The #1 Skill Your Reps Are Missing

August 18, 2013 at 7:00 AM

The ability to prospect.

These muscles have been dormant for years.  As a VP of Sales, you keep asking yourself “how do I get more leads for my team?” You are frustrated. Marketing is tired of taking the blame. Your boss is tired of hearing it. Your best reps are irritated. You tell your peers all the time, “if only we could get more at bats”. As a sales leader, you need a richer pipeline. You need to make the number now.

 


You Have Made This Shift Before

To give you context, rewind the clock.  During the mid-90’s solution selling was all the rage.  Forward thinking companies decided that they needed a sales methodology. They wanted to standardize the way their reps sold. Those that were early adopters of sales methodologies enjoyed significant gains.  The same thing is now happening with prospecting. You have a chance to get ahead of the curve.

You Need Access to Your Buyer

The economy has improved. Companies are investing in growth. Other reps are getting access. Sales leaders from other companies are not having pipeline issues. Why?  Yesterday’s prospecting techniques are less effective on today’s buyer.  If you deploy the steps reviewed during this live demonstration it gets a lot easier.

It requires a new mental model that only a small percentage of sales forces have adopted. This mental model involves the following:

 Your Reps Must Sell in the Orange

In 2011, Sales Executive Council stated that 57% of a buyer’s journey happens before a rep is present. In 2014, sales leaders told us they believe it will be as high as 70%. . The orange section below shows the self-directed portion of the buyer’s journey. The white shows where sales is typically engaged.B2B Buyers

If you agree with this concept, your team should focus on Selling in the Orange. Some might say, you need to “get in early”. By doing so, you avoid the commodity play and slugging it out on price. You must address it with focus. As a VP of Sales, if you were losing deals because your team couldn’t  address late stage risk you would fix it immediately. If you know that access in the orange is the item standing in your way, meet it with the same diligence.

Selling in the Orange—Online Prospecting

Below are two online activities utilized by sales forces on the bleeding edge. Download the complete Modern Prospecting Toolkit here

Buyer Personas-Who You Know is More Important than What You know

You are probably saying to yourself, “that is not new”.  No, the saying isn’t. The methodology is. For example, most sales forces aren’t utilizing LinkedIn  to capture the quality of their connections. Quality defined as “the number of key buyers of my product/service in my network.”

Social selling

You see an example of an enterprise software rep’s network. By tagging all of his contacts by buying persona, he knows the strength of his network. LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to categorize and label your connections.

So What—He knows who he can call to prospect. He knows which CIO he can ask for an introduction to other CIOs. Pay attention to the tag titled "Referral Sources". These are people the rep has deemed able to introduce him to other CIOs or CTOs. Your first degree connections are so important.  The rep has the ability to sell in the orange. How much easier is it generate an appointment via a warm introduction from somebody you know?

Your Profile

Is your LinkedIn profile inward out (online resume benefitting you) or outward in (focused on what you do for customers). To generate appointments in today’s world, buyers are researching you. They are doing searches. Do you show up?

Offline vs. Online if you do show up, what do they find?  In the 90’s, we used to ask for an introductory meeting.  It is now an online meet and greet.  While walking back from lunch, you can go to your LinkedIn app and put in a name. You can see who somebody isand what they do. You know who recommends them and for what. While you are on the elevator, you can forward the profile to your peer and say “what do you think?” They skim it while walking down the hallway. And based on what they see, they quickly reply. At that split second, a decision is made.  A seller is in or out. The sad part is, you may be the best provider. But due to your online introduction, you are eliminated.  Why take that risk?

What You Should Do Now—Getting Started

  1. Download the modern prospecting toolkit for your team.
  2. Update your profile and tag your contacts.
  3. Realize your network is your source of competitive advantage.
  4. Move your offline behavior to online.

Modern prospecting is early and you have an opportunity to outpace your peers. Every trend points to the 2014 number being made or missed based on selling in the orange. This is modern prospecting. Don’t get left behind.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Social Selling, Talent Management, Sales Leader, VP of Sales Resources, Sales Management, Prospecting, Director of Sales Resources

Posted by Matt Sharrers

Matt Sharrers

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