend cold calling your boss every once in a while, leave a message and then ask for feedback. Not only will you hopefully get some good coaching, but it’s a great way to win some brownie points if you’re looking for some.

I also wrote a few months back about how the reps who have been leaving voicemail are going to crush video.

Maybe your prospects like voicemail

I keep seeing this commercial with this guy who really likes when people notice his new haircut talking about people who like things and he says “Maybe you like when you get a voicemail, I know I do.” You never know what a prospect likes, and they may value that you took the time to leave them a message over someone who doesn’t. For example, as a GenXer I grew up on the phone and so I don’t mind talking to people.

Also, different people like communicating in different ways. There is a study on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that talks about how there are three types of communication types: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Each type of communication style has a preferred communication method. For example, Visuals talk fast and use their hands to communicate. They use words like aim, blind, blush, and show. Auditories are slightly slower paced and use words like rave, resonate, and articulate. These are people who will talk to you all day long but their emails are only one or two lines. The best way to sell to them is over the phone. Kinesthetics are much slower paced and really think through their answers before they give them to you. They use words like cut, tackle, and concrete. The best way to sell to a Kinesthetic is face to face. The second best way is email because they can touch it and take their time. The worst way is over the phone. These are the people who will write well thought out, very detailed emails but almost never want to talk to you.

The impact of NLP is why you need to mix up your contact strategy between emails, calls, social media presence, and even sending something in the mail every once in a while. If you send multiple emails to an Auditory your chances of them responding drop. If you make multiple phone calls to a Kinesthetic your chances of them responding drop. Mix up your communication methods; it increases your chances of making an impression.

Little additional effort

Good voicemails should be no longer than 20-30 seconds and focus on getting someone’s attention, not trying to sell them on your solution. If you make 200 dials a week (which is over 10,000 a year!) and you leave a voicemail for everyone (which would never be the case) leaving voicemail takes a maximum of an additional 100 minutes a week, that’s less than 20 minutes a day. In my opinion, we all have 20 minutes throughout the day.

Guarantee

Here’s an example my old boss gave me to help hammer home why voicemails were important. Let’s say we have two different reps – Rep A and Rep B. Rep A makes 20 phone calls and leaves 20 voicemails. Rep B makes 20 calls and leaves zero voicemails. What can I absolutely guarantee tomorrow? I can’t guarantee Rep A will get a callback, but I can 100% guarantee Rep B won’t.

Qualities of a good voicemail

A good voicemail is long enough to cover why you’re calling, and your contact information. One of the most common mistakes that reps make while leaving a voicemail is making them too long. There is no reason a voicemail needs to be longer than 20-30 seconds.

Not trying to sell

The reason voicemails get too long is that many reps are trying to sell the client on their solution, which you fundamentally can’t (and shouldn’t) do on a voicemail. What you CAN sell is time or a callback. Your voicemail needs to get their attention and then peak their interest with something that they can see value in as well as be relevant to them or their business. Time is the most valuable asset any of us have. If you want someone’s time, it better be pretty clear that I’m going to get something of value out of calling back. “Understanding my 2018 priorities and how you can help me achieve my goals” is not adding value to my life. At least add the word “share” to your message and say something like …” and share with you some of the work and results we’re driving for other companies like yours.”

Have a Reason

Don’t just call to “touch base” or “check in.” That actually does far more harm than good. It means there is no reason for your call, so therefore there is no reason for me to listen or call you back. One of my favorite nuggets is to start all your calls or voicemails with the phrase “The reason for my call is…” because if you cannot finish that sentence you should not be making the phone call. It also gives you a lot more confidence when making calls if you have a reason.

Contact information at the End

This is one of my favorite nuggets, leave your contact information at the end. If you leave it at the start, it’s more likely the person will hang up or delete the message when they realize it’s a sales call and never listen to the rest of the message. If you have a strong attention grabber, and THEN leave your contact information, it will keep your prospect’s attention until you tell them who you are. Here’s an example of how I leave a voicemail:

Hi Bill, the reason for my call is one of my clients similar to you used our prospecting techniques during one of their call blitzes to drive 25 net new meetings with target prospects in less than an hour and I wanted to see if you’d be open to a discussion to see if we can do the same for you. Could you call me back at 555-555-5555? By the way, this is John Barrows with JBarrows Consulting. 555-555-5555.

This is not an easy technique to master since it is so ingrained in us to start our voicemails with “Hi, this is John Barrows from…” but I promise if you can figure this approach out it will make a difference.

Easy to transcribe

Be aware that not all voicemails are listened to. Many are transcribed to text or email. Keep this in mind as you leave your voicemail that they may be read instead of listened to.

Conclusion

Leaving voicemails isn’t a game changer, but if done right it gives you a better chance at success and helps you become a more well-rounded sales rep.

Make It Happen!
#KeepDialing

The post Should you leave a voicemail? appeared first on JBarrows.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

In my sales trainings I always ask reps what they think their #1 competitive differentiator is.

Most answers focus on specific features, functions, the company history, people, customer service, etc.  These are great but unfortunately, they are things your competitors are saying, too.  If your team is your differentiator, do you think your competition is saying their team is terrible but their product is awesome? If you talk about specific features, don’t you think your competition knows what those features are and how to position themselves against them?  Of course they do.

Regardless of whether or not it’s true, our competition can say or spin information however they want, and they will.  However, there is one thing they can’t say they have, which is ultimately the #1 competitive differentiator for all of us. It’s our customers and the results we drive for them.

Think about it. What do you think my #1 competitive differentiator is? Me? I wish. My good looks? Yeah right. My content? It’s good but there is other good content out there.  None of that resonates more than “I train Salesforce, Google, Tableau and Marketo how to sell.”  It’s also something my competition can’t say they do.

What we (our Marketing departments) say about us is usually ok but rarely believable to a client. A third-party validation is always better.

What our customers say is gold.  This is why the best marketing material we have is our client testimonials.  What kind of results have you been able to drive for other clients like the ones you’re targeting?  If we have this information, we can leverage it throughout the sales process.

Here are a few examples:
  1. Messaging When Prospecting: “We showed XYZ Company in your industry how to drive ABC results, and I’d like to speak to you about it.”
  2. Objection Handling: “I can appreciate your concern. We had another client in a similar situation with similar concerns. After they implemented our solution, they were able to see XYZ results. Would you be open to learning how?”
  3. The Sales Pitch / Presentation: Instead of a powerpoint presentation, tell a story of a client you worked with. This is a far better way of presenting the benefits of your solution than giving a pitch.

These are just a few areas where we can leverage our clients to help us differentiate.

I recommend each of us read one case study a week and get to know how to tell the story.  If you don’t have any case studies, tell Marketing you need them and make sure they get specific results you can point to. Also, don’t wait for Marketing if you don’t have to. Call a satisfied client and ask them, “If someone asked you what value we bring to you and your company, what would you say?”  Then, take what they said and tell everyone else who fits that profile the story.

Make It Happen!

Share your story

Enter the Make It Happen Giveaway by sharing an inspiring story of when you made it happen. The winner will get a bunch of gear from my store, a license to my online portal training and my time to help them continue to Make It Happen. Let’s see what we can do to inspire each other to take it to the next level.

The post Your #1 Competitive Differentiator appeared first on JBarrows.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview