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How to Keep Your Pipeline Full During Your Busiest Months

By Jeff Beals

Let’s say you are having the month of your sales career.

Everything is going right and you’re incredibly busy.  In fact, there’s so much going on you have several deals that are closing all around the same time.  Everything is looking good with those deals.

You know there’s a chance one of them could fall through at the last minute, so you’re doing your darnedest to make sure nothing goes wrong.  You’re acting like a “deal shepherd” as you diligently monitor all aspects of the process and keep in constant communication with all parties involved in the transaction.

And let’s further say everything works out.  You make a ton of commission money and you couldn’t feel happier.

Congratulations.  It’s awesome when you get a month like that.

But there is a down side when you have a great month full of bottom-of-the-funnel activity: you will most likely neglect your prospecting.

I don’t necessarily blame people who find themselves in that situation.  I’ve been there myself many times.  It’s easy to put off top-of-funnel, down-the-road prospecting activity when you’re busy.  And at some level, it’s completely rational to do so.   After all, it makes sense to devote whatever time it takes to close a sale that is late in the stage and has a high likelihood of closing.  After all, you presumably had to work very hard to get the sale to that point.

So what can you do to make sure you do at least some prospecting even when you are up to your eyeballs in high-value opportunities that are just about to become done deals?  Here are a few things that can help you get the best of both worlds – your sales completed without leaving your pipeline empty:

Time Management – All professionals need to exercise good time management practices but it’s especially important for busy sales practitioners.  I have noticed that even those people who are highly successful and who happen to be going through a particularly busy time, STILL end up wasting time each day.  If you watch the little five- and 10-minute time wasters, you just might find time to work in some calls to prospects.

Teamwork – Any time you can divide the labor, you give yourself more capacity.  If it’s appropriate in your company, you might want to team up with another sales professional.  If you have access to clerical support, find good and efficient ways to use it.  I have met many a sales pro who has access to administrative support but chooses not to use it, saying something like, “Well, it’s faster if I just do it myself.”  To me, that means the sales pro hasn’t spent time training the admin how his or her sales process works.

Time Blocking – I’m a huge fan of time blocking, and it’s an important component of time management.  Time blocking means you literally block out chunks of time on your calendar before a week even begins in which you will do nothing but reach out to prospects.  It could be email.  It could be in-person visits.  It could be telephone calls.  I find that telephone calls still tend to be the best use of prospecting time.  The key to time blocking is to never cheat.  Once a time block is on your schedule, you should stick to it no matter how tempting it is to do something else during that time.

Proactive Research – It is especially important during your most busy months to do your prospect research during off hours.  Since you have so much going on when you’re about to close a bunch of deals at once, you don’t want to spend prime, daytime meeting/calling hours looking up prospects’ websites and LinkedIn profiles.  Instead, do that during weekends, late nights or early mornings.

No matter how busy we get, even during our busiest, most exciting months, we still need to find a way to reach cold prospects.  It is shocking how fast a pipeline can drain.  If you want to avoid the up-and-down, boom-bust business cycle that too many sales reps find themselves struggling with, you have to find the time, energy and enthusiasm to make one more call.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Are You Getting in Front of Enough Prospects?

By Jeff Beals

Only 24 percent of salespeople exceeded their quotas last year.

That’s according to a report by sales strategist Marc Wayshak entitled, “18 Sales Statistics You Need to Know About Right Now.”  The report summarizes Wayshak’s study of 400 practicing salespeople.  Sales reps like to talk about “crushing it,” but the majority are notcrushing it.

To make matters worse, 54 percent of the respondents said it’s harder to get in front of prospects than it was five years ago.

But there was one statistic in Wayshak’s report that particularly stood out, and it explains why less than a quarter of sales reps exceeded their quotas: “66.7 percent of respondents reached out to fewer than 250 prospects in the past year.”  Furthermore, only 15 percent reached out to more than 1,000 prospects in the past year.

That’s another piece of evidence in my quest to prove how important prospecting is to your sales success.  The majority of today’s sales reps simply are not putting themselves in front of enough prospective clients.

Prospecting is the key.  Prospecting has always been the key.  It’s the reason 20 percent of sales reps do 80 percent of the business, and why in some companies, 10 percent make 90 percent of the sales.  Prospecting separates the great from the good.

If you want to make more money, prospect like your life depends on it.  Consider prospecting to be a mindset, a way of life and a fundamental part of your company’s culture.  When things are going well and you’re closing so many sales you can hardly keep up, you still need to carve out at least a little time for prospecting.

Turn over every rock and scratch the dirt.  Opportunities are often buried layers below the surface.  Keep in mind that every person you meet could potentially lead to business and that prospects can theoretically be found any place you go.

In order to make sure you prospect perpetually, block out a couple periods of time each week that are reserved for prospecting activities: telephone calls, personalized direct emails or showing up at prospects’ offices.  This time should be a non-negotiable calendar commitment not to be interrupted or rescheduled unless it’s an emergency.

When you reach out to new prospects, talk about things you believe they value instead of talking about you or your company.  Research the prospect before contacting them and talk about what they value and then be ready to explain how the outcomes/results of your products and services satisfy those values.

Finally, map out your weekly prospecting plan on Sunday evening or early Monday morning.  Decide who you’re going to contact and research those prospects ahead of time.  That way, when you get to your dedicated prospecting time, you’re focused on communicating instead of digging through websites and looking up LinkedIn profiles.  If you do anything other than communicating during dedicated prospecting time blocks, you’re wasting the prime calling hours.

Ultimately, success or failure in sales comes down to prospecting.  If you prospect perpetually and enthusiastically, you’ll likely succeed.  If you cheat on prospecting, you will likely fail.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Why Do Underperforming Sales Reps Underperform?

By Jeff Beals

Why do underperforming sales reps underperform?

That question has vexed sales leaders since the beginning of time.  The consequences and manifestations of that question have caused many a sales manager to waste countless hours of precious time.

Below is a quick list of what leads to underwhelming results. The first couple of items are very difficult to fix.  The other items can be fixed but only if the sales rep has a strong personal desire to turn things around and succeed.

Mindset – Low performers often lack a love for sales and the competitiveness to go out and win deals.  They lack the self-generated motivation that drives other reps to strive for money, victories and a sense of accomplishment.  Furthermore, some people are actually embarrassed or ashamed to work in sales.  This is more common than you might think.  There are a number of people who work in sales but wish they didn’t because they don’t see it as a prestigious enough job or they feel guilty approaching strangers.  Finally, some sales reps just aren’t team players. They are difficult to manage and don’t collaborate well with co-workers.

Laziness – Sales is not rocket science, but it does take hard work.  Some people just aren’t willing to put in the effort that it takes.

Personal problems – Hopefully, these are just temporary barriers that will eventually go away, but it is awfully difficult to focus on your work when things are in shambles at home.

No understanding of client value – Underperforming reps are more likely to make product-focused calls, meaning they focus too much on the features and benefits of their products/services, talk too much about themselves and focus on how great their company is.  Instead, they should focus on what the prospect truly values and what outcomes the prospect seeks.

Questions – Poor producers typically don’t ask enough questions, and the questions they do ask are superficial in nature.  Successful sales reps ask probing questions and as many as necessary to understand what truly motivates the prospect.

Insufficient prospecting activity – In order to create new clients, sales reps must get on the phone, send emails and show up at prospects’ offices.  They must be willing to interrupt a stranger’s day.  Low producers almost never make enough “dials per day.”

Selling on price – Because low producers don’t build adequate pipelines, they tend to be too dependent upon any one prospect at any given time.  This can make them desperate and more willing to offer price reductions and discounts in order to close sales.  Additionally, underperformers are more likely to focus on price during calls and meetings instead of focusing on the true value the product or service provides.

Trustworthiness – At some level, prospects need to feel like they can trust a sales rep especially when it comes to complex or high-dollar sales.  If a sales rep can’t establish trust quickly with new prospects, he or she is facing a steep uphill climb.

Product Knowledge – When clients do have specific questions about a product, you better be able to answer the question confidently, accurately and quickly.  Many underperformers can’t or won’t.

Most sales managers spend an inordinate amount of time with their underperformers.  Except for new sales reps, it is generally counterproductive to spend a lot of time with your lowest producers.

If you’re trying to decide with whom to spend time, focus on your middle producers.  Those are the sales reps who are producing adequate results but have room for much more. Second, focus on your high producers, helping them maximize their already impressive results. Your third and final priority would be the low producers, determining which ones have potential and which ones should go work somewhere else.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Are You About to Lose Your Largest Client?

My friend and colleague, Lee Salz, has the #1 sales book on Amazon right now. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to grab your copy: Amazon is selling the Kindle version of Sales Differentiation for only $3.99 in the U.S.

In honor of Lee’s brand-new book I have invited him to be a guest columnist for this week’s Sales Shape-Up.

By Lee B. Salz

For the last five years, a hardware supplier sold screws to a national home building company. Whenever the home builder ordered screws, the supplier delivered them accurately and on-time. If the home builder wanted Philips screws, the supplier delivered them. If they wanted flathead screws, the supplier had those, too. The supplier had screws of all types and sizes which allowed them to serve this national home builder client.

The supplier was proud of its performance, and the home builder was pleased with the customer service responsiveness. Over the years, this client grew to become one of the largest, most profitable clients in the hardware supplier’s portfolio.

One day, everything changed. The home builder stopped buying screws from this supplier. A competitor came along and took the account away.

How could that happen given the performance of the hardware supplier?

The competitor talked with the home builder, not just about the screws. The salesperson inquired about the tools they used to install the screws and the material in which the screws were installed. Interestingly, just like the incumbent supplier, the competitor could provide a comprehensive solution rather than sell a single product. Unfortunately for the incumbent, they never had a conversation about the full solution they could provide. They were complacent with the revenue they had and felt that their customer service would create client loyalty. Unfortunately for them, they were wrong.

They lost this account, and the competitor didn’t win it on price. They used Sales Differentiation strategy to position the value of consolidating suppliers with a comprehensive solution which made a strong business case justifying a change. The incumbent was merely a product-pusher and did nothing to provide meaningful, differentiated value.

This story parallels a dynamic I find in most companies. They have a fragmented client portfolio. They sell a product to a client and don’t develop a strategy to position the full solution they can bring to bear. They may have sold a single product to a company or a full solution to a division or location. In both cases, there is more selling to be done!

The key is to use a selling strategy I refer to as conquering accounts. Your client portfolio represents both opportunities and vulnerabilities which a conquering accounts strategy addresses.

The opportunity you have is to grow revenue with those you presently have a relationship.

The vulnerability comes into play when you don’t have a conquering accounts strategy as a competitor, just like with the hardware supplier, comes along and presents a compelling solution rather than pushing a product.

Have you ever looked at your client portfolio and asked yourself how much untapped revenue it represents? If you haven’t, you should! In my experience with clients, I find their client portfolio looks like a slice of Swiss cheese. There are unnecessary holes in their portfolio where they leave revenue on the table and themselves unnecessarily vulnerable to the competition.

Salespeople are pushed to hunt for new accounts, but who is tasked with going back to the existing clients with a conquering accounts strategy?

The first step in the development of your Conquering Accounts Strategy is to put together a Product Contrast Matrix as described below:

1. List of all of your products in the left-hand column

2. In the second column, identify who the competitors are for each product

3. In the third column, ask yourself who buys this product (market segments and the Decision Influencers within them)

4. In the fourth column, for each product, ask yourself the following question:
If they are buying this product, what other products of ours should be of interest?
(If the hardware supplier had asked themselves that question, they would have identified opportunities on both sides of the screw.)

5. In the fifth column, explain why the other products should be of interest by asking this question:
What is the synergy between the product they are currently buying and the related ones?

6. In the sixth column, list the competitors for the other product(s).

Once completed, contrast the data in this tool with your client portfolio. You will quickly be able to see opportunities and vulnerabilities which you can resolve by conquering the account.

Assign each account to a salesperson to develop a conquering accounts strategy and develop a timeline for execution of the strategy.

Your conquering accounts strategy allows you to play both offense and defense against your competitors. You drive revenue and keep them out of your accounts. Using Sales Differentiation strategy to conquer accounts leads to explosive, profitable growth.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Urgency: A Sales Lesson From the Far Side

By Jeff Beals

I was meeting with one of my coaching clients earlier this week, and he was lamenting that one of his top prospects wouldn’t call him back.  The prospect was a senior decision maker at large company.

As my client shared his frustrations, it reminded me of an old Far Side cartoon.  The Far Side was a syndicated, single-panel cartoon by Gary Larson that ran from 1980 to 1995.  I always loved Larson’s work.

At any rate, one of my favorite Far Side cartoons was captioned, “Same planet, different worlds.”

The cartoon panel is divided in half.  In the top frame, there is a man lying in bed staring at the ceiling with a thought bubble above his head that says, “I wonder if she knows I exist…Should I call her? Maybe she doesn’t even know I exist? Well, maybe she does…I’ll call her. No, wait…I’m not sure if she knows I exist. Dang!”

In the bottom frame, there’s a picture of a woman lying in bed staring at her ceiling with a thought bubble above her head: “You know, I think I really like vanilla.”

That cartoon cracks me up. Aside from aptly describing my teenage dating experience, it’s a metaphor for anyone who sells for a living.

As the cartoon so effectively illustrates, people have different priorities and different levels of urgency. As a sales professional, your level of urgency is often greater than that of your prospects.

Think about it. Your job depends on selling products or services.  You don’t get paid until you close a deal.  Because your livelihood depends on deal making, you have a vested interest in the process moving quickly and the purchase decision made promptly.

But your prospect could (and often does) have a very different timeline for a variety of reasons:

  • Your prospect might have to go through multiple layers of decision making inside his or her company
  • Your prospect might be considering additional options/vendors in addition to you and your offering.
  • In addition to making a decision on your proposed offering, your prospect has a hundred other things to worry about, some of which are more pressing and stressful.
  • Your prospect could be dealing with things in his or her personal life that take priority over a business decision, even an important business decision.
  • Your prospect’s “clock” might be different from yours.  Different people think and move at different speeds.  What’s “fast” to one person might be “slow to another.
  • Perhaps you haven’t done a good enough job of proving that your offering creates so much value that it deserves to be the prospect’s top priority.

If you find yourself in the sales equivalent of The Far Side cartoon, what should you do?

Stick to the basics.  Be persistent and focus on value-led messaging that focuses on the prospect’s outcomes.

When you discover exactly which part of your product or service most closely meets what the prospect most values at the time he or she most needs it, the prospect’s level of urgency suddenly will match and sometimes even exceed yours.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

The Actions & Behaviors of Top Producers

By Jeff Beals

In last week’s article, we discussed the characteristics of top producers, exploring what characteristics, or “success factors,” were common among the top 10 and 20 percent of sales professionals.

This week, we dig into the details and examine the behaviors and actions of elite sales practitioners:

Networking – Top producers believe in creating their own leads instead of sitting around waiting for the marketing department to generate leads. One of the ways you do that is by getting out of the office and getting in front of prospects.  This is especially important if you have a geographically concentrated territory (such as one metro area) or you regularly attend events that are populated with your prospects.  Try to have a minimum number of events per month as a goal.

Prospecting calls – The best sales pros make a minimum number of calls each week without exception even when they’re busy closing current sales.  They also make “one more call,” which means even when they’re tired and want to go home, they muster the energy to make at least one more call.

Industry relationships and intelligence gathering – Top producers realize that information is power.  They study the market and constantly have their ear to the grape vine searching for rumors and insider information.  Keep your friends close and your competitors even closer!

Social media – Top producers to not depend on social media as a prospecting tool. Instead, they use social media to support their prospecting efforts.  While social media will never be as effective as calling prospects on the phone, it does help you with lead generation, personal branding and thought leadership.  Max out your LinkedIn profile, create and post interesting information that is of value to your prospects and build a large group of contacts/connections.  Social media is not the panacea that too many sales pros wish it to be but it’s still a useful tool.

Time blocking and time management – If you want to be in the top 10 percent of sales pros, it takes organization and discipline.  I recommend you literally block out time on your calendar each week to make prospecting calls.  Be rigid about this and don’t let any other activity take over your reserved prospecting time.  You also need discipline and attention to detail.

Client communication – Top producers don’t leave their prospects hanging and wondering what’s going on.  If you don’t communicate with them, even when there’s not much good news to report, you’re leaving your prospects vulnerable for poaching by your competitors.  An old rule of thumb: “If you think you’re communicating too much, you’re probably not.”

High responsiveness – Elite sales practitioners are highly responsive.  No leads fall through the cracks.  Each lead is treated like an instant-win, scratch-off lottery ticket.  Calls are returned much faster than 24 hours.

Staying front of mind – Top producers make it hard for people to forget them.  They stay in front of people, because they never know when a person might need them.  They congratulate people on successes, recognize people in the news with hand-written notes, and send links to articles that they think a certain person might enjoy reading.

A closer’s mentality – Ultimately, top producers know that all their efforts are designed to lead to closed deals and cashed commission checks.  When the time is right, they ask for the business, call the question and close the deal. Additionally, they have strong negotiation skills and don’t give into to price-reduction requests.

Work-life balance – Because they want to stay on top of their game, top producers must also reserve time for fun.  In fact, many elite sales reps tend to “play hard” but not so hard that they harm reputations or compromise their ability to do great work.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300. 

Characteristics of the Most Successful Sales Professionals

By Jeff Beals

You’ve surely heard about the 80/20 rule, which says 20 percent of sales professionals do 80 percent of the business.  I have generally found that to be true.  In fact, at some companies, it’s more of a 90/10 rule.

What does it take to be among the top 10 or 20 percent of producers?

When I look at the top producers with whom I work as a consultant, I see common characteristics that are consistent regardless of industry.  I like to call them “sales success factors.”

Characteristics of Top Producers

1. They are highly goal-oriented and monitor progress throughout the year.

2. They are obsessed with prospecting and disciplined to do it every day.

3. They have balanced personalities: Assertive and competitive but not aggressive or passive. In other words, they have a desire to win but still put clients’ interests first.

4. They tend to be more ethical than mid-level and under-performing reps.  This one might surprise some people, but unethical behavior will eventually bring down an otherwise successful sales practitioner.

5. They are always curious and have amassed extensive knowledge of their local, territory and/or industry marketplaces.  They have deep product knowledge.  They have most key things memorized, but if they’re asked something they don’t know, they can find the answer immediately.

6. They build and maintain relationships with a large, diverse group of people to whom they go for business opportunities, referrals and insider information.

7. They are organized in both their personal and professional lives.  They have a system of good habits.  They treat their time like it’s a precious resource.

8. The have the mindset of success: quickly accept responsibility for their mistakes and graciously accept credit for their successes.  They tend to be me more optimistic than pessimistic.

9. They are unapologetic/unashamed about working in sales and believe that selling is a critically important function in the overall success of the economy.  They are proud of what they do for a living.

10. They’re not afraid to call the question.  When it’s time to close the deal, they don’t hesitate.  They get it done.

As you read through the above list, how do you see yourself?  How many of these 10 success factors describe you?  If you are the leader of a sales team, how many of your reps possess most of the characteristics?

If any of the characteristics are weaknesses for you, now is the time to work on those deficiencies.  It’s never too late to develop better skills, habits and behaviors.  After all, there’s more room at the top than most people think.

IMPROVE YOUR PROSPECTING SKILLS!

Do you sometimes struggle with exactly what to say to get new prospects to engage?

If so, then you absolutely cannot miss our virtual training session on the new sales business language.

Join us, as we share:

  • Exactly what to say to engage a cold prospect
  • How to create value as a though leader
  • The tricks to identify your powerful insights which move clients to engage
  • How to completely differentiate yourself from your competitors.

You do not want to miss this content-heavy webinar on Oct 17th at 10 AM CT, as you will leave with new prospecting business acumen that will get prospects to engage.

You can include your whole sales department for just $99.  You’ll learn the strategies leading-edge companies are using to cut through the commoditization clutter and stand out.

Sign-Up NOW:  Oct 17th at 10 AM CT

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He’s an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300. 

The Price of Putting Off Prospecting

By Jeff Beals

Procrastination is one of the leading causes of poor sales performance, according to research published by Gong.io, a technology company that analyzes sales reps’ conversations for its client companies.

Gong’s data-science team analyzed 15 months of telephone conversations between sales reps and their prospects.  The results showed that average salespeople made far more calls in the last month of the quarter than the first two.  The success rate of those frenzied, last-month calls was measurably lower than calls made early in the quarter.

In other words, according to Gong, having a bad quarter almost follows a pattern: two “lazy” months of prospecting followed by a frantic third month characterized by a desperate scramble to drag prospects across the finish line in time to make quota.

The study showed that average sales reps (defined as being below the top 20 percent of performers), were far more likely to follow this pattern of procrastination than those who were consistently top-20-percent producers.

It is understandable why this happens.  After one quarter ends, you feel a sense or relief if you did well.  Even if it wasn’t a good quarter, you feel like you have all the time in the world to make your sales goal once a new period starts.

Legendary football coach Tom Osborne once said, “The odds are always against you no matter what your previous history is.  You have to overcome the tendency to relax.”

It’s hard to stay on top of your game and stay on top of your company’s leader board.

If you want to be a consistently elite sales professional, you need to push yourself just as hard at the beginning of a quarter as the end.  You need to be disciplined.  It helps to start strong.

In keeping with the football theme, a team’s performance during a game is largely determined by the way players practiced the previous Monday.  If you have a big victory over a key rival one weekend, it can be hard to come to practice Monday with adequate intensity.

How can sales practitioners keep the intensity?  How can you avoid the natural tendency to relax once a quarter ends or a big sale closes?

Prospect like your life depends on it.  Because it does!  Prospecting is harder than ever, so you need to be more diligent.  Prospecting is a mindset, a way of life.  You could even call is a “lifestyle.”  Embrace it. Welcome it.  Do it every single day of the week.  While prospecting can be nerve-wracking and frustrating, push through it.  If you are positive about it, you’ve won half the battle.

Time blocking.  You have to make prospecting one of your top daily activities.  You even have to do it on days you’re closing other deals.  Top producers literally reserve blocks of time for prospecting and they don’t allow any distractions during those times. I know of no other use of your time that is more likely to lead to long-term sales success than being a dedicated, disciplined prospector.

Make a plan.  While you need to be an enthusiastic prospector, you do need a plan. If you run to the nearest phone and start dialing cold prospects haphazardly, you’re wasting your time.  Your plan should include what types of people you target, where you get leads, how you do pre-call research, the language you use to establish value and the tactics you use to push them further down your pipeline.  Ideally, you make next quarter’s prospecting plan before the current quarter ends.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He’s an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300. 

Sales Leaders: Make Sure You Are Not the Weak Link!

By Jeff Beals

It’s hard to admit this, but the weak link in many selling organizations is often the sales leader, the person in charge of driving revenue growth but who almost never receives proper training or mentoring. Not only do most sales leaders lack preparation, they receive very little formal support and guidance. Too many sales leaders feel like they’ve been hung out to dry.

One of the best ways a sales leader can maintain high-level success is to have a peer group of fellow sales experts who act as your own executive advisory board, a group that can answer questions, provide guidance and support you through both good times and bad.

In other words, if you’re a sales leader who has not yet joined a mastermind group, you’re missing out.

CEOs have long taken advantage of mastermind groups. But now in 2018, sales leaders are joining mastermind groups like crazy. By finally getting the support they need, sales leaders are recruiting better reps, developing better strategy and figuring out how to hold their sales teams accountable.

What’s a mastermind group?

It’s a group of professionals, usually about eight to 12 of them, who meet on a regular basis to help each other be more successful in a confidential setting. Leadership can be lonely, because there simply aren’t a lot of places you can seek guidance inside your organization without compromising confidential information or admitting your personal weaknesses.

If you’re asked to join a well-structured mastermind group consisting of high-quality people, consider yourself lucky. You should jump at the opportunity. Actively and enthusiastically participating in a mastermind group is hands-down one of the single best things you can do to up your game and improve your life. Here are seven reasons why:

1. You’re no longer on a deserted island. Once you join a mastermind group, you’re no longer alone. Instead, you’re part of a confidential group of outstanding leaders. Many masterminds allow only one person per industry. That means you can openly share information without your direct competitors hearing about it.

2. You gain transferable knowledge. If your mastermind group includes people from different industries, you can learn amazing ideas and apply them to your industry allowing you to jump ahead of your competitors.

3. You constantly learn new things. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey advises us to regularly “sharpen the saw,” meaning we take time to open our minds and increase our skills. Your profession is constantly changing; a mastermind group can help you stay on the cutting edge.

4. You develop better habits. A good mastermind is highly supportive yet also holds you accountable. If you say you’re going to tackle a new project one month, your fellow mastermind group members will expect to hear about your experiences the next month. This helps you avoid procrastination.

5. You benefit from a “personal board of directors.” A mastermind group functions as your own advisory board. You can go to them and seek counsel for just about anything. Peer-to-peer advising is effective because it allows you to get things off your chest, figure out what to do before you do it and discuss possible outcomes before they happen. Just think how successful you can be when you have a group of people who are invested in your success just as you are invested in theirs.

6. You might find new clients. While this isn’t necessary an expressed benefit of many mastermind groups, some of your fellow members might be ideal clients for your organization. Mastermind members tend to become friends. They bond together. There’s nobody better to do business with than somebody you completely trust.

7. You become more confident. When you have the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of a potential decision with a group of talented and experienced people, you will carry out your decisions with much more confidence.

If you hold a leadership position in sales, I have the perfect mastermind group for you. It’s called the “Sales Leader Mastermind Group.” I personally facilitate this group along with my partner Beth Mastre. We are recruiting members right now for our next year which begins November 1st. We have a few spots still available.

Our past members have had very positive experiences in the group, and some of them have even made dramatic changes at their companies because of what they have learned. One of our members credits the group for helping him land one of America’s 15 largest companies as a client.

There are four in-person meetings per year – All the other meetings are virtual, so you can join in no matter where in the world you might be.

Sales leadership can be a lonely existence. Joining this group will help you create a stronger sales culture, attract talented sales reps and drive more revenue while you better manage both your personal and professional life.

Click here now to read a prospectus about this mastermind group!

Here’s what some of our current members have to say about the Sales Leader Mastermind Group: 

“I can’t tell you how much I have learned this year. We are killing it on the sales side. We are bringing back clients in a big way, and we are chasing even bigger ones. It’s a great story of learning from mistakes and getting focused. Thank you again for leading our Sales Mastermind Group. It has really been a valuable experience for me, and I’ve made some close connections with members of the group.” – Brent Pohlman, President, Midwest Laboratories, Inc.  

“As a leader in your organization, it can be hard to go to other people and ask certain questions or bring up sensitive issues. When you join a group of people who are in the same roles at their companies, the creative energy flows and new ideas come about. Spending time with other successful sales leaders, leads to new revenue strategies and the type of candid feedback that’s really effective. It’s a no-brainer to get involved in a group like this.” – Alan Johnson, Vice President of Business Development, FocusOne Solutions, a C&A Industries Company  

“In the mastermind, I can bounce ideas off a group of high-level people and discuss how to handle strategic items, personnel issues or company initiatives. The idea is for each of us to throw a subject on the table, and then a group of your peers analyzes it and provides feedback. You get to know each other very well and form a deep bond, which means you become a valuable resource for each other.“ – Jason Thiellen, Chief Executive Officer, E&A Consulting Group, Inc.  

Questions? Send me a note at jeff@jeffbeals.com

Happy Selling Season

By Jeff Beals

“Happy Selling Season.”

That’s what I said to members of my mastermind group as we finished our monthly teleconference yesterday.

What’s “Selling Season?”  It’s the period of time between the U.S. holidays of Labor Day (the first Monday in September) and Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November).  It’s autumn, the harvest season.

As a sales practitioner, that two-and-a-half-month period has always been my favorite time of year.

Things get done and business happens during Selling Season.  Children are back in school.  Family vacations are over.  The holidays have not yet started.  People are back at their desks and trying to be productive.  Decision makers are zeroed in on their work and focused on making business decisions during that time.  Selling Season is when hard-working B2B sales pros can “make hay while the sun is shining.”

Upon mentioning Selling Season yesterday, one of my mastermind members asked me if I had any hard data that proves a larger amount of B2B sales happen during Selling Season.  I don’t, but it has always been the case for me.

Over the course of my career, I have basically sold three types of things.  In all three of those professions/industries, I have always been the busiest and had the most success in the early-to-mid fall (the second-best time of year is March through May).

Now that we are at the very beginning of Selling Season, what can you do to make the most of it?

I recommend you go on the offensive.  Selling Season goes by fast, so there’s not a lot of time to sit around and think about what you’re going to do.  Ideally, you prepare for Selling Season during the lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer when things are a little slower.  If you didn’t do that this summer, there’s no use in fretting over it.  Just jump into it and get going.

To maximize this rich time of year, practice of the discipline of “time blocking.”  That means you literally block out times during the week on your calendar during which you will make prospecting calls, direct emails or in-person visits.  Consider your time-blocking periods to be non-negotiable, in that you refuse to do anything but prospect during these protected time periods.

In order to be most efficient during Selling Season, do your prospect research and pre-call preparation during the weekends, evenings or very early morning hours.  Save the prime contact hours for direct communication with prospective clients.

When you go to networking events, go with a purpose in mind.  Too many sales pros miss lead generation opportunities when they don’t maximize networking events.  This is especially important if your clients tend to be geographically concentrated, i.e. you do most of your selling in one metro area.  Remember that you’re not going to networking events to socialize or hang out; you’re going to meet prospects.

Much of your success during Selling Season comes down to attitude, the right mindset.  Autumn is a time for you to go the extra mile.  Because prospects are more available and more focused on their work during the fall, we all need to work a little harder lest we waste an opportunity.

When you’re tired of calling, find the energy to make one more call.  When you’re tired of knocking on doors, stop by one more office.  When you don’t feel like going to an after-hours mixer, suck it up and go meet some prospects.

If you maximize your efforts and intensity during Selling Season, you’ll have a happier holiday season and you’ll likely be in an enviable position heading into 2019.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300.