Tag Archives: prospecting

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.

Breaking Down a Bad Sales Voicemail

By Jeff Beals

As a sales consultant, I enjoy analyzing the various voicemail solicitations I receive each week.  Like you, I receive a lot of them.  Here is a transcript of a voicemail I received just yesterday:

“Hi Jeff.  My name is Zach, and I’m with [Company Name].  I hope you’re doing fantastic, man.  Uh, the reason for my reach-out is pretty simple.  My company, [Company Name], has a tool that identifies businesses that visit your website—show you what they look at even if they don’t actually contact you through your contact forms.  I work with a couple clients in your space.  I wanted to see if this was maybe something you wanted to learn more about.  We offer a free trial so you can see how the tool works for yourself.  Give me a call ###-###-####. Thank you.”

Now that you’ve read the transcript, I have one question for you.  Be honest. Would you call this guy back?

I chose not to call him back, not because I wanted to be rude, mean or inconsiderate.  I chose not to call him back, because he gave me no compelling reason to call.  Given that I am overloaded with stuff to do, I’m not going to allocate any precious time to call someone I don’t know, from a company I have never heard of and who gave me no compelling reason to call him.

Let’s break it down – what’s wrong with this voice mail?

1. The wording sounds like every other “salesman” in the world.  I recommend you avoid using terms like “reach-out” and “clients in your space,” because they sound like cheesy corporate speak.

2. Because I don’t know this person, I think it’s a little too informal to refer to me as “man.”  Some people might disagree with me on this.  The guy’s voice sounded very young.

3.  He started talking right away about HIS company and what HIS offering does.  Instead, he should talk about what matters to ME, the prospect.  His message would have been more effective had it started with something like this: “Business owners like you are missing out on countless customers, because you don’t fully understand who is visiting your website and what they are reading.”  See the difference?  Talk about what you believe matters to the prospect and not about yourself.  Frankly, I (and pretty much every other prospect in the world) couldn’t care less about the offerings of a company I’ve never heard of.

4. If you have to mention a free trial in your initial conversations, it means you lack confidence in your offering and/or you have done nothing to establish value.  When someone pushes the free trial too soon, in my mind, it’s code for “the offering is not good.”

Voicemail is a critically important prospecting tool.

The vast majority of prospecting calls go to voicemail.  Some sales pros gripe and grumble when they are automatically routed to a prospect’s voicemail.  They complain, that “nobody ever answers the damned phone!”

It is true that prospects are getting harder to reach.  It is also true that decision makers are more likely to let calls from unrecognized phone numbers go to voicemail.

But don’t consider voicemails to be a bad thing; see them as 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 voice mails about your company or your product’s features and benefits you are almost guaranteed not to get a call back.

Is your company planning a sales kickoff meeting this year?  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.

I deliver entertaining kickoff sessions that are filled with ideas your sales team can start using the very next day.  Let’s 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

Check out my Sales Training Menu with some new training courses for 2019.  Give me a call 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.

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. 

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

Are You About to Lose Your Largest Client?

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

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

By Lee B. Salz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

Harness the Power of Referrals to Make Prospecting Easier

By Jeff Beals

A client of mine once needed help opening a branch office in a different city.  I called a commercial real estate company owner I knew in that town.  The owner connected me with one of his young sales reps who was excited to receive the referral.  The rep 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 to whom I connected him. 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.”  That was not something I wanted to hear.

The rep should have given my client extra attention simply because it was a client referred by someone. 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.

By blowing off a referral, the young sales rep missed out on a golden opportunity, because referrals are one of the most important tools we sales practitioners have in our toolboxes.

You want to know the quickest path to prospecting success?

Use referrals.

It’s getting harder and harder to cut through the clutter and reach influential decision makers. That’s why referrals have never been more valuable than they are today.

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. Referrals are catalysts.

Have No Fear

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!”

Who Should You Ask for Referrals?

  • A person whose name, title and profile make you look impressive
  • Someone who will say great 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.

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.

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.

New Prospecting Masterclass Will Help You

If you want to get your prospects’ attention, you need compelling language that convinces them you bring relevant value.  That’s what my prospecting masterclass is all about.

If your sales team is not prospecting as effectively as it could, schedule this in-depth masterclass for your office.  It can be a half- or full-day program.  Either way, it will give the sales reps in your company actual language they can use to turn cold prospects into paying clients.

Click HERE for an outline of this interactive prospecting workshop!

  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.