Would you like to take the conversations your sales and channel teams are having with prospects and customers to a higher level, so they address the issues and concerns your buyers really care about?

Creating and delivering suitable content for sales conversations across the customer buying cycle is a problem in many B2B companies, however it is essential to improving the performance of the core group of salespeople.

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Note from the Editors: We in the B2B sales business love to learn new technology tools and techniques because it helps us get more done in less time. The essence of Joanne’s article is that it’s you as a human that matters and no amount of technology or technique will replace it in selling.

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Note from the Editors: If your lead generation method lacks discipline and is not producing the results you need, maybe you need to revisit who you are trying to engage. Jonathan suggests that if you target your ideal customer in your lead generation approach you are more likely to produce ideal prospects than junk leads.

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Note from the Editors: David’s tip is all about being prepared. If you don’t know something about the prospect you are trying to reach, how can you possibly hope to connect.

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Note from the Editors: The marginal cost of sending an email is zero. Barb’s tip helps overcome a common problem in email and calling technique where lazy salespeople send out generic messages with no likelihood of getting meetings.

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Note from the Editors: Paul’s Pay it Forward, always be helping strategy creates no-effort opportunities to get close to someone you don’t know, to have an initial meaningful conversation.

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Note from the Editors: Mike is not so much interested in tips, rather the opposite. This is deep insight into discovering what your ideal customer cares about, equipping yourself to create value and understanding how they buy.

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Cold calling is dead. No it’s not. Social selling rules. Unless your customers or influencers aren’t on social media. You only have 30 seconds on the phone. Unless you capture attention and take two minutes. Trigger events work. Unless you can’t find one. You need to use insights to prospect. Unless you challenge and upset your customer.

You know, it’s lucky WittyParrot is asking so many sales experts about prospecting, because nothing works, and everything does. Confused yet? So are most sales professionals today, and that’s the problem.

It’s our own fault. Tips? Really? (In my best Blazing Saddles, Sierra Madre parody voice…) “We don’ need no steenkin’ TIPS!”

An Effective, Inclusive, Customer-Focused Prospecting System

Cold calling is dead. No it’s not. Social selling rules. Unless your customers or influencers aren’t on social media. You only have 30 seconds on the phone. Unless you capture attention and take two minutes. Trigger events work. Unless you can’t find one. You need to use insights to prospect. Unless you challenge and upset your customer.

You know, it’s lucky WittyParrot is asking so many sales experts about prospecting, because nothing works, and everything does. Confused yet? So are most sales professionals today, and that’s the problem.

It’s our own fault. Tips? Really? (In my best Blazing Saddles, Sierra Madre parody voice…) “We don’ need no steenkin’ TIPS!”

An Effective, Inclusive, Customer-Focused Prospecting System

What we need is an effective, inclusive, customer-focused prospecting system. What we need is sound judgment about when to use which methodology. And what we need are the skills to execute effectively, and set appointments.

If you want to excel at lead gen and prospecting, in this day and age, and in this market, you need to put away your one-trick pony and start thinking like a real business professional. I don’t have a right answer for you, for your business, in your industry, with your customers, with your products and services. And if someone tells you they do, without analyzing your situation; run the other direction. I can’t tell you what will work for you. But I can tell you how to start thinking about it, to figure it out. This will be too vague, based on space limitations, but it will provide a framework and be a starting point.

I’ve been saying a lot lately that the path to sales growth is through customer focus. So is the path to effective prospecting. Let’s forget prospecting for a moment and step back. Let’s talk about customers and value creation instead.

There are four pillars to Sales Value Creation

  • Financial Acumen – the KPIs and metrics that matter to decision makers and the business outcomes that matter to the C-suite.
  • Operational Acumen – how you get things done, in your organization or your customers.
  • Customer Acumen – market conditions, business issues, negative implications of inaction, positive outcomes of resolution, and the resulting needs.
  • Solution Acumen – how your solutions address the needs, avoid the negative implications, provide the positive outcomes, and deliver the financial value desired by the decision-makers and C-suite execs.

There are five parts of a Customer Focus Framework

  • Modeling Buyer Personas – who are your buyers? What are their roles, goals, obstacles, opportunities? How, when and where do they research and buy?
  • Mapping the Buying Journey and Buying Process.
  • Aligning Your Sales Process and Methodology to your Buyer’s Journey.
  • Understanding Market Conditions and Buyer Issues.
  • Aligning Your Sales Solutions and Messaging (by persona, by issue, by process stage.

Customer-Focused Prospecting
With these foundations in place, you can look for the opening that allows you to deliver the right messaging to the right buyers, at the right time, in a way that will capture attention and interest.

  • You might source a trigger event through an alert service
  • You might magnetize buyers to you with content marketing, marketing automation, or you own content sharing.
  • You might have insights that you can approach some buyers with (but which aren’t a fit for others).
  • You might nurture buyers yourself through social media and orchestrate an organic opportunity to share relevant, compelling info.
  • You might benefit from an introduction or referral, based on your pay-it-forward networking and how you’ve helped others. 

If you figure this stuff out… if you truly focus on your customers and your various buyers… what you have to say and the ways you can approach them to say it, becomes clearer, and more compelling, because it’s less of a numbers game, and more of finding the people with the problems you can solve. And THAT’s a tip.

Best of success to you.


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About Mike Kunkle
Mike Kunkle is a training & organization effectiveness leader with special expertise in sales force transformation.

He spent the past 21 years as a corporate director or consultant, leading departments & projects with one purpose – improve sales results.

Mike achieves results through sales training & leadership development, implementing organization effectiveness practices & leading change efforts. Mike works for a Fortune 10 company in a sales excellence role, but freely shares his own sales transformation methodology, speaking at conferences & writing online mikekunkle.com

Topics: sales prospecting

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Note from the Editors: Jim’s article uses a fishing metaphor to explain how to use new media in combination with traditional techniques to earn the right to speak with your prospect.

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How content will help you gain attention, earn the right, and discover what’s important to prospects before you ever speak with them — to get more first meetings within 35 days than you get now.

In B2B selling to self-educating, online, on-demand buyers, the law of attraction works better than the law of intrusion. You know this instinctively, and from the way you yourself like to buy. But, you may have been trained or you work inside of a selling culture that values hunting over all else. So first, check your mindset, your belief system. If you are not open to a different approach, this isn’t for you.

You hunt first to find, then to catch.
A fisherman must go to the river to fish. But the fisherman knows after selecting the best location (your ideal customer profile), the right bait is the key to success. We continue to see sales organizations spend tremendous time and effort making outbound, cold prospecting calls, will little to no results, except the frustration of sales people. Even those who have adopted social selling techniques often simply apply the same phone and email techniques to new social communication channels.

To leverage new media it’s best to rethink your approach. We must attract buyer attention so they discover us in the first place. We must earn the right for an initial conversation with “crazy busy people”. If we prepare the ground for the seeds of our ideas, our insights will be received and will grow faster. We will “slow down to sell faster.” Buyer relevant information is the key. This information must be packaged, managed and delivered in buyer-convenient ways. To earn the right to a conversation, you must “give to get.”

You must also learn what is most important to each buyer at the specific timing of your engagement. But buyers don’t want to waste their time educating you about their problems. That’s your job. By tracking prospect content consumption you can accomplish each of these objectives.

A new prospecting approach
We suggest you create messages, and build or find content your buyers will find useful. Then engage prospects over four weeks through a combination of simultaneous voice mails and emails. We refer to these as “touches.”

The key techniques are:

  • Send a trackable email with prospect relevant content.
  • Leave a voice-mail about the prospect relevant problem your content addresses, to get the prospect to view your email and content.
  • Touch the prospect this way four times before calling to request an introduction conversation.
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For a comprehensive guide with technique checklist 35 Days to Great First Sales Meetings, go to http://bit.ly/35DaysFirstSalesMeetings (simple registration may be required).


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About Jim Burns
Jim Burns is founder and CEO of Avitage, a 20 year marketing and sales enablement company in Boston, Massachusetts.

Avitage addresses the problem that content is the key driver of go-to-market success, yet most organizations treat content as a low level tactical expense. They believe organizations that don’t embrace content as a strategic imperative and change their outdated content operations model will realize lower performance at the operational, tactical and strategic business levels.

Avitage customers get more out of content investments: quality, outputs and business outcomes, through the deployment of a leveraged content publishing system.

Topics: sales meeting

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If you’re selling into the Enterprise, remember that most enterprises prefer to buy though the established channels as they have prior relationships with them.
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Do you dream about being successful in sales?

Or do you visualize your sales success?

Do you dream about winning the order?

Or, do you visualize the actual steps you will take to help your prospect make the winning purchase decision?

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You only have only a limited number of opportunities to interact in meaningful way with each prospect during their buying cycle. As I write in my book, Zero-Time Selling, the era of the ad hoc sales call is finished. Your prospects don’t have the time to waste on unproductive sales calls with sellers that do not provide them anything of value, that do not help them move closer to making a decision.

This means that when you have the opportunity to engage with a prospect you should leave nothing to chance. You have to be prepared.

One crucial step of preparation for each sales call is to use a simple visualization technique. For each upcoming sales call with your prospects, whether it is in-person, online or on the phone, do you mentally establish a goal and a desired outcome for that interaction? And then, do you mentally walk through the steps you need to accomplish to achieve that outcome?

This is a necessary discipline that salespeople need to practice and sales managers have to coach their direct reports to use.

There are three easy steps for visualization that you can exercise to improve your sales results.

1. Establish a Desired Outcome for Each Sales Call
What is the outcome that you envision for the sales call? (This could be a phone call, video chat, in-person). The outcome needs to be defined in terms of an action your prospect will take to move one step closer to making a decision.

2. Mentally Practice the Steps You Will Take During the Call
What is the process you will follow, what are the series of steps you will take, that will result in the outcome you desire? Identify and practice the specific questions you will ask the prospect.

3. Anticipate the Prospect’s Answers and Follow-on Questions
You have to mentally visualize the “if-thens” that could occur during the sales call. What this means is that if the prospect asks question A; then what will be your response? If the customer asks Question B, then how will you respond? You need to know how you are going to answer those questions before you speak with the prospect. Create a list of these questions and visualize how you will answer them. If you want to be extra-prepared use a colleague or a manager to help you role-play and rehearse important sales calls. You can’t anticipate with 100% accuracy every question the prospect may ask, but you can prepare.

Remember that an important sales call is the time for preparation, not improvisation.

About Andy Paul
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A soughtafter speaker and business coach, Andy conducts training, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them practical selling strategies that use responsiveness, speed and simple sales processes to increase sales. More at www.zerotimeselling.com


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Topics: Sales Enablement, sales productivity

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