The Power of Potato Chips!

potato-chipsThe other day a coworker was talking about his lunch. He is counting calories and successfully losing weight. He was complaining about how you could not eat just one potato chip and said to me, “Never underestimate the power of potato chips!” As soon as I heard that phrase I knew it related to prospecting.

We all know you can’t eat just one potato chip. They are so good! Most of us have been guilty of eating chips and not even thinking about the number that have been consumed. You just keep popping them in your mouth. Rarely does a person say, “I am only going to eat one chip.” Imagine if you stopped at just one chip. You wouldn’t even notice that chip on the scale. Your clothes would not be tighter. You would not feel bloated from the salt. One chip would not change your day or your weight much at all. Not true for a whole bag of chips. Unfortunately, you would notice it on the scale and in your clothes!

So, what does this have to do with Prospecting? Simple – one is not enough! You cannot make just one call to prospects and expect that to change their day or your forecast! Rarely do prospects call you back after the first call. Unfortunately, most sales people make one call, maybe two to a prospect, then assume there is no interest and move on. Even more shocking, we hear from attendees in our Prospecting classes that when prospecting, many don’t leave messages!

At Sales Concepts we liken prospecting to a lumberjack. Picture a tree. Would a tree ever fall if a lumberjack hit the tree haphazardly with an axe on the trunk? Can you imagine a lumberjack just swinging the axe and hitting the tree wherever on the trunk? The tree would never fall. BUT… if you hit the tree consistently in the same place over and over, the tree WILL fall. Prospecting must be approached in this manner. You must be consistently persistent. You cannot make just one call. People are busy, they won’t usually return your calls.

Statistics show that 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect after the first call. 25% of sales people make a second attempt and never try again. 12% of sales people make more than three attempts. This is the elite group of sales people that win the business of new prospects and rise to the top of their sales organization.

Statistics also show that less than 2% of sales are made on the first contact, yet 48% of sales people never reach out again. Less than 3% of sales are made on the second contact. Roughly 5% of sales are made on the third contact, and fewer than 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact. A shocking 80% of sales are made between the fifth to twelfth contacts to a prospect! If you keep reaching out to your prospects, you are bound to surpass your competition and increase your odds of closing new business!

So, act like a lumberjack who eats potato chips. Be consistently persistent. Treat prospecting like potato chips. Don’t stop at just one!

The Salesperson’s Bill of Rights – Part II

Bill of RightsLast month as a way to celebrate our 240th Independence Day in the United States, we created and shared The The response was overwhelming! Here’s a link to read last month’s post in case you missed it. Please enjoy the second set of rights for sales people.

You have the right to ask about deadlines.

Asking about your customer’s timeframe is useful in many ways. This helps you anticipate delivery options early in the process. It helps you forecast. The sooner the customer wants to move forward the more likely it is they will. Usually, the sooner the customer wants to move the more amenable they are to embrace change. This allows you the opportunity to ask what may impede the progress of this business? Most importantly however, knowing the customer’s time frame may provide a way for you to establish a sense of urgency in your customer’s mind.

You have the right to ask for referrals.

Not only do you have the right but you have the responsibility to ask for referrals! There is no better way to acquire leads than to ask your current customers for referrals. They may not always have a name for you but when they do it’s usually golden. “Who else might be interested?” is the million dollar question because if you ask this throughout your career in sales you will probably earn at least a million more dollars.

You have the right to contact other people in the company.

While it’s true that people buy from people it’s also true that companies buy from companies. Salespeople often find themselves stuck working with one person in a company who will not buy. Call on other people in the company to minimize the impact of one person’s resistance. As one of our readers said last month; you are not going around someone, you are triangulating.

You have the right to say no.

Another one of our readers from last month believes; not only do you have the right, but you also have the obligation to reject a client when your services are inappropriate for that client or vice versa. Learning how to say no is tough but necessary for a smooth-running business. One of the biggest differences between rookie salespeople and successful experienced ones is that the successful ones know when and how to say no. In my own company, I knew I had made it when I rejected a client for the first time. Sometimes you have to walk away from opportunities that are not best suited for your or your company. The health of the business and company come first for both you and your customers.

You have the right to a good reputation. . . If you’ve earned it.

You are responsible for your personal brand and you have a right to protect it. Everyone has a voice on social media and many take advantage of the anonymity it provides. People tend to say harsh things that may not be entirely true or not true at all. You must be vigilant about what your customers are saying about you on social media. If you see trouble respond to it in a professional manner.

You have the right to brag. . . about how you help customers.

Customers are not necessarily going to make the connection about how you and your company add value. You need to be prepared to state your case and answer the question all customers have. “What’s in it for me?” You need to do this clearly and concisely.

We know the original Bill Of Rights consists of ten Amendments and we have provided eleven. We hope that this will serve as a simple reminder to always give a little extra in everything you do. Your customers will appreciate it. All of us at Sales Concepts trust you will keep your rights as a sales person in mind as you sell. Thank you to those of you who contributed your ideas. As always, we are thrilled to hear from you. Please share with us what you are encountering.

The Salesperson’s Bill of Rights

This past week in the United States we celebrated our 240th Independence Day! We also celebrated our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and the free enterprise economy, all of which selling is an integral part. Therefore, we thought it would be a great idea to review the sales person’s Bill of Rights as well.

You have the right to a fair trial.

Customers and prospects often base their decisions on inaccurate or incomplete information. It is your job to make sure you fully understand how your solution is being judged, and to provide relevant information about all that you have to offer.

You have the right to be wrong.

Sales people are human and as such they make mistakes. It is unrealistic to think that salespeople can go through their careers not making any mistakes. The obligation for salespeople is to address their mistakes right away. Once you realize you have made one, fix it. If you canxt fix it, address it. Seek alternatives and let your customer know what you are doing to make it right as well as what you are doing to prevent the same thing from recurring.

You have the right not to know all the answers.

Let’s face it. Sometimes customers ask questions that we are simply unable to answer off the top of our heads. It’s fine not to know something as long as you gain a thorough understanding of what your customer is asking so that you can respond in a timely manner.

You have the right to be persistent.

If you make cold calls it takes an average of eight touches before a prospect will engage in a meaningful conversation with you. Most people quit after five. Stay persistent. If you donxt make cold calls and have a limited number of customers that buy from you on a continuing basis the number one reason they leave is due to perceived indifference. Don’t let this be a reason you customers leave. Stay consistent with your communication.

You have the right to ask tough questions.

One huge roadblock salespeople have with respect to asking questions is they don’t want to pry into a customer’s business. We submit that you not only have the right to ask questions but an obligation to ask questions. As a doctor should not prescribe medicine until a complete diagnosis has been performed. You have no right to present a solution until you completely understand the customer’s needs. The only way to accomplish that is by asking substantial questions.

Please be sure to keep you rights in mind as you sell. Remember that win-win may seem a bit cliché but it is still the fundamental reason that selling, and our economy works. Can you think of a right sales people have that we didn’t mention? Please share your thoughts with us. We’ll have five more rights for you in next month’s post.

Is Prospecting Relevant in 2016?

Prospector 300Many sales people can relate to this picture.

In 2016, some see prospecting as antiquated. Some believe prospecting for customers and sales opportunities has not progressed much further than the days of the safety helmet with a dim light to lead the way.

Well think again, because “there can be gold in them thar hills”, as they used to say in the old western movies. Why won’t sales people prospect? Why don’t they prospect well? Many times, it is a combination of factors: a lack of proper training, procrastination, poor time management, poor phone skills, the idea that prospecting is outdated and ineffective, or simply a lack of motivation to bring out the metaphorical pick axe and other sales tools to dig for opportunities. By the way, many great opportunities may lie just below the surface of your territory. So how can you improve your prospecting gravitas?

Set goals for finding more gold.

How can you begin to take a fresh aproach to prospecting? First, set a goal. Increase your contacts and your contact base by some number to generate additional appointments. Many of our customers have found that a ten percent increase of appointments results in significant revenue increases. Much more than ten percent by the way. However, as a sales person, you must set goals to make this happen. You must set SMART goals!

  • Specific

Your goal should state exactly what you want to do. It should not be vague or ambiguous. What kind of prospects do you want to call? Where are they located? What are their markets? What are their positions in their companies? Be as specific as possible about the kind of customer you want to prospect.

  • Measurable

Quantify it! How many prospecting calls do you plan to make each week? Write the number! How much time do you want to invest? Make an appointment with yourself on your calendar. Keep it!

  • Action based

Do you plan to make phone calls, emails, social media posts, or on-site calls? Spell it all out. What exactly are you going to do?

  • Realistic

Don’t over commit. Start with something small and manageable to begin. You will lose motivation quickly if you are unable to meet your goals.

  • Time-oriented

When will you complete your goal? If you don’t have a deadline it’s not a goal. How many prospecting calls do you intend to make a day? A week, month or a quarter? Give yourself a deadline and stick to it.

Develop a plan. Pan for more gold.

A lot of prospecting is done via the phone. In prospecting, as in all sales situations, you must be prepared. You need to develop a plan of attack. Prior to making your calls, you must define and plan for certain key aspects. How do you generate interest with prospects? What questions should you ask to better qualify prospects in order to address their needs and determine a solution? This also holds true for email and social media.

Build a strong value-statement. You’ll hit pay dirt.

You need to develop a compelling value statement to make prospects want to engage you. This is a brief statement that identifies specific reasons why a prospect would want to do business with you. Script the statement. Practice saying the statement until it becomes natural to you. Believe in it. The more your statement differentiates you from the competition, the more likely you’ll get engagement or appointments.

Don’t be tempted by fool’s gold. Prepare for objections.

Prospects frequently have objections. You can improve your prospecting productivity if you practice your responses to the typical objections you receive. The best way to counter the objections is by asking questions. Ask questions that generate thought on the part of your customers. Ask original questions that your prospects don’t typically hear. Ask questions that help you acquire information to better determine how your product or service fits into the prospect’s sphere of influence. Then, most importantly, ask questions about their answers! Be interested first, then you will be interesting to your prospects.

Strike it rich.

Prospecting is one of the most challenging aspects of selling, however it can also be the most lucrative effort of your sales strategy. So update your prospecting skills. Get rid of the helmet and light mindset. A well applied effective prospecting strategy will make you rich!

Open For Business or Gone Fishin’? What does your booth say?

Gone Fishin 300Trade shows are a big part of any company’s sales and marketing budget. Many companies participate in local, regional and national shows throughout the year. This adds up to numerous shows and big bucks. Such large sums of capital cause management to ask, “What are we getting in return for such large expenditures?” Sadly, many companies struggle to quantify the return on their trade show investment..

Even in 2016 with all of the information available online, serious customers still find trade shows indispensable. They are the best source for product information and one-stop-shopping. Trade shows are also a place to actively participate in relevant demos. Attendees visit, on average, 26 booths during a show. You need to make sure your booth is on their itinerary. Your booth has to convey that you are Open for Business, not Gone Fishin’.

In order to maximize your trade show investment, you’ll need to get down to basics. It is important to set goals and objectives that are measurable and achievable for each show. A few goals you may want to accomplish over last year’s performances are:

  • Connect with a specific number of prospects or customers in total.
  • Qualify a targeted number of people.
  • Close more qualified prospects.

Certainly you may have other goals related to the number of new accounts developed or targeted accounts you may want to pursue. The most important overall goal should be to Close to the next step, whether that step is a meeting, an in-house demo, an RFQ/RFI and in some cases actually winning business!

In all situations, make no mistake, you are in the process of selling. Everyone who does booth duty must be able to develop and communicate a value statement that concisely tells the customer why your product or service is a unique solution with specific relevant benefits.

Your cost per qualified lead decreases and the odds of closing business increases, especially if you’re Open For Business at the show.