Sales….. Like Lightning
This is a question that hangs in the air during virtually every conversation between owners, C-Level and Sales Management. One of the tried and true methods to achieve at least half of the equation is to conduct a sales blitz. The trick is how do you morph a temporary sales boost into the “new normal”?
A sales blitz is designed to fulfill the urgent need of increasing sales pipelines immediately. And most sales organizations know the basic “flavors” of blitzes with formats being designed for, at best, impermanent returns. I say both goals of an immediate sales bump and establishing the “new normal” are possible.
It’s a challenge melding lead generation, continual development training and motivational sales meetings, I grant you, but if you run a Blitz using this system be prepared for a revenue growing, “sales climate changing” event.
S.E.T.U.P. your team for success
This step should start minimally 60 days before the blitz. Map out EVERY detail from the initial touch, phone dial, live visit, all follow-up and ongoing relationship builders and more. At the planning meeting ask these questions:
What market/area are you attempt to penetrate?
What is the goal(s) of the blitz? Short term, Mid Term and Long Term?
How can you warm up the market/area you will be blitzing?
What will you use to warm them up? What frequency? What platform?
What products fit/are most desired by this market?
What vendors should you team with?
What should your teams have with them? Brochures? Giveaways?
What will be the competition’s reaction?
These questions are a great starting point but you have to go deeper yet. We all know long term sales success is about the grind. Doing the little things everyday that build best practice habits that ultimately pay off. It’s the same here only we need to “microwave” the process a bit.
Day 60 should begin with teaching of an effective lead generation system and every system is made up of 3 things, tactics, strategy and learned skills.
Many of the tactics and strategies that need to be adopted are here http://matriximpact.com/site/?p=1125.
Your team also need SPECIFIC skills. Those skills need to be practiced in real-life simulations tightly tied to the reality they will experience. Here are 5 of the skills that will be required of anyone participating in the Blitz.
Client research and its application
Tele-Sales: Warming up the drop-in
Lobby Intro: Getting past the Gate Keeper or at least gaining needed info
Benefit Value Discussion: Setting the hook to continue the discussion
Facility Walk-through Technique: How do you maximize contact with the right person?
Wrapping up the visit: Very few drop-ins will result in a sale. The real goal is increase and expand in your sales pipeline
There should be a regular schedule of training leading up to the Blitz event. Refresher classes, reviews and Blitz day reminders for everybody involved. This is why there needs to be a Blitz QB. One who can coordinate information, learning and distribution for all the Blitz teams.
There are many tools needed for a successful Blitz. Call Template, all lead generation letters, impact touches, pairing maps, company intelligence, handouts, giveaways schedules and more, all customized for your business and for the goal of your Blitz.
The key is to be prepared and start the assembling of your tools sooner rather than later.
Users & Interface
Everything management does HAS TO BE hands-on. Management needs to be the great guiding hand in the structure of the Blitz but it also needs to be a participant during the Blitz days. I have had everyone from Middle Managers to Vice President’s of Sales to Owners come up to me after a Blitz and effusively say “John, thank you for making sure I was on a Blitz team”.
Think about it. They get out of the office routine of meetings and problems and get to spend minimum 2 days with sales people and customers. They find out what the ground troops do on an everyday basis and what has changed over the years. They hear first hand customer’s issues and concerns. It can reinvigorate the most curmudgeonly of management and this isn’t even the best reason.
When a prospect/customer is introduced to the Vice President or Owner the look on their face is priceless. I mean WOW, the VP or Owner took time out of her/his day to come and visit. Few gestures have a greater customer service impact than this.
Sales people MUST take ownership as well. They have to be involved in all strategy discussions. There a a multitude of tasks that need to be divvied up among the sales team. A sales person has to be the in-office Blitz QB. This is a critical position. Their job is to coordinate all activity. They have to stay in touch with the teams and provide updates. They are also troubleshooters as opportunities or problems come up. Depending on the size of the blitz you can have as many 2 or 3 QB’s to ensure you have proper support.
The bottom-line: from ownership to front-line sales, everybody plays a crucial role in the execution of a successful Blitz .
This is what it is all about! You need to GUARANTEE your team is prepared, practiced and energized. If you do you will be SETUP! to have a successful Blitz day(s) and to continue your success throughout the year.
After your strategy meeting(s) you need to conduct
Weekly update meetings: No longer than 30 minutes but it is CRITICAL to make sure everyone is completing their assigned duties, remember there is no small job when executing a Blitz.
Minimum of 3 education sessions: Would you rather your salespeople practice on their customers or with you?
Blitz Kickoff: Night before the Blitz you cover every detail and logistic necessary and take all questions. Team & territory assignments, Car stock, Vendor presentation and motivation. Make sure you have daily goals and prizes for performance as well.
Blitz Day: Everybody rallies at central location, unless territory demands call in. You go over any final pieces and send them off to kick BUTT.
Blitz Day Re-Cap: Everybody reconvenes at central location. You cover the results, hand out daily prizes, share successes, what worked and what didn’t then break for dinner.
Blitz Wrap Up: Similar to Re-Cap. You also need to triage all leads and assign to proper parties. Agree on timing of followup meetings to check progress of leads, generally think 2 weeks out, a month out and 90 days out. This will allow you to see “the toothpaste getting squeezed through the tube”.
Below are the Performance results from a tightly run, well executed Blitz.
You need to lay the ground work for continued nurture prospecting that leads to a steady stream of sales revenue for the foreseeable future. This process focuses on installing habits in your sales team and helping to either create or augment a lead generation system. When executed correctly, a Blitz will bring in immediate sales dollars and set the tone for ongoing success within your current selling environment.
A Blitz is not a band-aid type solution to improving sluggish sales. It’s an organic, holistic method to improving today’s sales revenue AND your overall sales atmosphere, establishing a “new normal” to your team’s everyday sales activities and results.
5 Step Process for Increased Lead Generation with Case Study
Today I am going to layout the 5 Pillars of the S.I.T. Lead Generation process. Lead generation success comes down to follow-up and measurement. Understanding what constitutes success in lead generation is where there is misunderstanding. Frequently, people choose only 1 metric to determine success. That is no different than saying that the only thing that matters on a balance sheet is receivables or the only thing that matters in a formula is one ingredient.
The First Thing to Know
Understanding the numbers means you must understand the system behind them. The who, what, why, where, when and how of the S.I.T lead generation system not just one sole metric.
Remember, just because people are being “touched” by your lead generation machine does not mean they are going to buy. If you don’t understand the buying cycle and buying proclivities of your marketplace YOU WILL NEVER SELL ANYTHING.
If you see an ad for a cool car do you run out and buy one? If you see an ad for a great looking watch do run out and buy one? The answer in 3 parts is A) Yes if you have large disposable income B) No if you are not in the market (have a real/perceived need) or C) No if you do not have the budget.
There is absolutely NO WAY to determine without talking to someone what factors are the cases and every situation is different. What an effective lead generation program does is put your solution in as many “selling cycles” as possible without initially knowing which ones will bear immediate fruit. What you can know is what marketplaces, titles, applications etc. give you the best opportunity.
The S.I.T. lead generation program is a cumulative effect relationship where success grows with more and more “correct” contact. Make no mistake there is also lightning effect sales that happen immediately. The only caveat to remember is that if people do not have a (real/perceived) need or do not have disposable income you can be the greatest sales person since Tom Hopkins or “Don Draper” but you won’t be selling anything.
Step 1. Refine the definition of “sales-ready”
Many organizations struggle with the exact definition of “lead.” And the biggest difference of opinion usually lies between Sales and Marketing. The questions marketers should be asking are:
What do salespeople really want?
What do they need in order to sell?
Salespeople need to manage their precious time. Quota-carrying reps are acutely aware of the relationship between their time and value to the company. A rep has to continuously ask oneself, “What is the probability of this deal closing? And what is its inherent value?”
Step 2. Qualify leads based on a Universal Lead Definition (ULD)
Regardless of the model you choose, it is vital that the choice is made jointly by Sales and Marketing. Effective demand generation teams will establish a process that defines a lead, establishes a follow-up process and determines how quickly a lead must be moved further down the funnel unique to your industry.
Once a common lead definition has been found, it is the marketing team’s responsibility to filter leads accordingly. Marketing automation platforms and lead scoring processes all help to determine qualified leads for sales readiness. But sales reps will play a vital role in this process, as well. There is only so much that automated systems can accomplish without a human touch.
Step 3. Nurture early stage leads until “sales-ready”
Lead nurturing is “the process of having a relevant, consistent dialog with viable potential customers, regardless of their timing to buy.” With lead nurturing, you are strengthening the relationship you have with potential customers, by adding value, even if they never buy from you.
This is the process of becoming a “thought leader” and changing the relationship you have to the industry from vendor to resource. This one, very crucial differentiation is what determines volume of future success.
In order to nurture leads effectively, you must employ the Big 3:
Relevant Content: That which that speaks to their needs at any given time. In B2B, you nurture organizations, not people. By providing an individual with meaningful information, you are helping that person have meaningful dialogue with others in that organization.
Timing: Every organization has it cycles. There are exactly 2 ways to determine a company’s buying cycle 1) Calling and talking to everyone involved 2) Touching them periodically until the pattern emerges.
Consistency: Nature abhors a vacuum. Once you start a lead generation program you end it at peril to your organization. People begin to “expect” information from you at regular intervals. Once that information stream ceases they will find another and it will be a competitor, count on it.
Most people have always thought of lead nurturing as just an automated letter/email workflow. It is really about reaching people in whatever channels they want to be reached with information that is valuable to them. News articles, seminars/webinars, regulatory notices all are potential “touches” and while choosing multiple channels is important, The Big 3 are the Key. Marketing is a mindset, not an activity.
Step 4. Define hand-off process from Marketing to Sales
The hand-off between Marketing and Sales is crucial, and yet remains a common misstep in the process of moving leads through the funnel. In order to make the lead transition as smooth as possible, have a documented process, a process agreed upon by both Sales and Marketing. The following process should be clearly defined and followed to ensure the hand-off is effective:
Be sure the lead is “sales-ready”
Leads must clearly fit the ULD
Leads must express a desire to speak with a sales rep
Leads must be qualified, with supporting information
Be sure to have a clear handoff process
“Don’t drop the baton” — ensure that lead ownership is clear and agreed upon
Establish a quick, efficient timetable for turnaround
Tracking and accountability is key to short and long term success
Ultimately, the S.I.T. program not only increases efficiency, but also shows if your leads are actually helping your sales team convert, as well as measuring the contribution to the pipeline.
Step 5. Close the loop
Effective sales and marketing organizations are ones that communicate well. Regular meetings should be held to gauge progress and success. In these “huddles,” both teams can collaborate to review results, fix procedural errors and refine priorities moving forward.
These meetings will provide your team with honest, actionable feedback from Sales, helping you determine:
If your lead information is accurate and helpful
If your leads are in the target market
If your leads are “sales-ready” (i.e., ready for sales rep involvement)
There is detail to be filled in under each step but that detail is always going to be subject to your industry, market, product etc.
Below is an example of the success you can see with the S.I.T. process.
Case Study: Prime Coat Coatings
“We have grown the database by over 1000 contacts that we never knew existed until we started this program. We have cleaned up the existing CRM by validating contact information and accurate locations. More organizations now know of Prime Coat than ever before and as we go forward with our Prime Coat 2.0 initiative we will see the fruit from those seeds. For example Prime Coat Indiana is on pace to have a solid year, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 million or so. To date 92% of ALL their 2010 business can be traced to lead generation touches dating as far back as 2006.
Based on information from the CRM and quote system we have quoted approximately $350,000 of business from the touch system. The touch system is defined as anybody who has received letters from us and as a result went to a trade show or called/emailed in directly to the company. We have closed close to $55,000 from the quotes. This is from jobs that are the direct result of either letters or touches that led to meetings at tradeshows.
We also have some success at Abbott that are not mentioned in the above numbers. We are seeing Dave Harvey close more in coatings business in the last few months than he has in a long time. He has been averaging approximately 50k a month in coatings business the last 2 months. This is following our lead generation efforts there. They received letters along with Dave Harvey staying in constant contact with them and as a result he should have 4 straight months of over 100k in billings.
What these numbers do not contain is all the potential business out there that we are now lining up, things that we never were going to hear or know about UNLESS we were executing this system. We are injecting ourselves into 100’s buying cycles a week and getting more and more call in’s and emails to the web site. This will lead to a continued, sustained and organic growth. And as we tighten down the rest of our systems the results will only get better.”
How to Improve Your Conversion Rate 50% When Calling Prospects Part 3 of 3
The purpose of the previous posts were to warm up the “environment.” You want the potential to become “aware” of who and what you are so when they are reached, you have positioned yourself correctly in their mind. If this is accomplished, best case is they reach out to you, worse case is they are at least receptive to your call.
Today’s post we are going to focus on what the potential needs to hear to schedule the appointment. All the research and prospect warming up in the world doesn’t mean diddly if we cannot communicate our message with the potential customer.
The ultimate goal of a call, in this situation, is to set a Discovery Appointment. The goal IS NOT selling your product/service. This might seem pretty simple but it’s a common blunder salespeople make very frequently.
Often times, salespeople think that if we manage to get the potential on the phone that we need to perform a total data dump on them. This is a critical error. You have invested a chunk of time researching and warming up the contact so as to differentiate yourself from the competition, then you go and lay an egg the first chance you get.
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Salesperson
If you can’t provoke their curiosity then this attempt to land an appointment is OVER. The potential needs to hear what is relevant and what makes an impact on their business to make a decision on seeing you, that’s it. Here are some topic area examples:
Incorporating your relevant pre-call research.
How your product/service solves problems or issues your prospect faces.
Actual results you’ve achieved with other customers.
What might pique your customer’s interest based on your knowledge of their business and the market.
There are 4 points to hit in your opening line.
Remind them of your warm-up touches and/or any other relevant information learned from research
Hit them with an Impact Line, something that demonstrates how you can help them in about 7 words
Engagement question: You have to get the buyer to engage early in the phone call
Below is a diagrammed example of a very successful Opening Line my clients have used to great success.
Hi Mr. Jones this is John Kolencik with XYZ (Identify yourself)
you might have seen the (Information piece: article/chart etc.) that I sent to you. (Relevance to the Potential)
We help/improve/increase our clients’ ______ (in these areas) (Impact to the Potential)
I was wondering what (are) (the) ______ (areas) (do you) (have you ever) currently are (trying to improve)? (Engagement Question)
I tend to use the warm up touches reference but you can substitute that line for something about the company itself, industry or market.
If you have done your job by quickly demonstrating you are knowledgeable/helpful and can potentially bring significant value to the table, you should get a response to the Engagement Question.
Keep in mind that the Engagement Question often leads to a few more questions from the potential before you get to the endgame.
This has all been about getting the appointment, so now we have to segue into asking for it.
Here is a sample:
“Well, Jerry, let me share with you my process, in terms of how we work. I’d like to suggest getting together for about 30 minutes. What I’d like to do is come in, learn a little more about your situation and also share some ideas I think you’ll find valuable. I’m not going to try and sell you anything. If we think there’s a fit at that point, we can put our heads together and figure out where to take it from there.”
You are now ready to ask for the appointment
“Jerry, do you have your appointment calendar handy?”
Never try to force the appointment in the current week unless the prospect volunteers it. Always shoot for a week out from the date of the phone call.
You may have to face one of the following three objections.
“Could you send me some literature instead?”
“I’m really busy. Could you call me back next week?”
“We’re already working with someone in that area.”
Let’s discuss some ways to handle each of these common objections.
“Send Me Literature.”
Your best response is as follows.
“Sure, I’d be happy to send you literature, but at XYZ, we are really in the tailored solution business. I’ve got 20 different customers on 20 different programs, so I’d have no idea what to send you based on the uniqueness of your situation.
Let me make a suggestion. Instead of me sending you literature, why don’t we get together for 30 minutes, I think you’ll find it very rewarding, and I’m not going to sell you anything. I just want to see if there is a way to add value to your company. Would the week of the 24th work for you?”
“I’m really busy can you call me back next month?”
Don’t back away. Go ahead and respond like this.
“Sure, no problem. I run a really busy schedule also.
Let me make a suggestion. Instead of me calling you back next month when I’ll probably have to re-remind you of who I am and what we do, why don’t we set up an appointment for x# of weeks out, and I’ll tell you what, I’ll call to confirm the appointment a week prior to it to make sure it’s still good. Would the week of the 18th work for you? Perhaps on Wednesday at 10 am or so? Could you check your calendar to see if it’s convenient?”
“We’re Already Working with Someone In That Area.”
Employ this response.
“No problem. We certainly appreciate it when our customers show us loyalty, but as it happens, most of our current customers were already working with someone prior to aligning with us.
Jerry, we’re a bit different in that we don’t often compete as much as cooperate with current vendors as a means to help a company become best practice. The whole focus is around adding value to your company, often in a complementary manner to current vendor.
Jerry, let me make a suggestion. Why don’t we set an appointment for 30 minutes one day? Maybe there’s a fit, maybe not.
Regardless, I think you’ll find it a really interesting exchange. If x date is bad, how about during the week of ______?”
In this post I give you specific examples of words and phrases. Use this post for the structure of your calls. Modify the words as needed for your product/service, market or industry so your own personal voice will come through.
Marketing Sherpa conducted a study that said 75% of everybody you touch with your lead generation efforts will buy something either from you or your competition. But if you take a day, week or month off who knows what opportunities you may miss.
Lead generation is a customer engagement process. It is both cumulative and immediate in varying degrees based on strategy and tactics. It can be big bang or slow boil but the key is not to treat it as binary. Lead gen needs to be part of your daily, weekly and monthly DNA.
I promise, if you practice the tactics in these blog posts and make lead gen a part of your everyday routine you will see colossal gains in your sales revenue.
…..and remember you can either make sales or make excuses but you can’t do both!
How To Improve Your Conversion Rate 50% When Calling Prospects Part 1 of 3
I do not believe in classically defined cold calls; Picking up the phone and calling a list of contacts that we know nothing about. We live in a digital age and those types of calls are analog. I do believe, as professional sales/business people, that we absolutely NEED to make as many calls to potential clients as possible. The question is how we do it.
There is soooo much we can do to warm up these calls and to make them more impactful than our predecessors could possibly imagine. The first part of this strategy starts with our willingness to put in the time to do research BEFORE picking up the phone. I am not talking about writing a thesis on each potential but there is work to be done BEFORE we pick up the phone.
The Library and Linked In
Almost every suburb now has state of the art library facilities that you don’t even have to go the building to use and it only costs you a trip to the library to get a library card to allow you access. They have online research tools like Reference USA, Regional Business News or Glassdoor, any one of these will give you more information than you can possibly imagine.
Then there is Linked In. This is the greatest free research tool ever invented. You can find out, in great detail, the professional specifics of virtually anybody or any company. The search tool is also top notch. What I like most is being able to search by school as well as other categories. I mean why not start with people you either went to school with or attended your school?
End of Part 1
The bottom line is with a minimal time investment you can learn gigabytes of information about potential clients before ever talking to them. All it takes is the want to on your part, the desire to differentiate yourself and services to the potential BEFORE they even know who you are.
Each piece of this process builds the needed momentum to get an increase of 50% in your conversion rate. My next post will teach you the most impactful way to get a potential client’s attention before you call.
In the meantime, you can either make sales or make excuses but you can’t do both!
What are the Metrics that Matter?
Most Sales Departments stink when it comes to tracking their numbers. The question upper management ALWAYS asks is why? My two cents; we don’t know the most important numbers to track and we don’t realize how important they are to our entire selling effort. Well, those excuses end today!
The first area that we need to clear up is the difference between trailing and leading indicators. Trailing indicators refer to metrics that happen as a RESULT or in the past. Number of sales closed or total dollar amount closed are examples of the trailing variety. Leading indicators are what foretell objectives and what results will be in the future. The activities that a sales person performs on a daily basis, such as phone calls or appointments, are examples of leading indicators.
We always need to know how many and how much business has been closed (trailing) but we can’t control the actual closing of the sale. That is why we can never lose sight of the activities (leading) it takes to fill the pipeline and, more importantly, directly affect the closing of the sale. This is crucial to short and long term forecasting accuracy and critically more important to overall SALES SUCCESS.
Leading Metric Indicators
I first focus on the BIG 4 of Leading Metric Indicators (LMI’s): Calls, Discovery Appointments, Presentations and Closes. These are pillars of a sale that will tell you the overall picture of what is working, why it is working and what needs to be fixed.
The next LMI’s that I track are more descriptive of the sales reps everyday work.
- How many leads (non-qualified contacts) are they working on?
- How many opportunities (qualified contacts in the buying cycle) are they working on?
- What type of accounts are the reps calling on?
- What is the job function of their main contact?
If the BIG 4 gives you the overall picture, when you drill down to this level you uncover more of the texture in the everyday activities of your sales team. Not just the raw numbers but WHY you are getting the raw numbers. When we understand both sets of LMI’s and their conversion rates it helps us to more accurately predict closing rates in the near and long term.
Trailing Metrics Indicators
I always track total number of closed sales and total sales dollars. They are important and necessary to measure where we have finished historically, yet it always amazes me what sales management forgets to measure in the Trailing Metric Indicator (TMI) category.
A.U.S.P. or average unit selling price is the total sales dollars divided by the total number of sales. For example if total sales dollars are $100,000 and total number sales are 10 your A.U.S.P. equals $10,000. Knowing this number tells you how many sales it will take to hit your objective. This TMI is key to planning your goals and objectives throughout the year.
The final TMI I track is Average Velocity of Sale or the A.V.O.S. This is the average time from when a lead becomes an opportunity to when it converts to a sale. Having the handle on this metric allows you to realistically plan WHEN your business is going to hit.
12 chapters of data making up one book; lose one of the chapters and you wonder how and why things are happening. Lose two chapters and the story starts to sound nonsensical. Lose three and you wonder why you started reading the book at all. 12 categories of data when monitored and measured can radically affect your sales team’s short and long term success and viability.
Sure it takes time and getting sales to record their info is difficult. Keeping up with the numbers is a job in of itself. I have heard all of the excuses before. I leave you with a question. If you could produce a set of numbers telling you how to improve, what to improve and when to improve your sales results wouldn’t you want to know them and wouldn’t you do everything in your power to track them? Yea, I don’t know either…
Instant Lead Generation: The Structure of an Effective Case Study
We all want to write about our successful exploits so potential customers may learn from what our established customers have experienced. The problem is we often lack the most effective way to get our message out. We also fall prey to the inability to explain the impact, results and ROI so value is immediately understood and ROI is instantly perceived.
Following the Matrix Case Study Structure will ensure your potential customers understand the “story” while also realizing the TRUE ECONOMIC effect of your solution.
1) State the Business Problem in plain language, the simpler to understand the better. Stay away from clever turn’s of phrase or industry specific vernacular (words like vernacular for example).
2) The Consequence of not fixing the problem MUST be stated ASAP, if not the question in the reader’s mind is “Why am I wasting my time?”
3) The Reward of the fixing problem must be stated IMMEDIATELY after the Consequence. Readers are tuned to radio station WII FM “What’s In It For Me?”
4) Explain the specific results the customer received as a by product of the implementation, making sure you “speak” in dollars and performance as well as systematic/procedural improvements.
5) Discuss any business lessons learned through the prism of explaining the solution. Don’t leave out any “warts” in the implementation. This level of disclosure will establish trust regarding you personally and your results.
6) Wrap up with a CURRENT snapshot as to how well the current customer is doing (complete with dollar and systematic/procedural updates) or with a simple conclusion of the experience.
Some folks LOVE the Call to Action Premise, “If these are the types of issues you face and results you want please contact us at…” I tend to NOT use them because they are obvious. You should always be following up TELE-PHONICALLY when you are aware of somebody requesting/downloading etc., a case study so a call to action is moot if you are ON your game.
Each contact you make should be progressing the relationship just don’t forget to ask for feedback about the case study. If they were not compelled to contact you by its presentation why not? What can you do differently? What are they looking for? Be responsive and listen to your customers and potential customers. Make your tweaks, rinse and repeat and start counting your cash….
Relationships, Slips and Dips
I was at a customer’s last week starting to dig into the Strategy Module for a S.I.T. Blitz we will be conducting the 2nd week in September. Working with the salespeople, we always go through a series of questions to understand their perception of the suspect/prospect/customer (SPC) dynamic which is so crucial when planning for a successful S.I.T. Blitz.
One of the key factors is knowing their standard for SPC communication in terms of frequency. During the course of questions one salesperson chimed in and said “I keep in touch with my suspects and prospects 2x a year, any more than that and I think it would appear pushy.”
Well after the black cloud and threat of lighting inside the building passed I asked him how often does he talk to his best friend? He said probably 2 times a week. Then I asked how often did he call his wife when they were dating? He said minimum 4 times a week. Then I asked him if he considered his relationships with his contacts as solid and he said yes, emphatically, I might add.
So I think you know where I was going with this line of questioning. My final question to him was how many times has he called one of his contacts only to find out that his contact person wasn’t there or there had been a drastic change in the company. His answer “John, more times than I can count,” and therein lies the ‘problemo’ my sales friend.
Believe it or not this happens to me about once a month; a salesperson who understands staying in touch with friends or girlfriends, but doesn’t have a clue what it takes to maintain a successful business relationship. Strangely enough, these same sales people will argue, ‘till blue in the face, they have a good feel for their customers.
I call the first level of this problem Relation-Slip behavior. The sales person “thinks” they know how to stay in touch with a contact. The problem is what they “thinks” has nothing to do with the facts, needs and wants of the suspect/prospect/customer so what winds up happening is a deepening chasm develops between sales and contact with sales being quite oblivious to it. There is a ALWAYS correlation with a drop in sales but the sales person is stuck scratching their head and wondering why this is happening to him.
The next level DOWN is Relation-Dip behavior. The sales person here doesn’t have a clue how to stay in touch with their contacts. They will never admit they have a problem, so they go the other direction and MINIMIZE contact to the point of neglect. You see, in their mind, by not “bugging them” they are maintaining a good relationship. These sales people are so afraid of experiencing the UGH Factor that they will stay away from the suspect/prospect/customer. My question is “If you stay away for long periods of time how will you know when they have become a ripe prospect?” Insert collective silence or righteous indignation ‘here. Then you add the precipitous drop in sales and you have yourself a major issue.
Like any problem in sales early recognition is key. If you are a sales manager WAKEUP! You should be tracking not just their sales production but their lead generation activities. Either one should give you enough of an alert to intervene before the behavior jeopardizes their career and your quota attainment.
If you are a sales person WAKEUP! Your sales are down! Either you don’t spend enough time staying in touch with your customers or you are doing the absolute WRONG things. You have to be self aware enough to say “I have to change what I am doing or this sucker is going down!”
All righty then…. that’s it for today! Next post I will be talking about the solution to Relation-Slips and Dips and the changing nature of the sales contact process.
Until then remember “You can either make sales or you can make excuses but you can’t do both…” I’m outta here!
If you want more information about the S.I.T. Blitz and how you can have a “revenue raining, climate change” experience at your please call Matrix at 216 347 6729 or go to buildyoursalesmachine.com for more details!
What Happens AFTER They Become Customers?
This is the $1,000,000 question isn’t it? We spent the last 6 articles talking about everything you can do to generate leads using the S.I.T. Lead Generation System. What we haven’t talked about yet is the next step.
To recap, S.I.T. Lead Generation is a customer engagement system. The ultimate purpose is to deliver an ongoing stream of qualified leads to your sales team. What makes it uniquely effective is its ability to also deepen the relationship between suspect/prospect/customer and company/salesperson. It has both cumulative and immediate impact in varying degrees based on strategy and tactics. But the key, at its heart, is building real interpersonal relationships.
No matter what sales methodology you subscribe to, you can never escape the fact that sales is rooted in relationships with real people. Essentially S.I.T. is about becoming uncommonly RELEVANT with our contacts to the point where we transcend “basic selling.”
So for the purpose of today, let’s JUMP over the sales process (we will hit it HARD in subsequent articles I PROMISE) and talk about utilizing S.I.T. with the people that we invested all that time in building relationships, our customers.
It is a fact, as plain and real as it is ugly, most sales organizations do a TERRIBLE job staying in touch with customers after the sale. I say ‘sales organizations’ because the mind set starts at the top. More often than not, management is more worried with next month’s sales numbers to the exclusion of the relationships you had to build to get last month’s sales numbers.
The truly criminal thing is we have put in a boatload of time and effort to make this system work, but have simply lost the will to maintain it. Why should we essentially CHOOSE to WASTE the fruit of our labor ? If the system is executed properly we can continue to deepen the relationships and mine our current customers for cross selling, up-selling, referrals, networking, industry experience and many other opportunities benefiting both parties.
It is always about time isn’t it? “I don’t have enough time to reach out to them” or “I know I need to call my old customers but I have a proposal to put together.” These aren’t evil motives, they are just WRONG. You have to program into your daily/weekly schedule current customer touches. Think of it like breathing, you don’t do it you DIE!
It is important to note, these touches can’t ONLY happen when the customer is having problems or that is how they will associate you, with a PROBLEM. Just like in when we began using S.I.T. these touches need to be proactive not reactive.
This is the beauty part. The essential structure is in place. We are already executing a successful S.I.T. system. We know how to schedule touches, what delivery systems to use, how to build relevant content, and more (all of which can be seen in previous FSF posts here, here, here and here). We just need to re-task and tweak for customers instead of suspects/prospects.
You have a chance to develop a long-term relationship with your customers that can be rewarding in a number of ways. Developing CURRENT relationships as opposed to building NEW relationships is pretty similar. The difference lies in 2 specific areas:
- The Depth: Because of your existing relationship you can go deeper into the what makes the customer tick, finding out even more pertinent facts. They will be much more open and you can really flesh out their profile.
- Risk vs. Reward: The people in your existing relationships come to depend on you. They made a business decision to go with you over a competitor, implicitly trusting you. This is why it is imperative to not only keep up with the current level of customer service, but to improve upon it. You don’t want to put the kibosh on all your hard work because of LAZINESS or worse APATHY. Demonstrate how you value your customers by continuing to deepen and strengthen the relationship with them, I promise it will pay back HUGE DIVIDENDS!
Just like life, a customer relationship is a journey, not a destination. There will be ups and downs, twists and turns but when handled correctly it will be the most prosperous journey of all!
All righty folks, that puts the finishing touches on the S.I.T. Lead Generation System. I strongly urge you to re-read and/or bookmark the other posts that define the system in more detail. Also, don’t forget to go to my website for more information and you can always email me if you have any specific questions. Next article we will set off in a new direction, but with the same goals, helping to increase your sales revenue and profit while improving your productivity.
Until then remember, you can either make sales or you can make excuses but you can’t do both…. I am outta of here!
“I Don’t Know Where We’re Going, But We’re Making Great Time!”
One of my favorite euphemisms for ‘man’ not wanting to ask for directions. Unfortunately, it is also true in the sales world. We all want a productive lead generation program, but most of us aren’t willing to invest the time and resources into it.
Lead generation, just like driving to the Grand Canyon, needs to be thoroughly mapped out BEFORE you start the journey. You have to know NOT JUST where you are going, but what is along the way, what does progress look like / can you measure it and you have to be able to answer one of the great questions of our time “WHAT IF?’
Continuing our discussion of S.I.T. Lead Generation, I will be discussing what kind of “map” you need to follow for lead generation, what do the “sign posts” along the way look like and give some samples to use in your sales efforts.
Remember, lead generation is not ONLY for new contacts, but for existing customers as well. We will be exploring how to Stay In Touch with ALL contacts in a way that will demonstrate your dedication to customer service and differentiation from your competition.
The Road Ahead
There is a psychological concept called Self Efficacy. Even when something seems impossible, it is the strength of our belief that makes success possible. The absence of this belief guarantees failure. A strong belief in the mission fuels our ability to focus, put forth effort, and persist. Believing allows us to see the goal (continue in the face of daunting adversity) and break the goal down into more manageable objectives (one evolution at a time). If the evolution is a cold call, it can be broken down into even smaller objectives such as asking good questions. Believing allows us to seek out strategies to accomplish the objectives. Then, when the call is done, move on to the next evolution. Thinking too much about what happened and what is about to happen will wear you down. Live in the moment and take it one step at a time.
Self Efficacy is EXACTLY why we have to keep in mind all reasons this process is SO IMPORTANT.
- to DECREASE time in the sales cycle and INCREASE closing percentage.
- to remove the “Ugh Factor” from our phone calls and “warm up” our cold calling.
- to INCREASE our average sales size.
- to receive that “magic call” from contacts saying they received our information and THEY want to talk to us (yes this will happen with this system).
- to have a REAL reason to call our contact and NOT be stuck saying “I just wanted to…”
- to be a THOUGHT LEADER! Somebody our client turns to when they have questions because we know they won’t be in the buying cycle all the time. Sometimes they just need some info and we want to be the providers of that information.
5 Steps for S.I.T. Scheduling
1) Classifying your suspects, prospects and customers is critical. Not all contacts are equal and you can’t treat them as equal. You want to personalize your touches as much as possible and the variables you must take into account for that are:
- newly found or currently existing in database
- industry/industries that you sell into
- positions titles and responsibilities by position
- buying cycle
- size of business (revenue or employee)
- Active and Dormant Needs (see description in post at link)
All of these factors are crucial because they will all have their own built in time frames and predilections and they ALL must be taken into account.
2) After you have classified all contacts you must perform what I call ‘Opportunity Research’ using LTLR (see description in post at link). You have to know everything you can about all these factors and how they effect your contacts. Using ‘Opportunity Research’, many times you will further stratify your contacts leading to even MORE personalization and the possibility of deepening the relationship, ALL GOOD THINGS!
‘Opportunity Research’ will also be different depending on the above variables. You will invest more time in research for some opportunities opposed to others, it only makes sense to prioritize your time, you only have so much of it. A word of caution though for the previous statement, don’t get lazy just because an account “looks smallish.” Run out “ALL your ground balls” and do your research you never know what may be lurking behind door number 2!
3) We have classified and researched our contacts now we can put them into a schedule of touches (click here to see descriptions of touches). Newly found and existing will always be handled differently (at least until the newly found are brought into the cycle). Click this link to see an example S.I.T. Schedule. Customers also need to be touched differently. They should see the ULTIMATE in customization. You should know these folks inside and out, thus they have the most individually personalized touch system possible. Even if your product/service is a one time purchase and you have NO chance of ever selling to that customer again KEEP THEM IN THE TOUCH PROCESS. It is customer service 101 and you never know when they will have a reference for you.
4) Monitor, Measure and Modify: Always know what is going out, to who and when. You don’t want to be caught flat footed if a customer calls to thank you and you don’t have the foggiest why he is doing it. Always know the ROI for your efforts. This knowledge will help you to spend money on the RIGHT areas, not just any area. Always improve your efforts whether it is the timing, the content or delivery. If you are getting a high rate of call ins ask why? If you are not getting a high enough click through rate ask why? ALWAYS LOOK TO IMPROVE YOUR RESULTS!
How Companies Are Evaluating Marketing ROI
5) Don’t STOP EVER! Once you start this process you can never stop it. Aristotle once said “Nature abhors a vacuum.” If you are providing consistent, relevant content, your contacts will begin to look forward to it. If you stop for any length of time, I PROMISE YOU, your contacts will find someone else to provide them content and that person’s name is COMPETITOR!
That was a lot of info for today. Let’s take some time to process it and give me a call or shoot me an email if you have any questions. Next time in the Forum we wrap up S.I.T. Lead Generation and lay the ground work for your next step on the road to sales success!
Until then remember, you can either make sales or you can make excuses but you can’t do both!
I Just Wanted To….
I hate those four words! And you know what, so do your customers. Those words (and other variants) form the basis of the worst that lead generation and staying in touch with contacts has to offer. Whether it is on the phone or in person here are a few of the worst cringe inducing lead in’s
- I just wanted to say hi
- I just wanted to follow up because you said you would have an answer
- I just wanted to call because it is the (beginning/end of month, been a few weeks)
- I just wanted to check and see if you were in the market yet
- I just wanted to stop in and say hi, haven’t heard from you in a while
All of these examples rate WAY high on ”The UGH Factor” scale. You know ‘UGH’, the sound you hear from a customer when you “pop in” for a quick hello or “catch them” on the phone to check status. We HAVE to stay in touch with our suspects, prospects and customers, our business lives depend on it, but the question is how do we do that in a high value added way?
In The Beginning
Think back to virtually any good relationship you have, the last thing you wanted is that person DREAD you coming over or calling. Our challenge is to make our business relationships WANT to take our call or look forward to us stopping in unannounced. That is where the S.I.T. Nurture Prospecting System comes in.
First, we need to embrace the BIG 3: Relevance, Consistency, Timing and incorporate them into our entire touch strategy. Next we need to make sure we Personalize and Monetize everything that they see from us (please see previous post “Do You REALLY Know Your Customers?” for detailed explanation of both concepts).Once we have addressed these critical aspects, then we can start thinking about the touch process itself.
The Song of S.I.T.
Song is such a great metaphor for your S.I.T. System. Let’s look at the pieces that make up a song:
- Introductions help establish the key, tempo and mood of a song. You’ll know you’ve found a strong introduction when everyone recognizes the song after the first few seconds.
- Verses contains the story line and help answer the journalistic questions about who, what, when, where and why. They tend to be more or less the same from one verse to the next and yet they help move the listener along in an unfolding story.
- Bridges are connecting pieces or transitions from one part of a song to another.
- Refrains/Choruses usually deliver the essential messages, the payoff or the knock-out punch.
- Hooks are simply put the most memorable, distinguishable bit of the song.
- Breaks are a little relief from the song so far.
- Codas (or tags) are the special endings for songs.
Your S.I.T. elements are not that different
- Social Media Touches: No matter what you think of it, social media is a reality and is only getting bigger and more influential. Make sure that YOU and YOUR company have a positive image and are frequent contributors to the major sites of Linked-In, Facebook, You Tube and Twitter.
- Initial Contact Touches: Could be a letter, could be a phone call but you need to start the process strong, get in the door and get recognized. The great thing is, when done right, lightning can strike. Somebody could be in the market RIGHT now and because you called you can start them in the sales cycle immediately. Even better is when you get calls IN from your letter. I have customers that average a 20% call in rate from their initial mail touches. 1 Caveat: Never initialize contact with an email it has to be more personal to make a statement.
- Knowledge Touches: These could take the shape of articles, webinars/seminars in their industry, white papers or even ideas of websites your contact would find useful, but are NOT about you or your product. When chosen well, they paint the picture of of how you can help them through your selection of topical information. You can either mail or email these.
- Impact Touches: These are ‘creative’ ways to stay top of mind, such as a packet of seeds with a note that says “we help your business grow” or a simulated X-ray of an arm/leg on transparency stock and a note that says “is your manufacturing process broken?” I will even buy a good business book, Good to Great for example, and drop it off with a note that says “lots of great info for you.” These touches break you away from the norm and are fun to do as well. Primarily, these are delivered in person UNLESS there is value in mailing.
- Bridge Touches: Sometimes you want to mix it up with a simple letter or email consisting of 1 idea that will prove useful. You can’t swing for the fences all the time, keep it fresh (and yes I know this one is actually named after an element of song.)
- Drop Off Touches: A combination of all of the above, the only difference is in the delivery. If you have an appointment in a business park make sure you bring along enough Drop Offs for the rest of the park. Make sure you L.T.L.R. (please click on read description in previous post) and get the info to the right people.
- Holiday Touches: Always remember you have ‘built in’ reasons to touch contacts, they’re called holidays. Don’t forget cards and letters on the big holidays like Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day and 4th of July, but also mix in the some of the less celebrated as well for example Arbor Day, Bosses Day and the 1st Day of Spring.
- Event Touches: Industry/topic specific webinars and seminars, that you or your company put on, should be part of the mix as well. Just remember these need to be INFORMATIONAL and not BLATANT COMMERCIALS. You should also look into events in your market space and submitting speaking topics for you to present.
- Status Touches: You didn’t think this was magic and you never had to pick up the phone again did you? The only difference is now, because of your efforts, you have a REASON TO CALL other that to say “I just wanted to check in.”
Now, by utilizing these touches, you have plenty of content to discuss during a Status Touch. There doesn’t have to be the ham-handed “I just wanted to.” Ask how they like the different pieces, what did they like most etc. Trust me, they know why you are calling, but you took GREAT strides to contrast yourself from the regular cold caller/drive-by caller. And it is the effort that will make all the difference in the world.
The implementation of these S.I.T. elements will help you to control the narrative of your company, influence buying behavior, guide your contacts to information that will impact their business, keep you top of mind in a very positive way and most importantly create the framework of a relationship that will based on mutual respect and not “I just wanted to……”
There you have it, an introduction to the universe of touch pieces for your S.I.T Lead Generation System. Our next post will lay out a sample schedule with some specific examples and we will talk about how to integrate into any existing lead generation efforts.
Until next time remember, you can either make sales or you can make excuses but you can’t do both!