Welcome to where the magic happens. Every project, class, system and process I have ever implemented started with a blog post RIGHT HERE. So dig in, there is gold in these electrons.
I spend my days helping organizations grow their sales an average of 42%. The longer I am in this field the more I realize NOTHING is more important than having the right people in place, especially in leadership. One of my favorite quotes on the subject comes from Alexander the Great: “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”
We can set processes in place and develop naive sales people into savvy business people but if the people at the top don’t get it we may as well go to the window and throw our money out of it.
This is a BIG area of concern for every sales leader out there in the coming year. I promise to do everything I can to help you keep your eyes on the prize and doing the things needed to be a success but in the end it comes down to you. Or as I like to say “you can either make sales or you can make excuses but you can’t do both.”
Couple questions to ask yourself:
Below is the text from a one page reminder Click Here for the PDF version of this http://www.slideshare.net/JohnKolencik/are-holding-yourself-accountable-as-a-leader
“As leaders, we enjoy the responsibility of helping our people develop in a way that encourages them to hold themselves accountable for their attitudes, their work, and their results.
We need to be as disciplined, resourceful, and resilient in our efforts as we ask our people to be in theirs.
Relentless leadership is embracing the fact that the need for reinforcement never ends and uncomfortable conversations are a necessity. This is how something special is created.”
Click Here for the PDF version of this http://www.slideshare.net/JohnKolencik/are-holding-yourself-accountable-as-a-leader
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:
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!
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.
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:
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!
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 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
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:
Your S.I.T. elements are not that different
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!
I am reading the book Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard. The authors, Dan & Chip Heath pose a great question/analogy. There is 1 particular choice that people across our country make everyday that COMPLETELY alters everything in their life. They volunteer to change EVERYTHING about their present mode of living including, but not limited to:
That 1 choice is parenthood. Why would people volunteer for such massive change? Anybody who has children already knows the answer to the question.
Now think about this in terms of your customers:
That is OUR magic question. THE question we must answer to A) educate our suspects/prospects/customers and B) sell them our products and services. The answer is, of course, to know and understand our potential customers by establishing REAL relationships.
So how do we begin a REAL relationship with people that we don’t know, but need to know to be a success? Lead generation of course, but how does a real relationship with potential customers start? It should be no surprise that it begins and ends in hard work, this is sales after all, but let me be much more specific.
Learn To Love Research! (you all know I love my acronyms). I don’t care if it is online, at the library or experientially, you must research your potential market. You need to know what affects them on a daily basis, what situations (regulatory, legal, market based etc.) could change their business for the positive AND negative. You need to know the titles of your contacts and what those titles actually do. You need to know what their location geography means to their business. In short, you need to be an expert on your potential customers all BEFORE you send out 1 ‘touch’ from 1 lead generation campaign and this is just the beginning of the process.
Before They Are Customers
Before they are customers they are either suspects or prospects. I teach my clients to characterize status based on ACTIVE and DORMANT needs. Simply put, if a potential customer does not recognize they have a need, then DORMANT would be the classification and they’re what I call suspects. If recognition is present, they will have an ACTIVE need and they could be prospects. 1 caveat, this is the simplest description of suspects and prospects. There is more complexity to these definitions but for the sake of today’s discussion it is more than sufficient.
The BIG 3
Once your research is completed you need to develop your Touch Matrix. This consists of all the different type of touches you will be using to nurture the relationships with your clients. Some of the components to consider are letters, emails, social media, whitepapers, articles, 3rd party case studies, webinars and more.
The design, type and, most importantly, content of touches, that will be used, are dependent on the recently completed research AND the BIG 3:
All your content MUST be RELEVANT to your suspect/prospect/customer, their organization or best of all BOTH. It could be industry specific, job specific or personal specific, but it can’t be about YOU or your company. Remember relevance is like beauty, it is always in the eye of the beholder. So forget ‘special’ price lists, coupons or product announcements.
Once you start your S.I.T. Lead Generation System you can’t stop. You need to be CONSISTENT with your touches. If you are doing a good job getting your folks impactful content they will become addicted to it. If, for whatever reason, you stop ‘touching’ your folks they will reach out to find OTHER (see competition) sources for the same information. All your work thus far will be shot to pieces with the interesting side effect of degrading your reputation for reliability/customer service for good measure.
“TIMING is everything.” I am sure you have heard that before. It is every bit as true with your S.I.T. System. You need to know when your folks like to receive information and what events coincide with a touch from you. This is the art of appearing to be ‘coincidental’ on purpose. Mix up the releases of your info based on your research/experience and always keep your ears -eyes open for trigger events and potential tweaks to the system. The goal is being the person who is always on the tip of their tongue when they are talking to their associates or their superiors.
Personalize and Monetize
2 crucial mistakes that many people make when constructing their first S.I.T. System, is forgetting to PERSONALIZE and MONETIZE. Each piece has to be constructed from design to content to delivery system the way that will make the biggest IMPACT with individual PERSON who is our suspect/prospect/customer. It doesn’t matter what you like, it matters what they like. Don’t substitute something that you think “looks cool” if it contradicts all the research, experience and time you have invested.
“This is show business not show friends” said the character ‘Bob Sugar’ in Jerry Maguire. We must remember that everytime we touch our suspect/prospect/customers with needs to ring the ‘money bell.’ The people we contact don’t want fluff for fluff’s sake. They want something that will help them do their job better, something that will get them noticed by the boss or even improve a system at their facility. Always err on the side of getting people information that can be MONETIZED for real value at their job.
All righty then, that’s all for today. Next time we will continue to lay out the S.I.T Lead Generation System giving you more ideas to grow your business….
In the meantime, remember you can either make sales or make excuses but you can’t do both!
I am outta of here…..
8:06pm St. Patrick’s Day, my wife gave birth to our second child, Emily Elizabeth Kolencik. Thank you we think she is beautiful too.
This wondrous event got me thinking about when a sale really begins. Does it start when we research their company? Does it start when we call the suspect for the first time? Does it start when we do a presentation for the prospect? Or does it start with the first objection?
Cut it any way you want but the sale starts when the PROSPECT decides they have a problem. Not until that moment of “conception” do we have even the POTENTIAL for a sale. The trick is how do we get to be a part of the moment? Just because the prospect has decided they have a problem doesn’t mean they will automatically come looking for us. So how do we insert ourselves into the decision making process so the solution to their problem “looks” like our solution?
S.I.T. Lead Generation System
Back in my previous post Cold Call Once, Then Never Again... I started to lay out the basic concept for the S.I.T. System. Today we need to explain the philosophy behind the system. If you don’t know the why or buy into the why it doesn’t matter what the system is made of.
S.I.T. Lead Generation is a customer engagement system. It’s 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 the 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.
Based on writings, research and books from as far back as Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, we have the 95% – 5% Rule. At any given time, only 5% of your potential market universe is actually looking for what you may be selling. This means they have made a conscious decision to look for a solution and guess what, it may NOT be your solution. When a prospect is actively pinging for a solution they are generally hit by an average of 7 potential vendors. All things being equal, 14.2% is the average chance you have of landing that prospect, the math is not good. But what of the 95%? The average number of potential vendors that stay in touch with them before they decide they need a solution is…. 1, just 1, I know it is unbelievable.
Research by Inc. Magazine stated in a survey 96%, of over 1000 sales people from a large range of industries, said that customer service is what differentiates them from their closest competitors. It further stated that 91%, of owners, decision makers and purchasing agents said the customer service they experience is BEST WHEN IN THE SELLING CYCLE… WOW! All of sudden those horror stories about salespeople abandoning their customers after a sale became true. The reality of this is if we do not find a way to reach out to the 95% we are forever doomed to be 1 out of 7 competitors and have a 14.2% chance on every potential sale. And if those are the facts, on the ground, what are we to do about it?
Staying In Touch
I know what you are going to say here “I do stay in touch and I always ask what new projects they are working on.” There is also the pop-in sales call replete with the old line “I was just in the neighborhood and thought I would check in.” These examples, my friends, are not a sales calls but BOOTY CALLS. Here’s some other examples: “our customers get regular emails and letters telling them about all our new products and specials” that true believers is advertising by BILL-BOARD. And perhaps my favorite is “we get them baseball tickets every year” do I have to tell you what that categorizes you as? You see in all these efforts it is the approach, method and mindset that is the problem.
We have to look at this through the prospect/customer prism, but we can take cues from OUR own behavior Do you like a salesperson calling when you are not in the market for something? What do you do with emails and letters that are blatant advertising? And that is how you need to look at S.I.T. We need to know what is relevant and important to our suspect/prospect/customer, information with personal value and monetary value. THAT is what they want to see.
The answer to these questions, by the way, is NEVER “product information from our company. The bottom line is this, if we fail to take an interest in our customer’s business and personal life what reason do they have to take an interest in ours?
There is an old saying “Treat strangers like friends, friends like family and family like you can’t do without them, why, because you can’t!” This variation, that I coined, is the mind set that needs to rule your sales universe. “Treat suspects like prospects, prospects like customers and customers like you can’t do without them, why, because you can’t!”
All righty then, that’s all for today. Next time we will talk about the Big 3 of S.I.T. and 2 factors that you ignore at your own peril!
And remember you can either make sales or you can make excuses but you can’t do both!
I’m outta of here….