Sales best practices for improving sales win rates, shortening the sales cycle and increasing overall quota attainment. Sales strategies to make revenue growth repeatable, and scalable
The most common question I get from sales people at industry events, trade shows and certainly when I host workshops is "How should I stay in touch with my prospects?" Naturally, I respond by asking "tell me what you're currently doing?" The responses usually sound something like this:
For those of you who know me and/or have been through my sales methodology training know that I'm not an advocate for the "just checking in" follow-up call. It really is a waste of a sales call and a wasted opportunity. Even still, many sales people including those with years and years of experience struggle to come up with a compelling alternative.
Learn our proven 7 step methodology for turning cold calls into hot leads.
Yes, you read that correctly, these email templates will help you open doors and build relationships with new prospects. No, they will not work every single time but compared to the generic, “one size fits all” and overly salesy emails most sales reps send, I’m confident these will work far more effectively.
There is a lot of truth to the sales metaphor “what we plant today we’ll harvest tomorrow.” Salespeople have to plant a ton of seeds in order to harvest their anticipated yield, yet planting the seeds is the easy part. The hard part is nurturing those leads through careful planning and executing each interaction via telephone, email, text, and face to face meetings. Suffice it say, it’s a daunting task for sales professionals and sales leaders to build and execute a lead nurturing campaign that not only shortens the sales cycle and has a measurable impact on the business, but actually compels the prospect to want to engage with the sales professional.
According to Jill Konrath, sales calls go into voicemail 97% of the time. Suffice it to say, sales professionals better be pretty darn good at leaving sales voicemail messages. Heck, sales professionals have as little as 10 seconds to get the attention of the prospect before they hit the delete button!
One of the most important sales activities is qualifying. This is where the rubber meets the road and the sales rep has to decide if if pursuing the company, contact and/or opportunity makes sense. The salesperson is weighing their investment of time and energy against the potential reward. The challenge is making a "go" or "no go" decision because they answer is not always obvious.
We’ve worked with more than 300 IT staffing firms here at Menemsha Group, and if I had to estimate, I’d say that 85 percent of them rely on one or two major accounts for 80 percent of their revenue — before we start our work with them, that is.
Let me answer this one right off the bat. As with selling anything, selling IT staffing services effectively is part art, part science. The mistake most IT staffing firms make, though, is relying too much on art and too little on science.
I'm not sure if you noticed but Linkedin recently released a new feature, the Social Selling Index (SSI) . When you click on it, it will instantly take you to your social selling dashboard and give you a snapshot of how you compare with your industry peers and network.
In my last blog post I explained what sales triggers are and how to leverage them in your sales efforts. As a reminder, sales trigger events are occurrences that take place within or around your customer or prospective customer’s business that indicate a potential need for your service offering. In this blog post, 24 sales triggers for calling your prospects today, I'm going to share with sample sales triggers for calling your prospects including how to use each sales trigger in your conversation. One of the most common challenges sales people face is knowing what to talk to their prospects about when conducting lead nurturing calls or “follow up calls.” We all know we need to be continuously calling on our prospects on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (frequency may vary depending on the prospects) but what should we be talking with them about? That is where the sales triggers come into play. Below are 24 examples of sales triggers or business reasons for you to be calling on your prospects today. So what are you waiting for, go get em! 1) New Executives (VP/C-Suite) Companies typically hire new executives (VP or C-Suite level) to shake things up. These new hires have authority to make decisions and are looking to make an impact with their new organization and demonstrate their value. As such, they may be open to hearing some new ideas from you. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts for the company name, the company's press releases page or LinkedIn 2) Current Contact Moves to New Company If one of your customer’s makes a move for a new company, you need to reach out to him or her to see if they will bring you and your service offering with them. If your service offering had an impact on their previous company (value proposition) than they should be excited about introducing you and your service offering to their new company. Search for this trigger event with: LinkedIn 3) Funding Announcement If your prospect has just landed a significant round of funding, they're about to have a lot more money rolling in. Chances are they have this money earmarked for certain investments to help grow their business. Reach out with a suggestions on how you and your firm can help them achieve their goals with the investment $$ they just received. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, press releases page, industry news, Linkedin 4) Company Expansion A company opening a new office location requires a litany of new suppliers for both products and services. Find out what operations will be run out of the new office to determine if, where and how you can help them be successful in their new market. This may be a cross-sell opportunity with an existing customer or a brand new introduction all together. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, press releases page, classified ads in local newspaper, industry publications 5) Company Relocation A relocated office is essentially a new office. Same as above. They will need IT infrastructure and people to implement and manage that infrastructure. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, press releases page, classified ads in local newspaper, industry publications 6) New Product/Service Announcement When a company rolls out a new product or service, they really don’t know what to expect. Its uncharted waters for them. This could be an opportune time to reach out, acknowledge the new product or service and simply inquire on how you can help their product or service be a success. Ask about their initial customer feedback to generate ideas on how you can help them. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, press releases page, industry news, social media (Twitter) 7) Competitor Beat Your Prospect/Customer If a competitor beats your prospect or customer to the market with a new product or service or upgrade, you can count on the fact that your prospect or customer is preparing a counter attack. Search for what your prospect/customer’s competitors are doing and if they did make a new announcement, reach out and see how you can help them respond. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, press releases page, industry news, social media 8) Competitive Move Be sure to check out other competitive moves (non-product/service launches) such as a new marketing campaign, webinar series to promote something or a new advertising campaign for example by a competitor. Your customer/prospect will not want to be far behind. Call them and point this out. Better yet, offer some fresh ideas on how to surpass the competitor (it doesn't have to include your offering...remember you don't have to always be selling, just coming from a place to truly help your customer) Search for this trigger event with: Company web site, Google alerts, press releases page, industry news, social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin 9) Poor Quarterly Earnings Did your prospect or customer have a poor quarterly earning? Did revenue and/or gross profit fall? Perhaps they lost some key customers? Find out what led to the dip in their business and determine how your service offering could help get them back on track. This is where your value proposition can really come into play. Search for this trigger event with: 10K statement, Yahoo Finance, earnings calls, industry news, company web site (investor relations), Google alerts, industry news 10) Strong Quarterly Earnings Did the company kill it last quarter? Chances are they will be more open and likely to take on new projects that could help them continue their growth. Introduce yourself and start the conversation. Search for this trigger event with: 10K statement, investor relations (company web site), earnings calls or podcast, industry news, Google alerts 11) Mergers and Acquisitions I really can’t think of a better time to reach out to a prospect then when they are going through a merger/acquisition. Think of all the internal IT systems that will need to be integrated in order to talk to each other not to mention product and service integration. All of those are areas in which IT staffing and consulting firms can add value. This is also the perfect opportunity for a phone call if this is an existing customer. Here you are making a warm cross-selling call with the goal and intent of earning add-on business by cross-selling into the newly acquired/merged company. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, press releases page, industry news 12) Legal/Regulatory Issues If a company gets hit with a fee or penalty for regulatory compliance issues, they will most certainly be looking for a solution so this doesn’t happen again in the future. Don't forget about the negative PR that comes with this as well. This is actually one of the easier trigger events to spot and take advantage of. Two industries that instantly come to mind are financial services and the life sciences. Not only should you look for companies who recently got hit with a fee, but you should also stay in tune with the latest compliance issues so that you can educate your prospects and customers. Search for this trigger event with: Industry news, Google alerts, Linkedin 13) Swings in Hiring Volume Hiring new talent of course is the most obvious trigger event. Be sure to keep a pulse on the hiring volume-significant increase or decrease and even layoffs. This can tell you a lot about what is going on within an organization. Understand the details of why the volume is changing before making the call. Don’t just offer your services to fill positions. Instead position yourself as the provider who can help the prospect/client achieve their end goal. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, industry news, press releases page, Linkedin, Twitter, careers page 14) Major Industry Development Any major shift or industry disruption (think Linkedin to the job boards, Uber to the cab companies) will require that the entire industry take notice and take action. Think about how you can help your prospect/customer (and the entire vertical industry) make the necessary pivot. Search for this trigger event with: Industry news, Google alerts (industry news) 15) New Organizational Strategy/Initiatives As I have written about in length in the past, priorities in corporate America are constantly changing. It’s very difficult to know which initiatives are getting funded and which ones fail to make the cut. But if you can glean this information (say from speaking with a consultant) or from a social media post and position your offering accordingly, corporate buyers will be really impressed with you. Search for this trigger event with: Social media, consultants (working internally), prospecting, Linkedin groups 16) New Legislation (Regulatory Compliance) Years ago when CFR 21 Part 11 came out, life sciences firms were required to have internal systems in place demonstrating the proper policies and procedures were being followed and that the appropriate management had signed off on these procedures. Smart IT consulting firms saw this coming and started offering services to specifically help Life Sciences firms meet CFR 21 Part 11 compliance. Regardless of the industry or industries that you sell into, you need to keep a watchful eye on the laws and regulations guiding that industry so that you can help guide your prospect or customer through the mind field and avoid the fines and negative press. Search for this trigger event with: Industry news, Google alerts 17) Management of Sensitive (Customer/Patient) Data We’re in the IT services business. All of your prospects and customers are required to varying degrees to protect their customer’s data. You can help them manage and protect that data. Remember TJ Max in the news just a few years ago? They got hammered with negative publicity regarding the breach of their customer data. Call your prospect or customer and offer them ways in which you can help them protect their data. Also, just about every 10K statement I have ever looked at makes reference to protecting customer data under their risk factors. This is a highly sensitive area, so get after it! Search for this trigger event with: Industry news, 10K statement (risk factors) 18) Awards & Recognition Often the best time to reach out to a new prospect is when they have recently been awarded with some industry award or recognition. Introduce yourself and your offering and let them know how you can help them continue their growth. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, industry news, press releases page, company web site 19) Monitor Your Contacts on Linkedin We all know to connect with our prospects and customers on Linkedin but how many of us are actually monitoring what our prospects and clients post? You need to pay careful attention to the topics your contacts display interest in. Whatever they display an interest in is an opportunity for you to connect with them on that topic. Of course, if they express an interest in a topic that ties into to your service offering, even better. Be sure to monitor what your prospects are posting, sharing, and liking on all of their social networks. Then interject, offer your ideas or thoughts on those topics. Track this event with: Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook 20) Analyst Reports Every industry has analysts who are ranking companies in their industry. Find out who they are and what they are saying about your customer or prospect. Companies ranking high may be in the market to invest in new solutions to maintain their ranking while others may looking to make a move up the ranking. Search for this trigger event with: Analyst web site such as Gartner, Forrester or Aberdeen Group, Google alerts, industry news, Yahoo Finance 21) Glass Door See what people are saying about your prospect and customer on Glassdoor. If it is negative, think of ideas in which you can offer that can help your prospect overcome the stated issue(s). If positive, think about what you can offer to enhance their image and reputation. Search for this trigger event with: Glassdoor 22) Entering Into a New Market One client of mine years ago shared with me that they read the classified ads to see what companies recently signed new real estate space. I thought that was pretty creative actually. When a company enters a new market they face the unknown. They will have a new set of problems and competitors to contend with. Chances are they don’t yet have all the answers. Keep in mind that they most likely face a tight time line before they need to show a profit. Sounds like the perfect time for a sales call to me. Search for this trigger event with: Google alerts, industry news, press releases page, local newspaper, classified ads 23) Initial Public Offering (IPO) Companies go public to raise $$ and reinvest in the business for future growth. When you catch wind of a customer or prospect going public don’t shy away from inquiring how you can help them grow. Find out what areas they plan to invest in first and why. Figure out how you can help them in those areas. Search for this trigger event with: SEC filings, Google alerts, industry news, press releases page 24) Event Announcement Is your prospecting hosting an event such as something in the community, product launch, webinar or some other event? This is the perfect time to start volunteering. Call and find out how you can help. Get involved and start meeting people. Search for this trigger event with: Company web site, Facebook, Google alerts, press releases page, media or investor relations page Those are just a few examples or "triggers" that you can leverage for calling on your prospects without reverting back to the old "check in" call. I know all of you have additional ideas that I didn't mention, so please share.