Sales Prospecting Strategy: Who Do You Really Want?

By Jeff Beals

One of the first steps in prospecting is to determine who among all the potential prospects you really want.

Like all sales and marketing activities, prospecting must be in harmony with your strategic plan. That means you go after the types of prospects who will help you meet your revenue goals while being consistent with your vision and core values.

Make sure your targeted prospects are the type of people who truly value what your company does. Would-be clients need to have the problems that you are equipped to solve.

Once you know who you want, make sure your branding and other marketing activities actually attract that kind of person. Marketing sets the stage and establishes the selling themes. Portray yourself as THE choice for the kinds of prospects you seek.

If your company has been around for a while, profiling potential prospects is easy. Just look at your most valuable current clients, identify what stands out about them and then search for those qualities among new prospects.

If your company is not so established, it will require some trial and error as you search for those prospect qualities that are most in sync with your organizational purpose.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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From “Don’t Know You” to “Can’t Live without You”

By Jeff Beals

I normally don’t speak or write on career success but lately several readers have asked me how my personal branding philosophies apply to the world of job-searching. Well rest assured, they certainly do apply.

Job searching comes down to one basic idea:  you need to move prospective employers from a point in time when they don’t even know you to another point in time when they believe they can’t live without you.

In a nutshell, that is the key to job searching – finding a way to move the would-be boss from “don’t-know-you” to “can’t-live-without you.”  It may sound somewhat manipulative, but it’s really no different than any marketing effort that a company would undertake.

Although the process of moving an employer from don’t-know-you to can’t-live without-you is not easy per se, it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think.

A successful job searcher uses every part of the process – from the cover letter to the final interview – to convince the employer that he or she is the solution to the employer’s problem, whatever that may be. If you can show how you are the solution to the problem, you have taken the first major step in moving the employer from don’t-know-you to can’t-live-without-you.

Every hiring manager has a problem. A great employee could have resigned and defected to a direct competitor. Perhaps someone was fired, which has left psychological scars and social division in the department. The hiring manager could be under tremendous pressure from higher-ups to produce more while spending less. Whatever the particular problem may be, a hiring manager always has one.

Believe me, if the hiring manager didn’t have a problem, he or she wouldn’t be going through the search process. Finding new employees is an expensive, time-consuming pain in the backside.  Successful people only spend time on tasks that further their goals and the organization’s goals. Therefore, they conduct candidate searches only because they have problems that need solutions.

The successful candidate, the one who moves the hiring manager from don’t-know-you to can’t-live-without-you, is the one who shows that he or she is the solution to the hiring manager’s problem.

The second requirement in moving the hiring manager from don’t-know-you to can’t-live-without-you is to build rapport with the manager. You want the prospective boss to like you. It is common for job searchers to overlook this. We all know that managers and subordinates aren’t supposed to be chummy buddies, but you still want to work with someone with whom you can get along.

Nobody hires people they don’t like!

Sure, a hiring manager may grow to dislike an employee over the course of time (and vice-versa), but in the beginning, nobody hires a person they dislike. It makes sense if you think about it. We spend more waking hours with our colleagues than we do with our families and friends. You might as well spend those hours with people who are pleasant to be around.

Successful candidates build rapport with the hiring manager in addition to proving that they are the solution to the problem.  Assuming you are technically competent or have the transferable skills necessary to do a job, you just have to do two things to convince the hiring manager that they can’t live without you: build rapport and prove you are the solution to his problem.

Candidates who accomplish this can simply wait for the process to play itself out.

Once the hiring manager realizes how valuable you would be to him or her, the rest of the process kind of takes care of itself. Hiring managers go through a mental and emotional roller coaster from the time a job comes open to the time they make decisions. At most large organizations, they must also go through several layers of bureaucratic red tape: requisition a job, redesign the job description any time there is a vacancy, deal with the human resources department, sort through resumés and so on.

After jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops, a hiring manager comes to a point where he or she psychologically commits to the one top candidate. When this happens, the tables turn and the candidate has all the power.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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3 Success Words – Responsibility, Authority & Accountability

By Jeff Beals

After attending our next-door neighbor’s high school graduation party, my daughter and I took an evening walk.  There must be a lot of 18-year-olds in my neighborhood, because seemingly every block was filled with the parallel-parked cars of graduation party invitees.

Walking through the epicenter of graduation revelry reminded me of a note I received from a reader three months ago.  He asked me to write an article about college success.  He wanted me to offer advice to students about to enter college.  I told him I would be happy to do that but would wait until high-school graduation season.  Well, that time is now.

If you have a son, daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew or anyone else you care about who will be starting college this fall, please read on…

By the way, I’m actually quite comfortable addressing this question and fairly well credentialed in doing so.  Before entering the for-profit business sector 14 years ago, I was dean of student affairs at a private college.

The keys to college success are quite similar to those of the professional world.

Three Words

Responsibility.  Authority.  Accountability.  Success ultimately comes down to three words.  I used to harp on those three words when I would meet with new students and upperclassmen.  In order to succeed, each individual must take total responsibility for his or her own life.  You must graciously accept credit when it is due, and more importantly, you must be the first to stand up and take the blame when you have made a mistake.

If you get an “A+” on a term paper, it’s because you did the necessary work, not because you got lucky.  If you’re late for class, it’s your fault, not because you got stuck waiting at a railroad crossing (you should have left earlier).  People who adopt this belief are almost always more successful than those who make excuses.

Every individual has responsibility for himself or herself.  Nobody else can or should make decisions for you.  Fortunately, each of us has the authority to carry out that responsibility.  Nobody has the right to take away the power you have over your own life.  Finally, we are accountable for the decisions we make – good or bad.  You live with the consequences of your decision-making and actions.

While responsibility, authority and accountability come with a burden, they are also liberating.  Success begins and ends with you.  People who abide by these three words enjoy more success and lead richer lives.

No Passivity Allowed

Students must take the initiative to make things happen. Successful people live active rather than passive lives.  To persist in college, you must deliberately make things happen.  Those students who sit in their residence hall rooms waiting for something to happen tend to turn into professionals who sit in their offices wondering why other people are so much more successful.

Get Involved

It may sound counter intuitive, but one of the best ways to succeed academically is to get involved outside the classroom.  I saw it all the time when I worked as a college administrator – students who dropped out of school during their freshman or sophomore years tended to be isolated and not interwoven into the campus fabric.

Getting involved in a campus club, organization, Greek organization or athletic team helps you develop relationships with fellow students.  These relationships consequently bind you emotionally to the school.  If you are having a good time and benefiting from meaningful experiences and relationships, you’re more likely to work hard and do what it takes to stay there.

Collegiate involvement also makes the campus seem “smaller.”  This is important, because going to college can feel intimidating to freshmen especially at large universities.

Time Management

While earning good grades takes hard work, you don’t want to be studying 24-7.  Your undergraduate experience should be one of the most fun and memorable times of your life.  You can enjoy the best of your academic and social lives if you are a good time manager.

As in the professional world, time management habits are one of the single most significant factors that separate the successful from the not-so-successful.  If a student is lacking in time management, there are several on-line resources that provide tips, advice and exercises.  You might also take a look at my January 2011 article “Conquer the 10 Worst Time Wasters” at  http://bit.ly/1rcXfvf.

Find a Mentor

Mentorship has been proven over the years to be a highly effective path to success.  New students should seek out mentors on campus. They could be professors, staff members, and most likely, an upperclassman who leading a successful college career.  Having a role model and a source for advice makes it easier for a freshman to live a life of responsibility, authority and accountability.

Mentor-mentee relationships tend be informal, developed over time as people get to know each other and build friendships.  That said, many colleges have formal mentoring programs in which incoming students are matched with upperclassmen who have agreed to serve as mentors and follow a designed program.

Be On Campus

Finally, there’s no substitute for just being on campus.  I’m a big believer of on-campus living.  By being on campus around the clock, you fully immerse yourself in the experience.

However, I understand that on-campus living is not logistically or financially possible for all students.  In those cases, students should spend their free time on campus.  Instead of going home right after class, stick around.  Do your studying in the student center, the library or the quad.  Eat your meals on campus.  Just being there makes it more likely that you will succeed.

Like so many things in life, college requires that you throw your whole self into the experience.  Make it your passion.  Be a college student with all your heart.  There are some things in life that you can do half-heartedly.  College is not one of them.  You need to give it your all and be fully committed.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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A Strong Desire for Desirable Brands!

By Jeff Beals

Have you ever heard someone say, “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer?” If there’s any truth to this old saying, then “branding” is part of the reason.

The more success a person or entity enjoys the more desirable the brand becomes. The more people want to buy or be a part of that brand the richer the entity becomes.

People have a deep desire to associate with organizations and people who have highly respected and widely recognized brands. If you doubt this, think of how famous actors and athletes capture their fans’ attention. If a star baseball player goes out to dinner, other restaurant patrons will probably swarm him seeking an autograph.

Desirable brands make customers loyally love companies like Apple and Nordstrom. Branding makes Coca-Cola much more desirable than a no-name soda.  It’s because of branding that a prospective client’s ears perk up when a call comes from a highly respected and well recognized company.

A powerful brand gives a successful organization “perception power” in which organizations are perceived to be even greater than they might actually be.

Simply put, a great brand makes it easier for leaders, marketing staff, salespeople and operations to achieve greatness.

No matter what role you have in your organization, ask yourself, “What can I do to further the brand?”  “What can I do to make this organization more desirable and intriguing to people on the outside?”

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Prospecting: Sales Professionals Should Be Seemingly “Everywhere”

By Jeff Beals

The most successful sales professionals tend to work long and hard.  A significant chunk of those hours is typically dedicated to networking, prospecting, making phone calls, responding to emails, hosting guests, visiting people who refer/recommend them to clients and developing raving fans who champion their cause.

No matter how busy you may be, you need to get out of the office and show up at networking events. We need to reach out and engage the world around us. As a rule of thumb, you need to have meaningful encounters with people in your network every day—including weekends.

I admit that’s a demanding standard.

The good news is that these encounters don’t necessarily have to be at formal functions held in formal venues. Your sphere of interest is ubiquitous. Strike up conversations with people around you. Reach out to people and get to know those who might refer a desirable prospect to you some day.

The majority of prestigious, big-time clients in the typical industry can only be reached through relationships. They do not commonly walk into your office asking to be your customer. They are not amenable to cold calls, and they won’t respond to your direct mail piece no matter how pretty it is. You have to go out and meet them face-to-face in the places where they live, work and play.

“Big elephant” clients know they are important, and they expect to be wined and dined, so to speak. They are big deals and expect to be treated like a big deal.  That requires sales professionals to go out into the world and actively communicate. Getting access to the highly desirable clients requires you to be among your sphere of interest on a regular basis.

Get out there and meet everyone you can. Ask questions. Be like a detective turning over every stone, looking for any shred of evidence that can help you make the sale. Great salespersons are seemingly “everywhere.” They live their lives so actively that other people feel as if they see them everywhere.

If someone ever says to you, “I see you everywhere,” you know you’re doing something right.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Sales & Marketing Doing Their Part to Make the Product Great

By Jeff Beals

It’s easy to sell your wares when your product is outstanding.

What does this statement mean for any business or organization?

If you’re going to sell more and sell more efficiently, you better have a great product. If your product isn’t truly great, then “job one” is to improve it. Of course, you have to continue selling while you are improving your product, because you need revenue now, but make the commitment to improve the product as soon as possible.

This means that sales leaders and CMOs, sometimes need to exert some influence on other parts of the company.  The people crafting marketing strategy and message as well as the sales team out in the trenches often have insights that ops people lack.

We can all work better together when sales and marketing people let the ops people know what’s happening “out there.”

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Rapport + Relationship + Trust = Signed Deal

By Jeff Beals

Trust is a two-way street. Not only does it make business easier, it frankly makes it worthwhile. Those who flourish in a sales and marketing career for many years endure because they put a premium on people. They build trusting relationships not just because they help others make more money but because it’s also the right thing to do. The elite sales professionals are in business for their clients. Ordinary ones are in business for themselves.

A few key points to remember when it comes to trust and deal-making:

Trust facilitates and speeds up purchasing decisions.

Be attentive so you can sense when an aura of trust settles onto a relationship.

Climb the “relationship depth chart” (rapport, relationship, trust and signed deal) with each prospect.  It is sequential and must be followed in exact order.

Establish a long track record of doing the right thing. Be the type of person upon whom others can rely.

The truth builds trust.

Trusting relationships are fostered when you go out of your way to relate to people and never make them feel inferior.

Put clients before profits.  In some ways, this might seem counterintuitive, but trust me…You’ll get rich if you do this over the long term.

Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and just decide to trust someone in order to find out if he or she is trustworthy.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.”

Your best client is your best client because you are comfortable saying no when he or she needs to hear it.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Grab Your Business References and Don’t Let Go!

By Jeff Beals

You know that old saying: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Perhaps we could add another clause: “…and keep your references closest of all.”

One of my readers recently asked me “to write an article about work and business references in this age of business closures, people moving on, etc.”  The reader mentioned that he had lost a few references lately.  One had moved, changing his email address and phone number and couldn’t be found.  Another relocated to China.  A third one blissfully retired to Arizona and no longer seemed interested in talking about anything that reminded him of life before retirement.

The reader brings up a fairly common and very relevant problem that many of today’s professionals encounter.  We are living in a highly mobile time in history in which talented people have unprecedented options and opportunities.  Despite all the communication channels at our fingertips, it is still possible to lose touch.

Losing track of references can be quite damaging nowadays, because more and more consumers and decision-makers are seeking and questioning third party references before making buying or business decisions.

This concern applies whether we are talking about references for your business or you as a professional as well as career references who could help you land a new job.

Considering the importance of maintaining a healthy list of positive and well-credentialed references in today’s hyper-competitive environment, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Expect Some Shrinkage

Let’s acknowledge that despite your best efforts, you will lose touch with some references.  Businesses change.  Careers change.  Lives change.  Ultimately, nothing is permanent.  Just as an outstanding company knows it will periodically lose clients to forces beyond its control, you must accept that nobody can maintain 100 percent of their relationships over the course of a career.

Numbers Game

Businesses anticipate they will lose a certain percentage of clients each year despite their best efforts to retain them.  That’s why marketing and sales departments are constantly prospecting, looking for new business and developing new clients.  The same thing applies to references.  Constantly build strong professional relationships with new people so you always have a large group of credentialed professionals upon whom you can depend.

Social Media

Remember how hard it used to be to keep your Microsoft Outlook, address book or Rolodex up to date given all the moves, promotions and relocations of people in your network?  Well, if you’re an active LinkedIn member, that difficulty no longer exists.  As your professional connections update their profiles on LinkedIn, they are essentially updating your “address book” for you.  In order to make this work, make sure you search for and connect with as many of your connections as possible.  Remember, it’s best to make those connections now before you need them.

Face-to-Face

For those references who live in your area, make an effort at least a couple times a year to sit down with them for coffee, lunch or after-work drinks.  If you travel, think about people you know in your destination city.  Nothing does more to create enduring professional relationships than periodic meetings where you shake hands and look each other in the eye.

Find Ways to Give

Many have heard and try to follow the biblical principle, “it is better to give than to receive.”  In the relationship-maintenance game, that verse is certainly true.  Being a “giving” professional makes it easier for people to stay in touch with you.  Send cards and handwritten notes.  When you see an article that reminds you of another person email the link to him or her. Giving tangible gifts is nice too but spending big dollars is not usually necessary.

Don’t Be Bashful

While it is possible to become a sort of “professional recluse,” one has to work at it.  In a Google-driven world, you ultimately stand a pretty good chance to tracking down the people you seek.  But despite the tremendous research power that exists on the smart phones in their pockets, some professionals are hesitant to reach out and make contact with a reference who has gone “dormant.”  Don’t be bashful.  Just because some time may have elapsed since your last contact doesn’t mean the connection doesn’t want to communicate with you.  By taking the initiative you might make the person’s day!

Give Them Ownership

I’m not talking about literal ownership of a company; I’m talking about a sense of ownership.  Make people feel like they are a key part of your personal success and your organization’s success.  Let them know they are important to you and that you see them as “part of your team.”

Deputize Them

If you want to keep your references engaged, make them your unofficial deputies.  Empower them to recommend you.  If they see a business or personal opportunity that would be ideal for you, they should feel comfortable recommending you because they know you would appreciate it.  Deputizing them also helps establish a sense of ownership.

In closing, remember you can never have too many good references. Those organizations and individual professionals who have raving fans do more business. A large group of references in your pocket is like having a huge marketing and sales staff without having to pay the salaries and benefits.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Your Personal Sphere of Interest…Who’s in It?

By Jeff Beals

Target audience.

Every company and organization has one.  It’s the group of people whose characteristics and demographics make it perfect for an organization’s offerings.

Just like organizations and companies, you have a personal target audience.   You are a business of one, a business unto yourself.  You’re not just a person; you’re an entity that needs to be promoted.

I like to think of your personal target audience as your sphere of interest, the group of people who in any way can help you reach your goals.

Depending on what you do, your sphere of interest/personal target audience could consist of:

  • Clients
  • Prospective clients
  • Anyone who could refer a client
  • Past clients
  • Stakeholders
  • Donors
  • Colleagues
  • Potential volunteers
  • Anyone who could potentially hire you for a job
  • Industry leaders
  • Community VIPs
  • Voters
  • A person who could help you join a board or committee that appeals to you

There are a wide variety of persons who could potentially be in your sphere of interest.  Regardless of what you do professionally, your sphere of interest is large, probably larger than you think.  The key is to KNOW what types of people should be in your sphere of interest and then get out and build relationships with them.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

Click here to subscribe to Jeff’s weekly articles!http://bit.ly/1l86RC6 

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You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.    

9 Necessities of Sales Leadership

By Jeff Beals

Attention Sales leaders, these nine essentials of good sales leadership will help you choose the right staff, help them be successful and keep them around for many years:

  1. The person in charge of sales should be considered a sales “leader” and not a sales “manager.”
  2. Sales leaders must think quickly and take immediate action to mitigate any threat to the organization’s ability to sell.
  3. Successful sales leaders accept responsibility and accountability, but they realize a leader is not the same thing as a supervisor or a foreman.
  4. One of a sales leader’s single most important duties is resource acquisition—providing the sales force with everything it needs.
  5. Be careful not to be blinded by great salespersons who might have fatal flaws and clients who are too good to be true.
  6. When hiring sales team members, remember that frequent past behavior is the best predictor of future success.
  7. Create a detailed sales how-to book that is as analogous to a football team’s playbook.
  8. A quality mentoring program can make up for unsophisticated sales training. Mentorship can be as beneficial for mentors as it is for the mentees.
  9. In managing egos, sales leaders need to be clear about the sales expectations for each salesperson.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

Click here to subscribe to Jeff’s weekly articles!http://bit.ly/1l86RC6 

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You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.