How do you conquer the highs and lows of sales performance?
In episode two of the new Master Sales Series, George Leith explores the connection between being an exceptional prospector and maintaining peak sales performance.
The 10 Elements of Prospecting
This week in the “Conquer Local Master Sales Series, Prospecting 101.” I’ve got 10 things that you need to do to make sure you continue with peak sales performance. Too often sales people have highs and lows. They perform at an outstanding rate, crush all their budgets, exceed plan, and then the next month, they go dark. What is it? What is that phenomenon? How do we solve it? It’s called keeping the funnel fat. We’re gonna dig into those 10 items, Prospecting 101, this week on the “Conquer Local” podcast.
So how do we get that peak performance? And prospecting really is the key to this. We need to be putting new opportunities into the funnel all the time, and it’s a hard thing. It’s hard to be disciplined to always be prospecting, because you have the whirlwind of all this business that you brought in last month, that you need to make sure is being serviced properly, and that all the things you promised are coming true. So there are some things inside your organization that you need to be aware of. And one of the things is making sure that you’re not setting expectations that are outside of what you’re delivering. I can’t believe that I have to say this, but I find it to be something that I do have to train on for new sales people and maybe for older sales people that think that they can still get away with lying. You just can’t lie anymore. And listen, I’ve made the mistake. There’s been lots of…well, it wasn’t really lying. What I did was, I was telling the truth in advance. And then it just didn’t come true.
But what I mean by this is, research is really easy. We have this thing in our pocket. And we can do research. And as soon as you leave the sales call, where you have made some promises to a customer, they’re online trying to figure out if you’re full of shit or not. We are programmed as a society to be skeptical. So you need to make sure that you’re delivering on your promises. So that’s number one. Let’s put that right at the beginning. Now let’s move into the things that you can be doing to make sure that you keep your prospecting funnel fat.
1. How are You Going to Make Your Pitch Stand Out?
So the first item that I wanna touch on is, when you’re preparing your calling script, whether that is a live presentation or something that you’re doing over the phone…and I was just on a call this morning with a group of fine folks in South Africa. They call it telesales in South Africa. So if you’re doing telesales, or you’re doing face-to-face sales, and you’re preparing the script, what you’re going to say, remember there are 100 other sales reps that are calling on the prospect. How are you going to make sure that you stand out with your pitch? What are the things that you’re going to say, so that they go, “Oh. Yeah. I remember Brock. He was fantastic.” He was the one of 100 that stood out. You’re going to have to be in the top three of the sales people that are calling on that prospect. I always push to be in the top three. Oh who am I kidding. I always push to be number one. But you gotta be in that top three. There’s 100 presentations made. There’s three of them they’re going to consider. How do you make sure that you’re in the top three, so you have a shot at winning the deal?
2. Long Emails Don’t Work
The other thing, long emails don’t work. It’s ridiculous to think that that frigging novel, that you sent to the customer is gonna be read word for word, paragraph for paragraph, with 21 attachments sent to it. People are busy. Just think about your day. Think about the emails that you’ve read recently. Too long, didn’t read, TLDR. It is an acronym that’s being used by tons of people. The presentation was too bloody long. Put a synopsis there at the beginning, give them some stuff in the appendices, so if you run across somebody that’s data driven, they can drill into the information, so it looks like you did your homework. You still need to do your homework but give them a compelling reason to move forward to speak to you more. So make sure you’re respecting the time of not just the person reading the email, because this applies to the presentation that you’re making. More words doesn’t mean you’re gonna get the deal. In fact, the more words that you speak, the stupider you may look. So make sure that you are coming up with a concise message, make sure that you are respecting the reader or the audiences time, and don’t take too long to get to the point.
3. Ask Questions to Invoke a Response
Let’s move on now. You wanna make sure that you’re asking questions to invoke a response. Some of the questions you may ask, you might already know the answer to. But what you’re trying to do is to take the prospect down a path that’s going to get them to realize that the solution that you’re presenting will solve their problem. And sometimes, when you’re thinking about communicating with a prospect or client, it really is an art to craft that message, so that you have that, “Ah-ha” moment across the desk, or across the email, or across the telephone from you, or even if it’s on text. So you wanna make sure that you’re asking questions that get you a response.
4. Think About Texts & Tweets
I want you to think about your emails like they’re a text message or they’re a tweet on Twitter. Now this is a real art. And it, kind of, goes counter-intuitive to writing a proper email with proper grammar. But texting and tweeting, there’s nothing proper about it. Just ask Donald Trump. It’s about delivering a message in 140 or 280 characters, or very short and to the point. And some of the customers that I have the best relationship with, I just text them. So we are a texting and tweeting society. Get to the bloody point. Respect your prospect and your accounts’ time.
5. Always Add Value
Now you wanna make sure that you’re adding value. “So George, you just said that I can’t send a long email, or I can’t send a long message, or I can’t spend two hours in front of the prospect,” and yes. You can’t do that. But you need to make sure that you add value. What you don’t wanna do is just be the pontificating blowhard across the desk that doesn’t have anything to back up all the shit that they just said. It’s number one, annoying, and it’s not professional, and the deal is just gonna go to someone that did their homework and was able to present it in a way that again, got the prospect to have that, “Ah-ha” moment. So by all means, add value with documents, and links, and case studies, send emails that aren’t asking for money, send emails that are just giving that customer more knowledge around the things that you’re trying to educate them on. Your product offering, your service offering, how it solves their problems, and the fact that you’re a trusted local expert. That’s what we need to be moving towards.
6. Focus on When the Email is Received
The next item, we need to focus on not just sending the email, but we need to focus on when it’s received. So think again about these text messages. What I love is read receipts. Because when I send a text message to somebody, I know if they read it, and then if they ignored me. It’s super annoying when you send it to them, and it asks them a question, and it says read, and you don’t get a bloody answer back. That’s what we need to be like when we’re sending out email campaigns. Because here is the key. The moment that the prospect is at their hottest…so the hottest lead that you can get is someone who just opened an email. Whether it’s, you’re trying to get a hold of them to collect some copy…so it’s somebody that’s bought from you, and you’re trying to fulfill on the things that you said you were going to do, when they open the email, pick up the phone and phone them. Now you may not want to say to them, “Hey. I noticed that you opened my email.” Some people find that to be really creepy. But what you will say…and this is the way I’d like you to craft it is, “I recently sent you an email covering off the things that I wanted to present to you, offering you some of the information about your business, that I’ve discovered, or asking you for some things that I need so that I can do the things that I said I was going to do.” And the reason that it’s so important to understand when that email was received…and there is a ton of solutions out there that can track this information for you, is, that’s when you’re top-of-mind with the prospect. That’s when you’re most likely to get the result that you’re looking for which is some sort of action on the call to action that you sent to the customer. So focusing on when the email is received is a vital piece of the puzzle.
When we are able to train sales organizations, that communicating at the point that you know the email was received, we see an increase of 20% to 40% in productivity. Meaning, they’re able to move forward on the goals that they have, whether that’s revenue, or whether it’s getting fulfillment done, or whether it’s driving customer success. So those are some big lifts in your performance.
7. Know Your Prospects Communication Preference
You need to understand what your prospect or your client’s communication preference is. This is a really, really important point in 2018, because there’s so many bloody ways that we could communicate with a prospect. Let’s list off some of them. There is carrier pigeons, there is smoke signals. You could send something by dog and pony. You could also just hand deliver it. You could send it by snail mail. There’s text messages, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, email, and the list goes on. But what’s most important is understanding that your prospect and your clients have a preferred communication method. And that’s where you’re going to be able to message that person and get the response and to drive the thing forward. I believe the text message is the most intimate way to speak to a client. And I really encourage sales teams to have a great relationship with their A accounts, where you can text them. Does that mean you’re always gonna get a response? Maybe not. But I believe that it’s a more intimate way to communicate than with emails.
8. Research Leads & Have Intel Pushed to You
You need to research your leads and have that intelligence pushed to you. So what the hell does that mean? Research actually can be a dark hole. And I love talking to sales people. So why didn’t you hit your budget this month? “Oh. I was too busy doing research on this new initiative that we have.” Okay. So you were too lazy to do what you’re actually getting paid to do which is talk to customers about the offer that you have. Research can be a black hole. And what you wanna do is come up with robots that can do your research for you. And thank God we live in 2018 and not 1918. Because in 2018 we can get robots to just push intelligence to us, when it happens online. It happens on stocks. So I use Seeking Alpha as my stock app. And if anybody writes a story around the stocks that I have inside there, I set up my portfolio, and I wanna know what’s happening with my stocks, as soon as the story is written, it just scrapes the internet, and it sends that information to me.
Now the other way that I could do this is, I could go online and research everyone and look at my list of stocks, and oh, it’s just annoying when I think about how I use to do it, compared to how I do it, because I found this amazing app. So the research that you need to do is, what are the tools that I can find that can get me intelligence without having to do it by hand? And I don’t mean by hand, going and doing it by hand with a piece of paper and a pen and going to the library. What I mean is, doing it by hand by going to Google and searching for various things. Just come up with a way to automate that. And there are tons of solutions out there like the award-winning Snapshot Report for Vendasta. So there is the shameless plug. But it’s such a fantastic tool. I was on a call with a client in South Africa. And their sales team was doing nine different searches on every client. And with a Snapshot report, we can just do it with one push of a button. That’s just one example of an amazing research tool that gets the intel pushed to you, rather than you having to go find it. It is a game changer.
9. Become Known as the Trusted Expert
Now I talk about this a lot. I can’t stress it enough. You need to become known as the trusted expert. So you notice that I didn’t say trusted local expert. I’m just talking about the trusted expert. I’m looking across the counter at my friend of about 15 years, maybe longer than that, Mr. tBone, from the Sound Lounge who produces the audio for all of the “Conquer Local” podcasts. When we thought about doing a podcast, we were, like, “Well, we can use the in-house studio with a shitty microphone.” And I’m like, “No. We’re not doing it. If we’re gonna do a podcast, we’re gonna get tBone to do it.” Because tBone and I have been working on audio projects for those 15 year…we should really come up with how long it’s been, but I think it’s 15 years. And I trust that he’s gonna do a fantastic job. He’s an award-winning producer. He’s going to take our podcast to the next level. Now I’m going a little bit overboard here, but what I’m telling you is, if you are a trusted expert, you will just get the next bloody deal. Because what happens is, you just remember, the person that has performed for you, “Oh. I need to run an advertising campaign. George has always taken really good care of me. Hey. George. I’ve got five grand that I wanna spend with you.” As I got to be better in my career as a sales person that is what would start happening. The same thing can happen if you’re a flower shop. You put together great bouquets of roses. Somebody gets in trouble with their significant other. They decide they’re gonna have to give some flowers to get out of the doghouse. “Oh. I’ll just go to Bill’s Flowers. He does a great job. I could go buy them at Costco, but then my significant other will know I paid $29. And they want to extract $99 worth of pain out of me. So I better go to Bill’s and get the custom flowers.”
Anyways, my point is, if you are the trusted expert, that is prospecting. By becoming the trusted expert, you will get the most amazing prospecting effect of all time called referrals. I don’t do a lot of cold calling anymore, even though I really like it. I actually really like cold calling. I’ve done it in New York. I’ve done it in Chicago. I did it…and at Charlotte one day, I actually sat in the parking lot waiting for a guy to come out that wouldn’t answer my phone calls. I actually, kind of, get off on cold calling. But if you are a trusted expert, you don’t have to cold call. They call you. They’re like, “Hey. I was talking to Bob. And he said you’re the person that I need to speak to.” Those referrals come in. And referrals are one of the most amazing prospecting effects that are out there.
10. You Need to Keep the Funnel Full
Always be prospecting. Dedicate time to prospecting. And this is something that I have tried to do throughout my entire career. Have I done it all the time? Probably not. But I think I’ve done a better job than most people. Prospecting is something that is just built into my DNA. I’m always looking for the next deal. Even when I can’t handle the deals that I have, I’m still looking for the next deal. It is just something that I wake up in the morning, and I just instinctively do. And that’s what good sales people are like. I don’t care if you’re in insurance business, if you’re selling golf attire, you’re selling cars, the best people if you sat them down and had a beer with them, they would tell you, I’m a great prospector.
Here’s what I want you to do. Just a really simple thing, five before 9:00, and nine after 5:00, that is if you work 9:00 to 5:00. Most sales people probably work longer than that but make five prospecting calls before 9:00 and make nine prospecting calls after 5:00. And keep the funnel fat. That’s a tweet. We’re gonna send it out. But that’s what you need to do as a sales person. If you do that everyday, five quick calls, five people you wanna talk to about a opportunity. Book an appointment with five people. Nine of them after 5:00, just five o’clock, boom, nine quick calls, you’ve got all set up. And that will help you keep that prospecting funnel together. You need to be rigid in scheduling your prospecting time. Don’t let anybody take that away from you. That’s how you keep the funnel fat, and you keep your productivity at that seven out of eight cylinders. I don’t know if eight out of eight is possible all the time. But I think we really can shoot for seven out of eight, and that’s where we’re going to get peak performance.
That is this week’s episode of the “Conquer Local Master Sales Series, Prospecting 101.” We hope that it helps you hit your targets this month and in the months to come. I’m George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.