I don’t blame you – outbound sales, unlike any other channel, can provide scalable and predictable revenue, month over month, and year after year. But, of course, deciding on establishing an outbound team and succeeding at outbound are two different things. The road to outbound glory is littered with sales teams that never quite got it right or, worse yet, never got anything from their outbound experiment.
That’s because successful outbound sales take more than just an interest in new revenue, it requires consistent execution on three key pillars: consistent top-of-funnel growth, running great meetings, and establishing world-class follow-up.
Top of funnel growth
Everything starts here.
For outbound to be successful, you have to grow the top of the funnel with qualified opportunities. And the first step towards that goal is nailing your niche.
To nail your niche, we suggest sales managers do three things: define your market, divide that market into verticals (or sub-verticals), and, rank those verticals according to their potential deal value.
For example, let’s say you sell to manufacturers – that’s your market. And within manufacturing, you realize you sell to bicycle part manufacturers most often. That’s your vertical. Finally, based on the potential deal size of those bicycle part manufacturers, you rank them from most lucrative to least.
This exercise will give you immediate visibility into your market, the vertical you should target in that market, and which accounts you should spend more on acquiring (the bigger the deal size, the more you can spend on your outreach).
Running great meetings
The foundation for running great meetings is acknowledging that inbound meetings are different than outbound. Plenty of sales teams assume these are the same – that is simply not true.
For example, outbound prospects are, more often than not, unaware they even have a problem. Inbound leads, regardless of whether or not they are a good fit for your product or service, have at least determined they need help.
To bridge that gap for outbound prospects, we encourage all salespeople to adopt the “earn and learn” framework for their meetings: selling the dream, the earn, and asking revealing discovery and qualifications questions, the learn.
Let’s look at learn first: you need to tailor your outbound pitch to match the place in the buying cycle your prospect is at. If they are unaware they have a problem, look for gaps. Remember, they think they’re happy.
But don’t just show up and throw up on these calls. You have to build rapport and trust as well. This is the learning, or discovery, portion of the call. Get to know your prospect by showing an interest in what they do.
Finally, for all you sales managers out there, make sure you are conducting regular call scoring and call reviews for your team. Call scoring is a holistic review of calls, for all your reps. This is to make sure that the fundamental pieces of a call – rapport building, discovery, and establishing a time frame for a decision – are being taken care of.
Call reviews, on the other hand, are hyper-focused meetings between a manager and a rep, where they work on improving one specific piece of a call. A call review can be initiated by either a manager or a rep.
World class follow up
Sadly, only a fraction of your market is going to be ready to make a purchase within 90 days of your first call. That means there is a pot of gold waiting a few quarters down the road, for those willing to put in the work and stay top of mind with their prospects. As such, you need to execute world-class follow-up.
For example, if your prospect can’t proceed with a deal because their company is hiring a new VP of Marketing in the next quarter, make sure to follow up and ask if they made that hire. Learn those details, and make them work for you during the sales cycle.
You can also use a rotating group of emails – from the short, but effective “Hey, is this still a priority for you this quarter?” to the more informative, but less direct “Hey, I just read this blog post and thought you’d appreciate it.”
Both options will keep you on your prospect’s radar. Of course, you’ll likely have to follow up again (and again) to begin working towards a close, but that’s part of the gig. And by growing the top of the funnel, running great meetings, and establishing world-class follow-up – you’re well on your way to new revenue and making your outbound team the success it can be.
Success or failure in almost any situation doesn’t depend on our knowledge. Most of the time you know enough to succeed. The problem is not knowledge, it’s action. You may have the knowledge about what to do, but the question is, “Are you doing it consistently?”
Are you taking the consistent actions necessary to succeed?
A common example of this is with financial management. You know what you should do. You should spend less than you take in and you should save and invest some of that difference.
But for many, that’s not what happens. People go into debt, fall behind on payments and get into financial binds. It’s not lack of knowledge that puts you into that situation. It’s a failure to act on what you know and make the right decision consistently.
Sales is the same. You likely have everything you need to hit your numbers. You know how to open up the conversations, move a prospect toward a decision and close the sale.
What stops sales teams from success is not their lack of knowledge: It’s procrastination. To succeed in sales you have to consistently take the actions needed to win. You need to keep up with your daily habits of prospecting, following up and engaging with your best referral sources.
When the right actions are taken, the success follows.
So, how do you kill procrastination and remain consistent to achieve your results every time?
How to Maintain Consistency
1. Map out your quarter, month, week and day
The first step in consistency is mapping out what consistency looks like. The best way to do that is to start broad and then continually narrow in.
In order for you to have a good quarter, what are the actions that need to be taken? What are the daily tasks you need to check off? Pull out a piece of paper and document what’s needed.
Then you can narrow in. What are the tasks for a month, week and all the way to each day.
The point is to be intentional each day. You should start your work day with a plan. If you don’t have a plan, that’s where procrastination will take over.
You’ll waste the day on distractions, rather than coming in to attack the day and work through your key objectives.
2. Focus on your goals
Part of consistency is having the mental toughness to keep going even when you don’t feel like it. Motivation is fleeting. Some days you’ll be pumped up, but other days you’ll just not be feeling it.
Remember, your goal is consistency. So you can’t rely on motivation if you want to be consistent. You have to take the actions even when you don’t feel like it.
One way to do that is to focus on what excites you. What are the goals and rewards? Don’t focus on the next call, or the next step. Focus on the big picture and see those small tasks as the next step toward getting what you want.
3. Create a rhythm that works for you
Don’t look at your day as one big long 8-10 hour block. Break up your day with smaller blocks of time so you can sprint then rest.
A good practice is to batch your time. Set aside time for email and then be done. Set aside time for prospecting and then knock it out.
This is a good habit because it will make you more productive. When you batch your tasks you can stay focused on only one thing for that period of time. More importantly, you also create a rhythm that allows you to perform at a high level. You know you have a batch of time, then you’ll walk away from that and take a break.
4. Use technology and automation where you can
There is no question to succeed in sales you’re going to have to put in the work. Eliminating distraction and procrastination in order to focus on high level tasks are essential for any sales team.
But that doesn’t mean you have to work for work’s sake. You want your hard work to go toward money-making activity that moves the needle.
There is technology available now that gives sales teams tremendous advantages and can keep you focused only on strategy and closing.
This is another advantage of point number 1 where you map out all your key activities. When you map out your entire month, start to look and ask questions. Which of these tasks can be outsourced or automated?
Could you implement Growbots for help with prospecting, lead generation and outbound sequences?
The more you can automate some of the simple tasks, the more you’ll be ready for action in your day because you’ll fill your time only with high value activity.
From day one at Growbots, we strive to make our platform better. To make it as useful for our customers as possible, and it’s not an easy job, let me tell you. But when we finally succeed, seeing our customers satisfied and happy, makes it worth the effort.
Growbots has changed tremendously over the years, as we have introduced many great product improvements. And today, we are going to share another one.
In case you have never heard of Zapier (as you’ve just returned from a desert island), it’s a platform that lets you integrate with over 1,000 apps, so all your favorite apps can communicate with each other.
Oh boy, it feels good to be part of the Zapier family.
What can you do with Growbots thanks to Zapier?
Integrate it with your CRM
Use Zapier to integrate Growbots with the CRM you use, no more limitations. Send your campaigns via Growbots, qualify your prospects and have the results displayed in your CRM. No more contact duplication, goodbye mess!
Do you use a meeting scheduling software like Calendly? Well, we have some good news for you! If a prospect you send your campaign to via Growbots signs up for a demo using Calendly, the campaign will be automatically stopped. No more follow-ups will be sent to that prospect.
Easily pause your campaign if your prospect converts outside of Growbots
There are many ways to acquire leads, we totally get it. So if your prospect converts on a landing page, or leaves their contact details on your homepage, your campaign in Growbots will be stopped automatically. You don’t want to annoy your prospects, and neither do we.
Use it for more precise ad targeting
Marketers, you are going to love this one. Thanks to Zapier, Growbots now integrates with ad platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Adroll. Don’t let your prospects forget about you, EVER. Target your ads at prospects you send your campaigns to. They will respond eventually.
Use it to qualify accounts in Gmail
Who said you have to qualify your prospects in your CRM? There are many ways to do it. Did you receive a positive or negative response to your campaign? Just star it in your Gmail account and it will qualify that prospect/company at Growbots.
Receive Slack notifications
Do you love Slack? Sweet, so do we! Use Slack to get push notifications about any warm replies you receive from your campaign. This will let your team quickly react to any positive response. Remember, outbound sales is all about timing, so the faster you reply the higher your chance of closing that deal!
If you decided not to use Growbots, as we did not integrate with your favorite apps, now you must give it a shot. No excuses. You won’t regret it.
Middle managers can only spend the money they are allocated. C-suite executives at the VP level and higher can create the funds if they are truly convinced they need your solution.
So if people aren’t buying, ask yourself if you need to be selling higher up the food chain.
2. No power.
The second most common reason salespeople run into for why people aren’t buying is no power. In the simplest terms, it just means that you’re selling to someone who doesn’t have the authority to make decisions.
Before you walk too far down the sales path with someone, make sure that they have the power to close the deal at the end of it.
If not, ask for a recommendation of who you should be speaking with to move forward with adopting your solution.
If you are speaking with the true decision maker within an organization, make sure that you are speaking to their top priorities. What C-suite thinks about will be different from an employee or mid-level manager.
It is so important to understand what will resonate with a VP or higher when closing a sale.
3. No trust.
Developing a strong relationship with the decision maker within an organization is crucial to closing a sale. If people aren’t buying, it might be because they don’t trust you.
Even if a sale goes forward, you will likely see a high churn rate as clients turn to competitors.
Think about it this way: salespeople can fall into different categories in a prospect’s mind.
Depending upon your relationship, they might view you as someone selling something, a reliable vendor, or a strategic partner.
If you can, build relationships where prospects view you as valuable, trusted partners in business, you will win out over other competitors even if the cost is higher.
Why do you struggle to connect with some decision makers? A study found that buyers cited five key reasons why there isn’t ‘chemistry’ with a salesperson. These are:
The salesperson was too pushy.
The salesperson had a different communication style.
The salesperson’s personality was very different from mine.
The salesperson seemed overeager to befriend me.
The salesperson was a different age than me.
If you are struggling to connect with someone, consider these criteria. Is there a way you can meet the prospect on their level?
4. No urgency.
If you are talking to someone high enough up in the food chain to make real change within their organization, your solution might just be one solution to many problems clamoring for their attention.
If the problem you are solving isn’t the most urgent problem for the organization to solve, you might find that the sales path begins to meander.
If people aren’t buying, ask yourself, “What’s the urgency? How can I make this problem more important for them to fix? How do I illustrate the value we can offer that they need right now?”
Once you can find a way to tap into your prospect’s biggest priorities, you will remove another roadblock in the way to closing the deal.
5. No risk management.
With any purchase, there is a risk. Your prospect will be asking herself, “Will this offer a high enough return on investment? Will this alleviate the issues we’re encountering?
Will this increase productivity? Will this solve our problem? Will this not create additional problems? Will it be easy to roll out and use?”
Chances are, you are not the first salesperson your prospect has dealt with. They will be preconditions to how your exchanges will go and likely maintain a healthy level of skepticism.
But even after a prospect has done her due diligence, if you find yourself spinning your wheels, it might be because you still haven’t alleviated her concerns regarding risk.
And this will change depending on the industry – and your solution. Some industries will have much higher levels of risk tolerance than others. For example, healthcare solutions will require vigorous vetting before adoption as opposed to fashion or media.
A prospect’s objection can actually be empowering. Not only do you learn additional information about your prospect and their needs, but you have a new chance to show an additional value that your solution offers.
Learning to overcome these objections and create strong relationships with key decision makers will ensure that you are much less likely to run into a dead end.
Looking for top-notch leads but tired of running into dead ends? There are tools for that.
You may have a black belt in Google search, and you might think you’re the Karate Kid of finding prospects. But this doesn’t mean that there won’t come a time when Googling for prospects just won’t cut it anymore.
In other words, blogger outreach is just like everything else in the world of digital marketing. It’s evolving all the time and you need to adapt or die.
No matter how skilled you are, working at bigger outreach campaigns will demand more and more time, and you’ll need to change your methods to survive.
Fortunately, in 2018, there’s a tool for everything. In this article, we take a look at the top 5 reasons you need to start using an outreach tool in your sales campaigns to boost productivity and efficiency.
5 Reasons You Need To Start Using An Outreach Tool In Your Sales Campaign
1. Outreach Tools Help You To Refine and Tailor Your Sales Messaging
As good as you might like to think you are at using Google Search to find prospects, the big question is how good you are at communicating with prospects.
Personalizing mass messages is hard, not just because of the sheer volume of emails you need to get through, but also because of the fact that understanding how to communicate effectively in a way that resonates with each specific prospect is tough.
This is all about personalization and having better, more productive conversations with your prospects.
The sales touch process is super important when it comes to converting prospects into customers. Fortunately, you can use tools that help you refine your communication sequencing so that your conversion rates improve – and so does your revenue.
For example, when you personalize your outreach sales emails, you can boost your sales click-through rate by an impressive 14%. Conversion rates, meanwhile, can be boosted by 10%.
When the flow of your communication is better, you’ll develop more leads. But without the use of tools, the sheer mass – and variety – of communication might prove to be too overwhelming for it to be effective.
2. Outreach Tools Let You Segment Your Customers
Imagine if you accidentally contacted one of your existing customers with an outbound campaign? Nightmare!
Or what if you failed to distinguish a contact from a lead?
These are bad scenarios that can easily happen if you aren’t leveraging outreach tools. The right tools allow you to build segments so that you categorize your prospects as contacts or leads, and so that you only contact the right people at the right time with the right campaign.
Tools also show you which prospects are worth doubling down on, and which ones need to be discarded.
3. Outreach Tools Help You Find The Best Prospects
Admit it – no matter how good you say you are at finding prospects on Google, you know that finding the best prospects is actually kinda hard and time-consuming.
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if there was a tool to help you out?
In fact, prospecting is one of the most difficult aspects of the sales process, with 68% of companies admitting that it’s a struggle.
But it’s okay because sales tech in the form of outreach tools can really help you out here. Outreach tools can help you discover high-quality leads, uncover important data on hot prospects and boost the velocity of your sales process.
With over half of our sales time wasted on fruitless prospecting that leads nowhere, making the most of outreach tools is a smart idea. These tools give you access to vital information such as a company’s leadership team (who is on it), their revenue and a list of competitors.
For SaaS companies, outreach tools give you key insights into the technologies your prospects are currently using so that you can determine how qualified a lead they really are.
Doesn’t that sound much better than trawling Google for influencers that aren’t even visible?!
4. Outreach Tools Can Speed Up The Email Process
Let’s face it, what slows many of us down are the emails.
It’s just not just one or two emails – it’s dozens of emails to dozens of different prospects. Each email must be customized, and you need to keep on top of sending them out, as well as tracking them. It can really slow you down.
As you might have already guessed, there are outreach tools that take care of all this for you.
You might always bring your A-Game to researching prospects in your niche, but tools speed up the process even more, and they also uncover prospects you might have missed, as well as key insights, such as their revenue.
From now on, sales tech should underpin your outreach campaigns so that you discover better leads while saving time.
When used properly, outreach tools help you research and discover the best prospects, communicate effectively with them, before analyzing your key metrics – such as email clicks and conversions – so that you can tweak your future campaigns.
According to a Gallup study, 25% of sales reps garner 57% of sales increases. Higher customer engagement rates also go to a fraction of those high performers. The bottom 25% of underperformers is selling less than they did the previous year.
As recruitment and training processes take a long time and absorb your resources, you want to higher those 25% of high performers. In this article, we will have a closer look at what defines a top-notch sales rep.
The first group of sales reps you will meet at a job interview is capable and willing. They are the perfect fit for a salesperson in your organization.
These professionals find it easy to hit numbers and comply with the organizational culture. They are able to cooperate within a team and sustain a positive morale.
Incapable and unwilling who comprise the second group in the quadrant are those employees you don’t want to have onboard – they are a bad culture fit and also unable to deliver results.
The third group, incapable and willing are those who don’t have the necessary skill set to be great sales reps, but they are willing to learn fast. If you have time and money to invest in such assets, then get them onboard.
But bear in mind that there is also a risk they may be sluggish and won’t show expected results.
Last, but not least, the capable but unwilling have all the right skills and will become high-performers once hired. But they may behave inappropriately and disrupt the morale of your team being unable to accept organizational culture at the same time.
If you want to get the right people on board, especially those capable and willing, read what defines high-performers and create a sales candidate profile you are looking for.
How to Hire the Best Sales Reps: 11 Must-Have Traits of High-PerformersHunger to progress
A sales rep that always pushes forward and extends their skills is a good company asset. Your choice should not necessarily fall onto the most skilled sales reps. Getting on board a rough diamond may be a significant advantage for the company.
Ability to leave their comfort zone fast
A comfort zone is the enemy of highly effective sales reps. Candidates who like challenging themselves by doing new things, experimenting and who are able to quickly adjust to a changing environment should definitely be noticed.
Ability to challenge you and engage in a discussion
Challenge your candidates, spark a heated discussion, contradict their opinion and see how they are going to react. If there is no disagreement, then how will a new sales rep be able to protect their stand during sales calls or meetings?
Look at their communication skills to check if they are the right fit for the position.
A CV doesn’t always matter
All sales talents have started somewhere. Even the most prominent didn’t have any experience when they started out. But someone saw something special in them and got them on board.
By providing rough diamonds with a fertile ground to develop and polish their skills, you will observe a positive ROI in a short time. Even if previous experience matters for getting a higher position, you still have to verify each candidate and give them a fair chance. Syed Asad Hussain from Prezly approaches everyone like if he had never seen their CVs.
Talents may come from anywhere.
They can point out flaws
If your candidate is able to identify where the leaks are in your sales process, they’re definitely the one you should consider hiring. Getting a fresh perspective on your company’s sales process is beneficial. Sometimes we just don’t notice the obvious mistakes.
This is also the reason why companies hire external consultants who can see things everyone else was blind to.
A sales rep who is highly engaged in helping your sales department do better will at least spot some elements on a sales page or in a sales process that need fixing.
Look at his social circle
What are their colleagues saying about them? What kind of people do they spend time with? What about their reputation? Social connections matter a lot, especially in the sales world.
A good candidate is investing in their social capital and understands the value of extending their social circle.
Look for a candidate who prefers quality over quantity
If your candidates invest time in understanding the needs of prospects they are about to call, they most definitely care about meaningful conversations with clients and building long-term relations.
Such an approach to selling helps sustain a high LTV of clients after onboarding. While interviewing a candidate, try to understand how they approach sales calls – with a considerable dose of preparation or no preparation at all.
A great salesperson is not afraid to hear a “NO”
Each month sales goals are reset. Each day sales reps hear a “no” and lose deals. A determined sales person never gives up and is not afraid of being rejected.
Steli Efti, CEO of Close.io believes you shouldn’t teach tolerating rejection but look for people who already have a high emotional tolerance to rejection.
Identify your candidate’s main values and ask detailed questions to get them talking about specific situations. Observe how emotional they get while talking. Try to verify if their story is credible.
Enjoy competitive sports
It’s obvious that salespeople are competitive – sales reps compare their sales numbers with the results of their colleagues.
If candidates do competitive sports like running or boxing, they will most probably enjoy competing and will want to achieve better results. Such people would want to be the number one on a leaderboard.
Great sales reps are compassionate
Each sales rep should understand their customers and believe in the product they sell. They should also comprehend how the product helps customers solve their problems.
They need to be passionate about what they do and encompass the mission to motivate their colleagues.
Would you add something to this list? Share your observations in a comment and let’s start a fruitful discussion.
By Margo Ovsienko, Growth Marketer at Callpage and Growth Forge.
Most sales reps view sales prospecting as a necessary evil. But that might just be because they’re spending time on methods that aren’t producing the results they want. The right sales prospecting methods can help generate qualified leads and more of them.
But to do it right, it’s important to know where the customer is at. And we don’t mean physically. Most buyers are 57% of the way through the sales process before they ever speak to a salesperson.
With the Internet, buyers have more resources, information, and research available that lets them be informed, consumers. Unfortunately, many salespeople rely on cold calls that treat customers as if they have no awareness of the solutions available on the market or the benefits of competitors.
One Baylor University study estimates that it can take 7.5 hours of cold calling to stumble across one qualified lead. Ouch.
The good news is that choosing the right sales prospecting methods is available to every sales rep. Buyers today, even in the B2B space, want authenticity and value.
Instead of spending time 7.5 cold calling to generate one lead, consider investing that time in one or more of these sales prospecting methods that work for you long after your initial time investment.
But first: research and prioritize prospects.
The first key to ensure that your sales prospecting methods lead to success is making sure you’re talking to the right people. And this doesn’t just mean finding the decision maker in an organization. As sales reps, prioritizing which leads to pursue can help us close more deals faster.
A buyer persona can go a long way to help you do this. For example, if the product you sell works best for startups with less than 20 employees, reaching out to the CEO of a multi-national enterprise isn’t going to be an effective use of time.
You can also use this research time to answer other questions about the company.
Does it seem like they have the bandwidth to commit to a new product right now? Are they going through a leadership transition? Do they show any awareness of your product?
Qualifying out leads is just as important as qualifying them in. Taking the time to do this research period thoroughly can save you a lot of time down the road.
5 Awesome Sales Prospecting Methods You Shouldn’t Ignore
1. Leverage social media to draw prospects out of the woodwork.
Of course, if you do B2B sales, you should be on LinkedIn. That’s where most of your customer base is likely spending time. However, it’s not the only social media site that can add value to your prospecting efforts.
Facebook Groups can be a great way to ‘let down your hair’ and show a little personality and expertise at the same time. Twitter is the smallest of the Big Four with just over 300 million users.
This means you can be a big fish in a little pond. It’s a great place to spark genuine conversation and get your name out there.
2. Establish yourself as a thought leader.
Inbound sales prospecting methods are about making your name and company familiar to prospects before you ever reach out. One great way to do this is to establish yourself as an expert in your field. The great news is this is easier than ever before.
Even if you dislike public speaking, you can start a blog, write LinkedIn posts, and contribute to industry magazines.
One great way to add value and get your name in front of future customers is by answering questions on Quora.
Not only do you have the chance to show your expertise, but these pages are read by thousands of people. This is a tactic that superstar salespeople like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferris use.
3. Host a webinar with evergreen content.
Webinars are another great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and can be a powerful sales prospecting technique that you do once and it will work for you forever.
The key is to host a webinar with evergreen content that you can use as an informational video over and over again.
Instead of hosting a webinar as an excuse to run through your sales pitch, you will want to add real value for a common pain point. For example, here at Growbots, a good webinar topic might be how to run an effective email marketing campaign.
Not only is this a topic that future customers will be interested in, but we can offer some real value when it comes to email marketing and our automated outbound sales platform.
4. Turn to your current satisfied customers.
Word-of-mouth is incredibly powerful. Take the time to reach out to current customers. Closing this loop and coming full circle is the last impression to make to ensure your customers are happy and satisfied with your product or service and the company.
Customers tend to be happiest with a new product a few weeks after the sale – once the learning period has ended and they are beginning to see real value. If you reach out to your customers at this point, it’s a great time to ask for a referral.
You may be surprised by the number of customers that know someone that might benefit from your product or service. Use this sales prospecting method to your advantage and you might find that referrals are one of your favorite ways to generate leads.
5. Automate outbound sales with a solution like Growbots.
Growbots combines prospecting and outreach into one nifty package. Using AI, it can generate a list of leads based on characteristics you are looking for, help you create a targeted email campaign to make an impact, and offer robust analytics so you can see the results of your effort.
All in all, a solution like Growbots can help reduce the man-hours associated with prospecting while still generating qualified leads.
Do you have a sales prospecting method you love but we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.
Acquiring new customers is a collective effort. So if other “parties” (think marketing, product development, customer success), do their jobs well, and sales don’t, it might eventually lead to frustration.
There are some common sales mistakes which can be easily avoided if you become aware of them.
9 most common sales mistakes (according to sales experts)
We’ve decided to ask a few well-known sales experts to name the most common sales mistakes that they came across. Here’s what they said:
Andrea Waltz, Keynote speaker, Co-Author of Go for No!
Sales Mistake #1: Making bad assumptions
All too often salespeople decide that they “know” what a prospect or client will do, will say, or will spend. And while educated guesses are okay, the reality is, we’ve all made sales presentations to people we thought were a sure thing that fell apart.
And conversely, a deal we thought had no chance of happening that turned into a yes! So, it is imperative that salespeople be willing to ask rather than assume anything during the sales process.
Many assumptions are just wrong and are usually designed to avoid rejection. But to get a ‘no’ from someone else than to tell it yourself and limit your chances for success.
Sales Mistake #2: Avoiding the word, NO
Because all salespeople want as many yeses as possible, they tend to shy from opportunities that could lead to a no. No is actually a very profitable word in the world of sales.
If you are finding out someone has no need for your product or service, that is a great no! If someone is qualified, a no can be the beginning of the dialog and not the end. No does not mean never, it means not yet.
So, instead of avoiding no salespeople should embrace it and see a no for all of the value it can offer instead of letting it get them down.
Bernadette McClelland, CEO of 3 Red Folders, Keynote Speaker on High-Performance Sales Culture Sales Mistake #3: Not being prepared to make a mistake
One of the most common sales mistakes that salespeople make when selling is they aren’t prepared to make a mistake. Let me explain.
When you check in or clarify whether you have understood something or not, you need to be OK with getting your interpretation wrong, in order to get it right.
Too many salespeople walk away from a buyer without checking in, inevitably make wrong assumptions and it ultimately costs them the business.
Too many salespeople – though completely well-intended – think their primary job is to solve problems, define solutions, add value. In fact, being ‘right’ is a necessary but not sufficient condition for getting the sale.
Particularly in B2B sales, nobody likes buying (or even listening) until they feel the salesperson has understood them.
There are several well-known phrases celebrating this simple truth: trite, but nonetheless true.
“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
“People buy with their heart, then rationalize with their brain.”
Neil Rackham, The Godfather of sales, once told me personally when I asked him the single biggest sales downfall, “being in a rush to get to the answer.” Basically the same thing.
Customers are complicit in this flaw: they seek expertise and ask for the answers. But this is not because they simply want the answer – they are just afraid to look stupid, and don’t know better which questions to ask.
What they really want is indeed the seller’s expertise, but not until the seller has demonstrated some genuine care and interest in the buyer’s particular situation. Of course, the seller has seen this problem before, and the buyer wants that expertise – but they’ve never seen this buyer before, and buyers demand to be heard first.
The solution is simple. Just take some time to genuinely listen to the buyer. It’s frankly a matter of simple respect. Once respect is given, it is offered.
A humble analogy: you go out on a blind date. The other person says to you, “so, tell me about yourself.” What do you do?
The right answer is, of course, you tell them something about yourself; it would be rude not to do so. But the key is – how long do you take doing so?
If it’s more than a minute, you will never get the next date.
What the rules of human engagement dictate is that, after about a minute, you say, “But hey enough about me, let’s talk about you. Tell me about yourself?”
Robert Cialdini wrote about this decades ago in pointing to reciprocity as the first rule of influence. Basically, if you pay attention to me, I’ll pay attention to you.
So again, the biggest single flaw/mistake/downfall of salespeople is accelerating way too rapidly to the solution.
Cian McLaughlin, CEO at Trinity Perspectives Sales Mistake #5: Being unable to answer the “So what” question
The one mistake that many (though not all) salespeople make, is that they fail to answer the ‘So What’ question which is in the minds of so many customers.
What I mean by that is that they give information in isolation to a prospect, without giving them the context as to why they should care:
Let’s look at a couple of quick examples:
We’ve got lots and lots of customers, look at all their logos on the slide behind me
“I’d like to highlight 3 specific customers from this slide to talk about, due to the similarity in the business pains they were experiencing and the fact that these might represent good customers for you to speak to when we move into the reference phase of your review process”
We’ve won lots of awards for our projects over the years
“We’re incredibly proud of the industry awards that we have received over the years because we have won them in conjunction with our customers and they recognize the commitment of our teams in delivering an exceptional project outcome.
I sincerely hope the project we’re about to embark on might be nominated for an industry award also”
We have a very low employee attrition rate in our business
“Our employee attrition rate is well below industry standards. What that means for our customers is far greater continuity in terms of the resources working with you to deliver on your project outcomes.
It also means that we have built deep domain and industry expertise in our business, which we leverage to deliver an even better outcome for our customers”
Remember, as a prospective customer of yours:
It’s not my job to care, it’s your job to make me care
It’s not my job to search for the relevance, it’s your job to highlight the relevance
It’s not my job to make the link, you need to ensure you create the link for me.
One of the most common sales mistakes salespeople make is not being prepared to demonstrate a strong business case for change. Our research shows that this tendency towards remaining in one’s current situation – what behavioral scientists call the status quo bias – is a salesperson’s #1 competitor.
Think about it. You’ve lost more sales to nothing than to someone. As a result, during the first interaction with potential clients, salespeople need to be prepared to provide compelling reasons why potential clients should consider making a change.
Sales Mistake #7: Focusing too much on a checklist
One of the most common sales mistakes that salespeople make is worrying about going through a checklist of boring details rather than getting their potential client excited.
Sales is an emotional thing. You have to show them why you care and why you’re excited in order for them to feel the same excitement. Don’t get caught up in the minor details. You don’t get people to care by just reading off a boring list of features and details. That’s not going to get them excited.
For example, if someone wants to buy a microwave, they’re probably just looking for a microwave that can simply reheat food. And they either like the way the microwave looks or they don’t.
Most people can care less if it can also defrost, sensor reheat, etc. But a lot of salespeople place their faith in all the additional details rather than trying to get them excited about having a microwave and being able to reheat their food.
Mike Schultz, President at Rain Group Sales Mistake #8: Not being able to control their time
One of the biggest mistakes many sellers make today is that they don’t know how to control their time. Habit No. 4 in The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity eBook is Obsess Over TIME.
To be productive and achieve the best results, sales reps need to determine exactly how much of the time they’re spending is Treasured, Investment, Mandatory and Empty.
If they closely monitor and understand how they’re spending their time, they can make changes to minimize Mandatory and increase Investment. Sellers need to make time management a priority if they want to achieve superior results.
Nancy Bleeke, President and Chief Sales Officer at Sales Pro Insider Sales Mistake #9: Pitching too early
The biggest mistake I see universally made is pitching. Pitching too early. Pitching without the right focus. And Pitching period. Why? Pitching is a one-way “throw” of information versus a conversation.
When reps don’t know a specific problem, opportunity, want or need of the specific person they are talking with, they are likely “pitching up the wrong tree.”
Do these sales mistakes sound familiar? Is there anything we have forgotten about? Let us know in the comments.
What is the one thing that all prosperous organizations like Amazon, Apple, Zappos etc. have in common?
Good leadership. They’re all managed by great leaders.
As explained by Warren Bennis “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Therefore, you cannot overestimate the importance of leadership.
The Importance of Leadership
Leaders including company founders, CEO’s or mid-level management set a direction in which the company is supposed to go. They define business goals and make sure that all employees are aligned in reaching these goals.
They make a lot of important decisions which can have a massive impact on their company’s future. I guess that’s why we say that leaders can make or break organizations.
It works well in an environment where employees are very competent and where the leader doesn’t have a deep understanding of the discussed issue.
The best leaders are able to switch between different leadership styles, depending on the situation they are in.
How not to suck as a leader.
There is a set of characteristics that great leaders tend to display. They include but are not limited to:
I don’t know about you, but I love working with wise people. Not only because there is a lot I can learn from them, but also because often wisdom generates trust.
You believe that wise people will make wise decisions that will benefit you and the business, don’t you?
That’s why it’s so crucial for leaders to be wise because decisions they’ll make, will not only impact them but the entire organization.
The best leaders are the experienced ones, those who have “been through” a lot in their careers. They held various positions, so they know what it feels like to be an intern, a specialist, a senior manager etc.
It makes communicating with different stakeholders/employees way easier.
Since they were in a similar situation in the past, they can empathize with them, and better understand their needs.
Also, as they have a “long career path”, high chances are they’ve been in many different sometimes difficult situations before.
Hopefully, they learned lots from them, and now they’re able to make better decisions.
Experience builds authority, and you can’t call someone a leader if they lack authority.
A lot of people think that it’s a must-have trait. And while a moderate amount of charisma is definitely required in a leader, too much of it creates nothing but trouble.
A leadership study done at Ghent University has discovered that “Leaders with both low and high charismatic personalities were perceived as being less effective than leaders with moderate levels of charisma”.
Too much charisma might constitute an attempt to cover up a lack of experience, and that’s dangerous.
It’s never good to blindly follow a leader, and overly charismatic leaders tend to create a large following pretty easily.
The right dose of charisma, however, will help inspire and motivate employees.
You can be the smartest and the most experienced leader but if you don’t know how to communicate your ideas:
They will never get executed on
Noone will be able to appreciate your “genius”
People won’t be able to learn from you, which sucks massively, because you’re preventing collective learning which definitely will have a negative impact on your entire business. Smarter employees = a better prospering organization.
Don’t keep it all in your head, as you’re the only person who has access to it…
How you communicate your ideas and your vision will influence your employees thinking, behavior and their willingness to follow your vision.
Commitment and motivation
A good leader is committed to the cause and genuinely believes in it.
How motivated company’s leadership is will affect employee morale, as leaders should be the driving force behind achieving company goals.
I know we’re all human, and that sometimes we go through a motivational crisis, but (and you can hate me for it), good leaders can’t afford it.
If you struggle to run productive sales meetings, you’re not alone.
Unfortunately, too many sales meetings become a forum for off-topic discussion or a podium for announcements that could be sent in an email.
And these types of meetings do come with a cost. Not only do they tend to demotivate employees, but the cost of the sales reps’ salaries, the overhead for the meeting room, and utilities quickly add up.
One study found that a single weekly meeting of midlevel managers cost an organization $15 million a year. Most employees attend an average of 62 meetings a month with executives spending 40-50% of their time in meetings.
There are estimates that over a third of these meetings are ineffective and unproductive. You can see how this can quickly add up for an organization.
However, meetings are not inherently unproductive. Meetings are the perfect place for collaboration – brainstorming sessions, knowledge sharing, and project updates are all great reasons to hold a meeting.
And with so many of our sales teams spread across the country or the globe, holding meetings is more important than ever.
The good news is that by following a few simple principles, you can cut back on unproductive, wasteful meetings and focus on meetings that produce results.
Just like a great sales call has its own agenda and schedule, so too can a productive sales meeting.
In fact, many of the same best practices your sales reps follow for a successful sales call are the same ideas you can apply to productive sales meetings.
How to Run More Productive Sales Meetings In 6 Easy Steps
These are five best practices for productive sales meetings that anyone can employ to produce results.
1. Write an agenda.
A sales meeting without a plan can quickly go off the rails and head into ‘conversation’ territory. An agenda not only sets the expectations for the meeting but also a schedule.
It will help you in the meeting to determine when the talk is veering off topic, but it will also give your sales reps the chance to prepare.
Whether they need to come armed with their sales figures for the last month or three commitments for the week ahead, your sales reps are as important in ensuring your meeting is productive.
An agenda should include:
The purpose of your meeting. Why are you holding it?
List of attendees (so there’s no confusion).
How to attend. This is often the location and time, but it might also be a dial-in number for digital meetings.
Topics to discuss and allotted time for each.
Decisions to make and allotted time for each.
Call to action. Your sales reps should leave with a task. What are they going to accomplish before the next meeting
2. Choose one key issue to focus on.
If you want to run short, but productive sales meetings it is important to narrow the focus of the meeting.
Trying to cover last week’s performance, long-term sales objectives, the details of a new product launch, creating a new sales contest, and planning the company lunch will quickly turn a 45-minute meeting into a three-hour time drain.
Picking the most important issue not only helps eliminate distractions and tangents, but it gives you the time to drill down and focus on the details.
When you start building meetings around a time limit and with an agenda, you will find your productivity soars. Your sales reps will have a chance to come prepared and talk about and make decisions regarding a topic and leave feeling refreshed and motivated.
3. Recognize performance.
If it is one thing that sales reps love, it is recognition for their success. You can set aside a few minutes of your meeting to give your team their moment to shine.
Managers are often busy, caught in meetings of their own, and putting out fires left and right, which can leave little time to note your team’s accomplishments. Carving out a few minutes is a great way to create this time to show your team that you do see their work and their contributions.
Jason Fried, in a TED Talk, offered a wonderful definition for meetings: “Meetings are places to go to talk about things you’re supposed to be doing later.” So make the steps clear – and clearly linked to their goals.
When your sales reps leave the meeting, they should be clear on their goals, next steps, and deadlines.
6. Write a follow-up email.
Sending an email to the meeting’s members can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and tie up any loose ends. This is where you can set out of the minutes of the meeting to document what was discussed and the goals moving forward.
This can be a great resource for your sales reps until the next meeting.