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5 Reasons Blog

How to Shop for a Sales Consultant

Monday, October 29, 2018

So, you’re considering bringing in someone to help ramp up your team’s sales productivity. Hiring an FTE doesn’t make financial sense just yet, so you are thinking a consultant might do the trick. There are lots of them out there, so how do you go about selecting the right one? Here are a few things to consider that might make the selection process clearer…

Tap Your Network: Ask your colleagues who they’d recommend. Interview someone they rave about. This will get you started and give you a benchmark by which to measure other candidates by.

Can I Trust This Person: Obvious, right? You are going to put this person in front of your staff and so low trust = a no go. During your selection process go to coffee or lunch with the candidate. You’ll see more of the “real” them vs. in the boardroom setting and can better dial into your trust radar.

Sales Chops: Decide what expertise you need in your situation and probe to learn your candidate’s acumen. Is it in sales method [how to conduct a productive sales interaction with a buyer]? If the way this person sells to you is off-putting, stop there. You won’t like what they teach your team. Is it sales process [mapping the steps to take an opportunity from the Lead stage to closure]? Ask to see the tool set they’d install in your business. Is it Lead Generation [filling the top of the sales funnel]? Again, ask to see their models. Good looks like Intellectual Property that is formal, organized, coherent and branded – maybe even a book. Bad looks like sales tips and tactics verbally delivered, stray MS Word docs and scribbles on your white board.

Years in Business: The longer in business as an active consultant, the better. This means you are dealing with a proven entity. Beware the friend of a friend who’s been a Sales Manager for forever, is between gigs and is “doing some consulting.” Unless they’ve got a solid pedigree [taken a company exactly like yours from start up to $100M] this person may be long on tips and tactics but light on road tested and proven teachable IP.

Company or Individual: One is not better than the other. There are awesome folks in either configuration. Generally, the size of your sales team will dictate which is best. You may need a big firm to manage a roll out to your 1000 sales reps.

Fee Range: You get what you pay for, to a point. If you are quoted fees that look weirdly high, continue looking at other providers to either confirm or deny if they are just high or if their offer is superior. Low fees mean you may be dealing with someone who is new to the role and perhaps not skilled enough to help you sufficiently. Or it may be that they are not comfortable to set fees that reflect the value they bring. If this is the case, you don’t want this person training your sales team anyway. Dig deeper into their sales chops to determine which.

Experience Base: Experience in your industry is an asset but not a necessity unless you are in a crazily narrow niche business. Actual proven success in multiple industries is a clear sign that this party’s methodology and IP produce results.

Skip the School of Hard Knocks

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

You likely learned a ton about how to run your business by attending the School of Hard Knocks. You are likely [and justifiably] proud of making it through not only intact but looking pretty good! When it comes to the sales function however, skip school this time. If sales aren’t your passion, your results aren’t great, or you already have 1000 other things to focus on, bring on someone to steer the sales function for you and you’ll be ecstatic with the results. Here’s why…

You are Human – not a machine. Running a business is tough enough without piling on another departmental leadership function on top of that.

Revenue is the Life Blood of Your Company – If you are bootstrapping, Cash is King. If you are funded, revenue lengthens your runway. If your sales results aren’t great, that should be addressed.

Sales is Way Harder Than It Looks – Look at those guys and gals over their blabbing on the phone closing deals. What could be easier? Trying to optimize and implement a sales process requires a lot of bandwidth.

The Sales Cliff Sucks – If the sales wheel isn’t continually turned, funnels dry up quickly, and revenue falls off fast.


Your Options:

Your first and most obvious option is to hire a Sales Manager, or the like. This works if you a) have the money and b) are at a growth point at which this makes sense.

If you are at 2-3 sales people and revenues are trending up, then hiring this person is an investment that will likely have a great ROI. Also, hiring this person lets you work more “on” your business rather than “in” it. If, however, revenue is light at the moment it may not make financial sense to spend the dough on an FTE. The time to payback may be longer than you are willing or comfortable to wait. In this case there is another option.

That other option is to hire a consultant – just as you would for any other business function. There are sales consultancies of all stripes. Some are awesome at pumping up your team with motivational speeches. Others are great at teaching your team how to conduct highly productive sales conversations with buyers. Some work with you to optimize the steps of your sales process to increase sales velocity and deal size. On the upside whatever your need it’s likely you can get it addressed by a credible expert for far less than the cost of an FTE.  On the downside if your team needs hourly/daily leading, then a consultant by design can’t fulfill this.

If Sales is a passion for you and you have the bandwidth to tend to the team and run your business as well, by all means, keep managing the sales team. Otherwise, take action now and hand the reins to an individual who can focus squarely on the task at hand and drive your revenue results.

Will Your Sales Approach Support Your Growth Goals?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

How much revenue will your sales team close 90 days from now? If you can’t answer this question with any level of confidence you are not alone. Many leaders I chat with struggle to predict their sales team’s revenue even 30 days out. If you aren’t all over tracking your leading sales indicators, it’s next to impossible to know if how your team is selling will sustain your business’s growth goals. By rigorously measuring the rate at which those “things that cause sales to happen” occur you will quickly get to reliable forecasting and an optimized sales process.

Off the hop let me identify the magic ingredient that makes any dashboarding work - rigour. Sounds almost redundant but I bring up rigor because its the number one challenge in implementing and leveraging dashboards. If your data is inaccurate or incomplete due to lack of rigour you will make poor decisions based on what your dashboards are telling you.

To clarify rigour, I mean accurate recording by your team of their sales activities every day, as they perform them. No “I’ll wait until Friday afternoon to enter in all my CRM stuff” approaches allowed. Who has the energy on a Friday afternoon to enter a whole week’s worth of sales activity micro-data? No one, that’s who!

Moving on, here are the core sales activities that will serve as your leading indicators.

Diagnosis Meetings: Interactions with Sales Leads, the purpose of which is to Diagnose their Pains and determine if they are a Viable Sales Opportunity.  Not enough of these each week means a dry sales funnel in no time.

Demo Meetings: Meetings with Viable Sales Opportunities to demonstrate your product or service. Not enough of these weekly leads to a longer closing cycle as buyers often need to see what your product can do before saying yes to paying for it.

Solution Meetings: Interactions with Viable Sales Opportunities, the purpose of which is to finalize the version of your solution they’d like and allow you to solidify price.

Number of Proposals Presented: This value of this one’s pretty obvious.

As far as the goal quantity for each of the above, that varies widely from industry to industry and product/service to product/service. Generally, lower price point sales that are decided upon by a single buying influence require many more of each interaction type per week than high priced multi-buying influence ones.

The thing about sales activity goals is this – have one, for each activity. Work with your team to a) decide which things that cause sales to happen at your company should be measured, b) set the bar, c) adjust it over time until you discover the optimal amount of each activity required for reps to hit sales target. This continual optimization process is the path to confidence that your current sales process will support reaching your business’s growth goals.

An Otherwise Good Walk Ruined

Saturday, September 01, 2018

There is an old saying that goes, “golf is an otherwise good walk ruined”, referring to the frustrations inherent in trying to get that darned little white ball into the hole.  Achieving revenue growth may not always happen as quickly as we’d like, but it should not feel as frustrating as golf often feels.

Are you frustrated with your rate of revenue growth? If yes, below are some common causes of Revenue Generation Frustration and how to mitigate them.

You:  Business Owner & Sales Manager

Do you have a solid sales pedigree? If not, running even a small department can be challenging. Time ticks by and sales results don’t come.

If you are not a sales management expert, find a resource and get this task off your plate and onto theirs. Doing so is all upside – you lighten your load and have more time to do the stuff you love, such as leading the company into the future rather than being stuck in the sales weeds.

You: Abdicator

More dangerous than managing a function you aren’t an expert in, is not manage it at all. You just let your sales folks loose with a cell phone, laptop and gas card and wait for the sales revenue to come rolling in. This generally always fails.  Invariably results are tepid and when you finally dig in you find you are down 6 months sales salary and your revenue future looks pretty grim.

The sales function requires daily monitoring to assess what course corrections are required for success in the ever-changing business landscape.  See the advice in the paragraph above for how to fix this.

Low ROI

Your sales department should be self-funding. Salespeople should be generating between 3x to 5x their salary [depending on your margins] to be paying for themselves.

Take a good hard look and determine if your sales team is covering their costs. Factor in all costs related acquiring deals. There can be many reasons why they may be falling short [the comp plan is wrong, quotas aren’t right, headcount is too high, Lead Generation is too light]. Once you learn the underlying causes the fixes will be readily apparent.

No Leading Indicators

If your main sales success measures are primarily lagging ones [revenue generated, new implementations] you’ll continually be running behind.  Switch to frequent measurement – think daily, weekly, monthly – of those things that cause sales to happen.

A few to look at are:

a)       Pipeline Creation Rate: How many viable sales leads have been generated
b)      Number of Sales Calls conducted
c)       Number of Demos conducted

Identify your leading indicators and be rigorous in tracking them.

Flying Blind – No Dashboards

The value in measuring lies in using the data toward continuous improvement. Share the dashboards at minimum with the salespeople individually and review them together for coaching purposes.

Work together to determine what the numbers are indicating and what activity adjustments could/should be made to improve results. Depending on your appetite for a competitive sales environment you may share all results with the entire team.

No Recipe for Success

The number one cause of feelings of Rev Gen Frustration is a lack of a defined sales process. If no sales roadmap exists, the team may find their way more often than not, but it will be a continual struggle. This leads to lots of bad stuff [sales goals aren’t hit; commission payouts are low, and staff quit].

Hunker down with your sales team in a boardroom and capture a) your customer’s buying process and then b) your process to help them buy from you. This is the ultimate Rev Gen Frustration reducer.

Revenue Growth Hacking

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Every company wants massive growth, like now! I’ve worked with over 100 companies and here is a list of the top growth hacks [in order of importance] I have seen that actually work.


Staff Up – the top reason companies fail to achieve the hockey-stick-graph-growth is they don’t have enough dedicated staff selling all day, every day. Dual sales & service roles diminish the focus on new revenue acquisition.  Hire more sales bodies now. If paying for extra salaries is onerous, scour the landscape and you will likely find either free or matching money to help get interns, or the like, manning a desk at your office.

Divide and Conquer – the sales job consists of several discreet tasks. a) finding leads and nurturing them; b) reaching out to them and scheduling an appointment to talk; c) moving them through the sales process to closure; and d) on-boarding those new customers and up-selling them. At minimum, have one Biz Dev person filling the top of the sales funnel, a Sales person closing them and a Customer Success person on-boarding them. Reengage sales to up-sell when appropriate.

Automate Your Sales – it’s mind-bending how many intuitive tools are available to automate every step of the sales process. Map out your process, then Google “what’s the best app for automating the [insert sales micro-function here] part of your sale?”. Pick your sales stack components, turn the key and fire it up.

Configure Your CRM – bake your sales methodology, language and processes right into your CRM. This is the ultimate scaling growth hack. When your CRM is your sales process, training a new hire on one aspect immediately trains them on the other. CEO’s love the revenue growth that follows.

Stomp on the Sales Gas Pedal Now – if you don't have a robust Sales Staffing and Process & Tools infrastructure plan, create one asap.   You can't build a thriving business on a non-existent or shaky foundation.

You will definitely have to iterate to optimize all of your systems as you grow, so prepare to iterate over time to iron out the kinks. This way, when your revenue grows, your systems can scale with it.

The Best Way to Handle a Price Objection

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The absolute best way to handle a price objection is to structure your sale so you don’t get one. Price objections arise because buyers are unaware of the price range they are looking at for their purchase, or don’t see enough value in your offer to pay your price. Take a value-based approach to your selling and you can short circuit both of these.

In business to business selling there are many ways to handle the price conversation. The worst is to address it late in the game, with trepidation. This generally causes sticker shock in the buyer’s mind – an irreversible condition. Once afflicted they – and you - can never get past it. Your deal digresses into a haggling session you’d rather not have.

The best way is to address price early in the sale, in a comfortable and candid way. Dip your toe in the water and check the temperature. If things look good, carry on with the sales conversation. Address price thoroughly after your buyer’s Pain-Gain-Value needs have been diagnosed [for more on value-based selling click here. When a price or fee is put beside a buyer’s expressed needs it makes much more sense to them. They can most clearly see what they are getting for what they are paying.

Here are some sales approach specifics you might find helpful...

Your first sales conversation with a buyer should consist of a hearty diagnosis of their Pain points, a clear statement of what they are trying to achieve by fixing them [Gains], and a list of the Value they are looking to get by doing so. Once all of this is on the table it’s a good idea to say something like “Thanks for sharing that with me. If I’ve heard you right where you are at is [repeat what they told you].”

Wade into the price conversation with “Given what you want to fix, what you want to accomplish and the value you are looking to get, the price range you are looking at is approximately $XX/between $XX and $YY. How does that sound to you conceptually at this point? I’m not looking to nail anything down just yet. I just want to see if we’re on the same page regarding the spend.” This approach will get you into the price conversation early on, and help you determine if your buyer is operating in reality or if they want a Cadillac at Ford Fiesta prices.

If you and the buyer are miles off on price range, you’ll need to have the “I think what you want to accomplish and what you want to spend aren’t in line right now” conversation. This will end with your buyer adjusting their purchase objectives, you adjusting the scope of your solution or you referring them to a lower cost provider.

If you are both aligned on the price range carry on with your sales conversation. Learn the specifics of their needs to the point you can build your solution. When it’s been built and the time comes to present your final price/fees do it this way... “The major Pain points you outlined to me were [insert Pain point here]. What you are trying to achieve by fixing them is [insert Gain here]. Underneath it all, the Value you want to get by doing so is [insert Value here]. Am I correct with my summary?”

This question will help confirm if your assessment of their situation is accurate, and sets up your presentation of the price.

If your assessment is in fact correct, carry on to say “Given all of that, the feature[s] of our solution that will deliver on that are [outline your solution features here].” Then ask “does that make sense to you so far?” If it doesn’t, take the time to review things with them until you get aligned. Once you get aligned then say, “here is the price for this solution [state price here].”

This approach takes your buyer through a very distinct journey prior to getting to the price destination. They get refreshed on where their Pains lie, what good looks like when the Pain goes away and the Value they’ll get by proceeding with their purchase. They are totally clear on what they are getting for what they are paying as they consider the final price.

This sales approach significantly lowers price objections. First, you have weeded out buyers up front whose budget is below what you’ll charge. Second, for those that make it through the sales process you’ve clearly connected value to price paid.

Of course, there will still be buyers who will balk at whatever you charge. If haggling is an accepted part of your sale then have your strategies ready to deal with that. Otherwise, stick to the value-based road. It’s a much smoother ride.

The Heart of Motivation

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Selling is a funny job. It seems to require an unusual amount of motivation for one to perform consistently at a high level.

I’m not sure why this is. Does accounting require a high level of motivation to do it well? How about Human Resources? I don’t know – I’ve not done either of those jobs. I do know I can name many motivational sales speakers, but no accounting motivational speakers come to mind [if you know of any, please let me know!].

Maybe it’s the self-starting nature sales. Many of us work from home offices or are on the road flying solo, tasked with bringing home the bacon. One needs to be organized and active, efficient and effective and at the end of the month reach your sales quota.

With little [or more often no] supervision, sales people must find opportunities, sift out the bad ones and then close the good ones.

In most job roles the work is brought to you. In sales you have to go find it. Anyone who has opened a new territory or struck out on their own know this challenge well.

At any rate, I get asked so often how to motivate sales people I thought I’d address it here. Over 14 years and across 22 different industries here is what I have learned...

First, hire motivated sales people [duh, right!?]. It sounds obvious but many fail to do this. In doing some digging I’ve found that questions like “what motivates you to work hard to beat your sales quota” and “what jazzes you up about selling day in and day out” are not in the top 10 questions hiring managers ask. I’d take a highly motivated unproven salesperson over a non-motivated seasoned vet any day of the week. Start asking these questions early in the hiring process if you haven’t done so already.

Once hired, train your salespeople weekly – yes, weekly! Think coaching, sales skill practice, sales book of the month club discussions and the like. Motivated people eat training for breakfast, they love it! They want to consistently improve because that’s just the way they are wired. Plus, it helps them to earn bigger commissions. Ignore training at your peril, it is a primary motivator.

Finally, de-hire non-motivated salespeople now! Move them to a different role in your organization where they can soar with their strengths, or exit them from the company. If they are non-motivated keeping them in their current role is unfair for all parties. I will share with you that this is the one piece of advice my clients are slowest to take, but after they do their response is universally consistent, “why did I not do this sooner?”

Once you have your team of champions in place, here are some ways you can inject some additional motivational mojo over the course of the sales year...

Sales contests

You know the drill on this one. The new spin? Have the team select the prize they want. Some want cash, some want gift cards, others want time off. Create a menu of prize options and let each team member decide what they want to run hard for. Winning a big screen tv might pump up one rep, but leave others totally flat.

Trophies

I had a client with an all-female sales team, selling into the spa industry. They jokingly had a sales tiara that sat on the desk of the previous month’s top seller. The competition for the tiara was friendly, but surprisingly fierce. Another client had a sales gong in the office that those who closed a deal could drop the hammer on as soon as they hung up the phone. Interestingly, I find the more quirky the trophy, the more people like it. What would your team’s equivalent to the sales tiara be?

Added Responsibilities

What?? Don’t people want less work, not more? I’m not saying pile more work on your successful sellers, I’m saying add some cool new wrinkles into their role that stoke their internal motivators for personal and professional growth / role enrichment. Give them Key Account selling responsibilities. Entrust them with mentoring your newest and brightest. Bring them to the table for new product development meetings. Include them in marketing meetings and solicit their input on next year’s campaign.

Underneath it all, the true heart of motivating your people is getting to know them outside of their job role. It is proven that one of the top motivators around job role performance is an employee’s relationship with their direct superior. What have you done lately to fan those motivating flames?

Measure These Things Now

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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

Social Selling Using LinkedIn

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Social selling has become an integral part of the sales and business development landscape. It presents an opportunity for you to eliminate cold calling – the most soul sucking activity in sales – from your business development function. How are you at social selling?

To my mind, LinkedIn is the strongest social selling tool currently out there for business-to-business sales people. This is because business people join LinkedIn for the purpose of being connected to other ethical and like-minded business people like you.

The big challenge with cold calling is that a huge trust gap exists. People you cold call don't know you, and therefore don't trust that investing time with you is worthwhile. Thus, they don't take your call.

With LinkedIn, rather than cold calling a prospect you can ask to be connected to them by someone you mutually know and trust. If that person in the middle says you are worth connecting with, then the trust gap is bridged and the prospect has a higher likelihood of saying yes to your request to connect.

In order for prospecting via LinkedIn to be effective you need to have as many first-degree connections as possible. This in turn increases the number of second-degree connections you have - which increases the likelihood that someone you are connected to currently knows someone who you would like to connect with for business development purposes. [In my experience, third-degree connections are very weak and are hard to convert into introductions/first-degree connections.]

Increasing your connection base is not hard. It is astounding how many people you interact with over the years. A few years ago I followed a system to increase the amount of quality first-degree connections [people I know on a first name basis]. I have tripled the number of those connections over the span of a few months.

The positive business result of doing this is that I found I now have over 500 second-degree connections to business owners and CEOs at companies of the type that fit my ideal customer profile. This is a great pool of prospects for me.

Here is the process to follow to beef up the number of quality connections you have on LinkedIn…

Start by scheduling an appointment with yourself to spend 10 minutes each day to focus on building your LinkedIn network. During this 10 minute block of time…

  1. Look back at the previous work day. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone with whom you interacted? If not, send them a connection request. 
  2. Look at your current customer base. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone within that account that you interact with or have interacted with? If not, send those people a connection request.
  3. Look at your current suppliers. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interact with or have interacted with? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  4. Look at your current friends and family. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interact with? If not, send those people a connection request.
  5. Look back at your previous job roles and other companies you have worked for. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with regularly? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  6. Look back at your post-secondary education. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with on a regular basis? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  7. Look back at your high school days. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with on a regular basis? If not, send those people a connection request.

I suggest 10 minutes a day on this activity so you can tackle it in small chunks. If you simply want to spend one hour a week – you can do that too.

If you have not previously taken the approach outlined above, my guess is that you can increase your number of quality first-degree connections [people you know on a first name basis] by 30% easily.

Start building your LinkedIn network immediately. Track your progress week to week to see if you're getting traction.

In a follow-up blog post I'll talk about how to ask your first-degree connections to introduce you to prospects you would like to get connected with.

How to Eliminate Sales Peaks and Valleys

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“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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