323: Converting Leads – Part 1 | Master Sales Series
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Everyone always wants more and more leads, but what about the leads they already have? We bring you Converting Leads on the Conquer Local Podcast
The Master Sales Series is back and we are talking about Converting Leads. We conducted a survey from our listeners to understand what they are looking to Conquer in 2020. The number one thing everyone put at the top of their list, you guessed it, getting more leads. Taking a step back and looking at that answer and uncovering the nitty gritty details, we determined what our listeners need to know and how to convert their leads not just seek out new ones.
George Leith, a sales transformation keynote speaker, top-ten iTunes ranked podcast host, author and guest university lecturer, has the unique ability to demystify concepts and inspire businesses and professionals to understand and truly embrace the potential that digital transformation has for many business objectives including sales, business development, and marketing for B2B, non-profit organizations, as well as government institutions. In his 30+ year professional career, he has developed key focal points that include market analysis, management development, online advertising, reputation management, mobile marketing, operations optimization, sales transformation, mentoring, public speaking, technology solutions, and project management.
George: Welcome to this edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. It’s a pleasure to be with you. We’ve been surveying hundreds upon hundreds of partners to find out what are some of the struggles that they’re having, and we’ve got groundbreaking news from this survey. The majority of them said, ready, drum roll, they need leads. When I read that groundbreaking result, I’m like, “No, shit, Sherlock. Every salesperson needs more leads.”
George: But is it really more leads, or is it better leads, or are they giving up on the leads that they have too early? Are they not really understanding the value that they can bring to those leads? I think it’s way more than just “we need leads”. I think it’s, what do you do with them, and are you burning them, or are you wasting them? Are you wasting the effort? So, we’re going to go deep into leads. Converting leads, the step-by-step guide is coming up next.
Colleen: We are counting down the days to Conquer Local 2020. It’s the must-attend conference for companies selling digital solutions to local businesses. This year, we are driving growth two days before the start of the Canadian F1 Grand Prix in Montreal. Our keynote speaker, co-founder and former CRO of HubSpot, Mark Roberge. At Conquer Local, you get to learn from an incredible lineup of industry thought leaders, network with our most successful partners, vendors, and Vendasta experts, and participate in hands-on workshops, and leave with concrete takeaways that you can implement in your business strategy. For our loyal podcast listeners, we want to give you $300 off your ticket with promo code podcast300. Book your tickets today at conquerlocal.com.
George: Well, I’m watching a TV show. I’m not going to say what it is because I’m kind of embarrassed, but it’s The Bachelorette. My wife’s making me watch it. And there’s this sales guy that is one of the front runners, of course, because everybody loves salespeople. Bachelorette, he’s kind of captured her heart. And when I look at this guy, I’m just like, “Whoa, lay off the tanning bed. Your hair is a little too chachi for me.” He is just straight on sales 101. And then my wife says, “Look in the mirror, dude.”
George: Being able to sell anything to anyone, like the whole ice to an… Would you really sell ice to an Eskimo? Let’s think back to that. Do Eskimos really need ice? They seem to be surrounded by friggen ice. So, what does the Eskimo really need?
George: So, let’s dig into this leads thing. And this is also an age-old battle between marketing and sales. Marketing gets the leads, and then sales complains about them and says they’re not good enough and that’s why they’re not hitting their goals. And then marketing says, “Well, we spent all this money, and we got these great leads, and then they blame it on sales because they’re too lazy and prima donnas. And they’re run around going to tanning beds.”
George: So, how do we break down this thing where first off, salespeople need to understand that leads are gold, and they need to be treated as such. And sometimes, you can’t tell that they’re gold because you haven’t got all the dirt off of the lump, and you got to dig into it. You got to figure out where the gold really is inside that thing disguised as a lead. Everybody’s looking for the silver bullet. What can I do where I just make money, and it just flows out of heaven, and it’s going to be amazing? And what I’m telling you is we really need to dig into these leads and understand what they are and then understand how we can solve their problem.
George: But also, we need to look at ourselves. And that is sales organizations and salespeople. Because I think that if we were to look at it, we’ve got these leads. They look really good. When you look at them, you’re like, “Okay, based upon our history, this lead looks like it fits all of the touchpoints of being one of the best customers we could have. But they just don’t seem to be coming across the line.”
Selling to Like Personalities
George: So, why is that? Is it the way that you’ve articulated the value proposition? Is it the way that you’ve researched? Maybe, there’s something wrong in your research about the lead. Maybe, they just don’t like you because your personalities clash. I see that all the time. Happens to me. Be working with somebody for six to eight months, can’t get them across the line, give them to somebody different that has a different personality. And boom, they connect instantly, and they are able to bring that deal across the line.
George: So, let’s look step-by-step into what we can do when it comes to just a pure prospect, somebody that you’ve never done business with before, you do not have a personal relationship with, but when you look at that business, person, whatever it might be, organization, everything about it looks like very successful customers that you’ve had in the past. So, you’re like, “Okay, that’s a fit.”
George: If that is the case, now we have to go through and figure out if there’s something wrong in our research or maybe something wrong in the way we are articulating the value proposition. Or maybe, we’re just being lazy, and we haven’t deployed enough effort against that lead. You’re like, “Ah, I called them once eight months ago. Talked to them. They said that they didn’t have budget at the time, so it’s not a lead.” I’m like, “Okay, I don’t really accept that.” That’s where now we get into do some sales shit, like get on the phone and follow up on that lead. And I like to use the line, till they buy or die. If they are an exact fit for the thing that you’re selling, it’s only a matter of time if you stay on that lead and have enough persistence.
George: And I get really excited inside our organization when I see Justin puts in a notice inside the loop, and he says, “Hey, I just closed this deal I’ve been working on for two years,” and what that is, the need of the customer finally aligned with the need of the organization that can solve the problem. There’s an alignment there. But Justin only was able to close that deal, and I, hey, I take some heat because I keep bringing up Justin sometimes negatively. But Justin has an enormous amount of persistence in our organization, and he’s one of the ones that keeps following up. He just won’t take no for an answer, and not being annoying about it, but just staying on that lead.
George: But there also is a time where you need to move them. If you’ve had a number of presentations with the lead, and if you’re analyzing the way that you’re relating to that person or that organization, and it’s just not lining up, it could just be a personality conflict. And if you’ve got other people in your organization, move them. They’re sucking up your time. You don’t want to hold onto them in that pipeline. Now, for the organization, I think you stay on it until they buy or die. Use the assets that you have. It’s like, “George couldn’t close the deal. Let’s get Brent to try and close the deal. Brent couldn’t close the deal. Let’s get Colleen to try and close the deal.” Use people with different personality types.
George: The other thing is if you haven’t measured your personality type and if you haven’t measured your sales team’s personality types, you maybe should do some Myers-Briggs or some DiSC or Deloitte’s got a thing that they’re doing now. Tony Robbin’s got some personality training. Because we’re not all built the same. Some of us are pioneer drivers. Some of us love to get consensus and make sure that everybody’s on board. If I sit down with a consensus person, I don’t think that’s going to work out really well for me because I’m just going to drive that thing forward. That’s my natural personality. Now as you get better at being chameleon, you can start to articulate in other personality types, and some people are pretty good at that. Others just never get that. They’re just the one personality. That’s all I have. Usually, it’s some driving personality thing.
George: But what we’re doing here is we’re reviewing not only the research that we have on, do we have product market fit with that lead, but do we have personality fit? And then have we deployed enough effort against that prospect, and have we done a really good job of qualifying and disqualifying? This is the other thing I like to go back to sometimes. I look through my prospects, and I’m like, “What’s going on with this deal?” And then when I really look at it, it’s like, “Well, they did tell us they got a three-year contract with those folks. And they got a two-year contract with these folks, and they really aren’t a fit for us today. Let’s put it over here. Let’s put it in some sort of a lead pool. Let’s continue to send air cover with email marketing and maybe some video pre-roll about that we’re the leaders in the industry. And then when those contracts come up for renewal, we’ve got it diarized, that’s when we start to deploy more effort against it.”
George: So, reviewing the notes and all of the files that you have on the prospect and making sure that you are putting down things that are really important. It’s like, “Well, I’m using this larger piece of functionality that’s costing me a bunch of money, and I can’t really get out of the contract for 24 months.” Okay, it’s probably not going to work out for you if you are directly competing against that piece of technology. You want to go back to them six, eight months before the contract’s coming up, and that’s when you start to deploy the effort.
George: Now, if it is a exact fit and all the stars are aligning and contracts… Or maybe, they don’t have any long-term contracts and you fit the mold, then you’ve got to take a look at personality, “Is my personality getting in the way? Am I just not connecting with the right person? Do I even have the decision maker on the phone?” I find this a lot of times that this sometimes is where the prospect blows smoke. They’re like, “Yeah, I just don’t really know if it’s a fit.” And what they don’t want to tell you is they don’t have the authority to buy the thing. Now, I got to go over here, and I got to get the CFO. You heard an episode of the podcast here recently on procurement. I got to get them involved. You haven’t done enough to dig through the organization and find out who the real buyer is.
Finding and Repairing Disconnects
George: So, we’re reviewing those notes. We’re double checking the research, and we’re continuing to check the research as we move forward because sometimes, things change. And I have a number of tools that I use on the prospects that I’m going after. Tier one, $40 billion companies, if something happens in the leadership of that organization, it’s going to impact my pipeline. So maybe, if my advocate that I been working on for two and a half years to get this big deal across the line, if they leave and go to another company, usually, I want to cry when that happens because all of that effort that’s went into that lead, now, I’ve got to start from scratch. So, that sucks.
George: But if I haven’t been able to move that deal forward and that person changes and I get a new person there, then I might have the opportunity to now articulate to a new stakeholder in the organization. So, that’s why that check on the research, it’s not just once and done. Turn some tools on, get some robots, and figure out if there are things changing inside that organization that will impact your ability to move the deal forward.
George: Now, also this idea of setting a clear objective and delivering the value, when I look at certain leads and why they have not dropped to the bottom of the funnel, I always find a disconnect in the story. And we have it in our organization. It seems that the bigger that our organization gets or the larger the organization that we go into to work with, there’s more of an opportunity for this disconnect from the various divisions that are trying to impact that lead.
George: I was working with an organization last week that is a… It’s a $40 billion company. It has divisions spread all over the bloody world in different areas. They’ve got different subject matter experts. You think that your small organization or medium-sized organization has a story disconnect? Imagine the story disconnect inside this organization. So, it’s a problem that a lot of people have, and it’s something that we really need to dig into to find out where that story is breaking down.
George: It can start right at the value proposition being delivered by the marketing team, and that’s why sales and marketing need to play well together. Sales can’t be afraid to come to marketing and say, “Here’s something that I feel is a disconnect. I just talked to this prospect at the street level, and the things that you’re delivering to them aren’t resonating.” Marketing needs to also come to sales and say, “Hey, I listened to a couple of your last three calls. You’re missing out on three very important value propositions that we’ve researched the shit out of and have all this data to back up that you should be saying it.” And there should be that debate back and forth because what you want is those two teams working in unison.
George: Now, small organizations, it’s the same person a lot of times. It’s maybe the same team, so it might be easier to get that connection. But we need to look on both sides and say, “Hey, marketing, that’s some great stuff. What have you learned? What’s working in the things that you’ve heard? What’s the data point that I should use?” And then same token, “Hey, salesperson, you just went out on three calls. Let me have a listen to them with you. Let me walk through them. Maybe, there’s some things that I can help. Maybe, I can change the image in this one graphic, and they’ll actually understand what the concept is.”
George: So, setting that clear objective and delivering value is all along the customer journey. It’s at the very beginning when we create awareness. It’s when they start to do their research and dig into the brand. It’s where we come in as salespeople and deliver the pitch, and that’s where we’re setting that objective, “Here’s what it’s going to do nine months from now.” If it’s going to take nine months to hit the objective, don’t be afraid to say that and say, “Here are the milestones that we’re going to go through as we reach this objective.” You’re selling the outcome at that point. You’re then showing how your solution delivers the value that leads up to the price that you’re going to charge. And you’re actually making your life really, really easy by saying, “Here are the ways that you can judge me that I’m going to do my job.” Now, you got to come through on all those things, but I’m just assuming that everyone does that, which wouldn’t it be great if we all did?
Communicate with the Customer
George: So now, here’s another thing, and I was on a call the other day. And I was sitting there, and I’m listening to all these questions go back and forth. There was a lot of needs analysis, and then I was like, “Just get to the pitch, get into it, clearly articulate the value proposition, and ask if it fits.” This is where you start asking questions that you hope lead to yeses. And if they don’t lead to a yes, at least you’ll get an objection so you know the value that you need to reiterate so that you can move past the problem that they have.
George: Keep in mind the prospect or the lead on the other side has a level of fear, and that fear is based upon making a mistake. And what we do as salespeople and as marketers and delivering that customer journey, people that are doing customer success, is we remove the fear of the prospect by saying, “Our brand or our product’s promise is going to keep you from getting fired. It’s going to keep you from making a mistake because all of the things you’ve told me, the needs that you have, we solve those all the time. We’re very good at this. In fact, here’s a couple case studies or here’s a couple of testimonials of people that have been down that road.”
George: I have a great partner of ours that does some of these testimonials for us. And one of the things we do is we say, “Hey, if you want to talk to somebody that’s having success, here’s their name and their phone number, give them a call. I happened to be on a call with him last night, and he says, ‘You owe me two steak dinners because I was just talking to these other two groups that I work with, and I was telling them about you folks. And I was just reiterating the great things you’ve done for us over the past four years.'”
George: So, that is around getting to the point, having the testimonial standing by your brand, being able to say, “We are good at this,” but you’ve got to get out there and get the message. Whether it’s through email, or it’s text message, or you send it in a courier package, or something like that, you’ve got to have a communication with the customer. But listen, get off email. Get off social. I’m not saying not to use it, but it shouldn’t be your only thing. I talk to sales reps. They’re like, “Yeah, I’ve been emailing and LinkedIning this prospect for eight weeks. They open the email sometimes. Sometimes, they send me a response.” “Oh, have you tried picking up the phone and phoning them?”
George: In working with sales organizations, especially when I deal with younger sellers, and I’m not going to use an age, I’m just going to use younger sellers, I find that they are not comfortable picking up the bloody phone. It is a competitive advantage as a salesperson if you are prepared to pick up the phone and actually have a verbal conversation with your voice box and your ears with the prospect. It blows me away that this is even a thing that could make you better than the rest. But we find salesperson after salesperson, when we really look through the metrics, they’re making two or three calls to a prospect, never even connecting, leaving a voicemail, and think that they’ve deployed enough effort against that lead.
George: Now, when you don’t close, and this is the other piece, from a brilliant person last week, again, I had a great week last week, I got some awesome nuggets, don’t sell past the close. You’ve got the deal. They’re ready to move forward. They’ve given you all sorts of buying decisions, and yet, I still see salespeople just spewing product, benefit, feature, setting even higher expectations out there, just throwing more crap at the prospect. And it’s like now, you’ve just confused them. You might’ve even talked yourself out of the sale.
George: So as much as not every call ends with a sale, you are adding value, and you’re showing that you have tenacity, and you show you’re going to be around. A lot of times, prospects will test you. As a prospect, I’m the worst because I test all the time to see if the salesperson actually wants to sell me. Anyone who’s ever sold me clothing will know that. I’ll go in and want to buy that exact piece of clothing, have went to the store, drove across the city. If I meet a shitty salesperson that’s not afraid to ask for the deal, I will turn on my heel and walk out and not buy. Your easiest sale at the end of the day is someone who loves to sell because all they want is someone to sell them.
George: But also what I’m finding is if you don’t close, doesn’t mean that you throw the deal away. Look and deploy enough effort against it. Go back to your research. Don’t be afraid to make the call. Why not ask them why they’re not buying, “When we went through the last three calls, I asked you nine different questions where we qualify that this was the exact solution that you were looking for. I’m having a hard time understanding why we’re not actually able to move forward. In fact, I’m going to have to go see my boss after this call and to explain to him I’ve been moving this down my pipeline saying, ‘I’ve got a deal here with Brent, and it’s going to come true,’ yet we’re not able to get the deal done. So, can you tell me? Can you tell me why we’re not able to get this thing done?” And then, they’ll give you their objection, and then you’ll be able to take that and move past it.
George: The lead that I don’t like, or the prospect that I don’t like, or even the client that I don’t like is the one that never gives you an objection because you have nowhere to go. It’s like presenting to a sphinx. You’re like, “Yeah, here’s a great solution. It ticks all the boxes. What do you think?” And they just sit there, and you can’t get a read on them. They’re just boom. It’s like, “Whoa, you got a good poker face there.” What you’re looking for is to have a conversation so you can understand what the prospect needs to remove their fear to get to a yes.
How Do You Define Closing?
George: So, a lot of the things that we have laid out here today are for prospects, but I also feel that they’re even more important when you’re dealing with existing customers. So, we’re going to move in the next episode of the Master Sales Series around taking leads. And now, we’re going to refer to the lead as an existing customer because I think there’s some salespeople out there like, “No, a lead is somebody brand new.” And I’m like, “There’s all sorts of leading indicators from your existing customers that they could add additional revenue, and you could add additional value, and there’s all sorts of wins in there.” So, we’re going to get into those in a few moments.
George: But the one thing that I wanted to leave you with, don’t just call to touch base or to check in. I just don’t quite see us as professional visitors. So, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have a personal relationship with the prospect, and that usually happens after a period of time as you build rapport. I consider a number of my biggest customers to be friends. And sometimes, that is a negative because you’re not afraid to ask for more business and to move it to the next level. We’re going to get into that in the next episode.
George: But what I want to touch on at the final moment of this episode, when we’re dealing with a lead that has come in as a prospect, you do not have a commercial relationship with that lead. You’re starting to build a professional commercial relationship, to phone them and say, “We’ve had nine calls. I’m just calling to see how things are going on your end.” That’s not a close. That’s not even close to a close. It’s actually a little bit annoying. You called. You have a purpose to the call. And that’s why you should always have a plan and always be looking to deliver value.
George: What I like to use is robot, a robot called marketing automation or a robot called LinkedIn Messaging or a robot called text messaging or a robot called FedEx or UPS, where I have delivered something to support all of the messaging that I’ve had to that prospect or maybe to unveil something new. And this is a great way to touch base or check in to message and say, “Based upon all the things that we’ve been learning from you over the past few calls, we had some new innovation within our organization in the last four months. It’s just come out of beta. It’s working great for some other people that look pretty much like your business. Let me show you today how it could impact you.” That’s an amazing way to touch base or check in without using those lines.
George: Because the prospect… I’ve been this person, “Oh, I’m just sending a message to touch in. You’ve ignored nine of my emails.” Yeah, because your emails are friggen boring. You don’t bring any value to me as a prospect. You’re treating me the same way you’ve treated 9,000 other people that are in your email list. Put some effort into it and try to connect with me as a human being so you’re actually identify as a company that I want to do some business with. That’s what they’re thinking on the other end. I’m just encapsulating what I’ve been told over and over and over again.
George: I dealt with somebody here about eight months ago because I was looking at doing a little bit of recruitment. And I went to him, and I said, “Based upon the industry that you’re in, you probably deal with some pretty good salespeople. Could you tell me who is the best that you deal with? And then, I’m going to go try and have coffee with them and see if I might be able to recruit them for this role that I’m looking for.” And they said, “Out of all the people that I deal with, none of them are really all that good.”
George: I’m not going to tell you the industry or the name of the business because I don’t want to call out everybody else that thinks they might be a great salesperson that’s calling on that customer. I’m just saying that the game has become elevated. You need to be at the top of your game. You need to go through every one of these steps on these leads and figure out what makes you better than the 200 other people that are calling on this exact same lead to try and extract their revenue, get their investment, and deliver their solution.
George: Review your notes. Make sure that you are taking notes and you’re using the research that you have at your fingertips. Continue to research that prospect because things change. And double check that research. It can be something as simple as just scheduling a few minutes before every one of your calls where you just collect your thoughts. A lot of times, what I have happening, and I’ve started this year, it’s one of my goals trying to do a better job of, is don’t stack the calendar with a brick where you got meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting just to look busy because people who look busy usually don’t meet their goals. I’d rather be busy and investing my time in the leads that matter.
George: Set a clear objective for the call and figure out ahead of time what value it is that you’re going to deliver, and not just the call, the email, the LinkedIn message, the post that you’re putting out to your network. Have an objective. And then make the bloody call, email, text message, LinkedIn message, but then also make sure that there’s something inside there. There’s some value. You’re not afraid to keep calling.
George: One thing I’ve tried a couple of times and I’ve been working with reps on, make a quick call, and you phone them, and nothing happens. And then you send an email saying, “Hey, I’ve called you. Just wondering if we might be able to get something scheduled. I had it diarized you wanted to follow up on this.” Then, call them back immediately. So, what’s happened now is their phone has rang, and it pops up, and it maybe says your name with caller ID. And they’re like, “Oh, I just don’t want to talk to George right now. I got 62 other things going on.”
George: And then you send a quick email, and maybe in the email, it says, “I’m about to get on a plane, and I’ve got to go do some other stuff. I just was trying to catch up with you because you told me to get back to you on this date.” And then you call back, and they’re like, “Oh, crap. Yeah, I got to get on a phone call too,” or, “I’m going to a retreat for a week, and I really do need to talk to George. Let’s ram it in right here.” And a lot of times with those couple of touch points, you get the connection because keep in mind, we all have this battle in the day. We’ve got a million things to do, probably about 20 or 30 hours worth of stuff. And we’re only going to put 8, 10, 12, 14, 20 hours at it. So, we have this push-pull around priority, and by making a couple more contacts and a couple more calls, you increase your level of priority.
George: And then when you don’t close, take a hard look at why. First off, it’s okay because maybe, you need to deliver more value. Depending upon the size of the solution that you’re offering, if it’s like an enterprise solution that’s millions of dollars in the deal, that’s going to take some bloody time. You don’t close those. If somebody walked in and said, “Yeah, I’m going to give you $1 million,” on one pitch, I’d be like, “Where am I, Twilight Zone?” It never happens. And if it’s like thousands of dollars a month, you’re probably not going to get that on one pitch either or one call. It takes a number of calls to show that value.
George: But the other piece is if you don’t make a sale, it’s okay. Just make sure that you’re measuring that and taking a look at how much effort. And then stop touching base, stop checking in, stop doing those things. Always have a plan and deliver value. Take a page out of your inner Steve Jobs and say, “Wait, one more thing,” and that one more thing delivers a new piece of value, or you’re trying to reiterate a piece of value for your prospect.
George: We love the feedback that we’re getting through the Conquer Local community and through our LinkedIn page, and this is where this episode came from. Producer Colleen was looking at the survey. And we had some meetings. We came together and said, “Let’s do something around leads, and let’s treat them in two different ways. Let’s talk about the prospects,” which we did today. And on the next episode of the Master Sales Training Series here at Conquer Local, we’re going to talk about how you deploy these pieces for existing customers and upsales, more retention, and a larger book of business. My name is George Leith. Thanks for joining us. I’ll see you when I see you.