Tag Archives: prospects

The Price of Putting Off Prospecting

By Jeff Beals

Procrastination is one of the leading causes of poor sales performance, according to research published by Gong.io, a technology company that analyzes sales reps’ conversations for its client companies.

Gong’s data-science team analyzed 15 months of telephone conversations between sales reps and their prospects.  The results showed that average salespeople made far more calls in the last month of the quarter than the first two.  The success rate of those frenzied, last-month calls was measurably lower than calls made early in the quarter.

In other words, according to Gong, having a bad quarter almost follows a pattern: two “lazy” months of prospecting followed by a frantic third month characterized by a desperate scramble to drag prospects across the finish line in time to make quota.

The study showed that average sales reps (defined as being below the top 20 percent of performers), were far more likely to follow this pattern of procrastination than those who were consistently top-20-percent producers.

It is understandable why this happens.  After one quarter ends, you feel a sense or relief if you did well.  Even if it wasn’t a good quarter, you feel like you have all the time in the world to make your sales goal once a new period starts.

Legendary football coach Tom Osborne once said, “The odds are always against you no matter what your previous history is.  You have to overcome the tendency to relax.”

It’s hard to stay on top of your game and stay on top of your company’s leader board.

If you want to be a consistently elite sales professional, you need to push yourself just as hard at the beginning of a quarter as the end.  You need to be disciplined.  It helps to start strong.

In keeping with the football theme, a team’s performance during a game is largely determined by the way players practiced the previous Monday.  If you have a big victory over a key rival one weekend, it can be hard to come to practice Monday with adequate intensity.

How can sales practitioners keep the intensity?  How can you avoid the natural tendency to relax once a quarter ends or a big sale closes?

Prospect like your life depends on it.  Because it does!  Prospecting is harder than ever, so you need to be more diligent.  Prospecting is a mindset, a way of life.  You could even call is a “lifestyle.”  Embrace it. Welcome it.  Do it every single day of the week.  While prospecting can be nerve-wracking and frustrating, push through it.  If you are positive about it, you’ve won half the battle.

Time blocking.  You have to make prospecting one of your top daily activities.  You even have to do it on days you’re closing other deals.  Top producers literally reserve blocks of time for prospecting and they don’t allow any distractions during those times. I know of no other use of your time that is more likely to lead to long-term sales success than being a dedicated, disciplined prospector.

Make a plan.  While you need to be an enthusiastic prospector, you do need a plan. If you run to the nearest phone and start dialing cold prospects haphazardly, you’re wasting your time.  Your plan should include what types of people you target, where you get leads, how you do pre-call research, the language you use to establish value and the tactics you use to push them further down your pipeline.  Ideally, you make next quarter’s prospecting plan before the current quarter ends.

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. 

Perpetual Prospecting Is the Key to Beating the Sales Cycle

By Jeff Beals

Do you invest in the stock market?

If so, you’re probably aware of the constant waxing and waning that characterizes the life cycle of the stock market. What goes up eventually goes down and what goes down eventually goes up.

If you’re a long-term investor, you tend to wait out the market cycles and instead count on the long-term growth that has always happened in the market over extended periods of time.  If you’re a short-term investor, you may be playing the cycle, hoping to buy or sell at precisely the right time.

Either way, the stock market goes up and down.  When markets are optimistic, investors begin to feel enthusiasm, then exhilaration.  Eventually, it starts to feel like you’re invincible, that every investment you make pays off.  That false belief compels some investors to make reckless decisions and take questionable risks.

Just as the stock market reaches its feverish peak, the bull market ends.  Most people don’t realize it right away, and investors often go through a period of denial.  But eventually pessimism sets in, which leads to panic and then despair: the bear market.  Of course, when people are depressed at the bottom of the trough, that’s when things slowly start to trend upwards, starting the whole cycle over again.

Sales practitioners tend to go through cycles quite analogous to the stock market: highs and lows, peaks and valleys.

At the peak of the prospecting cycle, the “bull market,” you have so many deals to close and so much easy business that you’re tempted to put off prospecting activities.  Of course, that eventually leads to an empty pipeline.  When you realize you have no prospects in the pipe, you prospect like crazy, which eventually leads to another up cycle.

If your personal sales cycle is too volatile, you are putting yourself under a great deal of stress.  There’s one secret to evening out your cycle while keeping your revenue going up each year: perpetual prospecting.

Prospecting is the key. It’s the reason 20 percent of sales reps do 80 percent of the business (In some companies, it might be closer to 10/90).  It’s the reason why some sales reps do well even during a recession.  Prospecting separates the good from the great.

I like to define prospecting as “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.”

As that definition implies, there is one aggressive part of prospecting: “interrupting someone.”  But the rest of the definition implies that sales reps are doing prospects a favor by introducing them to something important: valuable products and services.

If you want to be a better prospector, and consequently make more money, here are five quick pieces of advice:

Prospect Life Your Life Depends on It

Your sales life DOES depend on prospecting.  Ideally, you should 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.

Be an Opportunity Detective

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.

Apply Discipline to Your Prospecting

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.

Be Obsessed with Prospect Value

When you engage cold prospects, you want to talk about things you believe they value instead of talking about you or your company.  For instance, too many sales reps start prospecting messages with statements such as: “We’ve been in business since 1910,” or “We offer a full suite of IT solutions.”  Instead, 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.

Plan Ahead

Nobody plans to fail but sales practitioners regularly fail to plan.  I recommend you 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.

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

The 5 Best Ways to Build Trust With Your Clients

By Jeff Beals

Here are a couple indisputable truths about today’s business environment:

  1. Sales cycles are much faster than they were 10 years ago.
  2. Buyers are distracted and under much more pressure than they were in earlier times.

Because we now operate in a frenzied selling environment, some sales professionals believe there is no longer a need to develop trust. They argue that there’s not enough time to build trusting relationships, and even when you do have time, many buyers prefer to keep their vendors at arm’s length.

I disagree.

True, sales professionals must try harder to build trust, but the end result is well worth the effort.  The good news is that you don’t have to go from not knowing someone to lifelong confidant in one setting.  Build trust a little bit at a time.  When you first meet a prospective client, get to know them, build rapport and establish a relationship.  As you get serious about doing business together, there are five ways you can develop trust.  Keep doing these things over time, and you’ll develop a close friendship with a person who will become one of your all-time best clients.

Communication

Those sales professionals who go out of their way to communicate tend to build trust quicker and more deeply with clients. Detailed and timely communication removes suspicions and reassures clients.  Tell the truth and don’t procrastinate when you need to tell prospects things they don’t want to hear.  As former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.”

Another important part of communication is to say you are sorry when appropriate. It’s amazing how much an earnest and sincere apology can boost trust.

Moment of Truth

At some point in any given relationship, you will encounter a moment of truth, a time in which you will be faced with an important decision. How you decide to act determines if you “pass” the moment of truth.  If you do pass it, you build trust.  Fail it and the relationship could be irreparably damaged.

What are some moment-of-truth examples? When it’s tempting to lie but you tell the truth.  When you have a choice to do something in your interest or your client’s interest and you choose the client’s. When you go the extra mile to help clients achieve their goals. When you screw up and do everything in your power to fix the situation.

Moments of truth are opportunities.  Embrace them as a chance to prove your trustworthiness and advance the relationship.  Every time you pass a moment of truth, no matter how small, trust becomes at least a little deeper.

Predictability

People trust other people whose behavior is predictable. If you are the type of person who responds to challenges in a consistently professional manner, you come across as trustworthy.

The best predictor of a person’s future actions is frequent past behavior. If you consistently establish frequent past behavior that is trustworthy, it will be much easier for you to be trusted in the future.

Social Proof

Robert Cialdini, the so-called “Godfather of Influence,” believes that social proof is one of the most important components of influence. You are far more likely to persuade someone’s thinking if you remember that “people follow the lead of similar others.”

Cialdini cited a study in which researchers went door-to-door collecting donations for a charity. When people answered the door, the researchers showed them a list of neighborhood residents who had already donated to the charity. The longer the donor list, the more likely prospective donors were to contribute.

In another study, New York City residents were asked to return a lost wallet to its owner. The New Yorkers were highly likely to attempt to return the wallet when they learned that another New Yorker had previously attempted to do so. But learning that someone from a foreign country had tried to return the wallet didn’t sway their decision one way or the other.

If social proof is so powerful, does it not make sense that you can more quickly build trust if respected people advocate on your behalf?  Smart sales practitioners assemble a group of past and current clients who can provide social proof and thus convey a greater sense of trustworthiness to future clients.

Rapid Responsiveness

Because all of humanity’s assembled knowledge is available on the little smart phones we carry in our pockets, people have become accustomed to getting any desired information immediately. That means we have to be ultra responsive to our prospects and current customers.  It’s no longer okay to wait 24 hours to return a message.  It must be done immediately.

Now that so much information is readily available, and people expect lightning-fast responses, you are now viewed as “untrustworthy” if you’re a slow communicator.  It’s almost people think you’re incompetent or perhaps hiding something if you take too long.  Speed is now equated with trust.

In closing, those who flourish in sales for many years endure because they put a premium on people. They build trusting relationships not just for financial gain but because it’s also the right thing to do.

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 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

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

“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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

What Happens When You Befriend Your Competitors?

By Jeff Beals

Some of my favorite people to hang out with work in the same profession I do.  In other words, I’m friends with a lot of my competitors.  It makes sense if you think about it. People who compete with each other have many of the same interests.

But friendships with professionals from competing companies can be touchy.

It is in your best interest to have positive relationships with your competitors, but you have to be careful.  On one hand, such relationships keep job possibilities open for you, and if you’re in a leadership position, these relationships form a candidate pool from which you can hire.

On the other hand, it’s easy to let your guard down when you befriend competitors thus compromising your company’s position.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when it comes to befriending people who want to beat you in the sales arena:

1. Even if you have the heart of a cut-throat competitor, be cordial when you run into the competition. You never know when you actually might need them.

2. A wily competitor might be gathering intel during casual conversations, so stick to pleasantries and “sanitized” talk.  Don’t divulge your secrets.

3. If you sell for a small organization, you may be able to grow quite wealthy living off the big guy’s table scraps.  Befriend people from much larger companies.  They just might refer business to you that is not big enough for them.

4. If you engage in one-upmanship and gamesmanship with competitors, make sure you do it for valuable reasons and not simply to boost your ego or satisfy a constant craving for attention.  If you engage in one-upmanship just for the fun of it, be careful – make sure the other person has a thick skin and/or good sense of humor.  Friendships among competitors can be fragile.

5. Sometimes you must get between your client and your competitor.  That’s not just figuratively “in between” them; it might be a good idea to show up if you know your client is going to encounter a competitor.  In highly competitive sales efforts, your personal, physical presence may be necessary to ward off competitors looking to steal your client at the last minute.

6. As appropriate, find ways to “hide” your prospects from your competitors.  If you find a “diamond-in-the-rough” client, don’t let the world know about him or her.  Do what you can to keep them under the radar.

7. All is fair in love, war and sales. Because business can be so brutally competitive, some sales leaders look for ways not only to beat the competition but to weaken it preemptively.  Many of Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese theories on military strategy apply to the game of sales. In sales, you sometimes need to outflank the competition, employ the element of surprise and weaken your competitors before you even begin the battle.  A dramatic way to strike a blow to a competitor is to hire away one of their sales reps.  If you can’t beat ’em, steal their best salesperson.

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 Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. 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 in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“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

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

“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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Overcome the 4 Biggest Prospecting Challenges

Sales Prospecting Class Logo NARROW

By Jeff Beals

Prospecting is not just something sales professionals do to fill their pipelines. Prospecting is a mindset, and for the most successful sales pros, it’s a way of life.

If you work in sales, nobody has to tell you that prospecting today is exponentially harder than at any other time in history.  Why is that?  Here are four reasons:

  1. Prospects are busier than ever, making them distracted and difficult to reach.
  2. Products are services are now commonly considered to be mere commodities.
  3. Salespeople all sound and act the same. Too many of us utter the same meaningless jargon and gimmicky sales lines.
  4. Prospects have access to unprecedented information about products and services. They can find out anything they want about your company through a simple Google search. In many cases, they can find online reviews about your offerings.  They can go onto a discussion forum and solicit opinions about you and your products. The problem with all this information, however, is that it tends to be overwhelming, unfiltered and often taken out of context.  Prospects are highly informed but not necessarily accurately informed.

The combination of these four challenges has turned prospects into price-sensitive buyers who are hesitant to engage with salespeople.

So, what can we do to rise above the fracas and succeed in an highly competitive selling environment?

Prospect like “your hair’s on fire” – Because prospecting is harder than ever, you need to be more diligent.  Like I mentioned earlier, prospecting is a mindset, a way of life.  You could even call is a “lifestyle.”  Embrace it. Welcome it.  Do it every single day of the week.  While prospecting can be nerve-wracking and frustrating, push through it.  If you are positive about it, you’ve won half the battle.

It’s not about you – Always focus on what the prospects value, not what you care about.  It’s never about you. It’s not about your company. It’s not about your product’s features and benefits.  Think of yourself as a detective assigned to figure out how you can best help the mysterious person known as your prospect.

Apply discipline to your prospecting – Even though there are more enjoyable things to do as a sales professional, you have to make prospecting one of your top daily activities.  You even have to do it on days you’re closing other deals.  Top producers reserve blocks of time for prospecting and they don’t allow any distractions during those times. I know of no other use of your time that is more likely to lead to long-term sales success than being a dedicated, disciplined prospector.

Value-based language – When emailing prospects, leaving them voicemails or talking to them face-to-face, ask questions that determine what they value and then explain things in a way that shows how you deliver that value.  Good prospectors research and test language they can use when engaging potential customers.  Ultimately, you want language that captures a prospect’s attention, conveys value, makes them feel comfortable sharing sensitive information with you and then compels them to make some sort of a commitment.

Make a plan – While you need to be an exuberant and disciplined prospector, you do need a plan. If you run to the nearest phone and start dialing cold prospects haphazardly, you’re wasting your time.  Your plan should include what types of people you target, where you get leads, how you do pre-call research, the language you use to establish value and the tactics you use to push them further down your pipeline.

This comes as a surprise to a lot of people, but did you know that prospecting is the number-one deficiency among salespeople and sales departments?  It’s true. Most of the problems that salespeople complain about are ultimately caused by poor prospecting methods or a lack of prospecting discipline.

I want to make you aware of a unique prospecting resource available to you. My colleague Beth Mastre and I are offering the “Sales Prospecting Masterclass” on Tuesday, August 29th in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  It’s sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, but anyone, regardless of whether they are a chamber member, is welcome to register.

This class will change the way you prospect.  It’s a “deep dive.”  We’ll spend the whole day covering what actually works in today’s challenging sales environment.  Every participant will leave with a step-by-step, personalized prospecting plan and actual language you can use to engage prospects the very next day. Click here for information or to register!

PROSPECTING: Sales Pros Should Be Seemingly Everywhere

By Jeff Beals

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

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

I admit that’s a demanding standard.

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

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

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

Get out there and meet everyone you can. Ask questions. Be like a detective turning over every stone, looking for any shred of evidence that can help you make the sale.

Great salespersons are seemingly “everywhere.” They live their lives so actively that other people feel as if they see them everywhere.

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

Jeff Beals 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 Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. 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 in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“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

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

“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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Get Glowing Testimonials & Valuable Referrals

Social Proof cover 150 RGB

By Jeff Beals

The sales manager got a lead on a nice piece of business. It was big enough of a deal that he assigned two sales reps to the account: Julie and David. Those two had worked together many times and had landed more than their share of big deals.

As expected, Julie and David did their due diligence before meeting with the prospect. During the first meeting, they asked questions and focused on what the client truly valued. After three meetings, it was time for the client to make his decision. Julie and David were confident. They’d really hit it off with the client. Everything “felt” right, so it was quite a surprise when they got the bad news: the client had chosen a competing company.

What happened? Julie and David did a post-mortem call to find out why they didn’t win the business. “It was very close,” the client said, “but the other company had a lot of testimonials.”

Seriously?!!? They lost a multi-million-dollar deal because of some testimonials?

This is actually a true story.

Even in sophisticated, high-ticket-price transactions, winning and losing can actually come down to little things like references and testimonials.

It’s called “social proof” and it’s one of the most powerful tools in a sales professional’s arsenal.

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and the so-called “Godfather of Influence,” believes that social proof is one of the most important components of influence. You are far more likely to persuade someone’s thinking if you remember that “people follow the lead of similar others.”

Cialdini cited a study in which researchers went door-to-door collecting donations for a charity. When people answered the door, the researchers showed them a list of neighborhood residents who had already donated to the charity. The longer the donor list, the more likely prospective donors were to contribute.

In another study, New York City residents were asked to return a lost wallet to its owner. The New Yorkers were highly likely to attempt to return the wallet when they learned that another New Yorker had previously attempted to do so. But learning that someone from a foreign country had tried to return the wallet didn’t sway their decision one way or the other.

Simply put, social proof is why testimonials and referrals are so important in sales.

But social proof has grown in importance in recent years. Why is that? The Internet.

Prospective clients can access social media reviews of your company with the simple click of a mouse, which means it’s getting harder to hide bad service and inferior products. But because so much information about companies and products is so readily available, buyers have come to expect social proof. Prospects want hard evidence that you’re a safe choice.

Social proof can literally be the difference between success and failure in today’s ultra-competitive selling environment. Make sure your sales tool box is stocked with the best tools available…

To continue reading about testimonials and referrals, download Jeff Beals’ brand-new eBook: “Social Proof: How to Get Glowing Testimonials & Valuable Referrals.”

You can download it for FREE by clicking here 

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 Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. 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 in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“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

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

“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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

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

Do Storytellers Really Close More Deals?

By Jeff Beals

As a person who has long believed in the power of storytelling, a recent Wall Street Journal headline caught my attention: “Why Good Storytellers Are Happier in Life and in Love.”

In the article, writer Elizabeth Bernstein writes that since the dawn of language, people have shared stories with others to entertain, persuade, make sense of what happened to them and bond. Research shows that the way people construct their individual stories has a large impact on their physical and mental health. People who frame their personal narratives in a positive way have more life satisfaction.

But it gets even better – good storytellers are considered more attractive. Bernstein mentions three studies in which women rated men who were good storytellers as more attractive and more desirable as long-term partners.

Storytelling is not just good for your social life; it can boost your sales effectiveness as well.

Stories pack a punch. They’re powerful. They paint pictures. They work, because our human brains are conditioned to listen to and be receptive to stories. Long before the written word, and long before Gutenberg invented the printing press, people used stories to communicate histories and traditions as well as norms and expectations. Our ancestors sat around the fire every night and told stories. The propensity to tell and listen to stories is essentially a part of our DNA.

So, if people are so receptive to storytelling, you and I would be foolish not to use stories in our sales work. If you manage a sales team, teach your reps and motivate them by conveying important information through stories. When selling products and services, use a story to paint a picture in your prospect’s mind. By making the product or service part of a story, prospective clients mentally project themselves into the story. Once someone makes that kind of psychological commitment, they’re much more likely to buy.

Let’s say we asked the same prospective client to sit through two sales presentations for competing products. Both salespersons touched on features and benefits. Salesperson A was very straightforward and focused on delivering factual content. Salesperson B was accurate but explained the features and benefits using stories. A couple of the stories were about previous clients who enjoyed positive results from using the product. I guarantee the second salesperson has a higher likelihood of landing the client.

One of the most important skills in sales is the ability to overcome objections. Well, if you get an objection, tell a story to keep the deal alive. Are you ready to deliver your close? Make it more desirable by couching it inside a story. Has the process become mired? Advance it by telling a story.

As you make a commitment to including more stories in your daily work, keep a couple things in mind:

1. Stories must be relative to the situation at hand.

2. Know when to shut up. If a story goes on too long, it loses its effectiveness

3. Think about the work you do and determine what kinds of stories could be effective in certain situations.

4. Catalog stories in your mind. Look back on your own experiences as well as the experiences of your colleagues. Make a list of stories to have at your disposal, so you can use them whenever it’s expedient.

Every product, service, business and individual sales professional has a story, probably multiple stories. The trick is to pull out these stories and use them to your benefit at the appropriate times. After all, if storytelling can make you appear more attractive and desirable at a party, you would be wise to use stories to build relationships with clients and close more deals.

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 down here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com