Archive for Sales Advice

For it to work you have to use it!

New hire sales training Atlanta, you should be workingI know the picture is a little over the top but I was just reading a post on DucktapeMarketing.com and it made me think of sales reps just not doing what they are supposed to be doing.

The post on the other blog was just how much technology has changed everything we do in sales. I agree the technology has really advanced everyone’s knowledge. As an example, by searching the Internet, your prospect will certainly know as much as you know if they do their homework.

And lead generation and lead nurturing have advanced beyond everyone’s dreams with the new CRM tools on the market today. So why is it that sales reps still don’t use the tools available to them? I mean really, back in the day I didn’t have ACT! or Salesforce.com I had 3×5 index cards to track my prospects.

Today’s lead tracking tools are incredible and getting better but it’s still the hard-working sales rep that takes the time to USE the tools.

How do I know they are not being effectively used???

During every Atlanta new hire sales training class I ask all the reps to bring their lists of prospects into the training. I use this as their homework. I want to know if they even have a list. What am I going to do with their lists… I’m going to quiz them on what they know about each cold, medium, and hot lead on their call sheet for the day. If they are using the tools then they should know the answers to the quiz.

You can’t be sleeping all day in sales. You need to be working. This work includes updating your lead tracking software. For these new tools to work you have to use them.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Just Keep Calling

sales advice just keep callEvery sales manager says it and all sales reps say it to each other up. The phrase… “Just make one more sales call.”

It’s tough to keep calling. If you have been at it for a couple of hours with limited success then it would be easy to quit for the day. Back in the day, I could see it in my reps body language and hear it in their voices when they were ready to quit for the day. I would be walking the sales floor and yep, I would say… “Just make one more call.”

I know its tough but this is sales. If it was easy everyone would do it. As it is everyone seems to try their hand in sales at one time or another. Most fail. The profession can be rewarding with unbelievable highs when sales are good, and unbelievable lows when sales down. However the successful sales representative will make that next call.

What brought this topic up this week is that I was making calls, the day before Thanksgiving and it was going okay. A few good warm leads came out of my work but nothing fantastic. As any sales manager, sales trainer, or sales rep will tell you outbound calling around the holidays is tough work. No one is in, and the ones that are in are thinking about the holiday not work.

I was just about to pack it in when I  forced myself to make one more sales call. I went back to my list and started dialing. Then BAM: I caught a whale. What are the chances of catching a hot lead, much less a whale, at 4pm Thanksgiving Eve? Not good, but then again the more calls you make the more chances you have of catching anything.

Again, It’s tough. Sales is a tough profession. To be successful you have to make the next call regardless of what  has happen over your last few hours.

I don’t know that you can teach this to new hires in the sales profession it’s more of an attitude. I don’t know if it is your job to get them to make that next call. They have to want to succeed and the only way to do that is to have them call even when they are tired. You can teach them this, but the newly hired sales associates have to want to do it if it is really going to get done.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting, Atlanta New Hire Sales Training

 

 

10 Sales Calls A Day

make at least 10 sales calls a dayHere is a simple rule of thumb. Make at least 10 sales calls a day to new prospects. Put it in your calendar right now.

We all need more solid sales leads. The only way to get them on your own is to increase your own activity. Don’t wait for the marketing department, that could take weeks or even months. Remember they are thinking about the next release or the next advertising period. Not what is happening right now.

Set aside time to do this task everyday and this will be your results.

10 sales call a day =

  • 50 per week
  • 200 per month
  • 2400 hundred per year

Now that is on top of what your marketing department supplies you with! Do it now… set aside at least 1 hour a day for good old prospecting. Make at least 10 new calls to new prospects and you will have 2,400 new sales leads this year!

Good luck and happy hunting.

David Peterson – Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Business Networking

business networkingTo succeed in business you must have leads. One method of lead generation for your business is networking.

 The point of networking events is to get to know the people around you. To expand your sphere of influence. Networking may not work for you today, or tomorrow, or even next year but if you stick with it and work the program laid out by the event managers then your are certain to leave knowing more people than before you attended.

The theory goes… The more people who know you well, that trust that you are the expert in your field then the more people who you  will have recommending your business. Pretty simple – Networking Works!

If you don’t know where to start I would suggest your local Chamber of Commerce. From there you will meet people who are also attending other networking events.

Most networking events are setup to allow you to tell your story or paint the picture for the other attendees on exactly what you do.

Some networks are OPEN which means there could be any number of banks or promotional products people at the same event. Some others are CLOSED which means there will only be one bank or one person promoting a particular product.

I attended one yesterday morning that had a slight twist to it. This networking group fashioned itself as a continuing business education meeting. Each meeting focused on different topics. Yesterday’s topic was on the applying gratitude into the sales process.

Most of these networking groups charge for you to join. You can attend for free for a couple of times then you have to pony up the cash. They can be costly. The Chamber runs me about $600/yr and another I attend runs of $200/year.

My advice if your business needs more leads is to attend one of the many networking events in your city or state. Get from behind your computer and go meet people. My only word of caution is that there are so many networking events that you can spend your whole day networking which means you are not doing all of your other job functions.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Budget and Time Frame

budget and time framesI’m guilty of this one. Sales 101 says… You have to (HAVE TO) get your prospect to specify their budget and time frame before you try to move forward.

I know this, I preach this, I teach this, yet here I was last week wondering what happened to my prospect. I sent them the proposal on exactly what they said they needed. In fact I know and they know that they need this service. So what happened?

It boils down to their budget and their time frame. Even though they were in a hurry with an incredible sense of urgency when it came down to sign the contract the objections started flying.

I know better. This is sales 101. What tripped me up was the incredible sense of urgency. Money was flying in so many directions that I didn’t think that this little bill would be an issue. Whoops… my bad! Turns out the owner was getting so many little bills that it became overwhelming.

If you have ever owned a small business then you know what he was going through. I should have clarified the time frame and the budget for the project before moving forward.

You know what this is… this is a reminder that I will be discussing in every single training class that I teach. Hey I made a mistake. I might as well use it to help others.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Get off the fence already!

get off the fence sales adviceMan it has been a tough selling season. I have a client  with an unbelievable sense of urgency. But once I sent them the proposal they jumped right back on the fence.

I have another prospect that either gets the service I offer or they better start making up excuses to the tax man on why they didn’t. Talking about a sense of urgency. This company knows they need it or else.

So I’m sitting in a friend’s office and we got on this subject of these businesses I have on the fence. He starts rattling off prospect after prospect of fence sitters that he is tracking. It’s been that type of season.

But hey I’m in sales and he’s in sales. The sales profession has unbelievable highs and unbelievable lows. Every month and every quarter we start all over. My wife doesn’t understand  how we can start at zero month after month. But I know that I’m not really at zero. As long as my pipeline is full then I’m fine.

The morale of the story is that in times of tight budgets, slashing staff, and a recession that can’t get out of its own way, you need to keep the pipeline as full as possible. Yea… I’m bummed that I have a couple of people on the fence. But I need to get over it because I got tens of thousand of dollars in the pipeline and I need to stay in the game.

YOU DO TOO – Get over it, keep calling, get more prospects.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Just Stop Talking!

just stop talking payment processingI get to listen to a lot of phone calls in my business. As a sales consultant I’m always analyzing sales calls. The other day I was listening to Inbound payment processing calls at a local call center. Inbound phone calls are routinely recorded for training purposes.

Yes – call center personnel do get trained. You wouldn’t believe how much training goes into one call campaign.

The management and  I were actually listening for the tone of the call, the length of the call, and the accuracy of the call. In a call center since you are not face to face with your customer you have to be extra helpful, however sometimes that leads to very long calls and time is definitely money in this environment.

After a few calls we ended up on one where a customer was trying to pay a bill and handle a current problem. This particular call center can ONLY handle credit card payments. They can see the issues the customers are having but they cannot fix them (another department – and obviously any story).

The representative was professional and empathetic to the customer’s plight. Everyone has had this happen  to them at some point in their adult life. Yet midway through the call the customer was ready to pay. The rep was about to process the credit card and then she made a wrong turn. She went back to the customers issue to talk about it one more time.

5 minutes later they were still taking and the customer is NOW not sure he should pay the bill. Maybe he should dispute the entire charge!

Here’s the point, when you have a close deal, what ever that deal is, just stop talking. If you  reopen your mouth you reopen the closed deal. In the case above the rep could not fix the customer’s problem, she may have actually compounded the problem by allowing the customer not to pay.

Can you imagine when that customer actually calls customer service? He’s going to say…. “Your representative told me not to pay.” Now that’s not exactly what the rep said but she did make the situation worse.

JUST STOP TALKING. In all cases you should be doing more listening and less talking. Oh yea… If someone is handing you money then you should probably take it.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

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Cold Call vs. Warm Call

cold_call_vs_warm_callSince everyone hates or ought to hate cold calling there is another option… Send a letter of introduction.

Sales representatives will find ANYTHING else to do besides cold calling. Unless you have a very good list to call off of it is hard to remain productive as a group and the reps will quickly become disinterested.

There is an option, when you send a personalized letter of introduction with a specific call to action in it then all of the sudden your cold call becomes a warm call.

Or at least that is what you can call it… a warm call. Your sales representatives will determine how warm the call really is. However your professional sales representatives will take this tried and true method of getting to 1st base seriously and begin the sales process right there.

The letter must state:

  • Who you are…
    • “My name is David Peterson, I am a sales representative for XYX Corporation.”
  • Who your company is…
    • “The XYX Corporation is a major player in the ABC industry, perhaps you have heard of us?”
  • Why you are writing them…
    • “The reason for this letter is that I wanted to introduce myself to you and I think that I have uncovered an opportunity for both of us to succeed.”
  • Call to action, or next step…  
    • “I will be calling you in the next week to discuss these opportunities.”

This is a very simple way to get your sales reps past the problem and stigma of cold calling by providing them with a list that they know #1 it is to their target market, especially since you spent the money to produce the mailing and #2 The prospect should be expecting a call.

Simple and effective. Give it a try both your sales reps and your prospects may enjoy the whole process just a little bit more.

Hiring Cold Callers

hiring_cold_callersI have hired probably a couple hundred representatives over my sales career.  There is an art to hiring sales people. All of the good ones know that concentrating on the sales process, knowing where you are in the sales process are critical to enjoying success.

All of the successful professional sales representatives also know that some form of cold call will have to be done in order to fill their individual pipeline.

So why is it that so many professional sales representatives fail, or move on to other professions? That one is tough to put my finger on it exactly but I would have to say that cold calling is one of the areas that all representatives fear and loath to do.

There is a difference between loathing to do cold calls and not doing them. When I interview prospective sales candidates I always ask them these two questions.

  1. Since you are looking for a new job this is your opportunity to get off the phone and stop cold calling, why are you interviewing for the exact type of job you just left?
  2. Do you like spending 8 hours a day on the phone?

The first question I use to find out why they are leaving their previous position. Sales positions are easy to find but hard to keep. Sales representatives are also looking for a specific amount of money, so when they are not making that amount they tend to bolt.  Definitely drill down on this answer.

The second question is really the one that lets me know if the candidate is going to lie to me in the future. Nobody likes being on cold calls. If you hear something like “You have to smile and dial,” or “You have to stay on the phone to make money,” then my advice is to explore the candidate further. The sales candidate  is using both those statements because they think… “I know exactly what the new boss wants to hear.”

I have two final questions that I always ask prospective sales candidates. They are:

  1. How much money do you want to make?
  2. How much money do you need to make?

The answer to #1 needs to be at the high-end of your own pay scale. If it is not (way over or way under) then run and run fast. The #2 answer will immediately tell you exactly how much money they will make. Sales reps get comfortable with a set amount of money so if your “A” players are making $100,000 and your candidate needs to make $50,000 my advice is to pass and keep looking.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Risk, Reward, Motivation

risk_reward_motivationNotice the picture says “DANGER THIN ICE.” I was speaking with a sales manager that had just returned from a quarterly sales award presentation. I could tell from the tone of her voice that it didn’t go well. Then the dreaded words… “I hate this job, can I come work for you?”

Here is an employee that should have been returning from a quarterly sales event FIRED UP, not looking for a new job. This sales manager was clearly on thin ice.

The reason: Management had screwed up the numbers so the people who should have won didn’t. Now she has an entire team pissed off at her for the mistake(s). Any momentum or motivation that she should have received is now gone.

As a sales consultant I work with organizations that fall through this ice. These organizations want to do well. They want to reward their employees. They spend the money, create the trips, offer spiffs, cash, dinner and plaques. The goal of a sales award presentation is to recognize the sales employees who have gone above and beyond the results  of the other representatives.

However the real goal of these sales presentations is to motivate the group of sales representatives that didn’t quite get on the stage. You want this group of sales reps to perform next quarter at a higher rate.

The award ceremonies are one of the most positive events you can have. They are usually a lot of fun with guest speakers, dinner and cash. Everyone has a good time.

So how do you blow it?

Mess up the sales numbers, or worse have representatives question the numbers. If your sales reps don’t completely understand  their compensation plans then the management of that sales department is doomed from the beginning.

The risk with not having a solid compensation plan is that sales reps will not know exactly how they are being measured. If you make changes to the compensation plan in the middle of a quarter then you better have good bean  counters and you better make sure all the representatives understand the change.

Otherwise…

Otherwise what happens is that all of the motivation will be sucked right out of your sales department. No amount of reward will be useful because the reps either don’t understand the numbers or they don’t trust the numbers.

Risk, Reward, and Motivation: You WANT and NEED your award ceremonies to go off with out a hitch. Before you assigned the date of your next award ceremony you need to make sure that all of the reps know their sales goals. They need to know the number they are responsible for. If not you will suck any motivation or worse momentum right out of the room.

PS: Talking about thin ice, it will take at least 1 quarter to move past a motivational problem like this.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting