Sales milestones, cold calling, we're all set objection, conversations.
Matt's LinkedIn Posts Q2 2018
Creating conversations with real decision makers is the 2nd hardest part of sales.
Winning those conversations is the hardest.
How many outbound conversations do you create per day?
How many of those conversations are with actual decision makers?
In how many of those conversations are you able convey your company’s value?
Don’t worry about the number of dials you make or how many emails you send.
Focus on creating CONVERSATIONS. It doesn’t matter how you get them.
Focus on winning CONVERSATIONS. It doesn’t matter if they start out awkward.
All that matters is how they end.
SALES = CONVERSATIONS
Some people say that half of all sales reps are failing. I’ve observed another phenomenon. Half of all sales people may be getting screwed over.
Let’s be real about it. In many situations, the perceived “best closers” are being spoon fed the cherry opportunities.
We all understand. In our INBOUND dominated sales world it makes sense to have your most competent people on the strongest leads.
But here’s the deal.
If you’re a company where this is common practice then the rest of your sales group is being continuously demotivated because:
-Quotas become unfair.
-Commission pay structures become unfair.
-Annual sales awards become unfair.
Every time you praise your best reps the other members of the sales team have an “asterisk” going off in their head.
These environments can usually be prevented with some good, old-fashioned diplomacy.
I think the most important thing is to avoid comparing sales people who are not given equal opportunity.
I get a lot of LI messages from young sales reps looking for ways to improve. I’m happy to help but most of the time they’re stuck in a rigid sales process. This is the reality for some sales people:
-FIND ALL YOUR OWN LEADS AND CONTACTS.
-MAKE A MINIMUM OF 100 DIALS PER DAY.
This is an unproductive process by design and I challenge any leader mandating this to try it themselves. They’ll quickly realize that in order to keep up they’re making a lot of pointless dials to crappy leads.
Prospecting takes time to do right. Good targets and a proper approach equal a healthy sales funnel.
-Outbound sales should start with researching the prospect to determine why they would even want to do business with your company.
-Once you’ve figured that out, you have to evaluate the hierarchy and develop a strategy around which decision makers you want to approach.
-After that you need to fine tune your company’s messaging for every prospect and each of the buying personas.
-Finally, it takes time to make the calls. Since you’re calling several people in a single day, it’s best to take a minute and review each prospect before you dial the phone.
Because of the nature of outbound sales, I believe a quality over quantity philosophy is always the most effective.
Eleven of the stranger things you’ll see on LinkedIn:
1. A startup adviser who has never successfully started a business.
2. Posts with a “close-up” pic or video that invades your personal space.
3. A self-proclaimed LinkedIn expert who has 208 followers.
4. “As the CEO, I’m a hero” posts.
5. Posts about the act of posting.
6. Company posts only engaged in by people from that company.
7. A profile pic that includes a business suit and sunglasses.
8. Troll obsession posts.
9. Evangelists & ninjas.
10. Huge LinkedIn networks, zero engagement.
11. Fill in the comments.
There is nothing worse in sales than being used by a large prospect to drive down the pricing of a competitor. Hours of work wasted only to help them selfishly accomplish what they had planned all along.
In the beginning the decision maker tells you it’s a fair fight, but reality starts to creep in after they stop answering your calls and emails. Your anxiety level rises as your boss keeps asking “what’s up with your big deal?”
In actuality, if a decision maker is able to get lower pricing from a performing vendor; that could be big a professional win. It doesn’t help that making a major change under any circumstance carries some level of risk.
Of course, the only way the incumbent vendor is going to lower pricing is if they feel pressure. That’s where we come in, optimistic sales reps unwittingly ready to give that decision maker exactly what they need.
This is an unfortunate part of business and the longer you’re in a specific sales position, the better you’ll get at sniffing it out.
Every situation is different but when I get a sense early on that this is the case, I respond to the decision maker in a way that is almost taboo in sales.
No bid, thank you.
Are you with me?
It’s nearly impossible to succeed on a cold call unless you fully understand what you’re selling. Even if you do get a next step it was probably just luck.
In 2016, I made over 2500 cold calls to high-level decision makers at major corporations. I was selling a complicated technology that would typically take at least ten minutes to explain.
During the first 6 months of cold calling, I would repeatedly connect with these decision makers and lose. By lose, I mean there was no next step and I wasn’t able to convey the true value of the technology.
Over that time I was getting additional training from the company’s best sales rep. The additional training consisted of me asking him a lot of questions, almost daily.
After hundreds of questions the light bulb finally went off and I understood the value of the technology. By value, I mean all those things that add up to make it special within the sector.
Once I fully understood what I was selling, I could explain it under any circumstances. I began to win on cold calls.
Most connections then turned into a nice conversation where the decision maker was genuinely interested in understanding the technology.
One lesson I learned is that training on a company’s value is pivotal in developing successful sales people.
As I was cold calling throughout 2016 I discovered a tactic that was really effective when handling absolute objections. I think we all hear this response when making calls, “We’re all set, thanks for calling”.
This objection turned out to be the most common reply I would get from decision makers. In many ways what they were saying was true; they did already have a version of what I was selling.
But over time I realized that they had no idea the specific technology I was calling about, even existed. I used this against them by responding to this objection with one simple question, “Do you know how our tech works?”
This question would typically take a resistant decision maker into a state where they were open to learning more. They didn’t seem to like it when there was something in their field they didn’t know about.
How do you handle these types of objections?
I would love to learn about other tactics that are working.
Strong business acumen will help you be a better sales person.
If you’re new to sales you might be thinking, “Okay great, thanks!”
The truth is business acumen isn’t something you acquire overnight or even in a few months. It’s generally not a part of sales training and frankly it isn’t a requirement for most professions.
For me a strong business acumen means being able to see the bigger picture.
This is important in sales because when you understand the larger scope of a prospect’s business, it’s like already having half the answers to a quiz.
So, how do you acquire business acumen?
One easy way is to learn from people who already have it.
There are a series of milestones that you go through as a NEW SALES REP. Each stepping stone can affect a person’s ability and/or desire to remain in the profession. Here’s my cheat sheet:
THE TRAINING – New sales people have no control over their company’s training. High quality sales training can get you off to a great start while bad training may lead to poor tactics and performance. Companies with training programs that last a few weeks or less may not be the best opportunity for someone new to sales.
THE FIRST COLD CALL – Many sales people are given little time to absorb their new company before they start making calls. Keep in mind that this skill takes time to develop and the more you know about your company and the competition, the better.
THE FIRST MEETING – New sales people typically use a canned sales deck when they start meeting with prospects. It’s always helpful to see what the best reps are using because it could be a lot different.
THE FIRST MENTOR – Most new sales people skip this step. Don’t.
THE FIRST SALE – Many new sales people struggle to make their first sale because of all the things listed above and more. It could take some time to lock down that first deal, be patient and stay positive.
Please share your tips for new sales people.
It doesn’t matter if you belong in sales.
All that matters is that you want to be in sales.
I’ve seen some pretty awkward people succeed in our profession. Of course they did it with effort.
I’m not just talking about putting in the hours selling. They also put a lot of time into working on themselves.
Being successful in sales isn’t just about the prospecting and closing, it’s also about succeeding with people.
Improving skills like communication, emotional awareness, and public speaking will go a long way.
I know this because I used to be one of those awkward people. For me the answer was books but everybody has their own path.
Those inbound leads that ignore your immediate follow up. Don’t ever give up.
An inbound inquiry being unresponsive has become a normal part of business. There are probably a lot of different reasons why but I think one of the more common causes is often overlooked.
You’re on their wish list.
Maybe the decision maker found your company online or heard about you from someone else. But shortly after they made their request they realized their business isn’t quite ready for this new solution.
It may be a matter of months or a few years but things could change. Periodically contacting them will help ensure you’re right there when it does. No, they didn’t forget.
Sales is not simple.
It will never be simple because people are involved.
I often read “sales is simple” and even though I disagree I do understand the perspective. I think what’s better said is that “sales can be simple”. But quite often it’s not.
The profession will never be simple because in order to make a sale you must convince a person(s) there are good reasons to buy what you’re selling. Occasionally you’ll even have to satisfy a few members of your own company to complete a deal.
All this adds up to a job that at times can be very complicated.
The better you are at understanding, communicating, and getting along with people; the higher your chances for success.
No matter what technology is available to help sales people do their jobs, it will always be a people profession.
There are many ways to succeed in sales. There are also a lot of ways to fail.
Continually learn. Refuse to learn.
Prospect daily. Complain daily.
Master what you’re selling. Lack interest in what you’re selling.
Cold call like it’s an opportunity. Cold call like it’s a requirement.
Ask good questions. Ask no questions.
Plan your days. Plan your nightlife.
Spend a lot of time selling. Spend a lot of time looking.
Put the customer first. Put your commissions first.
Solve problems. Create problems.
Research your prospects. Research your fantasy team.
Help the people around you. Be a selfish tool.
One of the hardest things about cold calling is that you have no idea when the other end of the line is going to pick up.
We’ve all heard that connection rates in cold calling are low. Newsflash to the naysayers, they’ve always been low.
The chances of catching a decision maker at a time when they’re able and willing to pick up the phone, let’s just say stars are aligning.
Since very few of the cold calls we make get answered, over time it can become a challenge to be mentally ready for each connection.
A quick review of the decision maker and their company before each dial helps me stay in the right state of mind.
But I have to ask, have you ever made a cold call and at some point forgot who you were calling?
I have. Please don’t tell anybody.
Thanks for reading, please share!
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About the Author
Matt Wanty is the Founder of Subroot and the Author of The Lost Art of Cold Calling. Recently launched Subroot is the latest sales tool to help reps reach more prospects and build a bigger sales funnel. In addition to writing a book on cold calling, Matt regularly shares posts on Linkedin, His sales content on cold calling, sales career, SDRs and more has been read by millions of sales people around the world. Sign up below to receive Matt’s content directly to your inbox.