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Naked Prospecting

Posted on: September 29th, 2020 by Monika No Comments

Prospecting and filling the top of the funnel are often the most challenging disciplines for sales people. Many companies struggle with that concept and what’s important to keep in mind is that everybody can be successful at it as long as you adhere to a process.

Help is here! Below is the link to my latest book, Naked Prospecting.

https://bookboon.com/en/naked-prospecting-ebook

how to buy isotretinoin in uk Personality helps, but process drives results

There is a common misconception in sales that sales people should be charismatic and charming. While a good personality never hurts, it’s not the secret ingredient to a successful sales career. Quite contrary; some sales people tend to talk themselves out of a sale, rattling off features and benefits as opposed to leading with value. Naked Prospecting is a “how to” book about the toughest part in the sales process. Prospecting!

Hinche Overcoming fear

Fear and resistance often play a big role. If you follow the process outlined in the book, you will be able to overcome “angst” and anguish that so often keeps sales people from being successful. Sales is a process and only those who are diligent, persistent and focused will succeed. If you follow the process outlined in the book, you will be able to overcome the fear of rejection that so often keeps sales people from making headway.

Persistence is key

The most important aspect of successfully building and maintaining a full pipeline is persistence. It’s not about making one call or sending out a couple of emails. It’s about

  • Identifying your prospect universe
  • Finding the right decision makers
  • Crafting messages that focus on the value of your service/product
  • Not being discouraged by rejection

I can promise you that you will be able to see results in a couple of weeks. Be patient, work the process and prosper. Good luck!

Are you prepared for a crisis?

Posted on: March 16th, 2020 by Monika No Comments

When we get married or make a long-term commitment, one thing that is inevitable is that there will be rough times. Some people are lucky and they only face minor obstacles, others will have to deal with a full-blown catastrophe, such as losing a home or even worse, a child.

Research has shown that couples don’t separate because their life is in shambles, they separate because they don’t know how to handle these difficult situations. Blame is one ingredient that doesn’t improve the circumstances and things often spiral out of control.

It was a long time coming

The same holds true for this Corona Virus crisis. Everybody who has read credible publications or watched trustworthy news over the last years must have heard that a Pandemic was looming. I can’t remember a time in the last decade where there wasn’t a potential danger of an outbreak of the magnitude that we are experiencing right now, but then it didn’t happen and we sighed with relief and moved on with our lives.

Although we know that at any time there is a worldwide pandemic that could linger, what have we done to prepare? Not a lot as anybody can see. We are reacting, but we are not executing plans that were developed prior to this outbreak. And I am not even talking about the fact that there don’t seem to be enough test kits or face masks available, that is almost a rookie mistake.

Reaction vs. Preparation can lead to Panic

What happens when there is a lack of preparation is a feeling overwhelm and panic. The financial fallout from this crisis could be devastating and it could have been mitigated if we had a solid crisis plan in place.

Events are being canceled and schools are considering to home-school children. When I watched the local news the other day, they were referring to the way some countries are now engaging with students as E-Learning. They don’t even have the terminology right. It’s not E-Learning, it’s long-distance learning. I know that because I own a company that has E-Learning capability with a technology platform and a curriculum that was developed so sales people who are disbursed all over the world can all learn at the same pace. On the other hand, we now have teachers who are instructing their students over the internet without the ability to truly collaborate or being able to tap into an E-Learning platform.

Crisis Management

And all of this happens in the 21st century with so many technology solutions available. We scramble, we panic and we react and it’s really scary to watch how the news develop and there is no clear path to success outlined.

For governments this should be a wake-up call to fund departments to be prepared. We have access to the data and we know that the next Hurricane, Flood or even Pandemic will be coming. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when and how often.

Shareholders should keep companies accountable and require a crisis preparedness plan to be in place. There are many companies who offer crisis management, including training, incident planning and response tools.

Even if we weather this emergency in a way where we contain it (fingers crossed) the question still remains how well prepared we are for the next crisis.

People like stories….

Posted on: February 11th, 2020 by Monika No Comments

From a very early age on I was fascinated by fairy tales and stories. Storytelling is essential in a consultative sales environment. It helps you connect with your prospects and it is a great way to add value rather than pushing a feature.

In a consultative B2B environment we are often faced with a situation where we are selling the invisible. Often, there is no physical product we can showcase when we are prospecting on the phone and we are challenged to connect with a prospect in a short period of time. It is therefore imperative to build am emotional connection and that can only happen when we tell a story.

Telling stories and sharing best practices gives us an opportunity to communicate a business objective in a personal way where people can relate.

Remember 1001 nights?

When I was a kid I loved the idea of people gathering in a tent or square and listening to stories. It’s fairy tales and stories that shape our thinking, they trigger our imagination and fuel our creativity. As adults it’s not that different, we are always drawn to stories where we feel that something speaks to us directly.

When I started out in sales, I had come from a public relations/marketing background with no credentials in sales so I decided to do what I liked best – listening to stories. I researched case studies and told my prospects about the success that other companies had when using our service. It worked!

Why?

Because people like to listen to stories, they can relate to them. Product features are boring to people unless they can use them to their advantage. Nobody wants to listen to you bragging about your company, your service, how good you are, etc.

What people are interested in is what your service can do for them and how it will help their business.

If you don’t have something to show, share a story

Even, if you have something to show you should tell a story, but it’s especially important in a B2B environment where you often don’t have a product to show and you need to rely on anecdotes to get people interested, especially when you first engage with a prospect. The key question is “What do the clients do with the service you provide?”

What better way to explain than sharing success stories.

Why is it easier to sell a story than a product or service?

Rather than selling a service, focus on the value it brings to the client and the human experience. Instead of selling a service that is “better”, offer a solution that helps increase efficiencies. Once we are able to tap into somebody’s emotion, it’s a lot easier to connect. Never forget that it is human beings you are targeting. Although you are trying to sell them something, you are also an advisor, a consultant in the true sense, a resource to help them make the right decision.

When telling stories, it is important that you own them and make them yours. Be personal, just like a dinner conversation. First, listen to your prospects, then choose a case study/story that you think will resonate with their needs and I can assure you that your prospects will listen. Because, everybody likes stories…

This is too expensive!

Posted on: October 31st, 2019 by Monika No Comments

How many times have you heard somebody say this? Not only in sales, but in every-day situations.


From a sales perspective, there is actually no such thing as “too expensive”. The meaning of “too expensive” is always “it’s not valuable to me”.

Just think about it. We can all buy, sell, choose something at a lower price tag, but what are the consequences of the lower price? Do we actually consider that when choosing a product, a service or a person for that matter?

When companies hire employees, do they actually evaluate what that person can bring to the table, or do they just look at a category that fits that job description and make an offer accordingly? I think we all know the answer to that.

Do we consider the long-term consequences?

When a person chooses a product or service, do they consider what might happen if they go with the provider that has the best price tag? Some people do, but most people don’t.

Cheaper products and services sometimes cost way more than a solution that lasts longer and is future proof.

We have also all worked with the people who are highly paid and don’t bring value and the ones who are talented and efficient, but underpaid.

One of our clients manufactures and sells modems to prevent internet outages, certainly a product that is essential these days to keep businesses up and running. Their fiercest competitors are not other companies that offer a similar model, but cheap consumer devices that you and I would use for our homes.

What is the value of anything?

Imagine, you are a company where the cash registers depend on a reliable internet connection and this company uses the same product that you and I use for our home offices. Sounds crazy, right? But it’s the truth.

I experienced it first-hand a couple of years ago when I wanted to buy something at a Dunkin Donuts kiosk at JFK airport and the cash register wouldn’t open up. In an airport! where time is of the essence. Maybe management didn’t consider what the loss of revenue would cost them and I am not even touching on the bad customer experience.

There is always a cheaper solution

Everything comes with a price tag, some higher some lower. And some products are competitively priced but when you choose a new solution, a new hire or a new product always consider the long-term value vs. the short time savings.

And for us sales people, we need to make sure that people understand the value of our solution. Leading with value is key, so price discussions don’t come up in the first couple of minutes, but at a point when the decision to purchase is being made.

How to Craft Effective Email Messages

Posted on: June 18th, 2019 by Monika No Comments

In my work, helping sales people developing qualified leads, I often come across a misconception about email communication. Email messages are still a very effective tool to get responses, but they need to be crafted carefully. This hold especially true since the rise of content marketing. Sales people have become more “salesy” in the way they engage with people and then wonder why they don’t get the responses they are hoping for.

Every interaction with our prospects and clients is an opportunity to connect, leave an impression and communicate value. If we treat email like a mass communication vehicle, it will be perceived as such.

Emails are the new Snail Mail

Just remember when we used to get letters, not flyers but actual letters. We would sit down, read them and then take an action, or not.

Emails are not that different. It’s the “new letter” where we want to be as careful in the way we write, phrase and format, being mindful of grammar and spelling and making sure that we are heard.

Get attention with your Subject Line

First off, there is the subject line. It needs to draw you in and it needs to be eye catching, but not to the point of sounding like a commercial. One of my favorite subject lines is “Discussion on (fill in blank). Whether it’s a Discussion on Sales Training, or a Discussion on Internet Connectivity, it gives the person on the other side of the screen an idea what you are all about.

Focus on the Value

Then there is the introduction. You want to get to the point quickly, focusing on the value that you would bring to the table, should they partner with you. In order to communicate the value you need to research your audiences carefully, because value means different things to different people. For example, a Finance Person will be interested in a product/solution that can save them money, while an Operations Person will be open to hearing about efficiencies.

What’s your call To Action?

And then you want to incorporate a call to action, such as “I will call you again tomorrow” to let them know that you are serious. That means however, that you will actually have to call them the next day, otherwise you will lose credibility.

All of these areas need time and research to develop. Good emails don’t grow on trees and they are not whipped up in a minute or two.

Remember, people buy from people and if we forget that it’s people who will be reading our correspondence (no matter what format), we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get responses.

How to write effective emails….

Posted on: June 6th, 2019 by Monika No Comments

Emails are the New Snail Mail

In my work, helping sales people developing qualified leads, I often come across a misconception about email communication. This hold especially true since the rise of content marketing. Sales people have become more “salesy” in the way they engage with people and then wonder why they don’t get the responses they are hoping for.

Every interaction with our prospects and clients is an opportunity to connect, leave an impression and communicate value. If we treat email like a mass communication vehicle, it will be perceived as such.

Emails are the new Snail Mail

Just remember when we used to get letters, not flyers but actual letters. We would sit down, read them and then take an action, or not.

Emails are not that different. It’s the “new letter” where we want to be as careful in the way we write, phrase and format, being mindful of grammar and spelling and making sure that we are heard.

Get attention with your Subject Line

First off, there is the subject line. It needs to draw you in and it needs to be eye catching, but not to the point of sounding like a commercial. One of my favorite subject lines is “Discussion on (fill in blank). Whether it’s a Discussion on Sales Training, or a Discussion on Internet Connectivity, it gives the person on the other side of the screen an idea what you are all about.

Focus on the Value

Then there is the introduction. You want to get to the point quickly, focusing on the value that you would bring to the table, should they partner with you. In order to communicate the value you need to research your audiences carefully, because value means different things to different people. For example, a Finance Person will be interested in a product/solution that can save them money, while an Operations Person will be open to hearing about efficiencies.

What’s your call To Action?

And then you want to incorporate a call to action, such as “I will call you again tomorrow” to let them know that you are serious. That means however, that you will actually have to call them the next day, otherwise you will lose credibility.

All of these areas need time and research to develop. Good emails don’t grow on trees and they are not whipped up in a minute or two.

Remember, people buy from people and if we forget that it’s people who will be reading our correspondence (no matter what format), we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get responses.

Selling Technology

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by Monika No Comments

 

Cradlepoint Router

Traditionally, sales people (especially when they are selling technology or technology enabled solutions) are trained and conditioned to lead with features and benefits rather than focusing on the Value of their service offering to their prospect’s business.

The issue with this approach is not only that every other sales person on the planet, especially competitors, will say the same thing, BUT the bigger issue, as we have so often witnessed, is that “People don’t know what they don’t know”.

What exactly do I mean by that? Well, I am not a very tech savvy person, but I am a consumer, a buyer, a business person, so I am looking at sales people to act as consultants and to guide me.

What Experiences Have You Had Buying A New Car?

Right now, I am in the process of buying a new car and I am really lost, because I don’t know what I don’t know and car sales people certainly aren’t trained to focus on understanding what is of Value to me. They lead with features of their vehicles all the time, and occasionally add a few of the benefits. They tell me the car has good traction (a feature), or a model has navigation (also a feature) connected hands-free to my smartphone so I can keep my eyes on the road (a benefit). But what they fail to mention is, what Value those features and benefits would bring to my life.

If they would ask me questions, such as “How important is safety to you?”, then they could mention all the features and benefits that their car showcases and wrap it into a safety message. Being able to navigate without having to use a phone would mean I can focus on driving a car rather than handling my phone (a benefit of the navigation system), wouldn’t it?  And that would mean driving safer (Value)!

This is the area where most sales people fail. They don’t understand that people don’t buy their products or services’ features, but people are looking at solutions that can improve their life or business.

What is a Failover? – And How Could I Possibly Need it?

One of our clients in the technology industry sells failover solutions. They are the leader in their industry and their solutions ensure that companies are connected to the internet at all times. BUT, what does that mean to the clients?

If a salesperson would call on me and ask “Are you interested in our failover solutions?” I wouldn’t even know what they are referring to. While I am one of those people who might ask what a failover solution actually is, (that is, if that call is not the tenth useless sales call I had received that day) there are many people out there who wouldn’t (perhaps they don’t want to admit that they don’t know something or simply have no clue) and just say “I’m not interested, thanks”.

And, here we go again. We don’t know what we don’t know!

The Alternative – Show Me The VALUE!!

If the salesperson however were to ask me if I ever experienced internet outages (who hasn’t?) and how that affected my business, that would certainly lead to a very interesting conversation. First of all, I would mention the many times when that has happened and how disruptive it has been to my business.

This would not only create awareness of an issue that I hadn’t entertained since the last time it happened, it would also shine light on the fact that I might have potentially lost money during those outages. In essence, I didn’t know that I needed a “failover” solution, because I don’t know what I don’t know.

Here is what’s important to understand when selling solutions. Features and benefits just support the Value that your solution brings to the market. Your sales people first need to learn to lead with Value and ask the right kind of pertinent questions in order to create the awareness in the mind of the buyer how a particular offering is relevant to and of VALUE to their business.

If you as a sales person fail to do that, you will not be able to sell as successfully as you potentially could. If companies don’t help their sales people embrace a Consultative approach to Sales, Business Development and Service, plus support them with training and insights of successful and experienced professionals, the competition will at some point have a leg up on them. Your product or service that “sells itself” will not be able to do that for all time. Eventually competitors will appear with something similar, perhaps less expensive and possibly offer about the same features. What differentiates yours from the competition, then?

That’s just the way it is. In the end, people don’t buy features and benefits but they do buy what your product or service means to their bottom line, their business effectiveness or their business’ reputation.

5 Ways to Make More Money in 2017

Posted on: December 13th, 2016 by Monika No Comments

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In sales, it’s all about building relationship so we can gain the trust of our prospects, help them with relevant value solutions, close business and make more money.

In the end, it’s all about the bottom line. So, every activity that we engage in should result in bringing us closer to that goal.

Whether it’s planning, researching or the way we engage with our prospects, every single interaction should lead us to the next step. Now, ask yourself the question, does every step you take get you closer to the sale?

 

  • Time is Money

We hear that phrase all the time, but in sales it’s an essential thought to keep in mind. It’s really not about activity, it’s all about results. One of the reasons I love this profession is that it always provided me with a certain amount of freedom. So, how does that stack up with your experience?

 

You see, from my own experience, it’s not about how many hours you work, it’s all about how much quality business you are closing.

We Sales Professionals are, finally, only as valuable as our results. So, how does that stack up with your experience?

So, before this year comes to an end let me provide you with some tips on how to maximize your time.

 

  • Planning is Everything

This part is where many sales people go off the rails. They start reaching out before they know their prospects’ universe. That’s when they start wasting time and not getting the results they are looking for.

Speaking of universe – sales people should know who to target. I am not talking territory here, I am talking about developing a prospect base that will buy from you. Territories are usually assigned to us, but within those territories we can develop a system to at first identify the low hanging fruit.

For example, if you are assigned Retail as a sector, you want to understand that industry and who within your prospect base would be a potential client. The trick is to identify parameters that will help you define those drivers. They could be revenue, or geography, but they could also touch on other areas.

For my business model, revenue and geography don’t matter. What matters is 1) how many sales people an organization has and, 2) whether management embraces a consultative sales approach.

 

So, ask yourself this question: “What are the areas that define a good prospect for you?”

 

  • Research is KEY

Another area where sales people don’t spend enough time is doing their research. There is an abundance of information available through on-line resources, and don’t forget “old-fashioned” methods such as word of mouth, referrals, etc.

It is crucially important to spend as much time on research as on the actual outreach. With people being inundated with information, coming from a place of expertise makes all the difference.

When a sales person calls me and they don’t even know my business, have never visited my site and don’t really understand my challenges, I don’t engage with them.  And that holds true whether it’s a phone or email outreach.

I can tell just from glancing at an email if a sales person is reaching out to me personally, or if they are simply working off a list.

 

  • People Buy from People

There is value in content marketing and automated solutions, as long as they are relevant to your target group. In the end, PEOPLE buy from PEOPLE. In order to effectively engage with prospects, you need to build rapport and trust. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, be personal, find out something interesting about your prospects, engage in a way that mirrors their behavior, make them comfortable with you and, most importantly, be relevant. The danger with automation is that it is just that. Automated. One way to be different in this ever-changing business world is go to back to the basics and engage people in a meaningful way.

 

  • Sales is a Process

I have said it here in my blogs before, and I’ll say it again. Sales is a PROCESS.

Every sales person needs to have a system in place that works for them. Utilizing their CRM, managing their time and developing a unique message that will resonate with their audiences.

Most sales people don’t really know how to communicate what the unique value their product/service brings to a prospect.

They just rattle off a pitch, talking about the features and benefits of their offering.

In a nutshell, when you know who your audiences are, what your unique message is and how to mindfully and effectively engage your prospects, you will succeed.

 

It’s the holidays and I believe in paying forward, so I want to share our Consultative Sales Certification Program (CSC) TM Account Planning tool with you.

 

And here’s to you and to a Happy, Healthy and Successful 2017!

Our Technology is Better Than Yours

Posted on: April 29th, 2016 by Monika No Comments

When it comes to selling technology, many sales people are trained or conditioned to sell the whistles and bells of their product or service (i.e. – the features), in an attempt to convince prospects of their offering being better than the competition’s.  They focus on the technical (often slight) differences and advantages that their technology brings to the table, rather than positioning value. One danger of that approach is that very often the discussion ends up to be price focused. You can imagine many technologies offer similar features and the differences, right? While these features are important to the company who sells the technology, they might not be seen immediately as of value to the prospect.

So, let’s start from here: It’s really NOT about the technology; it’s about what VALUE your specific technology solution can bring to your prospect’s business.

And how do we do that? Right! You guessed it! By asking the right questions at the right time AND actively listening AND positioning your solution as relevant to your customer’s goals. Just rattling of your pitch is NOT going to get you very far in this day and age of the educated and curious buyer.

The goal in every interaction with the prospect should be to discover what is of unique value to that particular individual and then provide a sensible solution accordingly.

Finding the Right Person to Target

Tailor your messages to the need of the person you are engaging with. Technology sales people tend to lead with technology, even when they talk to decision makers who are not tech savvy. This often leads to the prospects being overwhelmed and/or confused.

Technology details are only relevant to the person who is a tech buyer, the person who understands the differences and nuances when it comes to technology. That person is seldom the person who writes the checks. Economic buyers however are always interested in what the technology can do for their business, in other words how it can help them make or save money or time.

Why Not Start Prospecting from the Top?

It is very tempting for technology sales people to target technical buyers, but it’s not always the right approach. If you, as a sales person can identify how your prospect company could benefit from your solution, you might be better off targeting higher level executives, such as the CEO, the CTO, COO, etc. If your technology can help companies make or save money, then (and you can bet your money on this) you will get the attention from senior management. It’s all about doing your research and crafting the right message.  It’s also a lot easier to work your way down within an organization, than to climb up the organizational ladder.

Avoid Getting Stuck in the Middle (Mid-Level Management)

Mid-management is often protective of their turf and they very rarely have final decision-making power. So, if you engage with them (even if they are responsive), you will have to rely on them to communicate the value of your solution to their management, the people who will give final approval. Why would you want to risk that? If you, however, get buy-in from top management first, and they then involve the technical experts or management, you can be assured that your sales cycle will be shorter.

Lead with Value

Again, it’s not about the technology, but what the technology can do for that organization. That proposition might be different for every single company, so you will need to do your research. In the end it will pay off. If you offer a technology that can help companies stay connected to the internet without interruptions (like one of our clients), focus on the value that solution brings to this client. Losing internet connection these days can have devastating effects on companies, but the consequences might differ depending on the industry. In the public sector, it might mean that ambulances don’t get to an accident scene on time. In a retail environment the effects might be less drastic, but very costly. If your client’s employees can’t open hundreds or more of their cash registers due to a lost connection, it can result in lost revenue.

Higher Pricing Not an Issue? How To Do That?

Here is the lesson to learn for sales people who sell technology enabled solutions. Higher price might not be an issue, as long as the solution that you are offering is relevant to the individual who is buying it and they feel it’s worth it. Personally, I don’t mind paying more if I actually get more, but that’s up to the sales person to help me understand. Good sales people help clients understand the value of their solution and why the cheaper solution might have downfalls.

CRM could stand for – Come on – Retain Me

Posted on: September 25th, 2015 by Monika No Comments

Come on – Retain Me…….

…..should be the new acronym for CRM. Hardly any company that I am involved with as a consumer/customer actually uses their CRM, also known as Customer Relationship Management to have a relationship with me as a customer, unless the approach “don’t know who you really are but want to sell you stuff anyway”, falls into that category.

I see it over and over. Companies that have all my information, and I mean all my information (such as the company who manages my mortgage) – with the exception of my blood type – treat me like a prospect, NOT like a client.

My mortgage was sold (again!) to a company I had never heard of and they took the opportunity to (what else is new) sell me something. In this case it was a lower mortgage rate.

This would be a really intriguing concept if they would have actually reviewed my files, looked at my history and determined whether I was a good fit for such an offer.

Research is Essential – Even (or Especially) When You Call On an Existing Customer

But that would entail research and some upfront work, but instead the company decided to have sales people just dial for dollars and to call everybody who had been “switched” over to see if they were interested in a conversation.

It was very quickly apparent that the person who contacted me was using a list with probably thousands of names, rather than a CRM system that would indicate whether I was a good prospect or not.

Now, when it comes to cold calling on completely new prospects, it’s often very difficult to have high level conversations. The resources that we as sales people can use to determine a good fit are somehow limited. BUT when companies already have an existing client base and they are trying to up-sell, it should be mandatory to use all the information they have in their Customer Relationship Management system, shouldn’t it?

Not only do I find it a huge time-waster to speak with representatives of organizations who have all of my customer history and not use the information, it’s also insulting.

What Does It Say About Their Relationship to Me, The Customer?

It gives me the impression that I am just a number and they don’t really care.

If You Have a CRM System, Use It!

It feels like I have to write about this topic on a weekly basis – I’m thinking about my recent post about Salesforce.com – my experience with them NOT using their own product (!!) was a real shocker to me.

In the case of my mortgage company I don’t really have much choice, because I really don’t want to go through another refinancing scenario, whether it’s with this or another company. But, beware – all the other organizations who have my customer file (Cable, Wireless, Credit Cards, etc) – please do me the courtesy and Come on, Retain Me!