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Social Selling Using LinkedIn Part II

Monday, November 21, 2016

In my last blog post I showed how investing 10 minutes in Social Selling per day can improve your prospecting effectiveness and eliminate cold calling. [If you haven't read it, click here]. In this posting I'll share two effective ways to build the targeted list of buyers you want to be introduced to so you can begin filling the top of your sales funnel.

The path to eliminating cold calling begins with increasing the number of first-degree LinkedIn connections you have in your network. The more first-degree connections you have, the more second-degree connections [and opportunities for connection requests] you will likely have to the buyers you want to speak to about using your products and services.

To make the jump from cold calling to Social Selling you need to tap your first-degree connections and ask them to introduce you to the buyers you'd like to meet. To start down this path you first need to make a list of the buyers you want to be introduced to so you can then ask to be introduced to them. There are a couple of ways to build this list.

The first is for you - or your Virtual Assistant - to do a Google search and create a list of potential companies that fit your Ideal Customer Profile. You can also choose to buy such a list. Buying is faster, but more expensive. There are pros and cons to each approach to list acquisition.

Next, go to LinkedIn and enter the name of each company on your list in the search window. Click on the company name, and LinkedIn will tell you how many first, second and third-degree connections you have within it. Look for the person within that company that, by title, is the right one for you to speak to about using your products and services.

Are they a first-degree connection of yours already? If yes, go ahead and request a telephone meeting with them to talk about using your products and services. You are off to the races!

If they are not a first-degree connection, open their profile. Which second-degree connections do you share with them? Of those second-degree connections, which is the best one to ask for an introduction to your prospective buyer? Generally the "best person" is the one with the optimum combination of a strong/close relationship with you and a strong/close relationship with your prospective buyer.

The second way to create your prospective buyer list is to find someone in your first-degree network that you consider to be well connected within your industry/territory, with whom you have a close relationship, and who would be happy to make introductions for you. LinkedIn gives you access to their first-degree network. Scan it and create a list of people that fit your Ideal Customer Profile who you would like to be introduced to.

The first and most critical step when using this method is to speak to this person directly and confirm that they would be OK to refer you on a regular basis [you don't ever want to stress your network by "over asking" for referrals]. You might pose the opportunity to them using the "give to get" method.

Say something to them like, "I'm in the process of looking for new business. You are very well connected in my space. Would you mind if I looked through your network for connection opportunities? I'll then let you know who I am hoping to be introduced to. In return, I would like you to do the same within my network. I want to help you as much as I possibly can." If they agree, go ahead and begin building your list.

With your list built, it's now time to proceed with asking for those valuable introductions. Details and scripting around how to do that will be the topic of my next blog post.

Measure These Things Now

Monday, September 26, 2016

With the ubiquity of CRM sales has become like baseball — you can measure your stats six ways to Sunday. The trouble is, some people do! Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. There are but a few things you need to measure to predict your sales future.

Sales is an efficiency and effectiveness game. How much of something do you need to do, and how well do you need to do it to reach your sales quota? Let’s start with the efficiency, or ‘how much’ part.

Measure the number of sales interactions [conversations, the primary focus of which is to move a deal forward. Customer service calls don’t count] executed by your team daily and weekly. Sales interactions are the number one thing for most businesses that cause sales to happen. They are a leading indicator to future revenue generation results.

A quick word about salespeople who don't want their activities measured. Any resistance you get to weekly sales activity reporting that smells like “that’s a waste of my time” is grounds for a serious conversation. Would your production department balk at measuring their inputs? Of course not, that would be ludicrous. Sales people are in production, they produce sales. You need to know the typical inputs required in your market and industry and geographic location to generate a sale. This is the only way you can embark down the sales process/results improvement road.

Okay, so back to measuring… In only a few weeks you’ll quickly see trends around who is having how many meetings, and can then connect that to the revenue those efforts produce. Use the data to discover what the magic activity levels need to be on a per rep basis and set these as your benchmark. Manage to these benchmarks.

Shifting now to the sales funnel… When it comes to sales funnel measures, most managers and reps work from the end of the sales funnel backwards. They measure the number of closes this week, how many proposals went out the door, etc. The most successful teams I’ve worked with do the opposite. They measure from the very front end of the sales funnel forward. Interesting.

Early stage sales funnel work [finding leads, contacting them, trying like crazy to secure meetings] is the grunt work of selling that most sales people do willingly only when pressed. Sure, they will lilly dip along the way but they’ll only apply nose to sales grindstone when their sales funnel is dry. These folks experience sales peaks [Hurray!!] and dreaded sales valleys [Booo!!] for this reason. Those in the know track their early stage selling activity daily-weekly. They never, ever lose sight of the fact that sales seeds they plant today can take awhile to take root so they sow every day.

Start with measuring Net New Sales Lead Acquisition. How many raw names have been added to the master list this week of sales leads to reach out to? The optimal number is of course based on your product, industry and sales cycle. Generally, the shorter the sales cycle and simpler the sale the more raw leads you need weekly.

Next, measure the number of Sales Leads Researched per week. This is the number of raw sales leads for whom their website, Linkedin and other social media have been scraped to determine if they might be a fit for your products and services. Note – I consider new leads acquired and then researched as being above the sales funnel. They are so raw you simply can’t assign any probability around the amount of revenue they might generate.

Following the research stage is Sales Leads Activated per week. Now we are into the sales funnel. Activation means you have reached out directly [voice or email] in an attempt to book a meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to conduct a diagnosis to determine if your products and services can be of help to them. Bear in mind that it might take several attempts to reach a potential customer. So, each week you’ll need to activate new opportunities as well as reach out to those from last week [and the weeks before] that have not responded.

To stay on top of this, track the Number Of Connection Attempts Per Activated Sales Lead. Now you are going to start measuring sales effectiveness. These days everyone gets either their email, voice mail, or both, regularly. If they are not responding there’s usually a good reason for it. The rule of thumb is if after 3 connection attempts there has been no response you should either try a new tactic or jettison that lead and move on.

Successful lead activations lead to Diagnosis Meetings. These are golden. Measure them actively. Then measure how many convert into viable sales Prospects. The higher the conversion rate, the better. A low conversion rate might mean you are selecting the wrong leads to call on in the first place.

Look at all of the above measures and assess the following: 

a) are the results good or bad?

b) if good, why are they good and what can you replicate to get better?

c) if bad, why are they bad and what’s the fix?

d) decide how you’ll implement fixes and optimizations and stick to it going forward.

Getting to great at early funnel stage work is the road to having more revenue pop out the other end reliably and predictably. Measure, optimize, do, repeat. That’s the magic.

Like what you’ve read here? Totally disagree? I’d love to hear from you either way at rob@robmalec.com

How to Eliminate Sales Peaks and Valleys

Monday, July 18, 2016

“OMG, my sales funnel is bone dry!!” 

Panic sets in.  You sell like crazy, get some sales traction and start nursing your new found opportunities to closure.  You focus on nothing else for weeks.  A few of them close.  Champagne corks pop and commissions are calculated.  Finally, you pause for breath and look at your CRM. 

“OMG, my sales funnel is bone dry... again!”

The sales rollercoaster is the number one selling Pain chosen in a recent survey of my blog readers.  The peaks of the ride are a blast, but the valleys totally suck.  There is, however, a way to tame this 5 ticket ride and carve a path to steady, reliable and predictable revenue.

Here’s the thing – every sales person knows about the rollercoaster.  Strangely, they seem to readily allow themselves to climb on board.  They know if they get so busy closing business [or implementing new deals] and stop prospecting for net new customers their sales funnel will run dry, yet they repeatedly make this fundamental mistake.  How come?

I think it’s the dopamine effect.  Dopamine is the chemical in your body behind the feel good rush [pleasure] you get doing whatever your favorite thing is.  For sales people, the mere thought of closing business feels good. Closing sales feels even better – hello dopamine! 

Contrast this with the grunt work behind finding brand new clients.  Cold calling [lots of rejection], endless web research [boring!] and completing CRM fields [mind numbing] is super low on the dopamine producing scale.  It’s no wonder many sellers gravitate away from Prospecting.

To keep the dopamine flowing and get off the roller coaster, try some of these road tested and proven methods to minimize the valleys of the ride...

Hire someone else to do the heavy lifting prospecting work for you:  This one is road tested by me personally.  There is a market of highly qualified virtual assistants today that did not exist even 5 years ago.  Select one and pay them to do the part[s] of the prospecting process you don’t enjoy, are too busy to do or are just no good at.  Have this work done while you are busy closing your current sales opportunities.  When you are done with them, there will be fresh opportunities to close.  This investment will put money in their pocket, hours back into your day, and new prospects into your sales funnel.  It’s a win – win!

Set and keep a 45-minute appointment with yourself every day:  For most sellers 45 minutes a day focused on acquiring net new sales opportunities, will more than meet their sales productivity needs.  Imagine, 240 [or so] focused prospecting sessions a year!  The secret[s]?  First, find the 45 minutes.  Even if you are quite time efficient my bet is you can tighten up here and there and create this golden chunk of time.  Second, be focused [no personal phoning, texting, Facebook, inbound email alerts, etc] when prospecting.  Third, use CRM to record your work religiously.  This will allow you to get productive the first few minutes of your session and not burn time getting organized. 

Set and measure your prospecting productivity goals:  Something like “Each week I will generate a total of ‘X’ number of net new prospects” will do.  Next, tell someone else about your goal.  Sharing goals has a way of cementing them in our minds, and firming our resolve to meet them. 

Refine your prospecting methods:  Cold calling is dead.  If you are still performing this soul sucking task you need to stop... Now!  Search your favorite book store and select a book that will teach you how to get your prospecting into this millennium.  There are many more effective, efficient and enjoyable ways to find your next big client than cold calling.  Hint...it’s called social media.

With just a little discipline and stick-to-it ‘ness you can get off the sales rollercoaster.  If you adopt any of the above strategies my prediction is you will flatten the peaks and valleys, make more money, and have a great time doing so.  Have fun!


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