Both athletes and performing artists bring great disciplines to the field of sales that we can learn from. Athletes understand the importance of practice; from their experience, working out 10, 20, 40 hours per week for one game is the routine. Performing artists understand the importance of tone, cadence, wording in sending their message; they too practice many hours leading up to one event just to perfect tone, cadence and wording.
And so with sales professionals, an appreciation for role playing is critical.
A colleague Colleen Stanley (www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com), says that you need to practice your sales messages 140 times each. An exaggeration? Maybe and maybe not. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Baldridge cites professionals like the Beatles, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who practiced their craft more than 10,000 hours until they became professionals.
Here are some rhythms for role playing recommended for sales professionals:
- Find an accountability buddy and practice twice a week for 10 minutes each. Each person picks a sales situation to practice each time.
- Sales coaches should role play weekly in every session. Some coaches will push back that they have mastered the message but invoke the 140 times or the 10,000 hours rule.
- Incorporate role playing into weekly sales meetings. Choose experts on particular topics to present for the rest of the group.
- Host one or two-hour monthly refresher trainings for all sales staff and require role playing at each session, tied to the topic.
- Always, always, always prepare for new sales situations by role playing.
What do you role play? Elevator talks, value propositions, handling objections, describing each product, describing the company, cold calls, warm calls, etc.
As a sales coach, I constantly reinforce these elements of selling and role playing:
- Write our your script first. The brain organizes the information when you write first and that helps to recall it naturally.
- Re-write the script and always remember to minimize the number of words.
- Incorporate emotion into verbal (and written messages).
- Practice, practice, practice.
Pam Watson Korbel, 303-906-4144
SmartGrowth, Inc. (www.smartgrowth.com)
For a copy of my white paper 10 Tips to More Sales: more money, less work, more fun, email me, email@example.com
Is cold calling dead? This question always rears its head in sales coaching. My answer: cold calling will go away shortly before the need to sell goes away…never.
The first key to effective cold calling is understanding that selling is a “helping” profession. How can someone take advantage of your wonderful product or service until they know what you have to offer? Cold calls need to be positioned as communication tools.
What makes most cold calls difficult is the inability to get people on the telephone. Therefore, strategies to be memorable on the call pay off. For example, my colleague Colleen Stanley (www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com) teaches people to start the call like this, “Hi, John, this is Mary Smith. You don’t know me.” This disarming tactic often keeps people on the phone. I suggest role playing this situation with your coachees.
Another tactic to get people on the phone is to “warm them up.” As a suggestion, try direct mailings so that your name and company seem familiar. As an example, I recently mailed free, 10-page white papers to CEOs in my target market. When I followed up on the mailing (as I said I would in the letter), I talked to every contact after one phone call…about 60 percent of the time they called me back after I left a message. Because I had sent something of value, they recognized the name and at least personally addressed their interest in talking more or not.
Additionally, a key to cold calling well is embracing the speed at which it can occur and generate results. If sales reps are deficient in sales activity, cold calling for a day or two serves as a quick “pick-me-up.” My rule of thumb is that with no other sales activities (meetings, proposals, networking, etc.) scheduled in a day, then a sales person should be able to make 25 cold calls per day; not all will result in conversations but the outbound record will show 25 different calls.
Lastly, remind sales staff that cold calling is a numbers game. The more calls you make, the more follow on activity you generate. It should be a staple of every sales person’s day.
Remember, great sales people love cold calling.
When was the last time you got a piece of mail that was hand-addressed with a regular stamp? How did you feel when you got it?
Now that you have remembered the emotion that goes with that experience, how do you think hand-written notes impact your prospects and clients? As a sales coach, I find that reinforcing the importance and value of hand-written notes is important at least once each fiscal quarter (four times a year).
Verne Harnish of Gazelles Inc. endorses the habit of sending five hand-written notes a week. That practice, also endorsed by everyone from Deepak Chopra to my grandmother, starts the positive relationship necessary to grow a sales organization.
To whom would you send these notes and why? Here we go: thank a prospect for a meeting, send a newspaper clipping or article of value to a client, send your business card to a new referral source…
thank a client for their business at least once a quarter, send a suggestion to a prospective referral source, tell an employee that you enjoy working with him/her, thank the administrative assistant of a client executive…
thank a referral source for a lead, share a photo from an event, wish someone happy birthday or happy anniversary, tell someone that you are thinking about him/her, send a quote or a prayer…
Many benefits accrue from these notes including credibility, the ability reach someone on the telephone more easily, a way to stand out, a different mode of communication, a new relationship, and maybe even a return handwritten note!
1. Setting intentions – Part of emotional intelligence is being intentional. This ranges from having a 5-year and 1-year goal to being focused on your objectives for this month, this day and this meeting. In my experience, the best sales people write out their intention for each sales meeting/event before it occurs. Here is an example from a sales person for a catering company who was part of an exhibit at a trade event: My intention for this event is to generate 15 leads for our new healthy lunch product so that we decrease our dependence upon Sunday catering events. This is a good intention because it is focused on one event, it is measureable and the purpose is well-defined. The “intention” creates both the attitude and the outcome. When no intention is consciously set, the default is the most negative thought in the sales person’s brain.
2. Creating a “To Do” list – The importance of creating daily, weekly, monthly “To Do” lists has been exhaustively explored by everyone from big names like Stephen Covey to my Mother and your mother. And yet, we all need regular reminders. For sales staff, consider setting up a monthly “To Do” list that is then broken down into weeks and then days. This approach requires that you start with the biggest picture and keep the details in perspective.
3. Blocking time to attack critical activities – Calendars are not just for meetings! Great time managers block their calendars with time for critical activities as well. The best sales people that I know block their calendars weekly to: make cold calls, post on social media, write handwritten notes, check up on outstanding proposals, etc.
4. Execution – The creative right brain must dominate the logical left brain when it comes to achieving the desired intentions. Great sales people set aside time weekly to evaluate their progress and plan. This keeps them moving into the future.
For a free copy of my Time Blocking Tool for Sales Professionals, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Watson Korbel
Chief Growth Officer, SmartGrowth, Inc.
As a follow up to Wednesday’s post about communication preferences, this blog focuses on another communication foundation – you must use more than one form of media to communicate effectively with your clients and prospects. Again this is an important sales coaching topic.
Tired of calling prospects 12 times and not getting a response? Think that your sales manager is crazy because she told you it takes 12 contacts to make a client? Here are some tips to make communication easier and more focused on effective relationship-building because you “mix it up” to keep it interesting:
1. Write a hand-written note and send it via snail mail – Think about it; when you open your mail, don’t you pull out the letters with hand-written addresses first.
2. Supplement your calling campaigns with postcards highlighting your key marketing messages. This blog from DreamWise Marketing Solutions provides some great ideas on personalizing direct mail: http://tinyurl.com/n8wan3t.
3. Look for common acquaintances. Can you leverage an existing relationship with your prospect? Can the three of you have lunch or coffee?
4. Look for common interests in organizations. Do you belong to any of the same industry groups, associations, chambers? Can you catch up together at one of those events?
5. Connect on social media. Follow the company and the individual and be sure to comment, like and share the information.
6. For more ideas, check out the website, blog and work of Kendra Lee, klagroup.com.
A simple strategy for completing more calls and getting email responses is knowing the communication preferences of your prospect/customer. This is an important sales coaching module.
Keeping it simple, people tend to either be readers or listeners…meaning they want their information in writing or verbally. Your job as a sales person is to determine how your contact prefers their information – written or verbal – and then to provide it in that manner. Many mishaps occur because we don’t make it easy for others to communicate with us.
Here are some examples…
A sales rep provides a proposal for a multi-step project that takes 30 days to complete. Knowing the customer has a ‘hard’ deadline, the rep verbally communicates for several days the week of April 22 that work needs to start on May 1 to be done by May 31. The prospect is not replying. So the rep finally sends an email and gets a response within 30 minutes. This prospect clearly is a reader, spending more time in email than on the telephone.
In another case, the sales representative sends a list of documents needed in order to develop a proposal for professional services. Again, the rep starts to feel as if she is in “chase” mode. She calls and the list has been lost on the prospect’s desk. She verbally reviews the list and gets the documents that day. In this case, the prospect prefers information verbally.
How can you determine which is the preferred method of communication? Start by reviewing how the prospect initially contacted you and maintains communications. Clues about readers: contacted you first time via email, read about you in a blog or newspaper, saw your ad or a presentation at a meeting, keeps notes in meetings, leaves notes for you as follow up. Clues about listeners: initially calls you on the telephone, strikes up a conversation at an event, does not rely on handwritten or typed notes, asks you to write things down or send follow-up emails.
The ultimate benefit of understandinghow your contact wants to communicate is staying out of “chase” mode. And reducing frustration in your sales representatives lives helps them to sell more.
Sales representatives wrestle with these decisions daily: short-term vs. long-term? transactional vs. relationship? One of the most difficult sales skills to coach is relationship selling over transactional selling.
In short, transactional selling is project and cost based. Generally, it’s a one-time deal with a low profit margin, and the sales person might not ever meet the customer face-to-face. Commodity products and services like office supplies and books are sold well as transactions. At the other extreme is the relationship sale where the client and the sales person do business because they like each other. Examples include the sale of professional services and high-end clothing.
Mischel’s study shows that preschoolers who delayed eating one marshmallow for 20 minutes so that they could get two marshmallows later were more successful later in life when measured by wealth, job status and health. Overall, they were more mature and showed higher emotional intelligence. The same holds true for sales people: steadily growing relationships with prospects leads to more repeat sales and profit for the individual and the company.
So how do you coach relationship selling? Every coaching topic works best when broken down into chunks. So coach up your reps using these ideas:
1. Relationships are a series of contacts. Jim Cecil of Nurture Marketing says it takes 12 contacts to secure a client. Ask your sales reps to track the number of contacts they make with a prospect.
2. Relationships are a series of meaningful conversations. A meaningful conversation could be just getting to know a prospect or it could be a discussion about a specific project or job. Here we are looking for deep discussion. Ask your sales reps to track the length of their meaningful conversations.
3. Relationships do not require competitive bidding. The goal of relationship selling is to eliminate the competition. Train your sales reps to always know who else is seeking work from the same prospect.
4. Relationships are social. A strong indicator of business relationship is the extent to which it is social. Have the parties been to the Opera, a baseball game, shared museum tickets, or attended an association dinner together? In companies where relationship selling is important, budgets for entertainment are available.
5. Relationships are helpful. In 1985 my former company experienced a major flood. Guess who was on the scene to help us clean up first? Our IBM sales representative. He truly was available in good times and bad. And from whom did we order our next computer? IBM of course.
6. Relationships are two-way. The parties readily refer business back and forth.
7. Relationship selling requires smaller advertising budgets. As you build your clientele using the relationship building skills of your representatives, more repeat business and referral business rolls in requiring less advertising budgets elsewhere.
Lastly, there is no resistance in relationship selling. As a sales manager or sales coach, your representatives do not push back about this topic and neither do you clients.
Pam Watson Korbel, Chief Growth Officer
303-906-4144 or email@example.com
For a free copy of my eB.ook “The Little White Book on Business Growth” go to www.smartgrowth.com
Just read a great blog by DreamWise Marketing Solutions about where to network in Denver…you know, that old-fashioned sales activity where you go out and meet people face-to-face at organizations and events. It’s a good read…go to: http://www.dreamwisemarketing.com/community-involvment/8-great-places-to-network-in-denver/.
As our society has become more electronic, the meaning of ‘being social’ has changed unnecessarily…and maybe to the detriment of sales people. Keeping in mind the concept, “people buy from people that they like,” then networking and other face-to-face opportunities are important for sales success.
In coaching today’s young sales people on networking and personal relationships, consider these guidelines:
1. Network within organizations and with people that you like. Likeability is a huge factor in chemistry for the relationship. Every prospect can sniff out a sales person who doesn’t want to be there.
2. At each networking event, set a goal for the number of contacts you want to establish. This of course depends upon the length of the event, nature of the program, etc. However, a minimum of three to five contacts can be made at each event.
3. Remember to keep moving around the room. Coach your sales rep on how to politely move on to a new contact by saying, “I’ve enjoyed our conversation. Let’s continue over coffee so that we can each meet someone new now.”
4. Not all networking events need to be social or mingling. Attend seminars where your prospects might be attending at places like the Chamber of Commerce or your industry association.
5. Remember that some of your prospects might live in your neighborhood, go to your church, participate in the same clubs. Keep business cards handy and practice networking in these more comfortable environments.
6. Your elevator speeches should say what you do in 15 seconds or less. The best ones evoke a question or an emotion. Such as mine: “I help business executives enjoy more money, less work and more fun.” That always provokes interest and more questions. Elevator speeches should be carefully crafted so spend time here.
7. Always try organizations by attending one or two events before joining. Every group and event has its own chemistry.
8. Set a key performance factor for the number of outside events each representative should attend in a week.
Business growth is almost always fueled by people who get out and make relationships.
Pam Watson Korbel, Chief Growth Officer, 303-906-4144, firstname.lastname@example.org
PS For a free copy of my white paper: More Money, Less Work, More Fun: 10 Tips to Increase Sales Today, write me at email@example.com.
The phrase “people buy from people that they like” connotes, to me, that personal brand is critical to building sales within a growing company because each sales person needs to display a personal brand that aligns with the company. Regardless of the employer, good representatives present themselves in accordance with who they want to be. And the buyer makes a decision about whether they want to align with that individual first…not the company.
Here are two examples:
- A sales person walks into my office as she is prospecting in my business park. She is dressed in a casual and professional business suit, smiles when she walks in the door, and immediately asks me about the family picture sitting on my desk because she likes the look of my dog. Her brand … professional, friendly, not thinking about herself first.
- Another sales person visits my office and approaches the “gatekeeper” sitting outside my door. First, I overhear a voice too loud for a quiet office and unprofessional language. When I go to the outer office to check, I notice that his clothes are barely ironed and his shoes need polish. Then, in an accosting tone, he asks me about my telephone system before attempting to build rapport. Finally, he asks me for a business card so that he can “prove” to his boss that we visited even though I turn him away with no interest. His brand … self-centered, loud, checking a task off his list rather than developing a relationship.
When screening and interviewing sales professionals, check their personal brand first. Does it fit the company, its brand and the other people represented. My check list for analyzing a personal brand includes:
1. Do they look like a professional? Looks, fitness, style, personality.
2. Do they appear task-oriented or people-oriented? Do they want to complete a transaction or develop a relationship?
3. Are they self-centered or other-centered?
4. What is unique about this person? Do they know how they are unique and are they building upon it? Is that evident to other parties?
5. Who else would I want to introduce this person to? People I like and respect or people I want to brush off?
Brand is critical…for companies and their representatives. Take the time to assess personal brands before putting your sales people on the street. And in sales coaching remember, co-branding is a plus when your brand aligns with your representatives leading synergistic result for sales growth.
Pam Watson Korbel, Chief Growth Officer, SmartGrowth, Inc.
PS – For a free copy of my eBook “The Little White Book on Business Growth” go to www.smartgrowth.com