How to Find the Real Decision Maker

By Jeff Beals

Sales professionals searching for insight into prospective clients would be wise to think of themselves as detectives.  The more research you do on a client the faster you speed up the sales cycle and the more likely you are to increase transaction size.

As you do your detective work, it eventually becomes clear who the real decision maker is and who the primary and secondary influencers are.

More than anything, it is important to determine the true decision maker, the person who has veto power and whose signature seals the deal. But almost important is determining who the key influencers are.

No matter how independent and self-confident a decision-maker may be, that person usually has valued and trusted advisers whispering in his or her ear.  We need to know who those influencers are and get to them as early in the process as possible.

Some sales detectives prefer the direct approach and ask questions such as:

“Who is the most influential person helping you make this decision?” 

“Whose advice and counsel will be most valuable to you as you make your decision?”

Other sales pros are more subtle, but once you identify the key influencers, you need to build a trusting relationship with them too.

Sometimes a prospect will be vague and non-committal when asked to name influencers. A mid-level person might not want to give up control or admit that he or she lacks decision-making power. Such a person could also be protecting c-suite executives from interruptions.

Some prospects worry that disclosing influencer names will cause the sales process to grow deeper before they are ready.  When you’re having trouble drawing information out of a prospect, be patiently persistent.  Keep asking, digging and researching.  You can also look at precedent…What kind of influencers did similar prospects in the past have?

A word of warning: be careful of false influencers.  There are those people who get some sort of psychological payoff pretending to have influence over the buying process.  Do your homework. Don’t jump to conclusions until you have performed thorough due diligence on the prospective client.  A little extra work will increase your closing ratio!

Attention Sales Leaders – Are your sales reps letting too many leads slip through the cracks?  Is your sales team actively prospecting or are they sitting at their desks waiting for the phone to ring?  Is your sales team “pretty good” but not reaching their potential?

If so, check out my Sales Training Menu, which has a couple new courses for 2019.  There are many options when I visit your company: a motivational kickoff message; a half-day sales training program; or a full-day prospecting workshop.

Let’s schedule an on-site program at your office so your team can bring new prospects into their pipeline, shorten sales cycles and crush it in 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.

The Referral Gap

By Jeff Beals

Most companies are getting only one-third of the referrals they could receive from current clients

That’s according to a 2018 Texas Tech University study showing that 83 percent of satisfied clients are willing to refer products and services, but that only 29 percent actually do.

The underutilization of referrals is nothing new.  Back in the day, the legendary Dale Carnegie claimed that 91 percent of customers said they would be willing to give referrals, yet only 11 percent of salespeople ask for them.

If your company is like the average company in the Texas Tech study, you are failing to get referrals from approximately two-thirds of your clients who would otherwise be more than happy to give them to you.  The study referred to this as the “referral gap.”

It’s time to close that gap, because you can’t afford so much missed opportunity in a competitive marketplace.

I believe that latent referral potential is the biggest wasted resource in the sales profession.  There is simply no better way to get a cold prospect to talk with you than to have a referral from someone that prospect trusts.

But why does this referral gap exist?  Why are sales reps hesitant to ask?

There are several reasons, but we’ll start with fear of rejection.  Fear is a natural part of everyone’s psyche, even confident, gregarious people.  After building a trusting relationship with a client and cashing a commission check, it would painful to hear “no,” upon asking for a referral.

Similarly, some sales reps fear asking for too much.  They think along these lines: “I spent so much time with the person, and they agreed to buy, so isn’t it going too far to now ask them for a referral after everything they have already done for me?”

But if you have done a good job of serving the client while at the same time building trust, you could make the argument that the referral actually strengthens your relationship with them.  It’s kind of flattering when a vendor wants me to make referrals on their behalf.  It shows me that I was an important and prestigious client.

Asking for a referral puts you and the client on the “same team” and creates more of a friendship between the two of you.  Furthermore, saying nice things about you to others reinforces and reminds your client why you’re so awesome.

In an era when buyers are jealously protective of their time, a referral from a trusted source is your ticket to the show. The higher up a prospect is in a company, the more important referrals are.

Reaching busy decision makers is not the only reason you should ask past/current clients for referrals.  By asking for business leads, you could find out about prospects who otherwise would remain hidden from your view.  There are essentially thousands of prospective clients out there who you do not yet know and who have not heard of you.  A referral is your ice breaker, a chance to know someone who could someday become one of your best clients.

Additionally, referrals can get prospects thinking about making a change even when the thought of changing hadn’t previously entered their minds.

For example, let’s say there’s a client who is marginally happy with their current vendor.  They’re happy enough that they don’t feel compelled to look around but they’re not so satisfied that they wouldn’t consider an unexpected solicitation from someone who referred you.  A referral could be just enough of a catalyst to make them consider a new provider.

Always be grateful for any referrals you receive. When clients allow you to use their names to seek business from their cherished contacts, they are putting their reputations on the line just to help you.  That means you have an obligation to treat those referrals with the utmost care and respect.  Caring for referrals is a sacred trust in the sales world, so take your job seriously.

Attention Sales Leaders – Are your sales reps letting too many leads slip through the cracks?  Is your sales team actively prospecting or are they sitting at their desks waiting for the phone to ring?  Is your sales team “pretty good” but not reaching their potential?

If so, check out my Sales Training Menu, which has a couple new courses for 2019.  There are many options when I visit your company: a motivational kickoff message; a half-day sales training program; or a full-day prospecting workshop.

Let’s schedule an on-site program at your office so your team can bring new prospects into their pipeline, shorten sales cycles and crush it in 2019!

Simply reply to this email or call me at 402-510-7468.

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.

Ingredients of a Good Voicemail

By Jeff Beals

In last week’s article, we analyzed a poorly executed sales voicemail I had received.  This week, we go a little further and talk about what you SHOULD do when leaving a voicemail for a cold prospect.

Focus on the Recipient’s Value – Make your voicemails interesting by focusing on what the recipient cares about. Remember that people are more interested in their lives and their businesses than they are in you and yours. Research recipients before you call them. Talk about what interests the recipient or what matters to his or her business.  Do not talk about your company or your product’s features and benefits in a prospecting voicemail.

Be compelling – Think of a strong idea you want to convey in your message and say it. Surprising or insightful messages have a much higher likelihood of being returned. Boring, rambling messages as well as messages that are too focused on the caller’s (salesperson’s) interests are easily deleted and not returned.

Don’t “Touch Base” – Never say you’re calling to “touch base” or “check in.” Those are useless reasons to waste a prospect’s time. Always say something of value.

Use an Old Advertising Trick – Use an enticement. Hint what benefit the person will receive if they return your call. Then spark their curiosity, saying you have something to share with them that they will find valuable or interesting. Another trick is to ask a thought-provoking question at the end of the message. That could compel the listener to call you back.

Conserve Your Words – Say a lot in a little amount of time. Voicemails need to be short, ideally less than 20 seconds but no more than 30 seconds. In that short time, convey a captivating message. Be like a newspaper reporter writing an article in that you put the most important idea in a powerful and information-rich lead sentence.

Be Easy to Reach – Leave your call-back number. One of the easiest excuses a prospect has to NOT return a voicemail message is if the call-back number is not readily available.  Only 7 percent of sales voicemails are ever returned, which means it’s hard enough to get call backs.  Don’t do anything that lowers the likelihood.

No Deception – Some sales reps like to deceive prospects in their voicemails either by implying that they are returning the recipient’s call (even though the recipient never called them in the first place) or by name-dropping a person they don’t really know. You don’t want to do anything that comes back to embarrass yourself if you do end up getting a meeting.

Don’t Give Up – You’re being naïve if you think one message – no matter how creative it may be – will do the trick. Your prospects are so busy that they just assume callers like you will eventually call them back. I’m not saying you should carpet-bomb people with daily messages, but it is now taking 8 to 12 attempts to get a cold decision maker to return your call. This is especially true with high-ranking, senior decision makers. The average sales rep gives up after only 2.5 attempts.

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.