Tag Archives: sales prospecting

How to Turn Influencers into Your Champions

By Jeff Beals

Does your company have raving fans?

The term “raving fans” has become business lexicon ever since Random House released a book called Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles 15 years ago. The book was intended to help companies improve their customer service. The authors’ central message was that you need to go above and beyond, because “satisfied customers just aren’t good enough.”

That book is part of a breadth of publications designed to help companies and individual professionals do a better job of pleasing customers. In fact, we often hear executives spurring their employees to focus on providing “customer delight” as opposed to the mere standard of “customer service.”

This all makes sense to me. Certainly, companies benefit when they go all-out to please the customer, but having people who love you and are willing to tell everyone about it, goes beyond just customer service. You can also create raving fans of yourself, people who “cheer” for you as an individual professional.

Instead of “fans,” let’s think of them as “champions.”

Champions are people who champion you and your cause. They love you and your company. They are your fans, the people who would run through a brick wall for you. They could be personal friends, distant admirers, current or former clients, current or former referrers. They could also be influencers of past clients who you converted in champions.

Even if you have a lot of champions, you could still use more. Those individuals and organizations that have engaged champions and sent them out into the world get more opportunities. A large group of champions on your side is like having a personal marketing and sales staff without having to pay the salaries and benefits.

But champions don’t just appear out of thin air. They are developed. They must be created and then maintained. That means you should have a part of your marketing plan focused on how to deliberately develop and maintain champions. Part of that plan would be an on-going communication plan for champions that would include emailings, phone calls personal visits.

To convert someone into a champion, you need to make him or her feel very special. Here are some ideas:

  • When you are in front of a person, make him or her feel that nobody else in the world matters more.
  • Spend time with key people socially, congratulate them on their successes, and help them celebrate their victories.
  • Don’t let a moment of truth – an opportunity to strengthen a relationship – be wasted. Jump on that opportunity and grow that relationship.

It also helps when you surprise champions with valuable information when they’re not expecting it. Send them referrals whenever you get the chance. Go out of your way to introduce or connect them to interesting people. Treat them with respect and demonstrate integrity consistently.

If you do these things, you will develop a network of champions who will protect you and your organization.

As the old saying goes, “you can never have too many friends.” The same thing applies to champions.

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

What to Do When a Gatekeeper Blocks Your Path

By Jeff Beals

During question-and-answer periods, the same issue keeps coming up in my sales workshops: how to deal with gatekeepers. These people are the receptionists and administrative assistants who stand between you and the decision maker you seek.

I’ve probably been asked five times about gatekeepers in just the past three weeks alone.  Why does this issue keep coming up?  It’s probably because cold prospecting is getting harder.  Decision makers keep getting better at insulating themselves from the outside world.  One of their most effective defenses is a diligent gatekeeper.

When it comes to gatekeepers, the biggest mistake you can make is to think of them obstacles or barriers.  Instead, you want to build a relationship and turn them into your advocates.  Yes, it is possible to win over a gatekeeper.

In fact, there have been times in my selling career, that I have landed an appointment only because I had built a relationship with a gatekeeper.  I’ve actually had gatekeepers tell their bosses, “You need to talk to this guy.”

If you sell to business leaders, you may very well come face-to-face with a gatekeeper.  Here are four things you can do to win over gatekeepers and turn them into advocates:

Respect

Treat them with respect. I’m not talking about the patronizing, artificial respect that too many companies show their admin assistants (like telling admins they are the “most important resource in the company” or giving them cheesy titles like “director of first impressions”). I’m talking about real respect, the respect that exists when you see someone as a partner or an equal.

When you reach a gatekeeper, explain what you’re trying to accomplish and why you are calling. Tell them the same things you say to their bosses. See the gatekeeper as a key part of your selling process. That simple show of respect will put you in the most likeable one percent of vendors who call the gatekeeper.  Compared to the vast majority of sales reps who treat gatekeepers as unworthy, lower-class obstacles, you’ll come across as positively different.

Partner Role

Remember to think of gatekeepers as partners in the process – partners to you and their bosses. Many decision makers are so close to their support person that they almost become one person. They can finish each other’s sentences. If the boss sees the gatekeeper as a partner, you should too.

Questions

One of the best things you can do to turn gatekeepers into champions is to ask questions. People like it when other people show genuine, sincere interest in them and their organizations. Asking questions gets the gatekeeper involved in your efforts and the answers they provide help you understand more about the decision maker to whom you will ultimately make your pitch.  What’s another benefit of asking questions? The gatekeeper may realize that they don’t have the answers you need and may just let you talk to the big shot.

Persistence

These days it often takes multiple calls to reach prospecting targets. It might also take several conversations to build a high level of trust with a gatekeeper. Even if the gatekeeper likes you, it still may require several callbacks to the keep the process moving. Remember that gatekeepers and their bosses are extremely busy and often downright overwhelmed. That makes you forgettable if you don’t stay front and center.

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.

Using Test Closes to Push a Sale Closer to Completion

By Jeff Beals

Remember that closing a sale involves a series of small commitments before you get the big commitment to buy.

These little commitments are sometimes referred to as “miniature closes.”

By simply agreeing to meet you, a prospect makes a mini commitment, and that’s a mini close for you.  Similarly, you complete mini closes when prospects agree to review your proposal, introduce you to a second decision maker at their company or admit that they need to change their current situation.

Similar to mini closes are “test closes,” techniques you use to gauge how interested prospects are and how seriously they are considering doing business with you.  If someone answers a test close in a way that’s desirable to you, they are essentially making a commitment to you.  So not only do test closes indicate whether you’re on the right track or making progress, they also help move the prospect closer to the final buying decision.

How do you do a test close?  Often, they begin with simple words such as:

  • “If you…”
  • “What would happen if…”
  • “Before we move on…”
  • “If I understand you correctly…”
  • “In your opinion…”

Here are some examples of how each of the above language options can be used in actual selling situations:

If you implemented this system, would it be easier to hold your team accountable?”

What would happen if you didn’t make this change?”

Before we move on, if we were to work together, what parts of the program most appeal to you?”

If I understand you correctly, the most beneficial result of using this product would be speeding up your product launches, right?”

In your opinion, would it be worth an extra investment to get 50 percent more performance?”

Instead of crouching ready to pounce on a close, focus on the next step in the process (the next small commitment.)  Each time you get one of these commitments, you’re a little closer to the end prize.  A test close can make the process flow easily.

Just keep working the prospect through all the steps in the selling process in the proper order, with adequate time at each step.

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.

Sometimes You Should Stay Quiet During Sales Presentations

By Jeff Beals

The typical sales professional is excited when they land an in-person meeting with a prospect.  This is your change to make your pitch and state your case.  We call it the “sales presentation,” but that term is actually misleading.

Just because it’s a “sales presentation” doesn’t mean you do all the talking.  Sales pros tend to be gregarious, outgoing people.  In some ways, that’s good, because extroverts are more apt to pick up the phone and call a stranger. They may deliver more entertaining, compelling sales presentations. They may be more aggressive pushing prospects to close at the end.

But the “talking” part of sales comprises only part of a good sales presentation. The other part of the process is quiet. Part of the sales presentation meeting should be devoted to building a relationship, listening and determining exactly what the prospect values without any assumption or ambiguity.

If you want to be successful in sales, there’s something far more important than an outgoing personality. It’s the ability to determine exactly what your prospect values. Here are four ways to do just that even during the sales presentation meeting:

Listen & Truly Hear

Too often we pretend like we’re listening or even think we’re doing a good job of listening, but in reality, we don’t retain what the other person is telling us. If you sell things for a living, you need to listen with the same intensity and attention to detail that a detective uses when he or she is interviewing a suspected criminal. Tell yourself that the person in front of you will say something at some point in the conversation that can directly lead to a closed deal. You can’t afford to miss it simply because you’re having a second conversation with yourself inside your mind when you need to be focused on the other person.

Never Assume

Our own biases often get in the way of our efforts to figure out what our prospects truly value. Look, you know your products and services better than the prospects do especially if you’ve been in your current selling role for a long time. Talented, experienced and knowledgeable sales professionals can be vulnerable to assuming what clients value because they’ve seen so many other clients and know so much about the product. Don’t succumb to temptation and start assuming you know everything you need to know about your prospect. I call it the “sin of assumption,” and it just might be the deadliest sin in business.

Ask Probing Questions

When we first sit down with a prospect, we engage in small talk or idle chit-chat. That’s a great way to warm up the conversation and make everyone comfortable. But don’t spend too much time on chit-chat. Start asking questions that help you uncover value. The best questions are probing in nature. Start questions with “Why?” “How?” “What if…?” “What would happen if you…?”

Bite Your Tongue

Don’t start talking until you are sure you know what your prospect values. If you’re not 100 percent convinced, keep asking probing questions and keep listening intently to the answers. When you do talk, your sales pitch should be customized based on what the prospective client told you during the value discovery process. Portray your products or services in such a way that they satisfy exactly what the prospect wants and needs.

As you consider the four ways to determine value mentioned above, it should become apparent that there is plenty of room for introverts in the sales business. As long as they can muster the gumption to approach prospects in the first place and turn on the charm when it’s time to present, introverts might actually be better at sales than extroverts. When it’s all said and done, the deal typically goes to the person who most closely provides what each unique client really wants.

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 Power of Teaming in Sales

By Jeff Beals

Generally speaking, we learn better and develop better ideas when we work in groups.  Human beings are social creatures.  Our ability to team up has allowed our species to build amazing structures and advance once-unimaginable technologies.

When two or more people put their heads together and tackle challenging problems, we often end up with amazing innovations.  Teams beat individuals.

But those of us who have chosen a career in sales tend to be individualists.  Some of us are even considered “lone wolves.”

Now, there are benefits to behaving like an individual when you work in sales.  Our profession requires quick thinking and the ability to confidently make decisions when you’re out on the road far away from the office.  Salespeople typically live on commission, which requires you to have tolerance for risk and a great deal of self-confidence.

The key is to combine the individualism that is necessary for success in sales with the human desire to be part of an advanced social organization.

If you roll your eyes anytime someone talks about your sales organization working as a team, take a look at these examples of when teaming up produces positive results for sales professionals:

1. Message Development

Prospecting is much more difficult than it was 10 or 20 years ago especially when you’re approaching new, cold prospects.  In such an environment, business acumen is critically important.

That means we have cutting-edge messages that engage and challenge prospects in ways that are meaningful for them.  In other words, you can no longer call a prospect and say, “I’d like to stop by your office and pick your brain.”  Instead, you need a compelling message that stands out in the sea of communication sameness.

Developing these messages is a great teamwork opportunity.  When a company invites me to their office to conduct a prospecting workshop, I challenge the sales reps to develop a series of compelling email, social, telephone and voicemail messages they can use to engage cold prospects.  If we have time, we do this as part of the workshop; if we don’t, I assign it as a homework project.

Here’s how it works:  Each member of the sales team develops a certain number of effective prospecting messages and then we share all the messages with the group.  All the sales reps can share in the creative bounty and start using the best messages right away

2. Professional Development

Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

Indeed it is critical that sales professionals constantly learn.  Some of that learning can be individual – reading, watching webinars, personal research – but we tend to learn more and retain more of that knowledge when we learn together.

That’s why it’s useful to do in-house sales training, watch sales training videos as a team or go to conferences as a group.  Once a group of sales professionals is exposed to some form of education, it’s a good idea to talk about it together after the training takes place and try out some of the ideas as a team.

3. On-Boarding

Lately, I’ve been thinking about on-boarding quite a bit.  It came up as a conversation within the past two weeks in both of the mastermind groups I lead. Many sales leaders struggle finding the best ways to bring new sales reps up to speed and quickly maximize their talents.

Well, you can use the collective power of the current sales team to shrink the learning curve for new sales professionals.  Have each experienced member of your team sit down and think of all the most common objections they receive during meetings with prospects.  Then have each of them write down how they overcome those objections.

Similarly, have them list all the issues that pop up during price-and-terms negotiations and how they successfully handle those.

You can do this with other parts of the selling process as well.  The collective knowledge and experience of the group is a great teacher and prevents you from trying to reinvent the wheel every time a new person joins your team.

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

How to Beat the RFP Process

By Jeff Beals

Yesterday was one of our full-day meetings for the Sales Leader Mastermind Group, a leadership program my company provides for executives who lead sales teams.  Our mastermind discussions are always fascinating, but a particular topic came up that always rankles me: RFPs.  One of my members was lamenting that RFPs were becoming more common in his industry.

I find everything about the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process to be irritating, and I rarely respond to them.  Clients who expect me to participate in an RFP are generally not good candidates for my customized services.

I hate RFPs, because they are one-sided, manipulative tools that reduce your offerings to disposable commodities and ultimately deliver mediocre results to the client. Everybody loses in the RFP process:

  • A company decides it needs a new vendor, so several employees sit down and think of all the things they do and don’t want and then dream up a bunch of hoops for would-be vendors to jump through.
  • They send the RFP to every potential vendor they can think of.
  • Prospective vendors practically do backflips trying to meet all the RFP requirements and end up rushing to meet the deadline.
  • The company that issued the RFP then examines all the proposals that were submitted and compares them.  Ultimately, they decide that some of the proposals are basically offering the same products/services, so they choose the lowest-priced bid.
  • And it can get even worse.  The finalists are sometimes pitted against each other in a bidding war to see who is willing to discount their price to the lowest number. It’s a race to the bottom.
  • The “winner” ends up doing a lot of work for too little money.
  • The client gets a product or service that is watered down or delivered by an inferior vendor who was willing to “give away the farm” in order to get the business.

This is not a recipe for happiness and high profitability.

Generally speaking, I recommend you respond to RFPs only when your relationship with the client is so strong that you are essentially guaranteed of winning.  Some companies have policies requiring that vendor relationships go out to bid periodically. If this is the case at one of your best client companies, tell them you will help write the RFP.  You can then write the RFP to favor you and the way you do business.

If you don’t write the RFP, or at least have heavy influence on the RFP, it very well could be an expensive waste of your time replying to the RFP.  An exception would be when the RFP is a mere formality designed to make shareholders feel better and you are the pre-chosen winner.

Now, I realize that there are some industries where RFPs are a rooted part of the culture. In other words, they’re so common that there’s no getting around them.  That’s not the case in most industries.  When at all possible, avoid RFPs.  You have little chance of winning.  Meanwhile, you spend tons of time and money preparing a proposal and get no revenue in return. If by some miracle, you are chosen, you’re probably going to get skewered on price.

When at all possible, just say “no” to RFPs!

The Top 41 Motivational Speakers

ResourcefulSelling.com just published its list of “Top 41 Motivational Speakers Who Can Energize Any Sales Team.”  Guess who made the list!

Check it out by clicking HERE.

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

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.

Urgency: A Sales Lesson From the Far Side

By Jeff Beals

I was meeting with one of my coaching clients earlier this week, and he was lamenting that one of his top prospects wouldn’t call him back.  The prospect was a senior decision maker at large company.

As my client shared his frustrations, it reminded me of an old Far Side cartoon.  The Far Side was a syndicated, single-panel cartoon by Gary Larson that ran from 1980 to 1995.  I always loved Larson’s work.

At any rate, one of my favorite Far Side cartoons was captioned, “Same planet, different worlds.”

The cartoon panel is divided in half.  In the top frame, there is a man lying in bed staring at the ceiling with a thought bubble above his head that says, “I wonder if she knows I exist…Should I call her? Maybe she doesn’t even know I exist? Well, maybe she does…I’ll call her. No, wait…I’m not sure if she knows I exist. Dang!”

In the bottom frame, there’s a picture of a woman lying in bed staring at her ceiling with a thought bubble above her head: “You know, I think I really like vanilla.”

That cartoon cracks me up. Aside from aptly describing my teenage dating experience, it’s a metaphor for anyone who sells for a living.

As the cartoon so effectively illustrates, people have different priorities and different levels of urgency. As a sales professional, your level of urgency is often greater than that of your prospects.

Think about it. Your job depends on selling products or services.  You don’t get paid until you close a deal.  Because your livelihood depends on deal making, you have a vested interest in the process moving quickly and the purchase decision made promptly.

But your prospect could (and often does) have a very different timeline for a variety of reasons:

  • Your prospect might have to go through multiple layers of decision making inside his or her company
  • Your prospect might be considering additional options/vendors in addition to you and your offering.
  • In addition to making a decision on your proposed offering, your prospect has a hundred other things to worry about, some of which are more pressing and stressful.
  • Your prospect could be dealing with things in his or her personal life that take priority over a business decision, even an important business decision.
  • Your prospect’s “clock” might be different from yours.  Different people think and move at different speeds.  What’s “fast” to one person might be “slow to another.
  • Perhaps you haven’t done a good enough job of proving that your offering creates so much value that it deserves to be the prospect’s top priority.

If you find yourself in the sales equivalent of The Far Side cartoon, what should you do?

Stick to the basics.  Be persistent and focus on value-led messaging that focuses on the prospect’s outcomes.

When you discover exactly which part of your product or service most closely meets what the prospect most values at the time he or she most needs it, the prospect’s level of urgency suddenly will match and sometimes even exceed yours.

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

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Characteristics of the Most Successful Sales Professionals

By Jeff Beals

You’ve surely heard about the 80/20 rule, which says 20 percent of sales professionals do 80 percent of the business.  I have generally found that to be true.  In fact, at some companies, it’s more of a 90/10 rule.

What does it take to be among the top 10 or 20 percent of producers?

When I look at the top producers with whom I work as a consultant, I see common characteristics that are consistent regardless of industry.  I like to call them “sales success factors.”

Characteristics of Top Producers

1. They are highly goal-oriented and monitor progress throughout the year.

2. They are obsessed with prospecting and disciplined to do it every day.

3. They have balanced personalities: Assertive and competitive but not aggressive or passive. In other words, they have a desire to win but still put clients’ interests first.

4. They tend to be more ethical than mid-level and under-performing reps.  This one might surprise some people, but unethical behavior will eventually bring down an otherwise successful sales practitioner.

5. They are always curious and have amassed extensive knowledge of their local, territory and/or industry marketplaces.  They have deep product knowledge.  They have most key things memorized, but if they’re asked something they don’t know, they can find the answer immediately.

6. They build and maintain relationships with a large, diverse group of people to whom they go for business opportunities, referrals and insider information.

7. They are organized in both their personal and professional lives.  They have a system of good habits.  They treat their time like it’s a precious resource.

8. The have the mindset of success: quickly accept responsibility for their mistakes and graciously accept credit for their successes.  They tend to be me more optimistic than pessimistic.

9. They are unapologetic/unashamed about working in sales and believe that selling is a critically important function in the overall success of the economy.  They are proud of what they do for a living.

10. They’re not afraid to call the question.  When it’s time to close the deal, they don’t hesitate.  They get it done.

As you read through the above list, how do you see yourself?  How many of these 10 success factors describe you?  If you are the leader of a sales team, how many of your reps possess most of the characteristics?

If any of the characteristics are weaknesses for you, now is the time to work on those deficiencies.  It’s never too late to develop better skills, habits and behaviors.  After all, there’s more room at the top than most people think.

IMPROVE YOUR PROSPECTING SKILLS!

Do you sometimes struggle with exactly what to say to get new prospects to engage?

If so, then you absolutely cannot miss our virtual training session on the new sales business language.

Join us, as we share:

  • Exactly what to say to engage a cold prospect
  • How to create value as a though leader
  • The tricks to identify your powerful insights which move clients to engage
  • How to completely differentiate yourself from your competitors.

You do not want to miss this content-heavy webinar on Oct 17th at 10 AM CT, as you will leave with new prospecting business acumen that will get prospects to engage.

You can include your whole sales department for just $99.  You’ll learn the strategies leading-edge companies are using to cut through the commoditization clutter and stand out.

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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. 

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.