What Buyers Expect Is Not What Sellers Provide

What Buyers Expect Is Not What Sellers Provide

Are you meeting with buyers at the right stage in their buying process and your prospecting process?

The buying process is changing. And the sales process is not keeping up. As a result, we have a growing gap between what buyers expect and what sellers provide. Sellers are not at the table until later in the process, but it’s not for a lack of trying. When sellers do meet with buyers, they are trying to sell too soon in the sales process.

The solution? Engage with buyers sooner in the process by having a business conversation – before a product & price conversation – because that’s when we can differentiate ourselves from the competition and add more value.

Have a Business Conversation

There’s one significant shift in the buying process.

It used to begin with the identification of a problem or need, followed by exploring options, purchasing and implementation. What we’re finding more often is that companies are reluctant to change. They stay with the status quo. They’re asking, “Why change?” The challenge for sales reps is to motivate buyers to consider alternative options for their business. Sellers need to demonstrate the value of change, or alternatively, the risk associated with not changing.

This is why we need to focus on having business conversations, before product conversations.

We need to change the possible perception that buyers have of sales professionals. Are we relevant to them? Do they need us throughout the buying process? Do they receive value from our conversations? The answer to these questions should be “yes” if we expect to get any of their time to have a conversation. 

The Sales Gap

The sales gap is the difference between what buyers expect and what sellers deliver.

Studies show the gap is growing. Why? Partly because we may not realize how the buying process is changing. And partly because it’s simply more difficult to do.

Sellers need to demonstrate the value of change, or alternatively, the risk associated with not changing. Click To Tweet

The buying process includes three general stages:

Stage 1: Needs Identification

Defining the problem and figuring out what they need and want, to improve the current situation, and most importantly their business.

Stage 2: Exploration & Solution Definition

Determining if the solution entails a change in product/services, processes or people/organizational structure.

Stage 3: Solution Implementation & Evaluation

Deciding on a solution, executing the action plan, and tracking impact or results.

Studies reveal that sales professionals are not engaged until later in the buying process. Why?

Technology: Buyers have convenient access to vast amounts of information and an online network. It’s easier to self-assess, consult with peers and search for possible solutions, without involving sellers. And with the increasing use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, more information will be coming from online or self-serve resources.

Multiple Buyers: As organizations move to a more flat, collaborative environment, so does the decision-making process. There are often multiple people involved in purchasing decisions. And each person likely has their own buying process. The sales rep may be considered unnecessary with so many others involved.

Expectations: Buyers are consumers and are expecting that experience in the B2B sales process. This means a personalized, multi-channel, hassle-free, information-enriched and responsive experience. And just like when they buy a coffee, visit a theme park, or download music, the new standard is “exceed my expectations”. Vendors or sales reps may not be included because they don’t meet the buyer’s expectations of knowledge, communication skills, and service levels.

Less time: Buyers are doing more with less resources. Their time for sales reps is limited.

The sooner buyers engage sellers, the more sellers can differentiate themselves and potentially provide more value.

Sellers want to be at the table during the needs identification stage. We ultimately want to help clients solve business problems (and get ahead of the competition).

The ultimate goal in sales is to remain relevant to the buyer. We want clients to have a deep belief that in order to be most successful, they need us. We no longer want to be seen as a sales rep, but as a trusted business advisor that is an important contributor to the success of their business.

How an Hour of Power Helps You Maximize Your Day

How an Hour of Power Helps You Maximize Your Day

Are you a morning person who loves to reap your sales productivity and improve your overall sales effectiveness?

I’ll admit, I was never a morning person. When the alarm would go off, I was notorious for hitting the snooze button a few times and that was at 6am.

In the last few years, I’ve become a much better morning person and now realize it’s my most productive hour of power, to increase my efficiency and effectiveness. I would rather wake up at 5am or 5:30am to work out and/or start a project or proposal when I have my freshest brain power. My entire day goes better when I work out and/or have at least one hour of focused sales productivity before the rest of the world starts their work day.

This Hour of Sales Productivity allows you to be pro-active, rather than re-active.

If you want to outperform your competition, this could be the right strategy for you to be working proactively in order to improve your sales process and sales success. Click To Tweet

Here’s a list of ideas to use this Hour of Power & Productivity to maximize your day:

  • A great workout pumps oxygen throughout your body, increasing endorphins and starting your mindset and day in the right mode. I’m amazed at how much better my day goes when I work out and spend time on me. I attract better business and ideas.
  • Eat breakfast with your family and take your kids to school. Dedicate this hour to your family without stress. Help them get organized with their day and model an organized, positive mindset rather than a frazzled mindset!
  • Be pro-active with client projects and follow-up. Be one step ahead of your clients to demonstrate you’re on top of their needs. I’m surprised by the number of clients who respond between 6am and 8am.
  • In working with many sales teams, along with my own prospecting efforts, the early morning prospecting gets the better response, before leaders and buyers get consumed in their day and emails get lost in a deep inbox. Scheduling time for your prospecting sales calls will improve your conversion rate and lead to more closed deals. 7:30am to 8:55am is my dedicated prospecting time at least twice per week.
  • Identify your top selling activities and schedule them in the morning to help you improve sales productivity and become a top performer.
  • Weekly or daily huddle with your operations/customer service team to ensure you are pro-actively identifying any activities that need to be addressed sooner rather than later, and to ensure that deadlines are met. These activities help to improve sales.

It’s said that the early bird gets the worm. If you want to outperform your competition, this could be the right strategy for you to be working proactively in order to improve your sales process and sales success.

Prospecting – Not a Hit & Miss Discipline

Prospecting – Not a Hit & Miss Discipline

To have a stellar sales year, you have to keep prospecting and adding to your sales pipeline – especially this spring. The most effective way to prospect and open doors is to consistently prospect every week – no excuses! – and use referrals.

In this week’s prospecting blog, we want to share with you poll survey questions that were taken at our Evolve Sales Leaders Think Tank by our attending sales leader attendees.

It provides great insight as to the sales and prospecting status of sales teams for the year in progress.

Question #1: At the end of Q1 or 3 months into 2019, what is your status on growing / increasing sales?

prospecting sales growth

Only 10% of sales teams are on a high-performance roll with 20%+ growth or more. These are companies who are trail blazers and leaving their competition in the dust. Is this your team?

31% of sales teams are strong with 10%+ sales increase in 2019. Go Teams Go!

20% of sales teams are flat with sales growth. Time to get into high sales gear!

The most revealing stat is that 38% of sales teams are having a slow start to the beginning of 2019 and are behind in sales. I hope they’re not listening to the news and economic factors. It’s time to spit the dust, raise your heads and mindsets and pick up sales momentum as you progress into the rest of the sales year.

Less than 3% are behind more than 10%. Lots of work and effort are needed to make up the rest of the sales year!

38% of sales teams are having a slow start to the beginning of 2019 and are behind in sales. I hope they’re not listening to the news and economic factors. Click To Tweet

Question #2: How much is your team focused on prospecting / attracting new clients?

prospecting new clients

Sales professionals are more reactive than proactive when it comes to prospecting efforts, with 38% admitting their prospecting efforts are hit and miss. When they do prospect, 34% prefer to call on their existing clients to grow business.

The front leaders in sales this year are the 28% of sales teams who are consistently prospecting with at least 10+ calls/emails every week. What will you do to proactively prospect every week?

Question #3: What is the most effective method for your team to prospect / attract new customers?

Prospecting new customers

Referrals are by far the number one prospecting method with over 50%, yet many sales professionals are hesitant to ask for referrals, even though it works!

Surprising, drop-ins rated at the same level as LinkedIn effectiveness at 28%. This is interesting because many buyers state they don’t have time for unscheduled meetings with sales professionals.

The least effective method was emails at 27%. Be brave and use the double whammy of a combined telephone call and email to increase your response by 50%. It does work!

An Essential Discipline to Sales Growth

An Essential Discipline to Sales Growth

This is a prospecting sales habit you must consistently do, or put consistently back into place, to fill your pipeline for the fiscal sales year. It’s simply this: dedicating time every week to make your 10 sales prospecting phone calls/emails to the right decision makers, especially during the Q2 Spring Prospecting Blitz.

In today’s hectic, fast-paced sales working environment, prospecting is a sales habit or discipline that is a necessary must-do to be pro-active, rather than reactive, in growing your business to keep your pipeline healthy throughout the year. I highly recommend you create the discipline of 10 calls/emails every week. The minimum of 10 prospecting calls/emails gets you past your mojo and will get you better results to grow your business.

Last week, when I made my 10 calls I spoke with two people live, which is a good batting average. Using follow-up emails, I increased the response rate to four more people = 60% response rate. I secured three meetings and moved one opportunity closer to a yes. This is worth it!

There are three simple steps you can take to proactively prospect that will help you increase your response rate.

  1. Block time in your calendar – the earlier the better. Stay focused and don’t let any other interruptions get in the way. You must be pro-active.
  2. Identify your list of 10 names the day before or throughout the week so you’re ready and excited to call some of those people. Do your research on their website or their LinkedIn profile so you can prepare a compelling reason to meet.
  3. Complete 10 calls and have a great compelling voice message prepared. Follow up with the double whammy approach with 10 emails with the same compelling message to increase your response rate.

There are always emails, interruptions, client requests or excuses that can get in your way. Do you think the best athletes would give up their disciplined practice time and expect to become champions? You MUST dedicate at least 10 proactive prospecting calls/emails every week, or even more, to become a Sales Athlete.

Take a look at these three simple steps you can take to proactively prospect that WILL help you increase your response rate. Click To Tweet

Read about the success stories of these people who committed to be proactive about their prospecting:

“I saw results as early as week two of Proactive Prospecting. A client I hadn’t done business with in a very long time said my timing was great! This would have never happened if I hadn’t made that Proactive Prospecting connection.”

“As a direct result of the Prospecting Power program, I was able to land a client with the potential of generating over $2 million in sales.” 

“The Prospecting Power Program was a valuable tool to rejuvenate and keep me focused on the importance of continually prospecting. Ultimately, I developed several new opportunities amounting to over $200,000 in business. A great prospecting habit that delivers results!”

“The Prospecting Power program is helpful, easy to use and most importantly holds us accountable to make those calls. As a result, we landed a $10,000 order with a new client within 6 weeks of starting the program, and now this new client’s order is turning into a program worth over $20,000 annually!”

 

Say “Yes” to one hour of your Prospecting Hour of Power, and say NO to anything else that would get in the way of this hour!

Sales Prospecting – Excuses or Excitement?

Sales Prospecting – Excuses or Excitement?

There is something that every sales professional has to do – love it or hate it.

Prospecting.

You have a choice – are you committed to prospecting each week, or are you making excuses?

We’re already a few weeks into the 90-day Sales Prospecting Blitz and hopefully creating a consistent habit of prospecting each week. Are you coming up with excuses or focused on high profit prospecting?

What is your Prospecting Mindset when you have blocked time to prospect? Are you diligent in following through or are you creating excuses like these?

  1. I simply don’t have time. I’m too busy to make these calls today.
  2. I have an urgent client request.
  3. I have too many emails in my inbox that I need to respond to first.
  4. I’ll prospect tomorrow. I’ll have more time then to create a better sales process.
  5. I’m not in the right mood to prospect.
  6. No one is going to respond to my emails.
  7. It’s too early to call or email them; I don’t want to irritate them by calling too early.
  8. I’m not sure who to call; I haven’t started my list or research.
  9. I’ll just make a few calls/emails and if I don’t get any success, I’ll start something else.
  10. I have a meeting to attend.

Sound all too familiar?

Here’s a little secret –

The biggest excuse is YOU!

Are you committed to prospecting each week, or are you making excuses? Click To Tweet

I’ll admit, these excuses fill my head most times I start to prospect. It’s a major battle of prospect or procrastination that goes on in my head – and I LIKE to prospect and realize the ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE of this quintessential sale habit.

That’s why I’m writing this for you (and me, too!).

Let’s look at what we want to proactively attract in prospecting:

  • Larger clients
  • Meetings with the right decision makers
  • Prospects who want to hear from us and are genuinely interested in our solutions that will help their business
  • Calls and emails that turn into scheduled 30-60 minute meetings – people who make the time for us!
  • Prospects who respond to emails and/or return our calls

Remembering the results we want to achieve is good. But there’s something even more powerful.

Mindset.

Thinking and saying strong pro-active statements to ourselves can be a significant confidence booster.

Here are some examples that I often use:

  • I will be brave and make those 10 calls & emails every day/week to attract the bigger customers.
  • I will prepare my list in advance to be ready to pro-actively make my calls to receive at least three responses and meetings.
  • When I commit to prospecting, I turn prospects into customers within three months.
  • I will be confident, concise and customize the right message to the right decision maker who will say yes to a meeting and will then say yes to our solutions.
  • We have the best solutions in the marketplace; companies need our help to solve their biggest challenge and I need to prospect to create this awareness and need.

Do you have a habit of letting your mindset hold you back? How are you working to overcome it? Share your methods and tips below.