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!

Are You Prospecting the Same Buyers?

Are You Prospecting the Same Buyers?

When you start your prospecting blitz, it’s easier to contact all of the customers and prospects you know in order to grow your business. It’s the most effective and strongest sales strategy.

Yet, I’m going to challenge you to go out of your comfort zone and call the buyers you are not doing business with.

I’m more than half-way through the 90-day prospecting blitz and I’m starting to exhaust the names from my hot sales prospecting list. I started to feel less motivated to make my prospecting calls. I had to find the courage to call different and new prospects, and I’m so glad I did. I secured a meeting with a VP of a company that I did business with over 5 years ago and I received a referral into a new division of a client. This was worth it!

In attending a client sales conference, a CEO stated, “Who are your top three customers? With the fast-changing marketplace, the reality is they will not be your top three customers in three years or even next year.” This is a reality check for all of us. It reminds us to make it a priority to always be prospecting for our new top three large and ideal profitable customers.

Make it a priority to always be prospecting for your new top three large and ideal profitable customers. Click To Tweet

Here are 5 simple strategies to prospect buyers who are not your customers – yet!

  1. Other Divisions or Buyers: Go deep and wide outside your existing clients and buyers. Who can they refer you to?
  2. Tradeshow Leads: Blow the dust off those leads and follow-up on them.
  3. Webinar/Lunch ‘n Learn: Host this type of education/information event to invite new buyers to turn into future leads.
  4. LinkedIn Connections: Who are you connected to? Start a conversation.
  5. Customers you have not done business within the past one to two years: Review your past customer lists.

Be Strategic, Proactive and Brave to nurture those leads – it’s worth it when you get a meeting with a new buyer to help you grow your business!

These Prospecting Sales Emails Don’t Work

These Prospecting Sales Emails Don’t Work

Many sellers are sitting, and even hiding, behind their laptop sending out emails hoping for a response to secure meetings and sales.

The biggest challenge with email prospecting is that emails are way too generic and not a personalized email. This approach is as effective as cold calling – they are frigid emails…and neither work very effectively anymore.

People receive millions of emails on a daily basis. It’s much easier for a prospective buyer to scan your subject line and the first 10-15 words of your email and hit “delete” rather than open your email, let alone respond to it.

If you want to generate leads through email prospecting you must personalize your email and make it about them to get their attention.

Here are two examples of what NOT to do in email prospecting. (These are actual emails that I have received in my inbox recently.) I have changed their names to protect these sellers (who definitely need sales training help!) 

Example #1: It’s all about the salesperson and their company. Who cares?

Hi Lisa,

My name is Samuel, Vice President at a rapidly growing custom software development company.

 

We provide a wide range of custom web and software programming services such as web applications, mobile applications, system integrations, cloud applications and customize CRM solutions. We are serving our clients for more than 10 years now and it would be a pleasure to collaborate with you as well.

 

Customer satisfaction is our forte. Our aim is to provide our customers with quality and innovative software development solutions and pocket friendly rates.

 

Let me know if you are interested. I’d love to have a 15 minute call with you to talk more about how we can best assist your company.

If you want to generate leads through email prospecting you must personalize your email and make it about them to get their attention. Click To Tweet

Example #2: Don’t ask me if you are talking to the right person or put you in touch with the right person to talk to.

Dear Sirs, (my name is Lisa)

 

Good day:)

 

I’ll keep this short and sweet to make the 24 seconds it takes to read this worth your time (yes, I timed it.)

 

As a salesman at ABC Company, I get to contact with people like you about both paper packaging products & paper printing products. Your company is on my radar because we’ve helped a lot of similar companies in this area. (Specify my company and industry segment.)

 

If not you, can you please put me in touch with the right person? (This is the kiss of death! Don’t ask me as you can quickly find this out on a website.)

 

If you’d like to set up a time to talk about whether ABC Company makes sense for your business.

 

In advance, thank you for your help.

Do you see the mistakes they are making when it comes to selling via email? 

 

Here are 5 simple strategies to improve your prospecting email response:

  1. Do your research. Identify the right person to prospect and send a personalized email to get their attention and secure a meeting.
  2. Most emails are read on mobile devices. That means the first 10-15 words of your sales prospecting email needs to be customized to them so that a potential buyer/customer will open and read more instead of hitting delete.
  3. Create a call to action to make it easy for your prospect to respond to you with a date option to schedule a call and/or meeting.
  4. Referencing a referral name is the most effective way to get their attention. You can even mention the referral in your subject line.
  5. Create a trigger event by inviting them to an event, tradeshow, webinar or demo of your products and how it will benefit them.
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.