Monthly Archives: February 2016
Sales Prospecting is rarely anyone’s favorite activity
In my first post — Four Tips for Better Sales Prospecting — I shared some initial thoughts on how to make sales prospecting an integral part of the job as a sales professional. It’s not that sales prospecting is a new concept; it’s clearly at the heart of what everyone in sales should be doing continually. The issue is that it’s rarely anyone’s favorite activity and, as such, tends to fall off the to-do list when other priorities arise. That’s why I’m focusing this post on sharing more sales prospecting tips for even better demand generation.
Expect rejection. This is probably the number one reason to avoid prospecting. Rejection is a frequent outcome, as prospects decline your calls, don’t answer e-mails, or don’t give you a decisive no. Still, prospecting is a numbers game. The more you do it, the higher your chances of getting a hit. The trick is to develop a thick skin, expect attrition, and be prepared for rejection. If prospecting was easy, everyone would do it with no qualms. It’s not easy, as many prospects are resistant to changing their incumbent vendor or trying a new solution. But, if you’re prepared for rejection, it makes less of an impact when it does happen. Practice, practice, practice. Golfing legend Gary Player once said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Think of Tiger Woods in his » Continue Reading.
Sales Prospecting Requires the Will and Skill
Sales Prospecting is at the heart of what every sales professional should be doing continually. It doesn’t matter who you are, your level of experience, or your position within an organization. While it’s great to have leads provided to you by the Marketing organization and to work with existing clients, if you don’t engage in sales prospecting on a regular basis, you will struggle when the need to find new clients arises — as it always does.
Simply put, sales prospecting is a fundamental part of being in sales. Most sales professionals will admit that, yes, it has to be done, but they would probably also admit that prospecting is not their favorite activity. In recognizing its importance to selling success and the tendency to put it off or avoid it altogether, I’ve developed a list of sales prospecting tips and techniques to help make prospecting a more regular and successful part of the job.
Schedule time on your calendar. Put your commitment in writing by blocking out time on your Outlook calendar or whatever other scheduling system that you use. Set aside time each week just for prospecting, and tell yourself you’re not going to do anything else for that period. This will give you a target to aim for, with time set aside to focus on this activity. When you write something down in your calendar, you » Continue Reading.
Social Selling? Negotiating price concessions? Growing existing accounts? What are some of the biggest challenges facing sales professionals in our uncertain business environment? Richardson has the answers!
We are very excited to release The 2016 Richardson Selling Challenges Research Study. We surveyed over 400 field sales reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders and asked them to identify some of the major hurdles they are, and will be facing, in the year ahead that will impede them from achieving their goals and objectives.
The report will provide you with insight into some of the challenges sales professionals are trying to manage around prospecting into new accounts, identifying client needs, negotiating deals, managing accounts, and expanding relationships. This report will also provide you with some helpful tips on how to navigate these rough waters.
Richardson will also be developing additional articles from this this data based on a number of responder characteristics such as role, tenure, and industry. If you would like an industry specific version, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your potential options.
Please click here to download this complimentary report.
The talent pool for sales leadership comes from successful sales professionals. Organizations often reward excellence in selling by promotion into leadership roles. But, what’s missing is the realization that different skill sets are required for selling vs. managing those who sell.
Sale leaders need to build on their understanding of the sales process by adding skills in developmental sales coaching. At Richardson, we define this as an effective and time-efficient incremental coaching process that achieves results and helps make sales professionals responsible for their own development. At its foundation, this involves a shift from being a boss who evaluates performance to becoming a coach who develops team members by empowering their own growth.
What I see most often in new sales leaders is a tendency to be driven solely by metrics. They focus on deliverables from their team: the number of sales calls made, reports filed on time, and sales forecasts. These new leaders have been successful in the field, and they want to continue that success. What they don’t realize is their ability to achieve greater success rests with their capability to effectively manage their team. They need to develop their observation skills to assess how their people are doing and where they might need help. They need to recognize what’s going well, coach to verifiable outcomes, and give constructive feedback to drive success for the individual, the team, and the organization.
Moving from individual contributor to sales » Continue Reading.
Selling is a human activity. So, it makes sense for sales leadership to take a human approach to motivating their sales professionals.
On a business level, this means insuring your people have all the resources that they need to be successful and mitigating any obstacles that stand in the way.
On a personal level, it means taking the time to get inside the head of each member of your sales team to understand what is important to them and why. Do they value challenges? Do they look for recognition? Is being a part of a team important to them?
We are all different, with different strengths, and motivated by different things. The more you, as a sales leader, get to know the individuals on your sales team, the more effective you can be in articulating and driving desired behaviors. Performance for the individual and the team should improve, with your organization — and the customer — benefiting in the process.
Consider this typical leadership scenario: the ride along. Ideally, the ride along presents a mutual learning opportunity in which sales leaders see first-hand how their team members pursue a prospect or interact with a client, and sales professionals gain constructive coaching and feedback from their leaders.
What happens too often, however, is the sales leader reacts instead of responding appropriately: “I can’t believe you said that in the meeting. What were you thinking?” Or, sales leaders will jump straight to » Continue Reading.
How are you planning for rapid sales growth?
I recently met with a prospect who shared his company’s plans for rapid sales growth. I asked about the company’s salesforce and how good the salespeople are. He replied that some are better than others, some are superstars, and some are not as productive as they could be.
I asked what the superstars are doing in meetings with customers that has led to their high success rates. The prospect couldn’t really tell me. Assumptions could be made, but there is very little direct witnessing of the superstars’ selling behaviors.
Then, I asked how the sales managers are coaching the sales professionals, which is one way to gauge the selling behaviors that managers find important for success. The answer was that their coaching styles are more directive. Sales managers are telling their people what to do in each selling situation or, when participating in customer calls, taking over the calls themselves. Their first priority is to get the deal closed, not to develop the skills and craft of their sales professionals.
I immediately sensed a disconnect. If the company is planning on fast growth and hiring more sales people, then relying on sales managers to jump on calls with sales professionals to help them close deals isn’t going to allow the company to scale up very rapidly. This means that its aggressive plans for growth aren’t likely to be sustainable.
If, instead, » Continue Reading.
The B2B buying process has changed considerably in recent years, thanks to digital and social technologies. But, the one constant that can open doors or shut them forever is how well the sales professional performs in the moment of human interaction with the buyer.
Because the sale is truly made in those moments in front of the prospect and in the execution of compelling customer dialogues, there is still a great need for improvement in this area among salespeople:
Only one in ten executives say that they get value from meetings with salespeople. (Forrester Research) The #1 reason salespeople miss quota is an inability to articulate value. (Sirius Decisions) Only 17% of salespeople get a second meeting with an executive. (Forrester Research)
These numbers could be significantly improved if sales leaders coached their teams to the desired behaviors necessary for engagement.
The impact of sales coaching has proven its value time and again. According to Forrester Research, in 2014, 63.2% of organizations with a formal sales coaching methodology achieved quota vs. 54.6% of organizations without coaching. Additionally, only 27% of organizations reported having a formal coaching methodology in place.
From the salesperson’s perspective, the Amabile Study (Harvard University, 2010) found that salespeople are more motivated when they make progress and grow. This speaks to the outcome of coaching, which supports the personal and professional development of those being coached.
Additionally, in 2009, the Gallup Organization reported that top » Continue Reading.
In conversations I’ve been having lately with prospects and clients, I’ll ask how well their sales professionals are performing on the job. Their answers focus on the more tangible areas of sales performance. They might refer to lagging indicators, such as where the sales person is in relation to quota goal, revenue attainment, number of closed deals, and growth vs. the prior year. On the other hand, they might reference leading indicators, such as the number of opportunities created, value in the pipeline, or number of calls or meetings with prospects.
Even with all of these proof points, what they’re not able to evaluate very well is this simple question: How good are they? How well does each sales professional perform during those crucial moments when they’re interacting with the buyer? This kind of assessment is important because it’s really where the rubber meets the road — in those human moments of interaction.
Part of what differentiates a seller in the buyer’s mind is being able to trust the seller and knowing that the seller understands the buyer’s business and the issues that the buyer face. It is the quality of interaction, more than technical knowledge, marketing materials, or the value proposition, that creates a connection and convinces the buyer that the seller has his/her best interests in mind.
So, when I probe to find out how sellers’ sales professionals are really performing when interacting with prospects, they often don’t » Continue Reading.