Tag Archives: client

Voicemail Is a Powerful Selling Tool Only If You Know How to Use It

“Telephone prospecting is a waste of time, because all I ever do is leave voicemails. Nobody ever answers the phone.”

That’s what a sales rep told me last week during one of my workshops.

His comment was not unique. I hear those words all the time.

Few topics in the sales world generate more opinions than telephone prospecting in general and voicemails in particular.  Sales reps typically don’t enjoy telephone prospecting, and many get tired of never reaching a real, living decision maker.

Make no mistake; those of us who sell for a living spend a lot of time leaving voicemails.

According to Ringlead.com, the typical sales rep leaves an average of 70 voicemails per day.  If you assume 60 seconds per voicemail (30 seconds to listen to the recipient’s greeting and 30 seconds for the caller to speak), that means sales reps spend 25 hours per month just leaving voicemails.  That’s 300 hours per year, and it equates to about 15 percent of their total work time.

So, sales professionals leave a lot of voicemails.  Is it a good use of their time?

YES!

When calling new prospects, should sales professionals feel frustrated or disappointed when they get voicemail instead of the actual person?

NO!

Instead of feeling frustrated with voicemail, be happy.  Voicemails are not bad things; they are opportunities, little advertisements that can be customized exactly to each prospect’s unique situation.  Because you are most likely going to get voicemail whenever you call, it makes sense that you put a lot of thought and effort into each voicemail.

The key is to leave a voice mail that captures a prospect’s attention by relating to what truly matters to him or her.  If you leave voicemails about your company or your product’s features and benefits you are almost guaranteed not to get a call back.

Be compelling.  Think of a strong idea you want to convey in your voicemail 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 Give Up too easily.  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.

The two most important components of successful voicemail prospecting are 1. Persistence and 2. Messaging.

“Persistence” means you realize that voicemail prospecting is a campaign that might require multiple messages over several months in order to get an appointment with a decision maker.

“Messaging” means you have a series of voicemails that have been planned in advance that you can leave for a prospect in order to catch his or her attention with compelling or surprising information related to what you’re selling.

If your sales team needs to develop better telephone messaging, we can do a workshop in which you and I will roll up our sleeves and actually develop 12 voicemail messages that will get cold prospects to meet with you.  It’s a powerful program that has delivered results for many companies. Let me know if I can help!  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.

 

 

How to Use Referrals to Get Bigger and Better Clients

By Jeff Beals

What’s the most efficient form of prospecting?

Referrals.

In an era when buyers are jealously protective of their time, a referral from a trusted source is your admission ticket. 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.

A referral 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. Referrals are catalysts.

No Hesitation

Despite the power of referrals, some sales professionals are hesitant to ask their current/past clients.  Perhaps they are worried the request will be an unwanted interruption in the client’s busy day.  Perhaps they’re worried they didn’t do a good enough job for the client.  Perhaps they fear “going to the well one too many times” — they already took time from the client when doing the deal, so they feel guilty taking more of the client’s time now.

If you have done a good job of serving the client while at the same time building trust, have no fear or hesitation asking for a referral.  In fact, 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.

Some clients might actually be a bit offended if you don’t ask for a referral. I once had a client with whom I worked a long time and built a nice friendship. After a couple years, I finally asked for a referral and testimonial.  Her response?  “I was wondering why you never asked me for that!”

Here’s a list of who you should ask for referrals:

  • A person whose name, title and profile make you look impressive
  • Someone who will say positive things about you
  • Someone who is very pleased with your product or service
  • Someone with whom you have mutual trust
  • Someone who has a large number of valuable contacts

When Should You Ask?

There’s no set time in the sales process when you are supposed to ask for a referral. That said, it’s probably best right after you have done a great job and your client is basking in your good work. Some sales pros are hesitant to ask a client from long ago.  Don’t fret if time has gone by.

Simply call and say something reminded you of them and how much you enjoyed working with them.  Then ask for a referral.

Referral Process

If prospects agree to give you referral, the best option is to have the referrer connect you directly They could make a coffee or lunch appointment for the three of you or perhaps send an email introducing you (“There’s someone you need to meet!”). If this isn’t an option, perhaps the referral giver could arrange a three-way phone call.

The second-best option is for the referral giver to send an email or make a phone call letting the targeted person know you’ll be calling and why they should talk to you.

If the referral giver isn’t willing to do either of the first two options, you will have to initiate the contact with the targeted person mentioning the referral giver’s name.  Before making this call, make sure you have referral giver’s blessing to go ahead and make the call.

Before you talk to referred targets, learn all you can by asking the referral giver about them and by researching them online.

Follow Up

Keep the referral giver informed throughout the sales process. It’s simply a matter of courtesy and is especially important if the referral giver is due a commission or referral fee.

Years ago, I once gave a referral to an affiliated office in a different city. The sales rep who received the referral was excited and thanked me profusely. I thought, “Well, I chose a great guy to do this deal!”

But that turned out to be the last time I heard from him.

Six months later, I ran into the client I had referred, and he told me he ended up doing a deal in that city. I asked how the rep at my partner office did. My client’s response was troubling: “I actually never heard from him, so I used someone else.”

I was incensed. I called the sales rep and asked what had happened. He stammered a bit and basically told me he let the client “slip through the cracks.”

He should have given the client extra attention simply because it was a client referred by someone within his industry. He should have sent me a short email each month during the deal keeping me up to date or at least notifying me each time the deal passed a milestone. I entrusted him with one of my precious clients, and he let me down.

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.

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.

What to Do When Your Prospective Client Goes Dark

By Jeff Beals

It happens to all of us – a prospective client, one you’re sure is going to end up purchasing from you, suddenly goes inexplicably dark.

Prospects have been going dark since the sales profession’s very beginning.  It’s a common problem, but it appears to be growing worse.

And it happens even when the prospect initiates the first contact.

A prospect will seek you out, ostensibly excited about your product or service.  They want to meet with you immediately because “time is of the essence” or they want “to nail this down right away.”  Your meeting goes well. You hit it off with the prospect and start to build a relationship.  The prospect is giving you a ton of buying cues, and you agree to draw up a detailed proposal.  You promptly write the proposal and email it with a smile on your face and anticipation in your heart.

And then the crickets start chirping.

The client has gone dark, and despite your multiple emails and voicemails you can’t get them to acknowledge your existence.

Some people call it “ghosting.” I love that term, because dark prospects seemingly disappear into the ether.  Whatever you call it, it’s frustrating for the sales professional.

Why do prospects go dark?  There are several possibilities and most of them have little to do with you:

  • They are super busy and overwhelmed
  • They don’t have the same level of urgency as you do
  • They are procrastinators
  • They are not proactive communicators
  • They are indecisive
  • They have to get buy-in from other people/departments in their company
  • They have various internal processes that must play out
  • Their financial conditions may have changed suddenly
  • They might be navigating internal politics
  • They may have been using you for leverage with another vendor they like better than you.
  • They are simply not interested and the thought of telling you is unpleasant especially if they have non-confrontational or avoidant personalities
  • They are not interested, and because of a personality flaw, they don’t care enough about you to let you know.  They are essentially sociopathic instead of empathetic.

Of all the possible reasons above, only the last three are truly negative.  If it is any other reason, your prospect is likely still interested, and therefore, you should not give up on them.

When a prospective client does go dark, what can you do?

1. Most importantly, go back to value.  In order to catch the prospect’s attention in the first place, you likely had to use valuable insights.  Do that again in future communications.  In other words, don’t say things like, “I’m just checking in,” or “I’m still waiting to hear from you.”  Instead, send them value-driven messages with new insights you haven’t mentioned before.  Your follow-up communications should be compelling, not whiny.

2. Be persistent.  Because prospects likely have many other things going on in their lives, they’ll assume an interested vendor like you will keep on them.  Even if they’re interested, they will often wait for you to initiate everything.

3. Mix it up a bit. Try different messages and use varied communication channels to get a person who goes dark on you.

4.  Try a couple creative tactics.  I find that a text message is more likely to be returned than an email.  You can try communicating with them via a social media direct message.  Some sales reps will send a calendar-invite email to jar loose a dark prospect.

5.  After a few attempts, you might try a certain language technique.  Sales expert Jim Keenan recommends this phraseology: “I’m confused. You said you (insert issues the prospect said they wanted/needed plus the last commitment they made to you plus the impact of not changing). Has something changed?”

Keenan says this technique holds them accountable and challenges them. I agree and have used it many times.

6. I know a lot of sales reps who, after many attempts, use a short and simple phrase sent via email or text: “Did I lose you?”  Some sales pros won’t even write anything else.  If they do elaborate, it’s not much.  This technique plays on our fear of loss and our desire not to let people down.

7.  If you still have no communication after several attempts and an extended period of time, you have a choice to make.  If the prospect would make a great client, you can move them into “nurture” mode by putting them on a periodic email drip.  If the prospect wouldn’t be a star client, maybe you just delete them from your pipeline.

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.

Consequences of Missing Out on a Sale

By Jeff Beals

I was talking with my brother-in-law last week, and he shared an experience he had at a local chapter meeting of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

An insurance executive was delivering a speech about sales success.  During her presentation, she talked about how insurance agents sometimes miss out on a sale.  When that happens, she said, the typical insurance agent just quickly moves on.

“We might not get paid, we miss out on a commission and we’re disappointed,” she said, “but we quickly move on to the next lead.”

But sometimes missing out on a sale is downright tragic.  She used life insurance as an example.

“What happens if you didn’t prepare before the presentation or you don’t come across just right, and you miss that sale?” the speaker asked. “You might find yourself years down the road, having a dreaded conversation with the surviving spouse and the children.”

In other words, missing out on a sale doesn’t necessarily hurt just us.  It could end up hurting your prospect.  The products and services you sell are important.  People need what you offer.

But prospects often don’t know what they don’t know.  They sometimes just don’t understand how your offering can protect them or at least make their lives more enjoyable.

What’s more, prospects often reactively, reflexively say “no,” even when they don’t know all the facts and even when they kind of want your offering.

I’m reminded of book, When Buyers Say No: Essential Strategies for Keeping a Sale Moving Forward, by Ben Katt and Tom Hopkins.  The book provides a number of reasons why buyers say “no” even if they’re actually interested in your offering:

  • The prospect has unanswered questions or concerns
  • You haven’t fully figured out what the prospect values and addressed all those values.  That can lead you to offer products and services that aren’t quite right for the prospect
  • It’s possible you haven’t unearthed all the prospect’s objections
  • The prospect might be uncomfortable with how quickly the sales process is going, and he or she simply wants to slow things down.

Now, sometimes, “no” indeed means “no.” You can usually tell when a prospect is resolutely uninterested.  But that’s often not the case after a prospect has taken the time to meet with you and talk at length about your product.

If you sense the prospect might not really mean “no,” the best thing to do is go back into probing-question mode.  And certainly don’t get defensive or start worrying.  Those reactions are counterproductive.

Ask them about their concerns and hesitations.  Chances are good that you misunderstood one of their answers or failed to ask a key question in the first place.  Listen carefully to the answers and truly absorb what the prospect says (instead of going through the motions, making it look like you’re listening).

Katt and Hopkins then recommend you confirm the buyer is ready to take action. At this point, you simply say something like “If I can adequately address your concerns, would you be ready to move forward with the purchase?”

Then you provide an appropriately customized answer and ask for the business again.

When you go the extra step, and make one more effort, you are not just helping yourself.  You could be making a huge difference for your prospective clients.  They just might not initially realize what a big favor you are doing for them.

Lifelong Learning Loop

For the last month, I’ve been sharing my favorite book summaries with you because of my partnership with Readitfor.me.

Between now and the end of the month, my friends at Readitfor.me are offering a Lifetime Membership to their service for only $249. Their founder, Steve Cunningham, has made a video outlining the offer, along with his presentation on The Lifelong Learning Loop: The 7 Practices of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners.

You can watch that video, and take advantage of the Lifetime Membership Offer, here.

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.

Overcome Social Discomfort at Networking Events

By Jeff Beals

While preparing to go to a networking event, have you ever worried, “What if I don’t know anyone?”

It’s a common concern, but knowing nobody at a networking event is actually a blessing if you have the right attitude.

Not knowing anyone forces you to use your networking skills. Too many people will go to a function and sit in the corner with their friends, co-workers, spouse, whoever. That’s a waste of time. If you’re going to do that, just go to a restaurant.

If you find networking intimidating, you’re not alone. Many professionals who are good at networking have had to work hard to make it look that way. Sure, some people are naturally gregarious, but they are the exception, not the norm.  It is natural to feel tinges of uneasiness when you attend a networking function by yourself where you know nobody.

Here are eight things you can do to make you feel more comfortable:

1. Practice

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rehearsing how you will act in a networking encounter in the quiet privacy of your home or office.  Some people even practice in front of a mirror.

2. Observe the Masters

Think of someone you know who is socially gifted, very at ease working a room. Watch that person. Study that person. Think how you can imitate him/her. Each time you go to a networking event, do something he/she does. Instead of reinventing the networking wheel, figure out how you can mimic someone who has already figured it out.

3. Hold a Drink

Holding a drink at a social function can help you be more comfortable.

If you’re a non-drinker, there is nothing wrong with holding a soda or virgin cocktail. The drink is useful, because it gives you something to do with your hands.

Just be careful not to become intoxicated. You don’t want to do anything that would embarrass your company or damage the reputation you are working so hard to build. Some networkers will order one drink and nurse it for a couple hours, just taking infrequent sips. I know of one person who orders a 7-Up with just a tiny amount of alcohol in it. That way, it smells like a drink, but there’s not enough live ammo in it to compromise his faculties.

4. Positive Vision

Another way of dealing with shyness is to envision success before going to an event. Like a coach mentally preparing athletes for a big game, you can increase your likelihood for success by imagining yourself doing well in a social situation. Sit down and envision yourself saying the right things, using good interpersonal skills and being professionally assertive. If you do this regularly, you will evolve into a graceful networker.

5. Brush It Off

Operating out of your comfort zone can increase introversion tendencies.  Some networkers worry they will say the wrong thing and sound stupid.  Others are afraid to “interrupt” someone at a party. Others fear they might be “rejected” when they reach out to another person. Even as an established professional, it is an unpleasant experience to introduce yourself and attempt to carry on a conversation with someone who is clearly uninterested in you. When it happens to you, just brush it off and go to the next person.

When someone gives you a cold shoulder, it likely means that person’s problems are greater than yours.

6. Pair Busting

Periodically, you will find yourself at a networking event, standing by yourself with nobody to talk to. You look around the room and everyone is already engaged in conversation with someone else.  There are no other “single” people. It can feel unnerving. When this happens, it’s time to be a pair buster.

Simply look around for a pair of people and walk toward them. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re interrupting. Just go up to the pair and introduce yourself.  Be assertive.  Sometimes it helps to say, “Mind if I join you?” in a joking sort of way. Ninety-five percent of the pairs you bust open, will welcome you.  The other five percent are not worthy of your attention.

7. Welcome Other Busters

When you are already talking to someone else and a third person tries to bust into your pair, be sure to make that person feel welcome. Treat the conversational newcomer the same way you would like to be treated. Don’t act as if you’re inconvenienced. Just introduce yourselves and allow the person to feel part of the group.

The tone of your voice and your body language will help make such a person feel more welcome. Slightly turn your body toward the new person. If the person comes in mid-conversation, explain what you have been talking about in an effort to bring the new person up to speed.

8. Connecting

Networking gives you the opportunity to be a “connecter,” a person who introduces two people to each other. Go out of your way to connect others to each other. If you connect two people who end up doing business together, you have earned social capital. The two people who profited from that relationship will always appreciate you and owe you a debt of gratitude.

Connecting also helps mitigate shyness. Instead of focusing on the stress of networking, make it your mission to find people you already know but who don’t know each other. You could make a game out of it.

Attention Sales Leaders – Are you planning a sales kickoff meeting during the 1st quarter of 2019?  At most companies, these meetings are filled with product-centric training sessions, boring PowerPoint slides and bleary-eyed sales reps wishing they were somewhere else.

Jeff delivers entertaining kickoff sessions that are filled with ideas your sales team can start using the very next day.  Jeff will help your sales team:

  • Bring new prospects into their pipelines
  • Shorten sales cycles
  • Increase average deal size
  • Sell value so they don’t have to compromise on price
  • Get motivated to crush it in 2019

Call Jeff at 402-510-7468 to discuss a first-quarter sales training program or simply reply to this email.

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. 

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

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

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. 

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.