Monthly Archives: June 2015

One important resolution salespeople should consider

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Spend more time this year with the people who have the power to say “Yes”.

Rejection is tough. I have yet to meet a salesperson that looks forward to rejection every morning. While rejection may be part of the job description, I would argue that it is a line item that few look forward to. It doesn’t matter how new or tenured you are in sales, rejection usually delivers a decent jab. On the other hand, rejection can be a good thing, when coming from the right person. Selling is a numbers game after all. Simple probability tells us that the more you hear “No”, the greater chances are of you eventually hearing a “Yes”. Yet if that is the case, why do some hear a “Yes” quicker and more consistently than others?

Focus on what you can control, influence what you cannot.

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Early in my sales career I asked a similar question to top sellers and average performers, and as you can imagine, I got a colorful spectrum of answers. Many of the answers seemed like factors I could not control. One of my mentors advised that I focus on what I can control and influence what I cannot. So I dug deeper and a common denominator started to appear. What I discovered was that top sellers consistently spent more of their time, on average, cultivating relationships with the true decision makers within their target accounts. This focused time management approach equipped them with a unique advantage during the Close. In instances when they did not secure the business, they were able to uncover the real reasons for the rejection because it was coming from the right person.

If you’re going to get a No, at least get it from the “Yes” person.

When you spend more of your time with someone who only has the power to say No, they will more than likely exert that power because that’s the option they have at their disposal. No matter how compelling your presentation, confidence or price, the answer will still be “No”. Think of it as asking a professional plumber to perform open-heart surgery. The only sensible response would be a “No”. Clients have many ways to say “No” but only one way to say “Yes.” This is especially true when you ask the wrong person for the business. Some may quickly tell you the right people are not involved which is why the sale will not happen. But many, wanting to save face, may give you a long-winded answer as to why the answer is “No”. When the right people are involved, you know it because decisions are made faster.

Your time is precious currency, invest it wisely.

In 2015, prioritize enough time to understand who the true decision makers are within your target company. This due diligence is worth the effort. Asking the questions below could be a good start in uncovering the true decision makers.

  • Who all needs to be involved in this decision-making process and what role will each play in the decision-making process?
  • Would the price tag of the engagement require a committee approval?
  • Who is impacted the most if the project succeeds? If it fails, whose neck is on the line?

The challenge is that the true decision makers are most times the hardest to get a hold of. But top sellers welcome this challenge with a smile and a well thought out strategy which is why they continuously perform at a high level.

What other sales focused New Year resolutions are you prioritizing for 2015?

3 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Cold Calling Door To Door

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As a former sales associate and sales manager at Cbeyond, which was recently acquired by Birch Communications, cold calling was an integral part of my daily routine. Here are 3 lessons I picked up along the way that continue to deliver results:

  1. Understand your numbers then commit to go above and beyond
  2. Just because you have a steady stream of referrals doesn’t mean you should stop cold calling
  3. Those who ask more for it, get more of it

1. Understand your numbers then commit to go above and beyond. At Cbeyond, we were all assigned metrics – number of doors to hit, phone calls to make, qualified leads to get, and appointments to set – that if met, gave us the best opportunity to succeed. Since selling in its simplest form is a numbers game, what separated the top sales associates from the average sales associates was their commitment to go above and beyond the assigned metrics. For instance, if the requirement is to knock on 50 doors a day in order to get 5 qualified leads and set 2 appointments, those who knock on 5 additional doors per day at the end of the week would have 2-3 more qualified leads and 1 extra appointment set. When I spoke to Brent Maropis, former VP at Cbeyond and current CEO of H20-Overgroup, he mentioned that top salespeople have a bias towards taking action. In the case of Cbeyond, action can mean getting out of your car to cold call even when it’s over 100 degrees, asking for referrals at every door, asking one more question to truly understand the needs of your prospect, or making one more phone call even though the last person just hung up on you. #NumbersDontLie

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2. Just because you have a steady stream of referrals doesn’t mean you should stop cold calling. Referrals are a great source of leads. Whether you are a hunter or farmer, there is immense value in incorporating referrals into your customer acquisition strategy. At Cbeyond, our customers and IT vendors made great referral partners. However, betting your quota for the month based strictly on referral leads was risky and many sales associates fell into this trap (myself included). When the deals pushed (and my pipeline looked shallow), this put me under unnecessary pressure and opened the door for management to question my ability to forecast accurately. Cold calling to me means actively seeking new qualified leads, so attending networking events to seek out qualified leads can be a form of cold calling. The top sales associates were great at balancing qualified leads from referrals, networking events, and especially, cold calling. #DiversifyYourHustle

3. Those who ask more for it, get more of it. Asking for the sale was one of my biggest challenges when I started my sales career and I’ve since come to realize that this is one of the most important skills needed in order to be successful in sales. One of my most memorable moments at Cbeyond came when my bold ask resulted in my first Cold Call Close. It was 5:30pm one hot summer day in San Jose and I really wanted to get back in my car and call it a day. I decided to knock on one more door. I approached the door, secretly hoping it would be locked so I could satisfy my conscience. To my surprise (and fear), the door was unlocked. I walked in. The reception area was decorated with fine black and white artwork but there was no receptionist in sight. Whoever it is must have left at 5pm, I thought. I walked towards the corner office and a man who appeared to be the owner was seated at his desk. At that moment, my nervousness made me clear my throat and he looked up; this meant I had less than 20 seconds to pique his interest. Luckily, there was a football (soccer, for Americans) game on – Real Madrid v Sevilla FC, a replay I assumed, and he was fixated on it. I introduced myself and started to spill out my value proposition. But before I could finish, I interrupted myself and mentioned I was a huge football fan and asked if he didn’t mind me finishing the game with him since there was just 15 minutes left. He agreed (the first close). During those 15 minutes, we talked about the beauty of football and of course screamed at the TV when someone didn’t make a play we had expected him to make. This rapport building session allowed me to be my authentic self and display empathy, so it built my confidence. After the game was over, we discussed what his business does, how his company got started, and what his telecom challenges looked like. An hour later, after overcoming his objections, I asked boldly for his signature, and he signed on to become a client. #AlwaysBeClosing

What other lessons have you learned from your experience cold calling?