Are You Prepared for 2020?

Are You Prepared for 2020?

2020 is to be the year of changing sales and buying demographics.

Why?

Retiring baby boomers.

Approximately fifty percent of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by the year 2020.

Because many sales teams are composed largely of sales professionals aged 55 or over, this presents a major challenge. Some baby boomers have already started to retire and that means jobs need to be filled.

Many of these positions have been held by experienced sales professionals for many years. These boomers have extensive product and industry knowledge and great customer relationships – all things that could potentially be lost when they go.

How can you ensure these opening positions are filled with skilled and qualified sales professionals?

Start planning now.

Approximately fifty percent of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by the year 2020. Click To Tweet

Here are 7 simple strategies to help you begin your succession plan:

  1. Have a coaching conversation with your senior reps. You can no longer force retirement at age 65 according to the Canadian Human Rights Code. This means some boomers may choose not to retire until later. Even though you can’t force retirement, you can ask coach-like questions to identify their goals toward retirement and to make succession planning smooth. Both parties should openly communicate their expectations moving forward, to ensure the continued success of the company.
  2. Offer flexible working schedules to accommodate the boomers who may want to phase out of their position gradually. Some boomers reaching retirement age may want to continue to work, but only on a part-time basis. By offering a flexible work schedule you can make this transition smoother for all parties involved.
  3. Create a farm team of upcoming sales professionals to step into the roles as boomers leave. Having a trained and prepared sales professional ready to step into the role will avoid the awkward and clunky transition from a seasoned sales professional to a new hire or transitioning worker.
  4. Hire millennials into entry-level sales and marketing positions and provide them with a career pathway. By hiring millennials into your business you can help ensure the future success of your company, while ensuring the success of the next generation.
  5. Mentorship is a great way to help transition sales professionals into senior roles―whether it be new hires or existing workers. Mentoring creates a support system for both incoming employees and for millennial mentoring outgoing boomers, and it ensures company knowledge and existing customer relationships are passed along to the incoming employee.
  6. Special projects/assignments are a good way to help keep boomers involved in a transition role. These special projects could include customer relationship management, product training programs, customer service roles, or marketing or inside sales.
  7. Be sure the candidate taking over has the correct temperament for the position. If you are promoting from within, be sure that the position change is welcomed by them, and that their temperament is suited for the job in need of filling. Often, the top-salespeople are promoted to managerial positions, but they are not suited for office work and find it stifling.

Remember this: Soon-to-retire boomers still want to retain a sense of importance within the company while training another sales professional to occupy the soon-to-be-vacant position.

7 Ideas For Writing Better Prospecting Emails

7 Ideas For Writing Better Prospecting Emails

Are you frustrated by writing sales emails that don’t get a good response? Either you’re not getting many replies (cue the crickets) or your emails don’t move the sales process forward much. (Cue the snails!) Well, there’s good news – there are strategies that can help. In a recent webinar I hosted called “How to Write Sales Emails that Really, Really Work”, I talked with Steve Slaunwhite, professional copywriter, who shared his best techniques and strategies that will boost your sales email success rates by 35% or more. These are step-by-step techniques you’ll be able to use right away to craft emails that get noticed, get opened and — most importantly — get actions.

1. Do your homework on the prospect.

Treat your email as you would a meeting. The more prepared you are, the better that meeting will go. Before sending an email, find out about…

  • The professional background of your prospect.
  • Actions taken on your website. (Have they downloaded or subscribed to anything?)
  • Previous interactions with your company. (Have they sent inquiries previously?)
  • News, issues, buzz, etc., in the prospect’s industry.
  • Events that might “trigger” an interest in the type of solutions you offer.
  • Similarities with other customers you’ve had success with.

Doing your homework on your prospect will provide you with the knowledge to creatively customize an email just for them – which in turn has proven to get a far better response rate.

2. Write conversationally to ONE person (This isn’t mass email marketing!)

  • The prospect should feel like it’s an email just for them. (So, make it just for them!)
  • Personalize as much as possible (without seeming creepy.)
  • Avoid apology-talk. “I know you’re busy, so I’ll only take two minutes of your time…”
  • Show you’ve identified an opportunity to help the prospect solve a problem or achieve an objective.
  • Write the way you talk. Your email should sound natural when read out loud. (So, read it out loud!)
  • There should be twice as many you-words than we-words.
These are step-by-step techniques you'll be able to use right away to craft emails that get noticed, get opened and — most importantly — get actions. Click To Tweet

3. Keep it short and easy to scan.

  • Ideally, no more than 200 words.
  • Write in short paragraphs to make reading easier – looking at large amounts of text without any breaks may seem daunting and discourage your prospect from even reading it.
  • If appropriate, use a bullet list.
  • Avoid bolds, font colours, etc., that make the email seem like a mass marketing piece.
  • No attachments. Some companies have firewalls that will prevent your email from ever being received if it contains attachments.
  • What does the prospect need to know to take the action you want them to take?

4. Ask a question that gets the prospect thinking (dreaming) of a solution.

  • Is this a challenge you’ve encountered?
  • Can you see how [product name] might boost ‘pick and pack’ times in your distribution centre?
  • Do you happen to be looking for ways to solve this problem?
  • Would being able to do [x] make it worth a few minutes to learn more?

5. If possible, drop in some “social proof”.

  • Names of customers with similar issues that your product/service has helped.
  • Number of satisfied customers.
  • Industry ranking, product reviews, publicity (“As featured in…”)
  • Customer stories and case studies.

6. Suggest an easy-to-say-yes-to next step.

  • Don’t ask for too big of a decision. (Don’t propose marriage on a first date!)
  • What is the next easiest action a prospect needs to take to learn more?
  • Consider making two calls-to-action. A hard offer and a soft offer.

7. Use a benefit-focused subject line.

  • Curiosity-focused subject line:
  • Another spill on aisle 10…
  • Ask-focused subject line:
  • Do you have a moment to chat? Topic: new, safer forklifts
  • Benefit-focused subject line:
  • Will our safer forklifts lower your insurance costs? Let’s find out…

If you implement these strategies, along with the double-whammy approach of reaching out to prospects through more than one platform (an email followed by a LinkedIn connection, or a telephone call followed by an email) you can increase your response rate by 50%. This really, really works!

Consultative Conversations Work

Consultative Conversations Work

Consultative selling is an approach that focuses on creating value and trust with your customer and exploring their needs before offering a solution. And this sales team managed to grow their business by 25% by moving from the traditional model of just selling to solving problems.

At a recent client sales conference, the sales team of ReSource Group Canada, who started the journey of being Strategic, Proactive and Brave three years ago by receiving training from us on consultative selling, reflected and gave their insight on the importance of Consultative Conversations and how well it works to grow their business.

Here are their actual insights and comments.

  • “Consultative Selling is a Game Changer – it becomes a habit.”
  • “I know more about our customer’s business and my customer respects me more.”
  • “I care, they care.”
  • “I used to be afraid to ask my customers about my competition in their business… Now, I’m no longer afraid to ask those questions.”
  • “It’s all about preparing for customer meetings, then partnering with your customers.”
  • “Active listening – summarizing and re-affirming what the customer says.”
  • “It takes the customer relationship to a different level.”
  • “It elevates my confidence.”
  • “Purposeful conversations can even be done socially over dinner with a CEO to better understand their business.”
Consultative selling is an approach that focuses on creating value and trust with your customer and exploring their needs before offering a solution. Click To Tweet
  • “If we ask all the right questions, then we will present exactly what the buyer needs and wants – as it [removes] the guess work.”
  • “It shows you care and creates trust with your customer.”
  • “We didn’t talk about products, price or pitch – it was all about approaching buyers in the right way.”
  • “I now look forward to developing an agenda for a customer meeting to explore and discuss more about their business.”
  • “Consultative and purposeful conversations always lead to more positive things and outcomes.”

In addition to growing their business by 25%, the ReSource Group Canada sales team was featured in

ReSource Group Canada sales team the Globe and Mail Sales Supplement in recognition of the entire team earning their CSP Designation. Becoming a Certified Sales Professional is now standard at ReSource Group Canada.

Congratulations to this team on their success and their recent 25th Anniversary Celebration.

Referrals Are Not Asking For Favours

Referrals Are Not Asking For Favours

Even though I knew referrals were a strong source of growing business, I’ll admit I was hesitant to ask my clients for a referral because I felt it was asking for a favour.

During the past year, I started asking for referrals. When I completed the analysis of our new business source, over 80% came from referrals! Referrals are powerful.

In our Cracking the Buyers Code panels, all our buyers agreed that when they are contacted by a salesperson, they are more likely to accept the meeting if the seller uses the name of a referral. The consensus was that when the name of a common connection is used, they will accept the meeting out of respect for their contact.

When you call the new prospect, you have to reference the referral name early in the conversation or first line of the email. I thought it was name dropping, but it’s a necessity to get the attention and credibility of your prospect.

Clearly, a good referral lends you credibility by association.

Referral Statistics

  • People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend or colleague.
  • 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral.
  • 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience – yet only 29% actually do.
  • The Lifetime Value for new referral customer is 16% higher than non-referrals.
  • 87% of frontline sales sellers, 82% of sales leaders, and 78% of marketers surveyed agree that referrals are the best leads your business can get.

SOURCE: REFERRALSAASQUATCH.COM

Even though I know referrals are a strong source of growing business, I’ll admit I was hesitant to ask my clients for a referral because I felt it was asking for a favour. Click To Tweet

Without a referral, our respondents indicated that the only other reason they would grant a meeting with a seller was if they presented them with a very compelling reason to do so. The case for a compelling reason must be made based on research the salesperson has done, prior to making that first contact. The website of the prospect is a good start, but likely contains very limited information and may function primarily as a marketing tool. Sellers should check a company’s annual report, industry publications, and trade publications for more insights. Set up a Google alert or RSS Feed to receive information daily or weekly by email.

 

Buyers we spoke to agreed on some key traits that sellers need to have, to get and keep their attention:

  • Healthy respect for their time; it’s valuable to them and should be to you
  • Ability to lead meetings in an organized and concise manner
  • Tenacity
  • A genuine interest in building relationships with their clients
  • Integrity
  • The insights to ask thought-provoking questions that show understanding of the prospect’s business
Three Factors That Sabotage Sales Confidence

Three Factors That Sabotage Sales Confidence

Sales confidence is one of the biggest challenges that sales professionals and sales leaders face between their sales calls, sales presentations, and especially sales prospecting. And it’s not just true for new sales professionals; it’s even more so for tenured sales professionals with 10 and 20+ years of sales experience.

Why?

These three factors sabotage sales confidence:

1. Buyers, customers and prospects don’t see the value of a salesperson’s role, knowledge and ability to demonstrate value.

That’s why they’re so quick to blow you off. They don’t reliably return emails or voice mail messages, so it takes many more touch points and different and stronger messaging to get their attention.  When they do return your call, they ask you for your best price, then involve more people in the decision-making process, stretching out a more challenging buyer cycle to greater lengths than ever before. This happens with existing and even favourite clients who are not as responsive to you as in the past. That cuts into the love (and even the like!) you feel as a salesperson, and that can erode your confidence, making it tougher to reach out to new clients.

2. Sales professionals are more reactive and have little time for proactive planning and strategies.

When we are in reactive mode, we are putting out fires, usually fixing problems or following up on customer orders. Sales confidence is eroded when we are in fire-fighting mode because it seems to take all the running we can do to stay in the same place. It’s too tempting to procrastinate on prospecting when there are “just not enough hours in the day”. Sales professionals are not allocating the necessary time to be proactive to find new customers. Sales preparation builds sales confidence.  Sales professionals need to follow a proven sales prospecting process that enables them to be more proactive, rather than simply reactive.

Sales confidence is one of the biggest challenges that sales professionals and sales leaders face. Click To Tweet

3. Competition is fierce.

Customers are more demanding and more knowledgeable than in the past, because they do their research before they talk with a sales professional.  Many sales professionals and sales leaders have not stepped up their A-Sales Game to be able to quickly and confidently articulate their company’s value proposition against their current competitor, how their products/services will provide better solutions to their prospects and customers, or how to handle all types of objections from securing a meeting to securing a sale.

The best way to increase your confidence and overcome these three factors that sabotage sales confidence is to practice prospecting.  Buyers and this economy need Strategic, Pro-active and BRAVE sales professionals who can turn product and price conversations into purposeful business conversations!