It doesn’t matter how skilled your salespeople are; your close rate will never be a perfect 100%. That’s just the reality of it. If, however, you’re losing a lot of deals you should have won, there’s probably a reason – if not a few!
Fortunately, once you can identify these causes, you can improve your methodology and subsequently, your results.
So, now that we’ve got that covered it’s time to have a look at what the causes could be.
You’re trying to sell to everyone.
Everyone knows a good sales pipeline is about quality over quantity. If your prospects aren’t buying from you, you need to re-evaluate the quality of the opportunities you are going after. Have they been correctly targeted? Do you know why your product or service is a good fit for them? Or are you just trying to sell to anyone showing any sign of interest?
Although it may seem to go against your intuition as salespeople to walk away from any prospects, narrowing your focus to the most qualified will make you much more likely to succeed. Not only are these buyers much more likely to purchase, but a smaller group also allows you to spend more time on each one – letting you personalise each outreach and develop a compelling business case.
Tell-tale signs: ‘I’m not really sure my company needs [service/product]’
You’re driving your customers away.
There is a reason no one answers calls from numbers they don’t know: they don’t like to be sold to. And again, if salespeople use email as a spamming tool, rather than a means of making a genuine connection to help their prospects, messages from people they don’t know go unanswered too.
Dial back the fake enthusiasm that salespeople are notorious for, stop pestering your prospects. Instead, be yourself and provide real value. It might be helpful to think of yourself as a consultant rather than a salesperson. You should learn as much from your prospects as you can, so you don’t waste their time asking for information like how large their company is and what it is that they sell.
Tell-tale signs: ‘I’m not interested, please stop contacting me’
You’re not bringing objections to the surface.
We get it, digging for objections is scary. Once you unearth them, they’re out there – concrete reasons for your prospect not to buy. The reality is though, these objections exist whether you acknowledge them or not. And the best time to resolve these concerns is in the beginning of the sales process while your buyer still has an open mind.
Learn what’s keeping your prospects from purchasing by asking the right questions:
- ‘If we didn’t go ahead, what would the reason be?’
- ‘We’ve covered what you like about [service/product] – can we spend some time on what you didn’t like the sound of?’
- ‘It’s very normal to have some concerns about this sort of investment. Are you open to sharing yours with me, if you have any?’
Tell-tale signs: ‘Actually, XYZ is a big concern for us, so we’ve chosen to go with [competitor].’
You’re not creating urgency.
As salespeople, your product or service is your primary focus, for your prospect, it’s just another thing that is fighting for their attention. Without a reason to make a purchase now rather than later, your deal is likely to expire in its infancy. If you want your deals to pay off start asking probing questions that reveal why your prospect’s business well-being somehow depends on having your service or product.
Here are some examples:
- ‘What will happen if you don’t solve this problem by [X date]?’
- ‘Tell me about the consequences of missing [Y goal].’
- ‘Explain to me what’s riding on [Z strategy]?’
- ‘How long has this been an issue? Why are you choosing to focus on it now?’
- ‘Is [addressing/improving/fixing] this a priority right now? Where would you say it sits on your list of priorities?’
Tell-tale signs: ‘Maybe next quarter/year.’
You’re not helping them feel safe.
No one wants to put their neck on the line for something that they’re not 100% confident about. This is a fact that kills many deals; after all, think about what would happen to your prospect if they advocated for your service, got the budget and then the solution was ineffective or worse completely flopped.
It’s true they might not be out of a job, but their internal reputation would definitely take a hit.
That’s what part of your job involves making them feel comfortable with the investment they are making, and any of the risks involved. You can do this in several ways.
First of all, if your company offers any protection terms such as full refunds, trial periods, or your money back if you don’t see certain results then make sure to highlight these throughout your conversations.
You can also establish credibility by:
- Referring to current customers
- Sending case studies and testimonials to your prospects
- Offering to connect them with references
- Sharing positive online reviews
- Mentioning any awards or industry honours that your product or company has received
Tell-tale signs: ‘I’m not sure we’re ready for this yet’
You’re not selling the value.
As salespeople, you’re not selling your product or service, you’re selling the value that they can offer to your prospects.
The reality is your buyers don’t care about what your service is, or what features it has. They care about how that product or service is going to make their lives easier. You need to position your offer to be something that your prospect can’t be without.
As you work with your prospects, help them to see clearly how much simpler, better or easier life would be for them once they implement your offering. By selling from this angle, you communicate the value of your product. This in turn makes your prospects more likely to prioritise your service or allocate budget for it, because life without it seems much more expensive in the long run.
Tell-tale signs: ‘This isn’t a priority for us at the moment.’
You’re not listening to them properly.
Active listening is one of the most important skills for salespeople. If a prospect gets all the way to the end of your sales process and says, ‘this isn’t what I’m looking for’, somewhere along the line there was an opportunity missed to hear their perspective.
If you’re finding that your conversations with your prospects are all one sided, meaning you’re talking at them instead of having a conversation with them. You can likely get better results by incorporating some active listening practises during your conversations. On your calls make sure you are taking the time to:
- Repeat back what you’ve heard your prospect saying to confirm your understanding. ‘What I heard you say was… is that correct?’
- Ask questions to help the prospect communicate their own perspective.
- Pause throughout the conversation to give them ample time and space to share.
Tell-tale signs: ‘This wasn’t quite what we’re looking for.’
Your sales process is broken.
If you’re finding that many of your prospects don’t make it far enough into your sales process to raise an objection, that’s a really strong indication that your sales process is broken or that your funnel has a leak that needs to be addressed.
This could mean that your prospects are either not being properly qualified, or there is a missed opportunity to follow up and fully nurtured Leeds who are qualified. Work closely with your teams to go through your sales process step by step and identify the areas that need to be improved upon for a much better buyer experience.
Learning that it’s not them, it’s you, is never fun. But it’s important to figure out what’s going wrong so that you can take the appropriate action to fix it.
Published: 31st May 2021
As someone successful in sales, you’ve probably spent years perfecting your strategy. But picture this: you’re having roughly three meetings a day, then suddenly there’s no more follow-ups, no next steps, and no sales.
Just about everyone in sales has had that stomach-sick moment where they realise the usual process and tactics are no longer working. The key to continuing your success is changing course and re-evaluating your strategy when it’s no longer working. Doing this will help you continually make progress and avoid a bad quarter or year.
Identifying the moment.
Nothing ever stays the same. As a salesperson, it’s vital that you recognise when your usual tactics aren’t getting the expected results and then pivot.
When I think back to my first sales job, I was so hungry for success. My goal was to make sales and lots of them. I looked forward to putting up impressive numbers on a whiteboard and being at the top of the leaderboard on-call stats. My strategy was to make as many calls as possible, and that was the number my manager and I tracked.
When the deals went rolling through, I realised I was going about it all wrong. Well, sales is definitely a numbers game; I’d been looking at all the wrong numbers. You can make calls until you’re blue in the face and still get nowhere, or you can change how you play the game. It didn’t take long for me to realise I needed to start identifying higher quality prospects so that my calls were more likely to lead to sales.
I became much more selective and researched each prospect to make sure they met my ideal client profile. I then determined whether they were ready for a sales call or needed more nurturing.
By becoming more selective, I saved time and improved my win rate massively. Before I even approached a potential client, I knew they could afford my offering. And by digging a little deeper before each call meant I always had access to the right decision-maker who had the authority to say ‘yes’ to what I was putting on the table.
It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and go down the same path even when you’re not getting the results you want. That’s why you need to have the self-awareness to take stock of your techniques, be honest with yourself about the level of success you are or aren’t reaching, and make changes.
These steps can help you evaluate your process:
Map out your sales strategy:
Start off by breaking down your sales process into stages. After writing down your process, go through each step. Ask yourself how is each stage working for you. Are you still getting the same results today as you were when you first started? Carefully consider how you could tweak this stage to make it more successful. Do this with every step periodically to ensure your sales process keeps up with your requirements.
Set clear objectives.
Holding yourself accountable is a lot simpler when you have clear, measurable objectives. We know it can be challenging – defining clear goals takes time and effort, and many people struggle with the idea that being too specific will set them up for failure.
Though you may feel this way, studies at the Harvard Business School have found that employees who make small wins against larger goals were much more engaged and successful. You can take advantage of this by setting a large goal for yourself and breaking it down into monthly or weekly targets.
If your annual goal is to deliver 200 proposals, figure out how many proposals you need to do per month. At the end of every month, you can see if you’ve achieved your monthly goal then evaluate that against your annual target. Making these small incremental wins helps to give you a stronger sense of progression and satisfaction in your work.
Be brutally honest with yourself.
Re-evaluating your sales strategy requires a lot of self-awareness and even more honesty. This is where most of us fail – making excuses or rationalising our lack of success at a particular step.
Use a CRM to track your activities for each of your sales process steps. This forces you to be honest about your results and helps you to identify your weak points better. It’s one thing to say that you feel like business is good; it’s another thing to know it’s good.
It takes courage to be honest with yourself and a lot of bravery to change your strategy. However, self-assessment is the key to career growth. It provides insight into your skills, knowledge, and competencies.
No sales strategy is entirely foolproof, and no strategy can be effective forever. The moment that you realise one of the steps in your process isn’t working, it’s time to make a change. Constantly evolving your tactics or help keep you on top of your game and ahead of your competitors.
Published: 24th May 2021
Guest Blog by Chantelle Stubbings.
So, before we get into how my personal growth helped my clients. Let me introduce myself! My name is Chantelle and I have worked within the sales industry now for a little over seven years.
I always knew that I wanted a job where I could focus on personal growth and contribute to whatever business I was a part of; that’s what led me to sales. My first sales role was working within the Telecommunications industry, offering phone lines and broadband to other businesses. I worked there for just over three years, but I had started to feel that I needed a change. My heart wasn’t in it, and my options were beginning to feel limited.
A Fresh Start.
It wasn’t long after that Darren (the founder of Intelligent Talk) approached me on LinkedIn. I met with him, had my interview and was quickly sold on the company. Intelligent Talk gave me the belief in the sales industry I was missing, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve now been part of the team at Intelligent for over four years.
I took to the training and coaching from Darren like a duck to water. And it wasn’t long before I started my first full-time business development campaign. This particular campaign was working within an industry that I wasn’t familiar with and required a lot of research before I started.
The campaign was to contact law firms and to speak with heads of conveyancing. Then to understand their needs and requirements before recommending the service we represented. The campaign was very successful, and I worked with them for around four months.
Personal growth pays off.
During this time, we had also started to work with Capita Integrated Business Solutions who specialised in Financial Management Software. However, the campaign wasn’t seeing the results we had initially expected, and I was asked to step in and support following my recent successes.
Through a lot of hard work, I maintained Capita as a client for two years. I was tasked with speaking to Financial Directors, Chief Financial Officers, and Procurement Directors within the Public Sector, contacting NHS, Councils and Local Government Authorities, offering Integrated Financial Solutions.
As time went on with Capita, the campaigns I ran began to change. For the first few months, it was solely the UK, then branched out into Ireland, running several different campaigns from arranging face-to-face meetings to organising webinars. It might sound easy, but this campaign came with a whole new set of challenges!
Each campaign requires a different focus and set of skills, meaning that my personal growth as a salesperson was always at the forefront of my mind. I wanted to do the best for my clients and meet any challenges that came my way.
This focus on personal growth allowed me to build campaigns to a high level of success and seamlessly transition to others with the same high level of service and output.
Another happy customer.
When the time came to move on from Capita, I then went on to partner with a company called Cinos.
Cinos specialised in Video Conferencing for the NHS, and I was tasked with identifying high-level decision-makers such as CTO’s and IT Directors.
Working with Cinos required a multi-channel approach of making calls and developing effective LinkedIn messaging and email campaigns that proved to be very successful.
At this time, I also started to work with Refero, who offered a similar service. Refero offered telephone and video conferencing within the NHS, however, targeting clinical board members.
After running a successful campaign with Cinos, I was also able to extend the Refero campaign for another term. Unfortunately, we were forced to pause this campaign due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through the pandemic, I started working with Finastra. As a company, we had worked with Finastra many times before, and this was the third time I worked with them. Each of their campaigns and their offerings has always been entirely different; however, the most recent campaign was very new to Intelligent Talk.
I was tasked with researching Challenger Banks and Foreign Exchange companies both within the UK and the US markets. Even though we had worked within the US market before, this was the most extensive campaign I have ever done.
I managed to identify numerous challengers banks and foreign exchange companies across the UK and the US and the correct decision-makers. I was tasked with speaking to the CEO, CTO or Managing Directors.
This again was a very successful campaign and extremely enjoyable. I was able to branch out into a completely new market and learnt a lot from it. When I started, I hadn’t worked in the US markets. I had to learn a whole new way of approaching business development, relationship building and tonality. Not to mention balancing different time zones!
I could not be any more grateful for the opportunity to continue my personal growth and increase the number of skills in my sales arsenal.
Being part of Intelligent Talk for as long as I have really has sculpted the salesperson I am today. I’ve learnt so much, and the many opportunities for personal growth have been invaluable.
Coming from a sales environment where it was just appointment after appointment no matter the quality, purely quantity over quality. To one where we genuinely care about our clients, their goals and how we as a business partner can support them. It is the quality of the relationship that matters for me, and to find a company that supports and encourages that was a breath of fresh air.
I have learned so much working with a diverse client base, offering different products. Not to mention speaking with all the wonderful people in other countries, at the top of their field! Each client, prospect, colleague, and service offering has taught me something new and helps me do the best I can for my clients every day.
Published: 17th May 2021
Your teams are having too many meetings.
Have you ever had days where you jump from meeting to meeting with little to no time for a break? Sometimes, this can actually be a symptom of poor communication and lack of collaborating between remote workers.
Typically, your team shouldn’t have to meet several times a week. In fact, plenty of meetings could just be an email.
keep in mind when scheduling a meeting that every person you invite needs to be there. If not, you could be wasting peoples time if their attendance is optional simply let them know. Plus, think about the length of your meetings if it can be shorter make it shorter if it can be an email make it an email.
It’s important to be intentional when planning remote meetings.
The digital body language is all off.
When communicating on video, it’s easy to forget about your body language and that of those around you.
It’s important to keep in mind that on camera, nothing is subtle, and it can feel like you’re under the spotlight. This means you have to pay even more attention to your body language: maintain eye-contact, speak clearly and keep your setting as professional as possible.
There are team members not contributing during meetings.
If your team meetings are always dominated by the same people speaking up it could be a sign of poor communication.
It could mean that there are people within your team that don’t feel comfortable talking during meetings.
While it’s important to consider that some people are more introverted than others, consider ways of including your whole team in discussions.
Your team isn’t collaborating.
Do you collaborate when the opportunity arises? From a management perspective, do you notice when members of your team aren’t collaborating?
If collaboration isn’t coming naturally to your team, it could be that they don’t feel Comfortable reaching out to each other or they don’t have the tools they need to collaborate effectively.
You could introduce systems such as Trello to keep track of your assignments with this tool you can easily collaborate with other team members when you need to lean on each other for expertise.
There’s a lack of communication throughout the day.
Being able to go days at a time without talking to other co-workers is a big red flag That your team isn’t communicating well.
The more you talk to your colleagues the more trust you’ll have. This makes it easier to reach out when you need help or a bit of extra expertise. That’s why it’s important to create an environment where your team feels comfortable communicating throughout the day even if it is just to send a GIF into the group chat.
Magazine why you don’t want to inundate your team with messages checking in every so often is a great way to build camaraderie and encourage team collaboration.
Your meetings lack structure or agenda.
Without an agenda or meeting structure you won’t be communicating effectively during your meetings making collaboration even more difficult.
Meetings should always be organised and structured so that they are productive having an agenda will help you keep things on track.
You may even want to schedule in 5-minutes of informal chat before the meeting gets started this will help team members to self-regulate.
Wherever possible you should always send the agenda prior to the meeting however this isn’t necessary with regularly scheduled meetings such as an end of week meeting where the expectation has already been set.
Your team hasn’t built psychological safety.
As part of a remote team, sometimes it can feel hard to feel included. However, the option to be included is so important for your teams’ mental wellbeing.
When people don’t feel included, they won’t feel comfortable speaking up or collaborating in team projects.
To build this psychological safety net in a remote meeting make sure you go around giving everyone the opportunity to speak. Try and focus on bigger picture conversations and ask individuals specific questions.
Additionally, you could also include more ice breaker conversations where everyone has to go around and answer a question. This can help people feel more confident about communicating further along in the meeting.
Your team aren’t showing their appreciation for each other.
Building connections is the most important part of communication and collaboration.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to express gratitude for one another. For example, your people should feel comfortable congratulating each other in a group chat.
You could encourage sending each other birthday cards and celebrating personal achievements or just create an email thread of appreciation.
Expressing gratitude is a great way to renew your energy and creates a safe space for your team.
Projects are falling behind or through the cracks.
Did you start the year with a plan of all the projects that are due to happen in 2021 but none of them seem to be coming to fruition? Or perhaps you’re unsure of the status of these projects?
When this happens it’s usually a combination of lack of communication and collaborating between your team members. Alternatively, it could be a lack of technology to facilitate these projects.
Make sure you’re giving your team the best tools possible to collaborate on project management and track progress.
Your team has a high turnover rate.
If you can’t seem to hold on to great people, it could mean that your communication isn’t effective.
When this starts to happen, it’s important that you speak to your team so that you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Create an open discussion where everyone is able to voice their honest opinions without repercussion.
Working remotely can make collaborating with your team feel harder but it doesn’t have to be that way. If your team still needs a little boost, why not check out these remote working tips.
Published: 10th May 2021
8 Tips for Remote Working Salespeople Straight from our Team to Yours
Maintain Your Routine.
While remote working, it’s easy to start to feel burned out. It’s hard to shut off when there’s no boundary between work and home, and you can end up working too many hours. There’s always this self-applied pressure to prove that you’re actually doing your job, and a lot of us overcompensate.
In a lot of ways, you are your own boss when you’re working remotely. So you have to stick to your start and finish times as you would in the office.
If you feel like you need support with this, ask a colleague to be your accountability buddy but make peace with putting in 100% every day without feeling like you have to prove you’re doing your job.
Since you won’t have structured breaks at home, you have to have the foresight to create your routine and be rigid about it. For example, get ready as you would on a day in the office. Make your breakfast, then put in your break times throughout the day scheduled in advance.
It’s easy to let the line between work and home get blurred. To make this easier to maintain, try using your calendar to block off time when you’re going to take lunch and when you’re going to start and end the day.
Create Your Remote Working Environment.
Without sounding like a broken record as a remote employee, the boundary between work and home is often marred. Which is why you should have a designated workspace and make it work for you.
Whether it’s a separate office or the kitchen table, maintaining a designated workspace can help create the boundary between work and home.
If you have a space, make sure to give it some love! Invest in your area; this could be with a new chair, better lighting, some plants or artwork to make you feel at ease, focused and ready to work.
If you don’t have a separate space, even just putting everything away at night and taking it out again in the morning can help you create the boundary between work and home.
Take Your Breaks.
Usually, working from home means you’ll have fewer distractions.
Although this might lead to higher productivity, it can actually make it harder to take your breaks throughout the day.
At home, you don’t have the built-in breaks you might have throughout the day at the office. Your friends and colleagues aren’t stopping by to grab a coffee. It’s unlikely that someone from a different department is going to show up at your desk and ask if you’ve got a few minutes to help with something.
We know it’s easy to get stuck in the trap of skipping breaks or working through lunch. But, this is a sure-fire way to feel burned out in your role. That’s why you need to remember to take breaks and recharge your energy.
One of the most significant drawbacks of remote working is the feeling of isolation.
To combat this, remember to be social during your working day. You can still network and chat with your colleagues while you’re all working from home.
Even just reaching out on teams or scheduling a video chat for a virtual coffee can help you feel more connected to your team.
When everyone is busy on the phones and don’t have time for a video chat, even sending a quick message to talk can be helpful.
Share Your Schedule.
One struggle you may face while working from home arises if you have roommates, partners, children, or even pets in the house.
If this is the case, it can be easy to get distracted. Plus, if you’ve got partners or housemates also working from home, it can be hard to coordinate working areas daily.
If this is the case for you, communication is vital.
Make sure you send your schedule to everyone in your household to plan who will be working in which space is. If you want to work in your home office, for example, let your roommate know that they can work in the living room or kitchen area.
Try and use a room that has the least traffic, and by sharing your schedule, you can let your housemates or partner know when they can and can’t interrupt you so that they don’t come barging in on any meetings you may have.
Although you’re working remotely, you still have to deal with all of your job’s regular stress and challenges.
When these problems arise, don’t be afraid to speak up.
It can be tough to reach out when you need help at the best of times, let alone when you’re working remotely; that being said, you should always speak to your manager or team as soon as possible. That way, you get the help and support you need when you need it.
Maintain consistent weekly meetings and use video chat to make the most out of your communications and ensure that you’re never too far away from a check-in with your manager should any problems arise.
Dress for Success.
The way you start your day can significantly impact your mood and productivity.
Getting up getting showered, and dressed just as though you’re going to the office can make a huge difference for you.
Although you may be able to get away with leisurewear working from home, you should maintain a certain level of professionalism if you’re going to be in meetings and representing your company on video chats.
Another difficulty of remote work can be that it’s hard to manage your own time and stay organised. The best way to deal with this is to use your calendar to block off time to complete important tasks.
To keep your deals advancing, it’s important to stay diligent with all of your tasks, whether you’re setting up calls, lead generating, or understanding your prospects expectations.
Remote Working Take Aways:
Although it can be intimidating when you and your teamwork remotely, it doesn’t have to be a difficult transition or damaging to your output. You can still collaborate, grow and connect as a team of remote sales representatives.
By following these easy steps, you’ll be able to thrive while working remotely.
How many of these tips do you use? Are there any that you would add? Let us know in the comments below.
Published: 3rd May 2021
A lot of people choose to work in sales because they think it will be easy money (wrong!), more freedom and less structure.
Money aside, they’re not completely wrong!
Working in sales does give you a degree of independence when it comes to how you go about your daily duties. You have to be flexible and willing to improvise, not to mention the most ‘fun’ part of sales.
Prospective clients can be overly cautious, picky, demanding, sometimes impulsive and even suspicious! That’s why salespeople need to have the creativity and emotional intelligence to adjust their sales techniques to suit each prospects needs.
With so many uncertainties, how can it work with a structured plan?
That’s what we’re hoping this article will do – prove that above all you need a formal sales process to make you work more effectively, improve your performance and close sales quicker.
What is a sales process?
A sales process is not unlike a recipe – if you use the right ingredients in the right order, you can get some great results!
Typically consisting of five to seven stages: Prospecting, Preparation, Introduction, Presentation, Objection Handling, Close and Follow-up.
To put it simply, it is your prospective client’s journey from realising they have a need for your product or service to actually making a purchase.
Now, this isn’t to be confused with a sales funnel.
A sales funnel is the visualisation of all the interactions and activities between a prospect and salesperson or business.
Although most sales teams recognise they go through a similar process, not all of them outline and standardise the process, leaving It at the discretion of each salesperson which steps they do or don’t take.
The logic is clear: as long as salespeople are generating revenue and closing plenty of deals, how they do it is up to them.
Unless you’re an absolute natural at sales, you can benefit significantly from a standardised process while improving the measuring, forecasting and management of your sales pipeline.
12 Ways to Create an Effective Sales Process
Sure, relying on your wits and resourcefulness is a good way to work sometimes. But sales is not a game of intuition, it’s a strategy and structured with tactics at each step.
Here is how you can establish those tactics into a standardised sales process for your team:
Interview Your Sales Team
The first step to creating your standardised process is gain a full understanding of what your sales team is currently doing to turn your prospects into clients.
- How are your salespeople connecting with prospects?
- What actions are they taking to close a sale?
Interview your salespeople to learn their language, strategies and techniques to incorporate them into your sales process that can be replicated and streamlined.
Get Rid of Waste
Having a defined process allows you to have a more accurate understanding of what things are and aren’t working for your sales team. By defining what actions cause your prospects to move from one stage to the next makes it easy for you to identify the right actions while also getting rid of bottlenecks and activities that yield little results.
Stay on Course
A sales process is often called a roadmap.
However, following a roadmap doesn’t mean that your salespeople will be told to ‘do this, then do that’. It’s more like a GPS system with clear steps and milestones. Knowing what each step covers will help your salespeople understand where they are in the process, when it’s time to move to the next stage and when to adjust the journey.
Utilise Your Sales Talents in Every Step
Having a process in place, does not cancel out the creativity of your team!
You can still use your cut instinct, skills and creative talents to get from one stage to the next. Your new process won’t dictate how to use social media for social selling, how to pitch, what to write in your follow-up emails or how to draft your proposals – that’s up to your teams!
Step into Your Customer’s Shoes
Most of the time when companies create their sales process it is a reflection of the way they want to sell, not the way their clients want to buy.
The most effective process is should be adaptable to suit different selling situations and client needs. Designing a sales process with your clients in mind will need you to answer the following questions:
- What are my main client groups?
- How do they differ in their buying patterns?
- How do we adjust the process to sell to new clients and for repeat business?
- What are the expectations of our clients at each stage and what can we do to meet them?
Use a Relationship Led Approach
Your clients don’t want to feel like just another number. When you earn the attention of a prospective client take a relationship led approach and articulate what that means for your salespeople.
Active listening, empathy, note-taking, trust building, and following up are great skills to build and deepen your relationships with your clients.
Find the Cause of Stalled Sales
By following a set process, it allows your salespeople to be able to identify the causes of stalled sales. By following this roadmap, you are able to analyse whether or not your actions were adequate and how many of them you actually needed and finally what proved to be a misstep or a waste of time.
Get More Qualified Leads
One of the greatest benefits of adopting a clearly defined sales process is helping your teams to tackle one of its biggest pains – filtering out low potential leads and identifying the prospects with the highest chance to complete.
More than 70% of B2B Sales cycles take between 4 to 12 months to close. That’s why identifying qualified leads earlier in the process will not only help to make your sales cycle shorter and more targeted, but it also helps your team to maximise their efforts.
Improve Forecasting & Revenue
Having a clear map of where your salespeople are in the sales process helps your team to come up with more accurate forecasting.
As the sales process is a set of repeatable steps, it gives a more consistent picture of how many deals your team closes from any number of leads. This allows you to predict your win rates and set targets with more accuracy.
Never Miss a Follow-Up
One of the most important parts of winning a sale is a timely follow up email.
During sometimes lengthy sales interactions, your team may forget to follow up with your potential clients. This alone can send an entire sale down the drain. Follow-ups keep the desire to buy alive.
A standardised sales process can remind you when to follow up with a prospect and keep a healthy pipeline. You could recommend a particular type of follow-up activity and even a template to use.
Provide the Best Customer Experience
It’s common that a sales team will push a prospect too quickly into the next stages of the sale Even if they may not be ready for it.
Not only does this damage the relationship, but sometimes it can completely break the deal. In a well-designed process, the focus is on the customer, this turns a haphazard and often pushy sale into smooth sailing with a great customer experience.
When based on your clients buying behaviours and expectations, a sales process will offer at each step: value, enhanced trust and create a stronger bond with your prospective clients – all at the right time.
Onboard New Team Members Like Pros
If instead of proper training, your new salespeople are asked to shadow their colleagues to learn how to sell, then you definitely need a sales process!
A defined sales process not only makes it easy to train newcomers but also to coach your existing sales team. It offers concrete steps for them to follow, but it also highlights what behaviours and skills are required for each stage of the sale, what outcomes are expected at each step, and what individual strengths should be utilised at different sales stages.
Defining your sales process can help you do the right things at the right time and know for sure what works for you and what doesn’t. Equipped with this knowledge you avoid making the same sales mistakes over and over again.
The long-term advantages of adopting a well-tuned sales strategy are plenty:
- Create and maintain long-lasting client relationships.
- Ensure higher client lifetime value.
- Reduce client retention costs.
- Get more referrals.
- Increase sales revenue.
Just don’t forget a good process is never set in stone.
It needs to be revised and adapted regularly, making sure that it still reflects the current state of your clients changing needs, your team skills, and your business goals. It should always remain a work in progress to ensure it stays effective for your business and adding value to your clients.
Published: 30th April 2021
What is social selling?
Social selling is the art of using social media to uncover and engage with new prospects. Sales professionals can use social media to provide value to their prospects. This is done by sharing content, answering questions and responding to comments throughout the sales process.
If the fundamentals of ‘old school’ selling are made of cold calling, qualifying leads and sales demos. Then social sales are built on using social media to reach new prospects, educate them on how your business can help them grow or overcome a problem and nurture them with content.
The exponential growth of social media has been a huge factor in social selling being adopted as a means of B2B outreach.
Research completed by IDC found that:
- 91% of B2B buyers are involved with social media and are active on various platforms
- 84% of senior execs use social media to support buying decisions
- 75% of B2B buyers are heavily influenced by social media
How to use social selling to help you grow your business:
Ultimately, social selling is about building relationships. Not only that, building relationships in the right way and in the right places.
Step One: Choose the right network
It’s so easy to think you need to be on ALL social media platforms or get swept up in the next big thing. However, true social selling success comes from being active on the same platform as your ideal clients.
Start to identify the networks that match your client personas by demographics.
Although YouTube and Facebook have the majority of users across all age groups. However, research shows that a majority of decision-makers use LinkedIn and Twitter primarily.
So, you can derive from this if you sell products or services focused towards other businesses, chances are a majority of your potential clients are already on LinkedIn and that’s where your focus should be.
Step Two: Create your wish list of ideal clients and follow them
All salespeople dream of bringing on new mega-brand clients.
It doesn’t just have to be a dream though!
Almost all large corporations and small can be found on social media through company pages or employee accounts. By following and connecting with these companies you can keep up to date on company news, when they win an award reach out to congratulate them or when they ask for a product or service recommendation offer your help.
Create a wish list of 20-30 dream clients that are active on social media and start following them today. Like, share and engage with their content updates wherever possible and start building those relationships!
Step Three: Get instant notifications when potential prospects join LinkedIn
By utilising LinkedIn’s Saved Search feature, you can create a search based on your ideal client persona then LinkedIn will notify you each time someone joins that matches your profile.
Once you have created these search alerts you can choose the frequency and format or your notifications.
Step Four: Join and participate in LinkedIn Groups
With more than 660 million users LinkedIn is a platform full of opportunities from networking to referrals.
One of the biggest advantages lies within the groups but they are still one of the most under-utilised tools of LinkedIn.
Search for your topic of expertise and find relevant groups to join. Remember, these aren’t the places to be pushing your products, your aim should be to network and share knowledge and expertise with potential customers.
Step Five: Connect with your ideal clients
After starting to contribute in groups on LinkedIn, you will notice that more people will view your profile.
When this starts to happen, send them an invite to connect!
Always remember to personalise your connection request, even something simple like ‘Hi [Name], thanks for viewing my profile. Would you be open to connecting on LinkedIn?’ is a much better request than the default.
Personalising your request is a great way to start a conversation with a potential customer that has shown an interest in what you do.
Step Six: Contribute to conversations
Implement a social listening strategy and respond to what people are saying about your brand or industry.
Twitter is a great tool to use for this, search for a keyword then scroll the feed and start engaging by liking/retweeting or responding to questions they ask.
By contributing to conversations, you add value to your potential clients and get your name on their radar.
Step Seven: Provide value with content
More than 50% of B2B buyers look for information on products and services on social media.
Because of this, you have a great opportunity to create new content based on what your prospects are already searching for!
If a conversation you’re involved in asks for information on best practice, share one of your companies’ blog posts. If a LinkedIn group is discussing product recommendations, share a demo video or case study.
This is also a great opportunity to align your sales and marketing teams. Together they can create and share content based on questions, comments and industry topics being posted within their social networks.
These six steps to social selling will help you get started with finding and connecting with your prospects across social media, especially LinkedIn and Twitter where most decision makers can be found.
The best results of social selling come when you focus on adding value and building relationships with your prospects.
While it might be difficult at first, social selling is not a one-time activity and should be implemented alongside your other prospecting techniques.
What social selling techniques will you be trying? Let us know in the comments!
Published: 12th April 2021
What is a tyre-kicker?
A tyre-kicker is a person who appears to be interested in making a purchase but never progresses to making a purchase. Tyre-kickers frequently engage with sales teams by asking questions, raising objections and prolonging the sales process without committing to a deal.
They’re the people that beat around the bush, question pricing and generally waste your time.
These are the types of prospects to get out of your pipeline as soon as possible so that you can focus your time and efforts on better opportunities.
Quality over quantity.
Although working on every deal might sound like the best way to close the most deals. Your time is better spent on quality leads with a higher chance of closing.
But how do you separate the tyre-kickers from your fully qualified prospects? Use these strategies to identify them.
They don’t match your target client personas.
The first way to weed out a tyre-kicker is to check if they match your target persona. There are a few questions you can ask yourself when deciding if a prospect is a good fit:
Are they within the industry you are currently targeting?
Do they fit the demographics of your ideal decision-maker?
Does your product or service fix a problem or fulfil a need for them?
If they don’t meet these essential criteria that your company or team has set, then they aren’t worth your time.
They haven’t done their research.
Decision-makers within companies are more informed than ever. They will often research potential solutions or products before speaking to a sales representative.
Prospective clients often have a general idea of what your business does and the value it can provide for them.
While you shouldn’t rule out cold leads altogether, bear in mind that it will take much longer to nurture them through your sales process. It’s particularly challenging to work with a prospect who maintains disinterest past the first or second interaction.
It takes extensive time and energy to educate your prospects on your service or product offering. From discovery calls to marketing emails and sharing content. If you continue to try and chip away at poor quality prospects, it will cut into the time you could be using to nurture viable business opportunities.
There is no urgent need.
Identifying a problem that can be solved with your service or product isn’t enough; you also have to determine how significant that problem is to your prospect.
Are they motivated to solve it?
Do they have a determined timeline for when the problem needs to be solved?
Is there a different issue they care about more competing for their attention and budget?
If your prospect isn’t showing a willingness to act or demonstrating a need to solve their issue, they might not be ready to make a purchase. They would be better off being moved into a nurturing process with your marketing team instead.
There’s no budget.
One of the most common tyre-kicker objections is budget. This can be a strong indicator they’re not actually interested in your service. Or, they simply can’t afford it.
If your prospect presents a pricing objection, we recommend using the following:
‘I completely understand. The best products are often more expensive.’
Using this response the first time you encounter ‘it’s too expensive’ helps you separate those prospects who genuinely don’t have the budget and those who are just kicking tyres. It’s impossible to sell your service to a prospect if they don’t have the budget or authority to use it – focus your time on those that do.
Where there isn’t a budget fit, provide them with free tools or resources they could benefit from in the interim. In this case, just because they aren’t a good fit right now. It doesn’t mean they won’t return when the budget is right.
They waste your time.
When you finally reach a prospect on the phone, if they go off on unrelated tangents or stray off relevant topics, you might be talking to a tyre kicker.
While it’s crucial to incorporate what your prospects want to talk about into your calls and personalise the experience, it’s also vital for you to meet your goals for the call and respect your own time. Otherwise, you can waste your days talking to prospects with no buying intention.
It’s key to outline your plan for each call or meeting. But if your prospect consistently takes over the conversation when you speak to them, it becomes challenging to make progress with them and could be an indicator that it’s time to walk away.
This isn’t a completely exhaustive list of ways to identify timewasters, but you’ll save yourself time by keeping them in mind throughout your prospecting and qualification processes. Don’t ignore your intuition or the warning signs. Chances are, if a prospect is showing one or more of these traits, they’re likely to be tyre-kicking and won’t move forward with making a purchase.
Remember, the best salespeople are those who can walk away from a deal when they recognise it isn’t a good fit for them. Instead, they use that time to nurture better prospects and making deals!
Published: 5th April 2021
Do you ever feel disconnected from your prospects?
Like they’re just not picking up what you’re putting down?
Chances are they’re feeling it too.
It’s easy for salespeople to be so passionate about their service or product that it becomes overpowering for their prospects. Your leads want to know how your service can help them, not necessarily just a list of features you have to offer.
The skill of understanding that difference comes from emotional intelligence.
In today’s blog, we’re going to discuss:
- What emotional intelligence actually is
- Why it’s essential for salespeople
- How to best use it to close more sales
What is emotional intelligence?
We know some of you sat there are thinking, what on earth is emotional intelligence?
Sometimes known as Emotional Quotient or EQ, it’s the skill of understanding the thoughts and feelings of somebody else.
For example, salespeople with a high EQ know their prospects needs, can put themselves in their clients’ shoes and learn how to treat them according to their concerns and pain points.
According to the World Economic Forum, this isn’t just a fancy psychology tick box exercise; emotional intelligence has been ranked as one of the essential skills to have by 2025.
Why is emotional intelligence so critical in sales?
So apart from professional success, what else makes EQ an essential skill for salespeople to develop?
It helps solve your customers’ problems.
As we’ve just discussed, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your customers or prospects thoughts and feelings and act according to those.
Look at it from your client’s perspective; you’d want your salesperson to go above and beyond to help you. The main idea behind real emotional intelligence is not to make the customer feel pressured to make a purchase but to actively listen to their concerns.
You need to understand how they feel about things and support them, but you also need to be willing to give them space so that they can come to a decision themselves.
A salesperson with a high EQ is aware of the problems that their prospects are trying to solve. By mentioning out loud and acknowledging it in conversation, followed by demonstrating how your product or service could resolve it – a salesperson can present a real understanding of their prospect.
The key here is, to be honest. What can be resolved, how it can be done, a realistic timeline, and then allow your prospect time to take your proposal in.
It can help decrease staff turnover.
The process of hiring staff is challenging.
Not only does it waste precious time, you could spend otherwise developing your team, but it also causes issues with your customer experience. Each new hire needs training and to be brought up to speed before they can truly represent your company in the best way.
However, if you select salespeople based on their emotional competence, it actually results in 63% less turnover during the first year!
And the more salespeople you can keep on board by developing their emotional intelligence, the less time you have to spend on hiring and training new ones.
It can help generate more revenue.
Everyone knows its salespeople’s job to sell.
However, with emotional intelligence training, they can bring your business even more revenue. Studies have shown that sales reps with high EQ produced twice the revenue of those with average or below-average scores.
L’Oreal put this to the test to determine whether EQ training helped their reps to close more deals.
Sales representatives who received the training outsold the control group by an average of 12%. That equated to over $55,000 (almost £ 40’000) each. Meanwhile, the ROI for the training was $6 (£4.50).
How to put emotional intelligence into practice:
Although traditionally, emotional intelligence is considered a soft skill that comes naturally to some and not others. We prefer to think of it as a skill that can be developed and taught over time.
The top categories of EQ are:
- Social skills
Focusing on these five areas during your sales training can help your salespeople build emotional intelligence over time.
Here’s how you can do it:
It’s easy to fall behind on one to ones with your staff, especially when working remotely. Sometimes it feels that a monthly team check-in is enough to report and reflect on goals.
But it’s vital to schedule regular check-ins with each member of your team.
This is because it’s the time you get to explore their strengths and weaknesses. You can explain how they do an excellent job at lead conversion, but maybe they aren’t so great at time management.
Don’t be afraid to point out areas where improvements can be made during your coaching sessions; the more constructive feedback you can give, the more your salespeople will be aware of their skills.
This builds the self-awareness needed for emotional intelligence.
Autonomy is giving your salespeople the freedom to do what they think is best in any given situation.
Many studies have shown that giving a workforce autonomy results in positive effects on well-being and job satisfaction.
It also helps to develop self-regulation – one of the five key areas of emotional intelligence.
By allowing your reps to have autonomy over their work, they have to make their own decisions based on their specific prospects needs and wants.
For example: in your company-wide sales process, you have to contact your prospect via email two to three days after the initial phone call. However, this prospect previously expressed the need for a sooner follow-up, so your salesperson uses their initiative and schedules a call for the next day.
If your sales representatives don’t have the autonomy to do what they think is best, they won’t be able to reach optimistic sales targets.
Encourage your salespeople to become brand representatives.
The third pillar of EQ that your sales training should focus on is social skills.
This goes far beyond just talking to your prospects and clients.
Encourage your team to become thought leaders in your industry, building their own personal brand and your companies too. This could include sharing expertise on LinkedIn, attending conferences and webinars, or simply connecting with other industry professionals.
Not only does this increased presence and participation help your salespeople build their social skills outside of your client base, but it also helps grow your brand reputation too.
Teach them to think like their prospects.
Every service or product solves a specific pain point for a particular type of client.
Teaching your sales representatives to build empathy by always looking to define the problem that they are solving for their potential clients. Encourage them to ‘become’ that person and really get into the thoughts and feelings they’re experiencing when a salesperson contacts them.
Encourage them to ask themselves open-ended questions such as:
- How would this person feel right now?
- What would they want to know during the sales process?
- What information do they need to feel ready to buy?
When your sales team knows how their prospective clients feel, they can apply that to their tonality throughout the process.
Provide ongoing training unique to each of your salespeople.
Sales training improves the performance of an individual on average by 20%.
On top of your standard sales training that keeps them up to date with best practice, use your check-in meetings as a way to deliver the training each salesperson really wants.
Each member of your team will likely have a different learning style and preferences. Some might want to attend conferences. Others might simply want the option to expense for sales books or third-party training sessions.
Uncover the learning styles for your individual sales representatives and give them access to materials in that format.
Remember: emotional intelligence can generate £4.50 in revenue for every £1 you’re spending on it. Don’t be afraid to give your team the tools they need – it pays off in the long run.
It’s often overlooked just how important emotional intelligence in sales is.
Historically hard and aggressive selling was considered the most effective way for salespeople to behave. But with time, just like so many other things, their sales style has become, if not wholly obsolete, most definitely less effective and less well-received.
In this new future of sales, the ability to control your own feelings, listen to other people’s concerns, appreciate their emotions, be honest and allow people to make rational but not rushed choices are invaluable to the thriving, modern salesperson.
Salespeople with a high EQ will stay at a workplace longer, sell more products or services to the people who really need them, increase customer loyalty, close more deals, and promote the human values of the brand that they represent.
If you’ve enjoyed this topic, why don’t you sign up for our newsletter here to get our top content, articles, tips & tricks straight to your inbox.
Published: 8th March 2021