Posts Tagged ‘Prospecting’

Should You Downsize Your Sales Force and Implement a More Automated and Online Marketing System Instead?

November 22, 2010

This is a question that came up in an online Vistage discussion group recently, and those who know me, or regularly read my blog or newsletter already know my answer: NO! An online or automated marketing system will never replace a strong sales force!!!

We’ve spent months and months in our Vistage groups talking about attracting more clients through online marketing systems and at the end of the day what was determined was what we already knew…some companies are sales focused while others are marketing focused, but the most successful companies integrated an approach using both.

Sales is about finding customers while marketing is about bringing customers to you. By having them work together, say by reviewing the report on who reads your e-newsletter and then calling the readers to discuss topics of interest in more detail, or offering a downloadable white paper on a topic of interest then following up with those who downloaded it, will increase the ROI of your marketing programs and reduce the sales cycle (for more details on this topic, click here).

Now, some might disagree with me on this and claim that their sales force isn’t working for them. In those cases I would say the problem is not a matter of having a sales force, but not having the right sales force. For example, if all your salespeople are doing is providing you with information that can be found on Google, fire your salespeople and get better ones (OK, maybe I am being a bit harsh with that.) Good salespeople develop relationships and find the right people for you to work with. If people only bought based on the “facts” they find on Google, anyone who wanted four wheels, an engine, good gas mileage, and a way to get to work would be best served buying a Yugo. When the salesperson digs deeper to find the true pain and how his solution can solve it…well just count how many BMWs and Hummers you pass on the way home tonight.

For companies who have a sales force that spends most of their time working with current clients, or don’t have a sales force at all and the people who do the work also sell it, a better idea would be lead generation. It allows the experts to be the expert. At Randolph Sterling, we have an inside sales force that we outsource to help develop new markets and new prospects. With it, we do not simply find AN opportunity for ourselves or our clients, but THE RIGHT opportunities. Good inside sales teams get a better feel for who your ideal prospects are and work to find you more of the people you want to do business with. You never want to incent them to find ANY opportunity because wasting your time on a bad opportunity can be more detrimental than not having an opportunity at all

 

Advertisements

Closing the Deal on the Go: Questionnaires

April 21, 2010

During the last couple weeks our director of social media, Daniel Nuccio, has been preparing a survey to help us better answer some questions about the readers of our company e-newsletter and the level of value they find in it as a whole, as well as its individual parts. As I have been keeping an eye on his progress, and what he will send out within the next week or so, I got to thinking about the qualification questionnaires many sales people deal with every day, and what I had previously written about them in my book, Closing the Deal. Here’s a taste of it.

When constructing a qualification questionnaire, you will you will want to put together the info you need to conduct a successful sale. The best way to begin is by examining your current customers. What is their basic business, industry, and size? What do you sell them? How much do you sell them? How did you find them? How do they use your product or service?

When structuring your questionnaire you will want to do so in a way that eliminates unqualified prospects quickly. To do this it is best to ask the broadest possible questions first, then have them get increasingly narrower with the order determined by what will eliminate unqualified prospects from further consideration and what will a prospect be likely to share early in the questionnaire (questions about budgets are best left for the end). Also, the questionnaire should be structured in a way that “yes” answers take you closer to a sale, while “no” answers either end the conversation or put you on another track. You should also remember that more open ended questions may lead to different tracks as well, such as those related to how much a customer buys of your product or service.

When you use you questionnaire, you will need to take one of two approaches: the survey approach or the cold call approach. In either case, be sure to maintain a conversational tone and high level of familiarity with your questionnaire. In the survey approach, you are straight forward that you are conducting a survey, but will experience a high degree of resistance. In the cold calling approach, on the other hand, you go in planning to take the selling cycle as far as possible, but often have to settle for less than 100%.

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)

Special Event:Lucky’s Pot of Leads

March 7, 2010

Lucky’s Pot of Leads

Order tickets via Eventbrite: http://luckyleads-efbevent.eventbrite.com

In conjunction with Business Club America and Randolph Sterling, Inc., Hummingbird Creative Group invites you to the second of a series of 9 roundtable events in 2010 to celebrate Hummingbird’s 15th Anniversary.

Friday, March 12, 2010 from 11:30am – 1:00pm at 1705 Prime, join industry expert panelists:
Wendy Coulter, President, Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc.
Rich Burghgraef, President – Randolph Sterling, Inc.
Sherry Mitchell, Director Brand Strategies, Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc.

The trio will address the differences between sales and marketing, as well as how they must support one another for either to be successful. Discover how to better qualify sales prospects through understanding why your current customers buy from you and using that information to build marketing messages that can help you sell! You will learn about:

~ the need for structured communication between your sales and marketing teams
~ the importance of knowing your competitive advantages
~ new online resources and opportunities to find and foster leads and fill your sales funnel
~ how selling is best done by asking questions, not selling what you have
~ budgeting for both sales and marketing, not one or the other, to reach your growth goals
~ qualifying leads to find more of the business you want through your sales and marketing efforts
~ using unique sales enablement tools to build brand awareness

1705 Prime
1705 E. Millbrook Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27609
919-850-2340

Cost is $25 per person and includes lunch

Order tickets via Eventbrite by Monday, March 8th: http://luckyleads-efbevent.eventbrite.com
or call 919-854-9100 ext. 304

Closing the Deal on the Go: Market Your Expertise

November 30, 2009

You are an expert in your company’s products and services. Your have years of experience and mountains of knowledge of the market you serve. This expertise can bring you new customers if you know how to use it.

Give a presentation to a local professional organization, using the opportunity to speak generally about your product. Participate in a vendor’s night. Write an article in a trade journal or a letter to the editor in a local paper or national magazine.  Start a blog. Work a trade show.

All of these things, if done well, help build your credibility and credentials, and may lead to new business.

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)

Closing the Deal on the Go: Clarifying Your Cold Calling Objectives

November 23, 2009

When you begin cold calling, do you know your objective? Is it to prequalify a prospect? Make an appointment? Close a sale? The more complex your product or service, and the larger the account, the more likely your goal is to prequalify than sell.  Here are some questions to ask yourself before you make your cold call:

  1. How Cold Is Cold? Totally cold means you know nothing about the person you are calling or the account you are trying to get. Warm means you did a little pre-call research, perhaps by talking to contacts, looking at brochures, checking out the company website, reading the company blog, becoming a fan on Facebook, following the company or its decision makers on Twitter, or gathering information through any number of other sources. Even warmer would be if you were following up on a company lead.
  2. What Are You After? You should view cold calls as a means to gather information, not make a sale.
  3. Who Is Your Target? Corporate giants are usually a waste of time to call completely cold unless you are following up on a corporate lead or a tip from a trusted source. Smaller companies are typically better targets for such calls, at least partly because their decision makers tend to be more identifiable and accessible.
  4. What Should I Bring? Only a briefcase. You will look professional and non-threatening. Brining more than that may make you appear as if you plan to muscle your way in and hold someone hostage in a long meeting.
  5. What Is You Story? You don’t have one. Be honest. You don’t have an appointment, but you feel you may have something of value.
  6. How Long Should I Stay? If you get in, your prospect will likely say how much time they have. Respect those parameters. Stay within them. Preferably, keep it shorter.

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)

As the time limit nears, qualify your prospect, and if appropriate, close for a future appointment. If you feel the prospect is hot, and only if you feel the prospect is hot, you may want to acknowledge the time limit is up, then see if they are willing to continue with the discussion. If not, then try to close for a future appointment.

Closing the Deal on the Go: 7 Rules for Examining Prospects

October 23, 2009
  1. Research each prospect.
  2. Qualify each prospect.
  3. Ask yourself what you have that your prospect needs, wants, or can use.
  4. Ask yourself how much your prospect may be worth over time.
  5. Ask yourself how much of your time and energy is your prospect worth.
  6. Find out who is the best person to contact.
  7. Never get caught up on any one prospect.

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)

Closing the Deal on the Go: Referrals are Gems

September 22, 2009

Referrals are gems. In prospecting they are crown jewels. However, many sales people are reluctant to ask for them. Why? They fear rejection and do not want to appear in need of help. But the truth is most people like to be asked for help and will likely be flattered by the request. In fact many people ranging from Benjamin Franklin to today’s social psychologists have found that a good way to make another person find you more likable is to ask for a favor.

So, try asking your customers for referrals, especially right after you close a deal. Not only will this lead to more potential clients, but it will help strengthen the relationship you have with the client that gives you the referral (research shows that this causes your clients to further justify doing business with you on a subconscious level). Also, feel free to ask prospects, friends, relatives, and other referrals for referrals. Be specific when you ask. And, when possible, ask for the referral face to face. The eye contact will help you batting average go up.

Then, when you get the referral, ask for more than just a name. Try to get the person making the referral to make a call. If they say no, see if they will write you a note. A line on the back of a business card will suffice. And, if all they will provide is a name, see if they will allow you to mention their name, because without that, the potential of the referral goes down.

After you receive the referral, be sure thank the person who provides it, inform them of how it went, and ask for another.

So, do you ask for referrals? Take our poll, or leave a comment.

Do you ask for Referrals?
(polls)

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)

Closing the Deal on the Go: Making a Prospecting Notebook

September 11, 2009

Here’s a great tool to help you in prospecting.

Make a prospecting notebook.

Set goals. List them. Ask yourself questions about how much business you need to make or exceed quota.

Make a list of prospects. Note the following information for each prospect:

Source of your lead

  • Name, company, & contact information of the person you need to see
  • Best time to contact your prospect
  • What you have that your prospect needs, wants, uses, or could use
  • Potential value of the account
  • Competition
  • Record of contact and interactions with your prospect
  • Evaluation of your progress with your prospect

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)

Closing the Deal on the Go: What Should I Know About My Prospects?

September 7, 2009

Here is a quick list of some things you should know about your prospect and their company:

1)      Name and proper pronunciation

2)      Name(s) of shared friends, associates, and acquaintances

3)      Name and background of the company’s CEO

4)      Financial standing

5)      Primary business

6)      Size

7)      Structure

8 )      Buying history

9)      Customers

10)   Operating philosophy

11)  Marketing direction

12)  Goals

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)

Closing the Deal on the Go: Finding New Leads

September 4, 2009

Here’s a quick list of potential sources for finding new leads:

1)      Current Clients or Customers

2)      Non-Competing Sales People

3)      Newspaper Business Sections

4)      Industrial Directories

5)      Yellow Pages

6)      Employment Ads

7)      Company Generated Leads

8 )      Friends, Relatives, and Social Acquaintances

9)      Land Developments and other Physical Indicators

10)  City and County Public Records

11)  Receptionists and Other Employees

12)  Lead Clubs

13)  Retailers and Other Merchants

14)  Trade Shows and Expositions

15)  Online Databases

So, what do you think? Which of these works best for you? Did we leave any out

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)