A study by Marketing Metrics found that there is only a 5-20% chance of turning sales opportunities or prospects into a client.
Not particularly positive, is it?
The only option to keep your pipeline full is to keep prospecting.
But when a sales opportunity slips through your fingers, what do you do?
There is a positive to all this, though:
The deal you just lost may turn out to be the best thing that could’ve happened to you!
Now, we can feel the cynical eyebrows being raised from here but hear us out:
Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, ready to go again, is the most classic attribute of a successful salesperson. But upping your game to the next level – the level your competitors aren’t reaching – is understanding that the loss of a sales opportunity can be rewarding, proving you handle them the right way.
Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to turn lost sales into opportunities.
Analyse your sales process:
No matter which way you cut it, B2B sales is a numbers game.
That’s why it’s essential to evaluate your ‘lost opportunities’ data.
If you are using a CRM system to track your sales process, the information you need to evaluate your actions is easily retrieved.
You can search through the data available to you and see which deals were won and which were lost – this will help you to identify which steps were not effective.
By taking this step back to analyse the data, you can pinpoint which part of the sales process your prospect dropped off. Once you have this, you can make the required changes to your approach to improve your chances in the future.
Focus on the right sales opportunities:
That’s a scary fact on its own, but pair it with research from TAS Group that shows it takes on average 50% longer to lose a deal than win one, and it becomes genuinely shocking.
If you’re spending more time losing deals than winning them, you’re not using your time effectively.
So, as the data shows, salespeople spend valuable time managing prospects that simply aren’t ready or willing to buy. As such, the opportunity wasn’t lost – it was never going to be won in the first place!
Prospecting isn’t just finding people to sell to; it’s about finding the right people to sell to.
Start by understanding your ideal clients, then identify ways to reach prospects who fit into this profile.
Once you have this more detailed view of your ideal, be proactive and identify the lost deals way before you actually lose them.
This mentality is summarised perfectly in this video by Tony J Hughes, who coined the term ‘Lose fast – win slow’.
Understand the no’s:
The most important lessons of all can be learned from the prospects that tell you ‘no’.
Despite this, 60% of marketing and sales representatives admit they don’t conduct interviews with their lost clients.
Asking lost prospects for feedback is a huge opportunity to tap into. What doesn’t work for one prospect is likely to not work for others too.
Feedback can include questions such as:
– What were your reasons behind choosing a competitor?
– Was there anything missing that could have changed your mind at any stage?
– What was the main reason for not buying from us?
Put your prospect at ease by letting them know you’re not going to try to change their mind, and you have accepted the loss. Remember to be gracious during these calls and try not to become defensive; your job is to learn what’s really going on, which will help you in the long run.
Keeping the conversation going:
63% of prospects requesting information from your company will not purchase for at least three months, and 20% will take more than a year to buy!
Sometimes if you’ve lost a deal, it may just be that your prospect wasn’t ready at that time.
That’s why it’s important to follow up and stay at the top of their mind.
If you do, once they are ready to buy, you’ll be the first person they think of!
Master the follow-up by engaging with your prospects and providing relevant content when they need it.
This type of lead nurturing can have a significant impact on your future sales:
– Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases.
– They also produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities.
Reconnect with lost prospects:
Our final tip – don’t give up!
It is always worth reaching out again to lost prospects. By allowing time to pass since they told you they weren’t interested, their situation may have changed. Companies develop new problems and needs all the time – be ready to help solve them.
Build a follow-up system for every sales opportunity, schedule a check-up call. You want to make sure the follow-up allows for enough of a cool down. This will depend on the type of product or service you are offering and the individual clients situation.
For example, suppose your prospect rejected your offering based on an existing contract with a competitor with nine months left on it. In that case, you need to get back in contact after six months which is around the time they would start to consider their renewal. If you wait until the nine months have passed, it could be too late, and you will have lost out again!
No one likes to lose deals:
No matter what the reason losing a deal you’ve been working on for months can be a real kick in the gut. But it can also be a growth opportunity!
Each time a deal is lost, don’t just forget about it and move on. Take the time to analyse and reflect. By determining what went wrong and implementing changes, you can make sure you never lose a deal for the same reason in the future.
This makes your offering more valuable to future clients and proves to your lost prospects that you listened to them and may even bring them back to you later on down the line.
Published: 29th March 2021
Prospecting is one of, if not the most crucial, stage of the sales process.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult.
A report from HubSpot showed 42% of sales representatives named prospecting as the most challenging part of the sales process.
But why is it so difficult?
Without a pipeline full of good-quality leads, no new deals are going to drop. That’s why it’s so crucial to understand that prospecting kick-starts the entire sale and determines, in many ways, whether or not the deal will go through.
It’s simple maths, the more prospects and leads you generate, the more chances you have to close a deal.
Salespeople have to embrace prospecting and generating leads.
The C-Word Vital to Prospecting:
Leads won’t just land in your lap; you’ve got to take action and stick with it.
Just like going to the gym once won’t give you’re your ideal body, prospecting once isn’t going to fill your sales pipeline.
You need to work at it every day consistently, put time aside every day in your calendar for lead generating, and it will pay dividends in weeks and months to come.
Research has recently demonstrated that almost 82% of top-performing salespeople spend four or more hours per day on sales-related activities.
Prospecting isn’t always the most engaging of activities, so booking time in will help to ensure you’re sticking to it on a regular basis.
The benefits of maintaining this discipline: a sales pipeline full of leads, higher conversion and win rates!
The 10 Ultimate Prospecting Tips:
Although one of the most time-consuming and challenging parts of the sales process, done correctly, prospecting can be an exciting activity that hones your sales skills and allows you to find the right clients that are the perfect fit for your company.
Create an ideal prospect persona.
Take some time to identify the profile of your ideal client.
Starting within your own database. Who are your most profitable clients? Who are your worst? Which are the least profitable? Create a profile around each of these criteria.
However, please don’t assume that they’re a good fit for you because they’re in your system. Ironically, studies have shown that potentially 50% of your prospects aren’t a good fit.
You also need to think in terms of solutions – what pain points do your ideal customers have, and how does your product or service solve them?
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to use these profiles to find businesses well matched to your company’s services.
Get in front of your ideal prospects.
Start off by identifying where you ‘met’ your best customers. Was it through networking at an event? Was it a referral? This will help you to identify your most lucrative prospecting channels.
Another good place to start is identifying their digital presence: what social media channels or publications do they frequent?
For example, if you’re working in B2B sales, the likelihood is that your prospects are on LinkedIn. That means you need to have a strong presence there too. LinkedIn allows you to warm up your approach by connecting on the platform first and finding out a lot of information about them and their company.
All this information allows you to map out where you need to show up to meet your ideal clients.
Actively work the phones.
Never underestimate the power of a phone call! 82% of buyers accept meetings with salespeople that reach out to them, and 27% of salespeople say that making phone calls to new prospects is very or extremely effective.
You’ve got your cold lists, your warm lists, your hotlists.. take time each day to call these people and start or build on those relationships!
Another great tip is to have a list of open-ended questions relevant to each list.
Did you know? Asking between 11-14 questions during a lead call will translate into a 74% greater success rate?
You don’t need to focus so heavily on your sales pitch, but encourage a dialogue where you can learn their pain-points, goals, and most importantly, where they are in their decision-making process. If you can maintain an engaging, client-centric conversation, your lead qualification becomes much easier.
What solution are they looking for? Do they have enough information from you? Is there anything you could send over to make their decision making easier?
Focus on these questions and not about ‘making a sale’, and you’ll be turning lukewarm contacts into hot leads in no time at all!
Email, when done correctly, is alive and kicking! In fact, 80% of buyers say they prefer to be contacted by salespeople via email.
Although there is one form of email that is well and truly dead – mass or bulk emails!
Personalised emails are now running the show, leaving their archaic predecessor in the dust.
Firstly, you need to make sure that your content is personalised to each of your prospect’s needs. Your job is to impress them with how much you know about their industry or company. Make sure your emails are specific and address the needs of your prospective client.
Second, in order for your leads to open and read your email, make sure that they look great on mobile devices too, as more than half of all emails are read on the go. Emails optimised for mobile generate around 15% higher clickthrough rates than those that are not optimised.
Lastly, for your emails to hit the mark, you need to know how to write well and what to say. To help you, we’ve put together this guide full of great messaging tips and tricks.
Ask for referrals.
If it seems simple, that’s because it is!
Nothing is a better advertisement for your company than a happy customer.
91% of B2B buyers are influenced by social proof when making their buying decisions, pair this with a referral-based closing ratio of 50-70%, and you’ve got a highly effective source of quality leads.
This is an entirely free opportunity you simply don’t want to miss out on – ask your existing clients for referrals!
The ideal time to do this is just after the deal has closed; the sales experience is still fresh in their mind. A massive 83% of clients would happily provide a referral if their experience with a company is positive.
With your existing clients, make sure you’re providing a top-quality service to them too! Invite them to events, send them relevant content your teams are creating or set up a check-in meeting to ensure they’re completely thrilled with the service you’re providing.
Keeping you at the top of your clients’ mind will ensure they know exactly who to recommend when asked!
Become a real know-it-all.
To keep those referrals heading your way, you need to become more than just a supplier or service provider. You need to be a trusted partner and provider of solutions.
This means being a champion of knowledge in:
Your target industries: Recent research showed 51% of top-performing salespeople are regarded as an ‘expert in their field’.
Your prospects: Everyone likes positive attention and feeling understood. That’s why you need to know not only about your prospects needs but also their achievements. By thoroughly researching your prospects, you can use that knowledge to reinforce your value proposition.
Your own product: 54% of prospects want to find out how a product or service works on the first call. With that in mind, you need to be ready to discuss your product or service’s functionality, answer implementation questions, and give examples that show the value of your services.
Build your socials.
LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are all channels that your prospects will use to find information when they are looking to buy. So if you’re not on there, someone else will be!
Some key social selling statistics (source):
- 91% of B2B buyers are now active on social media
- 84% of senior executives use social media to support purchasing decisions
- Using social selling can increase deal sizes by 35%
Social selling works!
Start small and create a profile on one of the social media channels where your prospects spend their time.
For B2B sales, LinkedIn can be particularly powerful. Investing time into your LinkedIn profile is so important as 82% of buyers look up companies on LinkedIn before replying to their outreach efforts.
Add value with content.
We know that content delivered to prospects at the right time in the right way helps to move prospects down the sales funnel quicker.
The best way to figure out what will work best and when you need to answer this question: What are you trying to achieve during this particular prospecting stage?
You want your prospective client to either pay attention and give you the opportunity for a meeting or move to the next stage at least.
This means that the content you send needs to address specific situations and pain points of your prospects.
Most companies’ content focuses solely on their own services, features or products – rather than focusing on their customers’ pain points!
Demonstrate your skills through video.
People buy from people – So, show them the real you!
We’re not talking hyper-professional, corporate demos with model businesspeople shaking hands and unnatural smiles.
We’re talking about you, as an SDR, showing your face and offering information. Quote your numbers and give your best pitch. Everything you’re used to doing over the phone, just in a slightly different format.
All you need is your smartphone!
96% of buyers find videos helpful when making purchasing decisions, and prospects who view a product or service video are 85% more likely to buy.
Take full advantage of this trend – in your email marketing, your prospecting and your social selling.
Follow up, follow up, follow up!
It’s extremely rare for a sale to happen after the first contact. Moving a prospect through your sales funnel requires work. This means follow-up emails, calls, sharing content and more!
Following up is a reliable way to build relationships with your prospects and demonstrate your determination. Anything from an email thanking them for their time after a recent call, sending proposals and requested information on time – it all goes a long way in increasing your trustworthiness and your chances of making a sale.
Research has shown that if you haven’t had a response to an email within 24 hours, it’s essential that you follow up. That’s because you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your second email if your first goes unanswered!
So that’s Prospecting 101!
Prospecting, lead generating, business development, whatever you call it, is essential to all businesses. It’s also hard work and requires a deep understanding and plenty of time and resources to get the results you want. But there is another way.
A partnership with Intelligent Talk.
We’re not your average appointment setters or telemarketers. We are business development consultants who are excellent at what we do and are unique in our approach.
What we do is bespoke to each client, supporting a multitude of sales channels dependant on requirement. We find you genuine opportunities with the right decision-makers currently looking and in the market for what you offer, and if they are not, we put them in your future pipeline.
At Intelligent Talk, we pride ourselves on helping our partners to thrive. Serving as an extension to internal sales teams or as a wholly outsourced division, we care just as much as you do. We are respectful, honest, collaborative and always have our client’s best interests at heart.
Published: 22nd March 2021
I have a love-hate relationship with sales.
I used to think salespeople were persuasive, persistent, and usually ignorant and irritating. Particularly believed this of telesales, always calling at the worst time with something I have no interest in.
It doesn’t help that the phone is a channel used for so many scams or pointless calls that now, unknown numbers are immediately answered with impatience.
That ‘car crash’ we’ve all never had springs to mind.
On the other hand, I believed that somebody who could be successful in a sales career would have many desirable characteristics. They would have to be organised, charismatic and professional as well as consistent and knowledgeable.
There was a conflict between my experience of being sold to and what I thought made up success for those in sales.
I had a go at a charity call centre briefly in and around studying at 6th form. I only ever felt like a nuisance; the scripting and pitches removed it from being a genuine conversation with a human (I usually enjoy those) into a robotic transaction of noises that I hoped would secure the campaign a donation.
The metrics used to measure individual success also made it tedious, hit this call number, and you become eligible for a bonus! I understand incentivising productivity, but in this instance, it was delivered in entirely the wrong way.
We were not trying to have quality sales conversations; we were trying to have many conversations.
It wasn’t a problem to buy into the purpose of my calls, the charities requirement for donation. It was just too easy to disassociate from that cause while meeting personal targets set by the organisation.
At the time, I chalked it up as a learning experience; I did not suit the telemarketing industry. University on the horizon and anticipated I would find more engaging, compelling lines of work to build a career within.
I went on to study Psychology and Sociology at Brighton University, a reprieve from working and an opportunity to learn a little more about myself and what I could offer.
My degree had lots of fascinating insight into human behaviour, but by far, the most captivating for me was learning about non-verbal communications and discourse analysis.
Being able to identify the subliminal messages delivered around the words in a conversation was exciting.
I began to pick up the indicators for discomfort, misinformation and somebody glossing over the finer details. I realised I still wanted to work in a role focused on communicating with people, somewhere I could put this ability to detect additional information to use.
A ‘graduate’ business development opportunity within a local engineering organisation came up. The job description struck a chord with me, and I had a job offer within a day of the interview. I was excited to kick off a long and fulfilling career, leading my small local company to untold riches.
There is no exaggeration when I say it was a train wreck.
The realisation of becoming the ignorant and obnoxious salesman I used to hate answering the phone to. I had very little consideration of who I was approaching or whether they needed what we could offer. My entire strategy relied on persistence and fortune; the latter I rightly did not get much of.
It quickly came to an end for everyone’s benefit. I had had my fingers burnt and decided if I were going to get back into sales, it would have to be a vastly different, much more considered prospect than this.
No more scrambling for data or cramming information down the phone to uninterested contacts. I wanted to talk, ask questions and get to know people. With my activities and trust-building leading to relationships that would develop into opportunities organically.
My interview at Intelligent Talk was revolutionary in many ways. The business had a refreshing approach to their marketing campaigns; a good call, for instance, does not necessarily mean booking an appointment for a client or closing a sale.
Those will always be successful outcomes in business, but they are not the only valuable ones.
A great call is the genesis of a relationship between two mutually invested parties. An exchange of information and ideas to better understand what would most benefit the other with the opportunity of collaborating an arbitrary option in the right conditions.
My approach went from telling someone they need what I am offering to exploring their business, jobs and lives to understand better if we can support them.
It is an actively celebrated result to learn that our client’s product or service doesn’t suit a prospect.
We have secured valuable information for our client; we empower our campaigns to be dynamic and responsive by analysing these results.
The anxiety of trying to get wins’ is removed from the process. As a result, the success becomes conducting ourselves correctly in those conversations and representing our clients in the best way. We build a reputation for ourselves and our client in every call, and success lies in the relationships we carry forward.
Of course, it is nice to know that you’ve uncovered an opportunity. Still, it’s far more satisfying to discover the demands and requirements of a company or particular industry through engaging conversations with our contacts.
I no longer think those who work in sales are all ignorant and irritating anymore; myself and the team around me aspire to be evidence of the contrary every single day.
Published: 8th March 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.
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Published: 8th March 2021