Face-to-face sales interactions are typically viewed as the most valuable activity by Sales Leaders. 5 years ago they were right. Nothing was more important than executing in the trenches. But during those times, the trenches were out in the field. In this post we will explore how the trenches have changed. Today,getting in the door is more difficult than executing face-to-face sales calls.
Today your sales people have multiple product specialists, overlays, and management support. But these resources don’t engage until they get in front on someone. The vast majority of training is focused on selling once you are face-to-face. But buyers are much more informed today. This fact makes getting in the door more than half the battle.
The primary differentiator of today's top Sales Rep is the ability to prospect. This could be prospecting for new business or different buying centers within existing customers. Both are difficult. Both are where the potential is. Managing a relationship or taking orders from existing customers are table-stakes. Opening new doors is a unique and difficult skill. Few are really good at it.
We have captured 5 modern prospecting best practices from top performers. Download this tool to rapidly improve your prospecting results.
I recently had a discussion with a Sales Leader about his team’s ability to prospect.
He told me that, “Prospecting is a basic skillset all my reps should have.”
I asked what skills he was referring to. He couldn’t articulate their prospecting strategy. He basically told me they should make cold calls and “beat the streets”. I then asked how they make phone calls and what their success rate is. He gave me a blank stare. "What do you mean? They call and explain who they are and why they are calling. Then they ask for an appointment."
As shocking as this example may seem, it is the norm. A majority of sales people are terrible at prospecting. They call the same buyer each week hoping something has changed. They open a phone call with what their company provides. They knock on a door and leave a business card. The success rate using outdated methods and poor messaging is under 5%. And Sales Managers wonder why their people aren’t prospecting.
Why do sales people inflict so much pain on themselves?
They are instructed to use outdated prospecting techniques
They are resistant to change and make excuses such as, “our buyers aren’t on social media”
Most sales training is focused on execution once in the door
Organizations inhibit the use of modern prospecting methods
They make the mistake of relying on someone else to prospect
How to get in the door:
Approach the right doors - some doors aren’t worth approaching. Is your sales team focused on customers with the highest potential to buy your solution? Or do they call on low value prospects and saturated customers? Clearly define your target audience first.
Buyer Centric Messaging - have you ever had a feeling that an advertisement was meant for you? It may have been 1 out of 100 advertisements. The goal is to make every communication speak directly to your buyer. You should understand them so well they think you have their job. Speak directly to the buyer’s fears, objectives, and personal wants.
Use Social Listening – understand what your buyer cares about. Is there a better way than watching their behavior first hand? This works whether using social prospecting, email, or phone. Your buyers will give you the answer to the test and you aren’t cheating.
Refine Writing Skills – produce succinct, clear, and compelling copy that drives an actionable response. Think of how many more emails you send than conversations you have each day. We communicate via the written word much more frequently than orally. Yet we focus most of our time on improving oral communication skills. Your prospects spend more time reading about you than listening to you.
Incorporate Social Prospecting – LinkedIn is not a clogged channel. Email and the phone are. You can use relationships to get access to buyers. Using social is more effective and less painful than cold calling.
Use this tool to spread these best practices across your sales organization. Prospecting can be enjoyable and effective if approached correctly.
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