Archive for May, 2011

Gatekeepers: Keepers of the Road Map to Success

May 8, 2011

Many sales trainers and managers talk about “getting past the gatekeeper.”

While I completely agree that we need to be talking to decision makers to make the sale (it is one of the 4 cornerstones we use to close the deal–working with the right person), my experience has been that in some instances the gatekeeper is the key not just in talking to the right person, but in making sure your message is heard properly.

We often will spend time befriending gatekeepers, and gatekeepers can often provide vital information for reducing the time of the sales cycles. They will tell us when to reach the decision maker, how best to talk to him, what media he responds best to (i.e. phone calls, emails, office visits, etc.), who else might be involved in the decision, and many other important factors that allow us to determine if this is a good opportunity or not. We look at it this way, if we assume that the gatekeeper is something we have to get past or get around, that person becomes a wall, but if we look at them as a vital source of information, one often not respected by other people who try to talk to them, the implied wall comes down and they literally give us the road map for success.

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Should Your Inside Sales Team Be Listening to Music?

May 3, 2011

As the owner of a company that not only has their own inside sales team that is outsourced to clients but also works with companies on sales process and the overall professionalism and productivity of their sales teams, I am often asked the question: “Do you think it is OK for the team to have music on in the background while making sales calls?”

Well, have you ever noticed that when you go to a ballgame, they will play music during the downtime (when the batter is walking to the plate in a baseball game, while the referees are looking at the replay in football, etc.) but when it is time for the game to resume—for the professionals to work—the music stops. In an inside sales environment, we feel that rule should apply to the inside sales team as well.

The inside sales team needs to think about how they are going to help their client when they are off the phone and be able to listen to the prospects (not the sports scores or the new #1 song) when they are on the phone. My feeling is: Treat a professional as a professional and you have a better chance of getting professional results.

I discussed this with a sales manager not too long ago and his response was “Whatever works to increase sales is worth a try.” This reminds me a lot of something an old boss used to say: “When you are deciding if what you are doing is right or wrong, picture it as the front page story in the newspaper that day.” I learned very quickly that different people read different newspapers. Some read the Chicago Tribune and think twice about what they are doing, knowing their friends and family will see it and judge. Some read the Wall Street Journal, and everything they do is all business all the time. Others (hopefully very few) read the National Enquirer and will simply do anything at any time, even if it includes, lying, cheating and stealing.

Not everything that increases sales is what should be done for long term success.

Something about music in an inside sales environment just seems unprofessional. From years of helping clients investigate how they could improve their sales process through our Growth Audit and Autopsy Services, I’ve noticed that having to listen to someone listen to music while trying to have a professional call is a pet peeve for many business people, and does not help convey a professional image. No, instead it leads to unhappy clients, wondering why the inside sales representative they are speaking to is not taking a more professional approach. It made me wonder, if there were more inside sales teams working in professional environments rather than “boiler rooms,” wouldn’t the perception of hiring an inside sales team be better too? And wouldn’t that lead to even more clients for all of us?