Lead Generation: Pick up the Damn Phone!

Posted by Mike Scher

Mar 2, 2015 12:00:00 PM

I love talking to sales leaders about their lead development, inside sales and / or lead qualification processes.   In our line of work, this happens quite often.  Many times the team is struggling.  They aren’t getting enough appointments and the connect rate to marketing leads for follow-up is 15%, 10% or even less. shutterstock_78008440

Many times, these discussions are lead by the Sales VP, Head of Business Development or the Chief Strategist, inviting us in to observe the current state and behaviors of their team.

First, we interview the manager to understand the process they hope the team is following.  Next we interview a select group of reps and they describe their process.   Then we observe actual behaviors.

Walking around the floor, we see a lot of people in front of their computer screens. After a while we ask them what they are doing.  Invariably, the reply is (imagine my finger quotes) “research”.   What the heck are these people doing?  What are they looking for -- what school they went to?  How long they have been at the company?

Sales reps, and in particular, Business Development Reps can easily get mired in details. They tend to overthink the process. They troll places like LinkedIn and treat it as if it is a CIA secret and they are the only one who knows it exists.  I love and use LinkedIn too, but usually, anything more than 5 minutes is no longer “research”, its procrastination.  If these reps would just pick up the damn phone, they would be surprised what would happen.  

I am sure you know what your ideal prospect looks like.  You probably even have a list of them.  I am also confident that these prospects (while they may not know you) are likely to have the business problems your solution addresses.  After all, that is why your company got into business in the first place and why other customers have bought from you.

The next prospect and the next sale will be no different.   So, pick up the damn phone. Try it.  You just might make something happen.

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Topics: Sales Tips, business development

Will your sales team get the call?

Posted by Chris Duncan

Feb 25, 2015 11:00:00 AM

What if I told you that less than .5% of baseball players will be drafted – and only 10% of that group will ever make it to the majors?  And, if you look at those who last more than 5 years, the number drops dramatically again.

How can you learn from those players who make it 20+ years in the major league? What did they do differently to become more consistently successful throughout their careers?  And, what does this have to do with your sales team?shutterstock_244877551

At the ripe old age of 3, my baseball career began. Every weekend I joined my T-Ball team at the park and we played our hearts out.  The reason people enjoy watching little kids play sports is the chaos than ensues right from the beginning.   Frankly, we had no concept of how the game was supposed to be played, but we sure had fun.  As I grew older, our games began to have more structure. Suddenly, it wasn’t kids running the bases backwards or picking dandelions in the outfield, we really had to compete. Practices became a time to learn discipline and acumen.

When I reached high school, varsity was my goal and I knew it would take my full commitment and all of the discipline and skills I had learned. Fortunately, I was well prepared - I never had to ask the question, “What should I be doing?”

I was taught to have a consistent plan in order to accomplish each task, and if I followed the structure of the program, I would be successful.  All aspects of my playing abilities improved. Knowing that I had a plan for any situation, I was more confident at bat and in the field. I was no longer a player with hot and cold streaks.  The consistency of my game drew the attention of scouts, and I was even selected as one of sixty players in the nation as an Aflac All-American.

Soon, I was a collegiate athlete. I was learning more than I could ever imagine.  It has been said that practice makes perfect, but nothing could be further from the truth. During practice, I was constantly told to fix this or fix that with my swing. Quickly, I learned that only perfect practice makes perfect. Anyone can do the wrong thing over and over again, but if you aren’t doing it right, you’re practicing wrong. All of the small tweaks to my game that were being reinforced daily suddenly became second nature and success followed.

My baseball career ended after college.  I watched as fellow athletes were drafted and I began to wonder. What made them better than I was? Was it that their talent was far superior or was it something else? In the end, the answer was not a surprise.

The difference depends on how they structure and plan for the game. Even though I had a plan, theirs was more effective. The slight changes in the structure of their approach increased their chances of making a better play, getting 1 or 2 more hits per game, and over time, dramatically increasing their numbers. The best of the best have figured out that slight changes create big differences in outcome.

That same thinking makes all the difference in prospecting, and building a sales pipeline full of qualified leads. The best sales people are not better because their talent is far superior.  They have learned that having a highly structured plan to create first appointments with the right people gives them a significant advantage.

They know how to handle every prospecting situation flawlessly -- they practice and stick to their plan. The secret to selling is having more opportunities to tell your story to people who are genuinely interested in what you sell, and the number one frustration is knowing who to call, when to call them, what to say and when to say it? What if your team had a structure and plan that answered all of those questions?

Second, what if you could teach that structure and plan to any rep regardless of experience or industry expertise? Finally, what if your team could repeat that process and multiply success?

Slight changes are the ones that are often overlooked, but make the most impact. On a 90 mph pitch in baseball, the batter has about .33 seconds to recognize the pitch and swing. If they are one-tenth of a second off, the result is a swing and a miss.

How many times has your team been that close to a hit, but missed? At FRONTLINE Selling®, we teach sales teams how to be more effective at creating those first meaningful conversations with their prospective clients.

We know that having a consistent, proven plan creates very different outcomes. Let us show you how your team can become Hall of Famers today.

Is your team ready for the call?

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Topics: Prospecting Tips, Sales Tips

The 3 Best Places to Find Great Business Development Reps

Posted by Mike Scher

Feb 23, 2015 12:30:00 PM

Being the provider of a software solution that helps sales people double (or more) the number of first appointments they get with the right people, we get asked a lot of questions.  The questions range from, “What should I use in a subject line?” and,  “When is the best time of day to call? -- to queries about optimizing a compensation plan.

shutterstock_73296484Whether we are working with a mid-size telecommunications company, a software company that is growing rapidly or doing a world-wide, multi-lingual rollout, the most prevalent question we get these days is, “What background/qualifications do you look for in a business development rep?”  “Do you hire “experienced” reps or try to get them out of college?”

We look for people who are self-motivated and able to manage situations that are beyond their control.   Business development is hard work.  You cannot control the mood people are in when they answer the phone or understand anything else going on in their world at the time.  While any specific background could prove to be valuable for a business development rep, there are three that we have found to be successful:

  1. Hospitality - People in the hospitality business are great at dealing with the public.  Whether they have worked as a desk clerk, concierge, event planner, host/hostess or country club staff member, they need to deal with a wide variety of people.  The good ones know how to observe people and anticipate their needs.  Sometimes, they need to turn around someone who is having a bad day.  The same skill sets apply to business development.

  1. Restaurant wait staff – When we see an applicant who has waited tables, it really gets our attention.  If they waited tables to get themselves through college, that initiative makes it even better. A waiter needs to manage many variables, and most of them are completely out of their control.  If they have 6 tables, each arrives at different times.  They all have their own set of dynamics -- the family with small children out for a quick bite, the out-of-town businessman sitting alone, the rowdy guys watching the basketball game, and the couple in the middle of a fight.  The waiter has to assess each situation and make them all feel as if their table is the only one that matters.  All this while having to rely on the kitchen staff and bartender to get the food and drinks right, and ready in a timely manner.  In many respects, business development is a lot easier – and, with fewer variables.

  1. Athletes and performers - We love athletes and performers, especially when that experience was at the college level and beyond.   College athletes, dancers and actors have focus, dedication, and they know it takes a lot of practice.  They are goal oriented and pay attention to details. The difference between a good high school soccer player and a college player frequently comes down to effort and technique.  The college athlete practices, repeats and masters the little things.  They know there are no shortcuts.  Like athletes, dancers and actors, business development reps realize the more they pay attention to details and the harder they work, the luckier (and more successful) they are.

Experience is important when you are looking to staff your team, but experience manifests itself in many ways.   When evaluating a candidate (especially one without a lot of “experience”) instead of looking at what they don’t have, look at what they do have.  If that includes being goal oriented, the proven ability to interact with people and/or deal with variables beyond their control, you likely have yourself a great business development rep.

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Topics: Sales Tips, business development

Prospecting: The Devil You Know . . .

Posted by Mike Scher

Feb 20, 2015 10:20:00 AM


My father used to always say, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t”.  I recently thought about that age-old saying when it comes to new business development and prospecting, and wondered if it applied to leads.

While leads come from many sources, there are really only two types in the world (besides “good” leads and “bad” leads – wise guy!).  There are those that have expressed an interest in you such as website hits, whitepaper/ebook downloads, hand raisers etc. These leads are the devil you know because they gave you information and should be more familiar with your content.  Then there are those leads that you have expressed an interest in selling to -- your Ideal Client Profile (ICP)/target accounts. These leads are the devil you don’t know.

Whether you are a full-time business development rep spending 8 hours a day on lead generation or a field sales executive who may only have an hour or two a day, a couple of days a week to spend prospecting; you face choices every day.  If you have a marketing “lead” in hand, is it always the highest and best use of your time? Maybe so, and maybe not.

Of course all leads aren’t good (there’s a news flash!).  On the other hand, all leads aren’t bad either.  If you have done this for any period of time, you probably have a good sense of what a good and bad lead looks like.  So what do you do?  Will you forsake the devil you know (a lead perhaps with a lower level title) for the devil you don’t know (a cold call into the vast unknown of a high value, targeted account)?

Intellectually, you know that time spent with a bad lead is time you cannot spend getting into a good account. Unfortunately, too many sales people, regardless of experience level, will gravitate to any and all leads.  Why? Because sales people feel more comfortable with the devil they know.  Even if they know it isn’t the best lead, they feel like they have something to talk about and the conversation will be warmer.

What if you could become more comfortable with the devil you don’t know?  I think every sales person can.  The first step is to have the discipline to make the right choice.

My father had a lot of sayings that always seemed to apply.  This one may be an exception.

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Topics: Prospecting Tips, Sales Tips

4 Keys to Unlock Demand & Meet Your 2015 Goals

Posted by Gretchen Owens

Feb 19, 2015 11:29:00 AM


4 Keys to Unlock Demand & Meet Your 2015 Goals
Newsflash:  you’re already behind the eight ball
CEO Webinar:  February 26  |  2:00 pm EST

There’s only one month left in Q1, and all too soon the whole quarter will be behind you!  Join us to look at 4 keys you can use reach those 2015 goals.

  •       it’s not about your features and benefits
  •       you don’t need more leads
  •       never miss the chance to ask for a referral
  •       the art and science of no

Would you like your prospects to really understand how your products or services can solve their problems? Is it time to tell your story to more decision makers genuinely interested in what you sell?  

Then register today!  You’ll walk away with valuable insights and actionable steps you can take to impact the next 10 months – and that’s all you have left in 2015.

Don’t miss this opportunity.

Register Now

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Topics: Prospecting Tips, Sales Tips


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