Category Archives: Sales Prospecting

January 21st, 2016

So, You Want to Sell to the C-Suite?

selling-to-the-c-suite

It’s difficult to secure a meeting, or even get through via phone or email to prospect and sell to the C-suite. I am well aware of the degree of difficulty, as I am one of those targets defending my time against countless sales professionals trying to get in the door. For the past 15 years, I have held C-suite positions with commercial training and education companies. Now, as CEO of Richardson, I am continually struck by how many sales professionals try to sell me solely by virtue of my position.

They might have better luck contacting someone on my team, someone responsible for the particular area of business that aligns with their offerings. But, they start at the top, and because I head an organization focused on helping other organizations improve their sales execution, I feel compelled to share my reflections on what works — and what doesn’t.

Epic fail on homework

The first mistake in prospecting to the C-suite is coming in totally unprepared. Instead of impressing me with their persistence in securing a meeting, some sales professionals demonstrate that they’re lazy sellers. It becomes apparent within the first 30 seconds that they don’t know very much about my business. It’s not hard to figure out that they haven’t done their homework, and they’re dead in the water from the outset.

My argument is that it’s easy to find out not only what my role is, and » Continue Reading.

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August 20th, 2015

Sales Prospecting Takes a Long-term View

sales prospecting long term

Sales Prospecting Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint!

It’s OK to want immediate results from sales prospecting. In an ideal world, every call would lead to an appointment and the start of a beautiful business relationship. A more realistic view, however, is one that recognizes sales prospecting as the long-term activity it most often becomes.

Too many people gauge sales prospecting success by the number of appointments scheduled. Yet, if your two-minute call only focused on getting in the door and your conversation didn’t cover any meaningful ground, you won’t be well prepared for any appointment that might result. So, your first meeting could easily be your last with that prospect.

I judge sales prospecting success by engagement, the kind of dialogue conducted, and whether I was able to gain a greater understanding of the prospect’s needs. Success is being able to take the next step in forming a relationship or, better yet, a partnership. An appointment may not come out of the first or second or third conversation. But, when I do finally get in the door, it will be because I have engaged the prospect in learning more about how I can solve the needs or problems at hand.

When you bring value to conversations and put the prospect first, it becomes easier to schedule follow-up calls. And your calls tend to get answered. At least, that’s been my experience with a high percentage of » Continue Reading.

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April 29th, 2015

Sales Prospecting Tips to Become More “Social”

prospecting tips

Sales Prospecting Tips to Become More “Social”

To be successful in sales, you need to be vigilant in sales prospecting and looking for new leads. How to do that in the most time-efficient way is the question.

One crucial bit of information is to know your retention rate of business. If you retain, say, 80% of your business each year, that means you lose 20%. That 20% of lost business is the minimum amount that you need to replace. Knowing this number helps you be more strategic in your prospecting.

Like B2B sales, the element of prospecting has dramatically changed in today’s mobile, social, and digital world. There’s a lot of talk about the ultra-informed buyer who uses the Web for research before ever contacting a seller. Well, two can play that game. The same tools are available to buyers and sellers alike. It’s the savvy user who works them to their advantage.

In my previous blog post, I offered prospecting tips targeted to using LinkedIn: Tips for Using LinkedIn as Part of Your Prospecting Strategy. But, LinkedIn is only one of many free social tools that can amplify your prospecting results. The following are a few others, and new ones are appearing on a regular basis.

Google Alerts: This free service from Google allows you to “Monitor the web for interesting new content.” You might » Continue Reading.

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April 27th, 2015

Tips for Using LinkedIn for Prospecting

prospecting-strategy

Using LinkedIn for Sales

With “Sells” as my last name, it seems inevitable that I would make a career in sales.

I not only love sales, I love corporate B2B sales, even as the playing field has changed considerably during my career. When I started selling in the late 1980s in Los Angeles, we didn’t have cell phones. You had to pull over on the freeway, find a payphone, and keep a pocketful of quarters.

Now there are cell phones, the Internet, and social media platforms as tools of the trade. I often ask the 20-somethings in my training sessions to raise their hands if they’re on LinkedIn. Most raise their hands. When I ask how they use it for sales prospecting, I hear crickets and get blank stares.

Effective LinkedIn Prospecting

The key to using digital prospecting and in particular, prospecting on LinkedIn, is to not only be on it, but also to use it effectively as a professional sales tool. The following are some tips for effective LinkedIn prospecting strategy.

Profiles: Make sure your profile is professional, accurate, and complete. Choose your photograph carefully. If it’s a selfie, make sure it looks professional. Don’t use a party pic or cut yourself out of a group shot. Save pictures with your family, kids, and pets for Facebook.

Upgrades: Review the additional options available » Continue Reading.

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January 26th, 2015

Overcoming Obstacles to Prospecting

Overcoming Obstacles to Prospecting

In a recent post regarding making referrals part of your prospecting, we highlighted the importance of overcoming obstacles. The point was that, while seeking referrals is one of the best ways to secure warm leads, too many sales reps fail to pursue them due to real or perceived obstacles in their way. Overcoming those obstacles will undoubtedly lead to greater success, so let’s take a deeper look at prospecting obstacles and ways to manage or avoid them.

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January 23rd, 2015

How to Make Referrals a Winning Part of Your Prospecting

referrals

How to Make Referrals a Winning Part of Your Prospecting

Of all of the possible sources of leads, referrals are often the hottest and most desirable. Brokered by someone who knows you first-hand and trusts your work, there’s an implicit recommendation instilled, which carries considerable weight. The problem is that sales reps too often fail to pursue these opportunities.

Here’s a four-step process to bolster your long-term success by getting your sales reps to take a proactive approach to gaining referrals.

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April 4th, 2014

Optimizing Your Time for Less Painful Prospecting Activities

Optimizing Your Time for Less Painful Prospecting Activities

Prospecting is one of those activities that you either love or hate. For most people in sales, it’s unavoidable. Those who hate it generally suffer from “prospecting procrastination,” which is when a person will seek out any kind of busy work in an effort to put off and avoid the dreaded task.

Perhaps it is loathed because it rarely (if ever) yields immediate gratification. Others can’t handle the hang-ups and rejection. Whatever the reason, sales reps must realize the importance of prospecting to building and sustaining a pipeline that will pay off down the road — depending on your sales cycle length.

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January 24th, 2014

Prospecting Procrastinators: How to Better Manage Your Prospecting Time, Activity, and Focus

Prospecting-Procrastinators

Prospecting Procrastinators: How to Better Manage Your Prospecting Time, Activity, and Focus

“Your timing is perfect!” are words we probably don’t hear often enough. In sales, particularly when trying to connect with prospects, those words sound wonderful because they imply that the prospect is interested in talking to you.

Sales reps can’t survive on luck when trying to get prospects on the phone. You can’t just block out two hours of your day to make your cold or warm calls because it suits your schedule. If that’s your “strategy,” then you’ll likely emerge from your office having left a series of voice mails and messages that have a slim chance of ever being returned.

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