Tag Archives: cold calling

What Do Sales Reps Fear the Most?

By Jeff Beals

Which part of the sales process is most difficult for you?  Which part intimidates you?

Hubspot.com set out to determine which part of the sales process causes reps to struggle the most, and the survey results were quite interesting:

Prospecting 42%

Closing 36%

Qualifying 22%

That is the exact order I would have predicted before I even read the study.  The only thing that surprised me was that prospecting didn’t have an even higher percentage.

When speaking to sales reps, I sometimes like to conduct an unscientific survey of the audience.  With a show of hands, I ask them which part of the process is their least favorite.  “Prospecting,” usually gets 60 to 70 percent of the votes.

Why is prospecting more intimidating and less enjoyed than other parts of the sales process?

Well, to start, let’s look at the definition of prospecting:

“Prospecting is the art of interrupting someone when they don’t expect to hear from you in order to provide them with something they need that they might not yet know.”

The key word in that definition of “interrupting.”  Most people are uncomfortable interrupting someone especially when it’s a stranger who is not expecting to hear from you.

And we know that when you interrupt someone, you are risking rejection, one of humanity’s biggest phobias.  If you research, “top 10 phobias,” the fear of rejection pops up frequently.

Most people HATE being rejected.  As social beings, the avoidance of rejection is a powerful motivation.  It’s hard-wired into our DNA.  It’s a matter of survival, because people need other people to survive. That was especially important in prehistoric times when primitive humans banded together to raise food and protect themselves from external threats.  If you didn’t fit into the tribe, you were left on your own to fend off predators.

Even though we have evolved into sophisticated beings with technology at our fingertips and complicated social structures to protect us, it’s hard to shake our ancient traits.  While a fear of rejection helped us to survive 5,000 years ago, it can hinder us in today’s competitive business environment.

How can you overcome your natural predilection to avoid rejection at all costs and push forward as an effective prospector?

Envision success – Like an athlete preparing for a big game, you have a higher likelihood of succeeding if you picture yourself doing well in advance.

Keep it in perspective – It’s not the end of the world when you get rejected.  It may have meant life and death in primeval times, but in the 21st century, it’s just a speed bump.  You will live to fight another battle.

Externalize it – For most of us, it’s normal to take rejection personally, which means we internalize it.  Try to see the rejection as something outside of you, external to your life and your personality.  A sales rejection is NOT an indictment of your personality.

No self-fulfilling prophecies – Avoid a defeatist attitude.  To avoid being disappointed, some sales practitioners start to assume the prospect won’t pan out before even contacting him.  That can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, meaning you’ve lost before you even begin.

Build a big list – Make sure you have a large number of leads in your pipeline, so you’re not too dependent on any one lead or prospect.  Rejection hurts more when you don’t have any other prospects to take the rejector’s place.  Plus, too few leads make you desperate.

The right kind of leads – Study who you have been targeting in the past.  Is it really the right group of people?  Should you be targeting a different prospect profile?

Have a plan – Those sales reps who have a well-developed personal plan for prospecting tend to fear rejection less.  A good plan means you have a dedicated prospecting time and a step-by-step system you follow when engaging new cold prospects.

Persistence – Because most prospects are so busy, it is now taking about 9 attempts to get a cold prospect to return your call or email.  However, most sales reps give up after 2.5 attempts.  If you give up too soon, your pipeline will be too skinny, which makes you too dependent on too few leads.

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

“You brought great value to our event. The workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

(402) 637-9300

 

 

How to Survive in a Post-Cold-Calling World

By Jeff Beals

In 2007, it took an average of 3.68 cold-call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes eight attempts.  That’s according to TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group.  Some studies have indicated it requires 10 to 12 attempts to reach an executive-level decision maker.

No doubt about it, cold calling is getting less and less effective.  Unless you have a referral or some other way to warm up a prospecting call, cold calling has now become an utter waste of time for most sales people.

That’s not to say that telephone prospecting is dead.

On the contrary, the telephone remains one of the most powerful and effective prospecting channels on Earth. But old-fashioned cold calling – the idea of picking up the phone and talking to a complete stranger who has no idea who you are – is incredibly inefficient.  Fewer than five percent of cold calls lead to an appointment and a far smaller percentage leads to a sale.

Why is cold calling no longer effective?

There are a number of reasons but chief among them is that clients are time starved. They simply don’t have the time to chat with salespeople on the phone especially B2B clients.  Additionally, it’s hard to establish prospective client value on a cold call which inevitably makes the experience feel “salesy” to the call recipient. That’s not good, because as the old saying goes: “People love to buy but they hate to be sold.”

So what is an enterprising, motivated sales professional to do?  If cold calling is a waste of time, how can you access decision-making prospects and generate more business?

Here are some tips for you to survive a post-cold-calling sales world:

Referrals – Hands down, the single most effective way to cut through the clutter and actually get a busy decision maker to talk with you is to use a referral.  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.

Marketing – Warm up people with a compelling marketing campaign which could be any combination of advertising, social, email, direct mail. Prospecting calls aren’t quite as chilly when the recipient has heard of you.

Personal Branding – As an individual sales professional, you need to be somewhat famous in your own sphere of interest. Build a a highly respected and widely recognized presence in your marketplace whether that is a geographic or industry marketplace.  Use social media especially LinkedIn as a way to promote yourself and get to know other people.

You can build your online presence by participating in discussion forums, joining/becoming active in LinkedIn Groups, reviewing products on Amazon.com that appeal to your prospects and commenting on articles that your prospects are likely to read.

Consider also writing blogs and creating podcasts or YouTube videos that are interesting and attract attention. Attracting prospects through the creation and distribution of free content is knows as inbound marketing, and if done properly, can be immensely effective.

Networking and Social Events – Get to know decision makers or direct reports of decision makers at chamber of commerce events, during community service activities and while helping charitable organizations.  You can even meet prospects along the sidelines of your kids’ or grandkids’ soccer games. Hang out where your prospects hang out.  I know this one works well because I have used it countless times.

Another nice thing about networking is that even if you don’t meet decision makers you can meet the direct reports of decision makers.  Referrals from trusted advisers and favorite direct reports are especially valuable.

Gift Marketing Campaign – Some sales pros will send a gift, perhaps an interesting new book and then follow up two-to-three days after the recipient receives the gift. I have had success with this technique many times. Prospects will usually talk to someone who sends them something appealing.

Have an Excuse – Finally, always have a reason to call that is of value to the prospect and preferably wait until after you have done some of the above items before you place a call.  Additionally, don’t just call because you would like to chat or haven’t heard from a person in a while. Don’t just call because you want to dump a bunch of product information on a prospect. Call when you have something interesting to say that is of value to your would-be client.

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. 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 is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and
building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

“I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

Book Review: Everything You Need to Know about Sales Prospecting

High Profit Prospecting

By Jeff Beals

Prospecting is not something you do when you don’t have anything else to do. It is not something you do when you suddenly find yourself without enough customers. Prospecting is perpetual.

So says globe-trotting sales expert Mark Hunter in his new book on prospecting set to be released September 20th.

“View prospecting the same way you do taking a shower,” Hunter writes. “You take a shower daily, and you should be prospecting daily. Failing to prospect on a regular basis is putting yourself in a situation where your sales will constantly be in a peak/valley syndrome.”

Whether you’re a rookie salesperson hoping for a head start or a grizzled veteran looking to stay sharp, I highly recommend High-Profit Prospecting. (AMACOM, 2017). I’m a connoisseur of sales books, and this one ranks among the best.

Hunter, known by his epithet, “The Sales Hunter,” defines prospecting as “an activity performed by sales and marketing departments to identify and qualify potential buyers.” It’s the most fundamental task in a salesperson’s job description, but vast numbers of underperforming salespeople are so uncomfortable with prospecting, they dread the thought of it.

Perhaps that’s why so many salespeople fall for snake-oil messages that “prospecting is dead” and “telephone selling is history.” Hunter recalls sitting in the back of a room during an educational conference while a so-called sales expert explained how his social media-based prospecting system had rendered telephone prospecting extinct. The notion was ridiculous but that didn’t stop audience members from being mesmerized, enthusiastically nodding in agreement with everything the charlatan on stage was saying.

Hunter was not surprised that the audience of salespersons was unreservedly lapping up the message; they were tired of being rejected, having phone calls ignored and not being able to generate good prospects. If someone promises a struggling salesperson a panacea, no matter how pie-in-the-sky it might be, the temptation to embrace it can be irresistible.

No doubt prospecting is hard work. It can make you feel uncomfortable, but it has to be done. If prospecting was easy, salespeople wouldn’t be so well compensated. If you make a commitment to prospecting, you will grow as a salesperson and eventually be that person who makes so much money your friends and colleagues marvel at you.

Hunter’s prospecting philosophy essentially boils down to five components:

1.     A Positive Attitude – You need a can-do mentality and a healthy respect for prospecting. Believe you will succeed!

2.     Preparation – Prospecting is inefficient if you don’t do the necessary background work before making the call.

3.     Execution – Top-producing sales professionals are action-oriented. They resist procrastination, the biggest thing separating poor prospectors from good ones.

4.     Discipline – Prospecting is a daily activity. You need to do it even when there are a hundred things you’d rather do and dozens of things that seem more urgent. Prospecting is an investment in your future production.

5.     Time management – Don’t allow your time to be wasted by prospects who will never buy from you.

So what are some of Hunter’s pearls of wisdom? Here are a few:

Making Initial Contact

Ultimately, your prospects really don’t care about you. They care about themselves and their goals. Too many salespeople start the first email or phone call wasting everyone’s time by introducing themselves and their company. As Hunter says, “You can permanently delete the ‘capabilities presentation’ the marketing department built for you five years ago.” Cut to the chase and explain why the two of you need to connect quickly.

Does Anybody Listen to Voicemails?

Voicemail might feel like a black hole, but if you leave the right messages, voicemail is your friend. The key is leave messages that expresses a value you could give the recipient. But you don’t have much time. Hunter says voice mails should never exceed 18 seconds. Twelve seconds is ideal. What’s more, a single voice mail rarely leads to a call-back. Craft a series of voicemails periodically leaving them for prospects over an extended time.

The Lazy Way Out

Sales reps who always choose email instead of picking up the phone are lazy prospectors. Hunter says email is a fine prospecting tool but not if your reason for using it is to avoid having to call someone. Make email one part of your prospecting plan, not your crutch. The same thing applies to social media. It’s a good tool but just one tool. You can’t depend on it exclusively.

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

When your prospects are major decision-makers, you’ll encounter gatekeepers – administrative assistants whose jobs are to protect the boss from interruptions. Hunter recommends you see the gatekeeper as a partner. Ask them the same questions you would ask the boss. That will win their respect, plus if the gatekeeper realizes they don’t have the answer, they just may pass you on to the senior person you seek. Don’t back down too quickly if a gatekeeper puts up barricades. “If it’s hard for you to get in,” Hunter says, “then it’s hard for your competition.”

I could go on and on recounting Hunter’s salient advice, but you’ll have to read the book for yourself.

It’s rare for a book to deliver so much actionable advice chapter after chapter, but that’s exactly what Hunter provides. Similarly, it’s unusual for a content-heavy book to be such a quick-and-easy read.  Upon finishing it, you’ll be ready to roll up your sleeves, pick up the phone and hit the streets.

As Hunter likes to say, “Great selling!”

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. 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 is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and
building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

“I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com