This is a tactical sales process on how to hack sales learned from the Sales Development Playbook by Trish Bertuzzi.

How to Hack Sales – The Foundation

The 5 Whys

The very first step when developing your sales process is to look at the situation from your customers point of view.

The very 1st step when developing your sales process is to look at the situation from your customers… Click To Tweet

If you look at the situation from your position, as the business owner or salesman, YOU WILL FAIL.

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Every business owner or salesman thinks they have the best product and the best customer service in the industry. Most of the time, the reality is they don’t. They are incentivized to sell, so they are 100% biased. To really build the best sales process you can, you MUST understand how your actual prospects see the situation. You can do this by running through the 5 whys.

  1. Why listen?
  2. Why care?
  3. Why change?
  4. Why you?
  5. Why now?

Why listen?

Your prospect is exponentially busy. Everyone is. It is your job to make it abundantly clear what benefit it will be to your prospect why they should even listen to you.

Desired outcome: Peak the curiosity of your prospect
Next step: Introductory meeting

Why care?

Once you pique the curiosity of your prospect, you must then make it clear to her why she should care about this topic. You’ve heard some of the stats on exactly how much time you have to grab someone’s attention. Estimates indicate people see between 2,000 – 3,000 advertisements per day. So they few that do catch the attention of their prospects must still powerfully continue the process of explaining why the prospect should care about this topic.

Desired outcome: Genuine interest from your prospect
Next step: Discovery call

Why change?

Your biggest competitor just might be the status quo. Your prospect doing NOTHING. THink about it, change is hard. Staying the same is easy. So in this stage you need to emphasize just how much better her life is going to be by making the change.

Desired outcome: Active and ready to take action
Next step: Pipeline opportunity

Why you?

After your prospect has decided to make a change, you want to make sure it is YOU that she decides to go with! In this stage you can show direct comparisons to the competition, emphasizing the points that you have a unique advantage. Or at least finding the points that your individual prospect is most interested in.

Desired outcome: Prospect is committed to you
Next step: Forecast opportunity

Why now?

The final step is the process to get the actual signature. How many times have you made a sale, but the customers takes time to make it official. In this case, you run the risk of them forgetting, or something else coming along. So this final stage is to somehow expedite the urgency and close the deal.

Desired outcome: Prospect is committed to now
Next step: A win

Introductory vs Qualified Meeting Strategy

There are two main sales models to choose between: Setting introductory meetings versus generating qualified opportunities. The correct method depends on your product and market maturity level.

sales hackingIntroductory Meetings: Prospects have a sense of your overall value proposition but haven’t been qualified as to their readiness or ability to move forward.

Qualified opportunity: Prospects have reached a qualification threshold. At some level, this means:

  • A problem has been identified
  • A potential solution was introduced
  • And the prospect has committed to a next step

You should deploy an introductory meeting model when the market for your product is immature and/or when your account executives need more at-bats.

For instance, CRM software is a mature market. Most big companies have a solution in place, and making a change is a major hassle. So you would never want your sales reps (SDRs) setting introductory meetings for closers, it would waste everyone’s time.

But if you are selling predictive lead scoring, that market is still new, as is the concept itself. So reps should focus on setting as many intro meetings as possible to give the organization a chance to elaborate on the problem they solve.

“If SDRs are booking meetings with the right types of companies, the right people within them, and the prospects are at least curious about addressing a potential pain point, then the reps have done their jobs well.”

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The Right Solution for You

For startups, cold email can be a great way to set up introductory meetings.

For #startups, cold email can be a great way to set up introductory meetings. Click To Tweet

Instead of paying a full time SDR to set these meetings, you can send a couple hundred conversational emails to your specific target market. LeadFuze has introduced a tool that combines both the prospecting (finding the right people at each company) and the sending (personal one-to-one emails) all in one central database/software/dashboard.

The choice between the introductory call vs qualified meeting strategy will be key decision as you build a sales team. The correct choice may change over time as your market grows and adapts as well.

Sales Process Execution

Your Goal: Create Compelling Conversations

It’s painful to read a typical cold email. Almost always a long, drawn out version of..

“I’m awesome because of this, and this, and this..BUY NOW!”

This never really works.

The key is a conversational message. The only job of the initial email is to start a real conversation, like a normal human being. Not close the entire sale.

After this first message, maybe your website/free trial/email autoresponder takes over, and makes the sale, or maybe a live salesman takes over. But never lead with a message that tries to close too early. All cheese, no whiskers.

sales hackingWe want to enter the conversation that is currently bouncing around in your prospect’s head.

What is she legitimately having a problem with? How can your product alleviate this pain? Does she see it this way also? How does she currently view this problem? How can we introduce you/your story in a way that builds trust and intrigue, without raising salesy red flags (if at all).

This will shape how we can start a compelling conversation that won’t be deleted as junk right away.

Architect Your Outreach

Trish’s research shows that the average sales rep only makes between 1.7 and 2.1 attempts at contacting a new prospect.

The average sales rep only makes between 1.7 and 2.1 attempts at contacting a new prospect. Click To Tweet

We’ve all seen the research that it takes an average of 7 contacts before a prospect is ready to take action, so why is the average only 2 attempts?

Most likely because the company does not have a formal cadence process in place. The prospecting is haphazardly left up the individual sales reps. So when they don’t hear back right away, it becomes easy to forget about following up any further.

The Multi-Touch Approach

The best outreach programs get creative with their messages. Start with a phone call, then an email that references the content of the phone call in some way. If still no response, try another phone call (with a new message) followed by an email that references something else. Use your understanding and empathy of your prospects situation to write messages that they may actually be interested in.

Many reps don’t bother to leave voicemails, because very few of them are ever turned into return calls. But that type of thinking misses the bigger picture, because that voicemail can help to get your email replied to, or help set up future interactions by giving your prospect something to get excited about, or at least pique their curiosity.

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Justin Roff-Marsh is the author of The Machine, which outlines an engineering mentality to building a sales team. I had a few questions for Justin on how to best build a sales team. You can listen to it right here:

Why Pricing MUST be Discussed Early in the Sales Funnel

All too often we cringe when that great sales call switches gears toward budget and pricing. Maybe we take a deep breath or we start back peddling or rambling before spitting out those numbers…Well, it’s time we embrace the opportunity to easily differentiate between a potential client and one that simply can’t fit our cost into their budget.

The sales term BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) has been around for decades guiding millions of salespeople through those all-important discussions with clients.

While it may be slightly antiquated, there is an undeniable need to find out if the budget will be an issue with a potential client early on. After all, why waste your time (and theirs) if the lead is totally unqualified?

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One of our biggest fears as salespeople is that we will discourage the lead if we instantly bring up price – believe it or not, there is nothing taboo about getting the budget discussed and laid out in the open early in the conversation.

With this being said, it must be done with some careful tact. If you aren’t currently doing this it’s time to embrace (not run from) the budget discussion!

Still not convinced? Here are 8 tips for discussing budget early in the conversation and how to successfully handle objections to your pricing.

1. Be confident in your product and pricing

If you aren’t confident that your services are worth the cost, who will be?

The number one objection to buying a new product or service is how much it’s going to cost.

As salespeople, we constantly hear price objections like “I can find this cheaper somewhere else,” or “I’m interested but can’t seem to understand why the cost is so high.”

The key is to convince your prospective client that the value of paying for your product or service trumps the value of keeping that money in their wallet.

You have 20 seconds to raise interest in a potential customer. Mentioning your price early on shows you are confident and fully believe there is nothing to hide.

There are many proven sales techniques for overcoming objections to price.

One that you may or may not have heard of is the “reduction to the ridiculous” sales approach.

Essentially, this technique is used to help the customer see the value in the money they are investing. By doing a little math, you can break down the cost over a more tangible timeline, emphasizing that the pricing is more “doable” than they originally thought.

Here are some ads that demonstrate the concept:

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Skincare company Rodan and Fields uses this type of selling technique well in many of their campaigns:

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One thing we have learned from integrating sales and social media is that potential customers listen to what established customers have to say (social proof) more than they listen to us as sales people.

In fact, roughly 63% of consumers say they are more like to purchase from a website if it has product ratings and reviews. Additionally, more than 70% of Americans say that they look up product reviews prior to making a purchase.

It is imperative that you have confidence in product pricing but sometimes even this alone can’t make the sale. Have a variety of testimonials that you can share to help navigate those potential price objections.

You can talk about your USP until you are blue in the face, but to really drive that information home, use these testimonials to your advantage. Check out this example from CrazyEgg.

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Example from CrazyEgg

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2. Know your product inside out

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If your potential customer seems to know more about your product than you do, you’ve got a real problem. Part of being effective as a salesperson is being the authority on what you sell.

The success or failure of mentioning the price early in the sales funnel often comes down to what you know (or don’t know).

Have you ever been on the other end of a sales call and stumped the person on the line by asking a seemingly basic question about a product?

Think about how quickly that made you feel anxious about your purchase. Don’t give a vague, “I’ll-get-back-to-you” answer, this only serves to bring more doubt to the purchase and a lowered ability to feel comfortable in the price.
Invest the time to be able to answer tough questions, especially when they pertain to the financial aspects of the sale.

3. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to unqualified leads

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Another great advantage of mentioning cost upfront is that you will say goodbye to unqualified leads right away.

This may sound scary to some, but really we shouldn’t be afraid of this – we should embrace it.

Not convinced?

Consider the fact that only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to a sale.

Why waste more time than necessary on the other 75%?

A recent study found that 80% of marketers admit to sending unqualified leads to their B2B sales team! It’s also been discovered that only 56% of B2B organizations verify valid leads before passing them on to their sales team.

With numbers like these, how on earth are you supposed to convert these useless leads into sales?

You can’t – plain and simple.

The easiest way to weed these bad leads out is to mention price upfront. Stop wasting their time as well as yours so that you can spend more time on those qualified leads.

4. Focus on the difference of price and cost

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As we mentioned earlier, having tact when first mentioning cost is key to successfully continuing the conversation with a lead. Part of this tactful approach should include highlighting the difference between price and cost.

Just to make sure we are on the same page, let’s sum up this basic principle.

Price is the actual amount that the customer pays your company for your product or service.

Cost, on the other hand, is the difference between the price paid and the profit that is made when your customer invests in your product or service.

Make sense?

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For instance, you may be talking to a lead and they are telling you that your competitor is offering them a similar service for $100,000 less a year.

How the heck are you supposed to respond to that?

It’s not always easy to shift the conversation from price to cost, but it is key in this instance.

Calculating the return on investment isn’t necessarily easy either, but it is a surefire way to show the prospect that you have the business sense and knowledge to actually show them how they can save cash in the long run by investing more money than your competition.

Having a high price is an objection that can easily be overturned if your cost is less than your competitor and your value is much higher.

Blogger Anthony Iannarino wrote a great post on the Sales Blog. Check out his great tips on differentiating between price and cost.

5. Give a price range if you aren’t sure exactly what services/products are needed

When you talk about price, the best thing to do is leave the door open for the conversation to continue. Allow questions to be asked and price to be considered.

One of the easiest ways to inadvertently shut down the discussion is to give a specific price answer as opposed to a range.

Being that you are discussing the financial part of their investment early on in the conversation, it’s likely that you don’t know all the details or the extent to which they plan to utilize your products or services so keep the price to a range rather than a specific number. This is something that we see done effectively on the majority of websites.

Think as the consumer for a minute.

Check out this example from Price Intelligently.

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Understanding that all customers don’t have the same needs is key when showcasing the pricing.

Flexibility is key to not scaring off customers when discussing the financial end of the deal.

With these thoughts in mind, discuss the customer’s needs and then discuss many options that will better fit their needs and their budget.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions before giving your price range

Following along this same train of thought, take time to ask the questions you need to know in order to give a realistic price point.

After all, you want to find the right product for the customer not necessarily just the right customer for the product.
An infographic from the Hubspot blog illustrates some great questions:

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7. Be able to differentiate between “sticker shock” and “Rusher’s gap”

You mention the price and you instantly get a knee-jerk reaction from the client…now what?

There are a variety of reasons you might be getting this response. As mentioned earlier, they may just be one of the 75% of unqualified leads you will deal with. But what if they are part of the other 25% and are just experiencing sticker shock? Or perhaps anticipating the cost will end up being even more than what you quoted (which is the basis of the term known as Rusher’s gap)?

Being able to understand what is driving the potential price objection is necessary for learning if this lead is going anywhere or is a lost cause.

If it’s sticker shock, this may be overcome.

If your lead has done his or her homework and has completed some price comparisons and are still interested in your service (even though your price is higher) – this is a situation you now know how to deal with (refer back to #4 – differentiating between price and cost).

If you are dealing with Rusher’s gap your approach will need to take a slightly different turn.

Rather than defend the price (by explaining value and actual cost) you will want to make certain that all your numbers are correct so you can assure the customer there will be no unexpected costs (within reason).

Another option is to refer them to references who can affirm that the price they were originally quoted is the same that they paid for the service/completed job/product etc.

8. Address potential objections to pricing respectfully

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When you are following up on leads each and every day, you become so accustomed to your pricing and the typical objections to it that it can get easy to experience burnout.

The second you lose the respect and trust of your client, you are done.

Yes, this seems simple but you must remember that when you bring up pricing early on, you must address all the potential objections to pricing respectfully in order to earn their trust and help them see the value you offer them.

Ask questions to find out how far out of the ballpark your pricing is compared to what they have budgeted for.

This offers you the opportunity to lead them toward another area of tiered pricing or a product that may fit their budget more easily.

Here are just a few example questions that you can ask to get the client to rethink their objection to the price. Many are as simple as restating the objection prior to addressing it.

Another important and respectful approach is to also make sure there are no other objections holding them back. By inviting additional objections, you can address these as well.

“Can you tell me why you think it’s too much?”
“Do you mean that you feel it is too much money compared to the value you would get from it?”
“Can you share your specific concerns with me?”
“I completely understand how you feel about the cost. In fact, many other clients felt the same way until they actually began using our products/services. Do you mind if I explain the benefits and share a few testimonials with you?”
“Off the record, how much had you been hoping to budget for?”
“Are there any other concerns that you have?”
“Have you received cheaper quotes elsewhere?”
“Is the lowest investment cost your main focus at this point or is quality the deciding factor?”

Will you encounter objections when you discuss the cost right away? Absolutely. If you know what to expect and have many of the tools and strategies we have discussed at your disposal, however, you will feel prepared and confident when you address these objections.

‘When To ‘Hold ’em and When to Fold ’em’ – Saying Goodbye to Unqualified Leads

In sales, we all walk that fine line of pursuing leads without pushing them away. It’s a dance that we delicately engage in with all our potential customers.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Most of us are reluctant to give up on anyone who has shown some interest in our company, right? We come up with great ways to them interested again and don’t take “no” for an answer.

Well guess what? Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and walk away.

I can practically hear your inner perfectionist screaming “NO, but they DO want our business!”

Maybe they were interested at one point but there are a million reasons that they have decided you just “aren’t the one” for them. Slightly reminiscent of those sad high school break ups, low quality leads need to be set free and forgotten.

Not sure how to spot an unqualified lead?

There are many different signs and clues that will show you that your time is being wasted, you just need to learn to look closely for them. Sadly, any lead with one or more of these qualities is “just not that into you.”

Still not convinced? Take a look at this post that argues that unqualified leads are WORSE leads than no leads at all.

1. They Have No Budget

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So your potential client seems heads over heels for your brand – you couldn’t be happier! Then, the other shoe drops.

They simply “have no budget for this.” This terrible phrase may also be uttered in a variety of ways including (but not limited to) “we recently had our budget cut,” or “we would really love to work with you but we can’t justify spending this money now.”

No matter the form in which it is said, it all translates to the same thing – unqualified lead.

Wasting your time trying to come up with some scenario in which they can afford it will ultimately backfire 9 times out of 10.

2. They Aren’t the Decision Maker in Their Company

This one is a real heart-breaker!

  1. The client loves your company and understands the value in your pricing. All lights are green and signs point to instant conversion. But who is this person exactly? What is their title and rank within their company?If you are speaking with anyone other than the person with the authority to make the purchase, your time is being wasted.That’s not to say that you can’t try to connect with the appropriate contact within the company, but there is no guarantee you will garner the same level of interest.Time to say goodbye and move on!

3. They Have no Engagement with Your Content

hack salesCreating content in sales is all about lead nurturing and getting people excited about our value. For some, it may be their first time learning about your company. If you are dealing with a lead that isn’t engaging with your content, they are likely a fair-weather friend.

Maybe they like the idea of what you offer but have no real motivation/budget/intention of becoming a viable lead.

Those who are truly excited about your company will be like your overzealous relative who just joined social media. They will be interacting with your content, sharing your posts and retweeting.

This also applies to your email campaigns. If your lead isn’t clicking your content in emails, they probably just don’t care enough to take the 10 seconds to see what they sent you. Would you stay friends with someone like that? MOVING ON!

Not sure how to tell if they are engaged? Check out this great blog post.

4. They Filled Out Your Contact Form with Fake Information

hack sales processThis is one we see ALL the time. We know your real number isn’t 555-5555. It’s like giving someone a fake name at a bar. You may be bored and want to chat a little but you don’t want to be contacted again.

If a lead isn’t giving you all their information, they are lukewarm about you or they are perhaps window shopping. In fact, only 25% of leads are legitimate. Wasting time tracking down these false leads is pointless.

The good news is that you may still hear from them down the road when they are ready for a serious purchase and are further down the sales funnel.

You know what they say, “…if they come back it’s meant to be.”

5. They Have a Problem You Can’t Solve

hack salesYou may be your company’s sales superman but if you can’t solve a client’s issues with your product and services, there is no point wasting time.

While sometimes this is obvious, other times it’s a bit harder to see.

Do you notice during your pitch that they are giving you clues like “we don’t really have that issue,” or “I’m not sure how that would apply to us.”

These are your red flags. Like it or not, it’s not a good fit.

6. The Timing is Wrong

hack salesThis one happens a lot.

They tick off most boxes for a qualified lead but the timing isn’t right for them to move forward. This is most commonly noted by statements like “we like what you have to offer, it’s just not the right time for us to buy.”

At this point you are really at a standstill. There are many things you can do to overcome objections, however, time isn’t going to be one of them.

7. Your Sales Call is Short

hack salesConsider this akin to the horrible first date where no one has much to say and one of you keeps checking your watch.

The short sales call is a surefire sign that interest isn’t there.

Whether it’s a cold call or a call with a lead who has expressed interest, if you feel like you are being rushed off the phone, there is no use wasting your time.

8. Multiple Ignored Offers

hack salesLet’s face it; we put a lot of time, money and effort into carefully crafting our content and automation software to reach our leads wherever they are in the sales funnel.

We are doing our part to communicate but if you aren’t getting any kind of response it’s time to spend time on those who are ready to buy.

Who likes sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring?

9. Uneducated About the Company

Leads who are really interested in fixing their issue will eat up all the information they can about you. They are truly excited about all that you have to offer. If they don’t seem to know much about your company, they haven’t been actively researching you.

The fine print?

They aren’t that interested.

Now, this is an indicator of poor lead quality only IF your content is great and you aren’t leaving any gaps. Considering that yours is likely stellar, they just aren’t serious about you. Next!

10. They Don’t Have a Solution in Mind

hack salesAsk anyone their problems and you’ll probably wish that you didn’t as you stand there 10 minutes later looking for a way to get the heck out of there.

Problems will stay just that until a solution comes to mind.

Your job as a sales person is of course to help them see that YOU offer them a solution but if you are getting feedback like “yeah, not really sure I can picture that helping,” they probably have no clue what would make their situation better and if they can’t see that, you can’t help them.

So let’s define a qualified lead.

hack sales(Original Image Source)

While it’s a bit more complex than a definition you would find in the Webster’s dictionary, a qualified lead is basically someone who has the ability to make the decision for their company, has a high likelihood to purchase, has a problem you can fix and a budget to back this all up.

One lead qualification method you may have heard of is BANT.

This acronym has become and old standby in the sales industry. It stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timing. Essentially, a qualified lead will have all the qualities that the ten we just mentioned don’t have.

They not only have the need for your service, the budget to cover it, the authority to make the decision but the timing is also right. The clouds part, music chimes and your amazing qualified lead is right in front of you!

Keep this feeling in mind when you say goodbye to stale leads. There are plenty of motivated buyers out there, you just need to find them.

Why Aren’t You Generating Quality Leads?

hack salesSo what if you feel that the majority of your leads are poor quality? This can be rather disheartening, but it happens if you don’t have a great lead generation program in place.

Here are some of the most common reasons you might be drawing the attention of low quality leads.

  1. Your Content is Not Attracting the Right People

The way you craft your content says a lot about the people you will attract. Take a look at your recent content and ask yourself “who am I writing this for?”

Is your content aimed at the person making buying decisions?

Is it crafted toward those who can afford your products/services?

Content is not about just writing about things YOU find interesting. It’s all about crafting it for the RIGHT kind of audience. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal lead. What are they hoping to learn? What do they need to know? Create killer content that appeals to all these inquiries and make sure you are placing it where your desired audience will see it.

  1. You Don’t Have a Lead Qualification Process Off the Bat

In order to save time, you need a great lead qualification process early on. What safeguards do you have in place to weed out low quality leads from quality ones in the beginning?

Chances are, if you are getting hit with tons of poor leads, you don’t have one.

Not to worry! At least now you know what you need to do.

As far as choosing the process that works for you, look at the qualities that are making your leads poor ones.

Is price a concern among them? Then you may want to produce sample pricing early on to be sure that you are discouraging those who cannot make the purchase at the time.

  1. You’re Not Asking the Right Lead Qualifying Questions

Keep this in mind – all sales calls are not the same and should not be treated as such.

This may sound simple, but if you are interacting with all your leads in the same way, you might just be wasting your time.

You need to make sure you are asking the right questions in order to determine if this sale is likely to convert. Once you have done this, set up a ranking system and sort out the leads you think have the most potential and those who seem unlikely to make it through the sales funnel.

This will save you and your team from wasting valuable time on the wrong people.

  1. Your Follow-up is Delayed

Imagine that you are the lead and you are really excited to find a company that can solve your own business’s problem. You read all the content you can about them, you enter your information in right away and you hear nothing….

This may continue for a few days or a week but when you finally hear from them, the thrill has sort of worn off. Right?

Be sure you aren’t doing this to your leads!

It’s often an overwhelming process responding to the many inquiries you receive but if your team isn’t doing it in a timely manner your sales will suffer.

You may think you have this covered by using automated replies. While these are great to confirm that you have received their request, people want to speak to an actual person. Try and tighten up your process so that you are responding in a timely manner. If you don’t, your competition will.

By taking the time to ask yourself “what qualifies as a good lead?” and pushing aside low quality ones, you will be saving time and placing your efforts elsewhere.

While no one likes a break up, it’s time to bid your stale sales leads goodbye!

8 Signs That Your Current Sales Development Process Needs a Makeover

Wouldn’t it be great if you simply got a calendar reminder from the marketing Gods telling you that today is the day you change up your sales process?

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Well, the chances of THAT happening aren’t so great – sorry!

But there are many subtle messages warning you of imminent doom you are being sent daily – you just need to start noticing them.

In fact, if any of these 8 signs sound eerily similar to your current sales process it’s time you make the change.

Don’t panic, once we help you identify that you are in trouble, we will help you rebuild your sales process from the bottom up.

  1. Challenges Differentiating Between Qualified Leads and Unqualified Leads

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One of the most common issues we face in sales is learning to identify when a lead is qualified to make the purchase and when someone is just browsing around. We don’t want to spend all of our time chasing a lead that will never amount to anything.

This is why a properly functioning sales process has a thorough lead qualifying process. Does yours?

If not, now you know where to begin!

Here are four great questions to help qualify a prospect from Destinationcrm.com

1. Do they have a strong need for your product or services?
2. Is there a sufficient budget in place?
3. Are you speaking with the decision makers and are they engaged in the process?
4. What’s the timetable they have in mind for making a purchase?

While your own company may include other qualifying questions, you get the idea. Find the right questions for your company and make this part of your sales process.

Differentiating between qualified leads and unqualified ones will save your team lots of time and ultimately, help you chase those leads that will more often end in conversion.

  1. You Don’t Have Definite Sales Process Stages Defined

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Nothing throws a wrench in the works faster than confusion.

If your sales process stages are confusing or undefined, your team is likely working in chaos. Sure it may seem like things are going well with a quick glance, but do you actually know what your team is doing to follow and nurture leads?

What process are they going through?

If you are unsure, it’s time to tighten up your process, define your stages and get your entire team on the same page.

How many stages are there exactly? Chances are you will hear anywhere from 5 to 7, but this 5 step process from pipeliner  seems to get it just right.

1. Lead generation – where does your team go to find prospects?
2.  Lead qualification – what questions does your team ask to qualify those prospects?
3. Demonstration of value to prospects – in what way does your team demonstrate the value of your products?
4. Guide prospects understanding of products and services – how does your team manage objections? How do they navigate these while educating the prospect?
5. Deliver and support – is your team delivering within expectations and continuing to nurture the client relationship after the sale?

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By adhering to a specific sales process and defining each stage, you are providing a road map for success for your sales team.

Chaos is your enemy – make the process easy to define and follow!

  1. Follow-Up Etiquette is Not Up to Par

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If you don’t have a step in place to manage follow-up on both ends (before and after conversion), your sales process is in real trouble.

If you have this step in place but aren’t following up in a timely manner, you are even worse off! You are turning off prospects and essentially inviting them to look elsewhere!

The solution?

Get some real guidelines in place!

Entrepreneur suggests the following 5 tips for prospect communications:

  1. Be sure you are sending relevant, valuable information to each prospect relentlessly and on a regular basis.
  2. . Find efficient ways to communicate with prospects, aside from the usual one-on-one.
  3. Log every communication your sales person has with the prospect in a specific and organized manner.
  4. Arm your team with a full arsenal of targeted, specific information to send prospects the moment they request it.
  5. Have your team track the process of each lead so you can know where they stand. This eliminates ignoring leads when they need to be nurtured!

4. You Aren’t Nurturing the Client Relationship After the Sale

hacking sales

How what about the recent buyers?

These people have already shimmied down the sales funnel and have made their purchase.

Keep this stat in mind –

“On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.”
– Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs

Why on earth would you NOT follow up with them in a timely manner?

Just as you will now have a lead follow-up process in place, it’s time to set up a process for retaining communication with current customers.

There are many ways you can go about this, but many companies have success with email campaigns. This fits in well with setting up a concrete sales process. When your communication is automated, there is less chance to drop the ball.

Email software company Constant Contact, suggests the following ideas for nurturing your customer relations:

Create a welcome email – this instant response speaks to the person in a relevant timeline. Keep it light and friendly and make sure you are providing contact information and a promise of their security entrusting you with their information. 

Send a thank you email with incentive to purchase again – this is your chance to make the thank you very personal and make a second sale by encouraging them to take advantage of an offer.

Offer help – even after the customer has made a purchase, they could still benefit by being educated about other products or services you offer. This may encourage another sale and keeps your brand fresh in their mind.

Ask for feedback – whether this is done with a sales call or through email, asking for feedback is a great way to show your customer you care about their experience and what they have to say


5. You’re Missing a Common Sales Language

sales hacking

If your team members are using different terminology to define steps of the sale process, get ready for things to get real confusing, real fast.

If you don’t have a common sales language in place, it’s very probable you will experience a breakdown in communication between sales managers and sales reps. Not to mention, sales meetings can get really confusing if everyone is using different words to define the same thing.

  1. Your Sales Team Isn’t Aware of Why a Product DOESN’T Sell

    hack sales

Ask your sales team why a lead should buy your product and you are likely to get a pretty sufficient sales pitch, but what about those prospects that never transition into customers?

Can your sales team tell you why a product or service didn’t result in a sale?

Commonly, if your team doesn’t have a concrete process in place you will notice sales reps taking full credit when making a sale and placing the blame on external factors that are beyond their control when a sale falls through.

This really doesn’t help you does it?

If a sale converted – great! What part really sealed the deal? How can it be utilized in the future? Conversely, at what part of the sales process did your lead get cold? How could you handle this differently in the future?

You often learn more from your failures than from your successes. These important bits of information can help you develop an even sturdier sales process.

  1. Your Team Isn’t Researching the Target Audience

hacking sales

If you are getting lots of unqualified leads, there is likely a breakdown in your lead generation process.

It’s like fishing in a pond of trout when you are looking to catch a swordfish. If you don’t change your location, you won’t find what you are looking for.

Your team may be off the mark because they don’t have a clear idea of who their ideal prospect is. Sure, they may have their theories of what makes a great buyer but if you don’t clearly identify your audience, too much is left to speculation.

Once your team is set on the same definition of the target audience, begin searching to find where they are.

Often lead generation programs fail (or attract the wrong audience) when they don’t break up their audience into their desired demographics.

  1. Your Sales Team is Inconsistent

hacking sales

This is something you are likely noticing is a trend here. A proper sales process must be consistent and you know what? When the process is consistent, the sales will become consistent as well.

If your sales quota achievement is all over the board and rarely consistent then your sales process is likely in a similar state of disarray.

Each sales person should be attempting to push sales to the next level in the same way. When they aren’t, your sales will be just as inconsistent as their attempts to advance the sale.

Why a Tried and True Sale Process is Essential

Simply put – a poor sales process = poor sales!

Once you have a strong sales process in place, everything becomes a whole lot easier! From evaluating sales rep performance to figuring out why people are falling out of the sales funnel at a specific step in the process – once your team is all on the same page it will start running like a well-oiled machine.

How to Rebuild Your Current Sales Process

This blog post from leadsimple.com illustrates a great 5 step model for refining your sales process:

1. Document how your sales process is currently running
Simply concluding that your current sales process isn’t working is not enough. You need to critically examine your starting point. You’ll be amazed at all the things you discover.

2. Define your new sales process
Here’s where you create your road map. This is the exciting part where you get to design the best way your sales team can possibly work.

sales hack

  1. Place your focus on improving each step in the process
    When looking at the process as a whole, it may seem overwhelming. Break down each step from start to finish and spend time looking at how each can be improved.
  1. Create a service level agreement
    A service level agreement is a set of standards that you hold your sales team to. While not every company employs this policy, many sales teams find success with SLAs. Handling leads is a delicate process, a SLA helps define what is and what is not acceptable.

Check out an example here.

5. Focus on the process itself rather than short term outcomes
A quick fix would be great, but when it comes to improving your sales process it won’t happen overnight. Be patient and nurture the process redesign.

sales hack

The more patience you execute and the more diligence you put into rebuilding your sales process, the more your will be rewarded with great sales and a winning team in the long run!

14 Tips for Leaving an Effective Prospecting Voicemail

There’s this dirty little rumor circulating the sales world that says voicemail is dead and gone.

Sure, we are largely a society of text message and email consumers, but voicemail still remains a very valuable sales tool…you just have to take a strategic approach.

What if I were to tell you that no matter how great a salesperson you are, the majority of prospects aren’t going to call you back?

You would probably respond with someone like, “then why the heck am I reading this post?”

Fair enough.

Check out the following stats:

These aren’t meant to discourage, only to help you set realistic goals.

Increase your callbacks by crafting the best messages that you can. Take advantage of that short time you have to connect with your prospect.

Don’t become a voicemail leaving zombie.

Emails may get more responses, but returned voicemail typically show a greater level of interest. These leads are truly interested in doing business with you.

Never forget that key decision makers are busy. Going to voicemail doesn’t need to make you stop in your tracks and panic.

Don’t hang up.

Don’t call back 15 times in a row hoping for an answer.

It’s time to EMBRACE the voicemail – it’s far from dead no matter what anyone tells you!

It’s time to EMBRACE the voicemail - it’s far from dead no matter what anyone tells you! Click To Tweet

1. Make Sure You Have Context for Your Call

How did you first become introduced to the person you are calling? Did they download an ebook or accept a LinkedIn invite?

Whatever the original introduction, make sure you are mentioning this.

Top decision makers are left with mailboxes full of messages each day, establish context in order to make your message stand out.

Fortunately, gaining intel and connecting with these contacts is easier than ever with the many opportunities we have on the Internet to cultivate relationships.

You might be making a cold call, but you can warm it up a bit by doing your homework, creating connections and building a relationship prior to leaving your message.

hack sales

2. Be Clear About What You Want

As with any sales message, you need to be clear about your call to action.

What are you hoping to gain as a result of you message? Why should they call you back?

hack sales

Don’t go into a lengthy description – simply leave enough information to make them curious about the whole story.

Tell them you would love to set aside 10 minutes to chat or schedule a time next week to go over a demo.

When you are clear about what you want, your chances of a call back increase dramatically

3. Offer a Clear Value Incentive

“What’s in it for me?”

This is our first thought whenever we are prospected.

Take your sales hat off for a second and consider your personal experience as a consumer. We are never truly interested in listening to a sales message unless we can easily identify the benefit we can expect for ourselves.

By nature, we are greedy.

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With this in mind, be sure to offer a clear value incentive in your message. Use statistics and real facts on how you are going to improve their life – the trick is you have about 5 or 10 seconds to achieve just this goal in your message so typically you are better off going with one strong stat.

It’s your chance to pack a punch and keep your prospect from immediately hitting the ‘delete’ button.

4. Keep it Short and Sweet

While it seems no two professionals can agree on the exact number of seconds that equal the perfect voicemail, the overriding theme is short and sweet is best.

As mentioned earlier, somewhere between 8 to 14 seconds is believed to be ideal.

It’s no easy task to get every point across in this short amount of time so use each second to the fullest.

The moment you start rambling you are getting deleted.

5. Call at Strategic Times

This will take a little research on your end to discover the best time to reach prospects, but follow what other industry leaders say to get you started.

For example, the folks at RingLead claim Wednesday through Thursday from 6:45 to 9:00 A.M. or Wednesday through Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. work best for them. The worst times are Mondays 6:00 A.M. to noon, and Friday afternoons.

Avoid calling very early in the morning or late at night. This means you need to be aware of time zones in the areas you are calling. Not all your calls with be in-state, so be conscious of the local time in the areas you are reaching out to.

Do a bit of A/B testing on your own to find the most successful call times.

Do a bit of A/B testing on your own to find the most successful call times. Click To Tweet

6. Use the Person’s First Name More Than Once

Using the prospect’s first name establishing a sense of familiarity, using the last name, however, does just the opposite.

Be sure to say the first name of the person you are calling at least twice (so long as it doesn’t sound forced.)

On occasion, you might have those hard-to-pronounce names to contend with. Make sure you figure out the normal pronunciation BEFORE you call. The second someone screws up your name, you instantly see them as a stranger and the only thing worse than a call from a stranger is a call from a stranger trying to sell you something – poof, instant deletion.

7. Repeat Critical Information Twice

We’ve all had that voicemail where we need to listen to it 5 times just to get the information we need to call back.

Unless it’s from your dear grandmother, chances are that you aren’t going to make the effort to listen again and again to get the gist of the message.

When leaving your message you are against the clock without a doubt, but it’s still recommended that you leave your critical info (call back number for example) twice so that your message doesn’t require work on the other end.

Additionally, avoid making the call from a number that you don’t want the callback going to. In the days of answering machines this wasn’t such an issue but smartphones make it easy to callback the person who left a message. Remember, you want to clear all obstacles out of the way to increase your chances of getting a response.

8. Perfect Your Tone

SalesMemes

Walking the line between professional and personal is tough, no doubt, but it’s typically the best way to connect through voicemail. The second you SOUND like someone selling something you have lost all chance of a callback.

One method I have heard and am completely on board with is scouting out the contact’s LinkedIn profile and then leaving the message while looking at it.

It might sound silly, but if you can visualize who you are leaving the voicemail for, you are better able to develop the correct tone of voice.

Above all, try to keep it friendly and professional.

9. Use a Contact Name You Both Have in Common

Part of building context for the call is relying on any mutual connection or reference you have in common.

Using this in your message will create a personal connection and increase the importance of the message as a result.

A word of warning – make sure this is someone that has a positive connection with them! Do a little research before accidentally name dropping an old business partner who is currently at war with them.

10. Craft a Script

If you are the type that doesn’t like to leave anything to chance, craft a script.

Remember those high school days where you had to leave your crush a message on their machine? You needed to think out each aspect while not sounding desperate or overly excited. Maybe you wrote down the key points.

Look at your sales prospect as that crush – you want to impress, get a callback and ultimately make the sale. Sure it’s not a date you are after, but use this same thought process to get you on the right page.

Carefully write out a script, or even bullet points, that you need to cover in your message. This will help you avoid those awful moments where your mind draws a blank.

11. Don’t Sound “Salesy”

hack sales

Even as a salesperson, let’s face it, you hate being sold to in your personal life.

Even as a salesperson, let’s face it, you hate being sold to in your personal life. Click To Tweet

How do you think your contacts are any different?

The point of a voicemail is NOT to close a sale, it’s to gain their interest and invite them to learn more. Don’t use those power closing skills in a voicemail, you will be turning potential clients off from entertaining learning anything more about you.

12. Appeal to Curiosity

hack sales process

So how do you pique someone’s interest in a voicemail?

You appeal to the natural sense of curiosity we all have.

This is where the idea of stating your value proposition comes in. Mention the impact you have made working with clients similar to themselves and allow that curiosity you’ve created to result in a callback.

13. Don’t Start With Your Name (or Your Company’s Name)

hack sales

Starting with your name, or the name of your company, is one of the biggest mistakes salespeople make. Sure it may seem like the professional way to start off but it also knocks you back into the category of a stranger selling something.

These are of course important things to leave in a message, but don’t start off with them. Near the very end you can state your first name and your company along with your callback info.

14. Never Request a Callback at a Specific Time

While on the topic of leaving your callback information, do NOT – I repeat – do not request that the prospect call you back at a specific time.

Sure, you may argue that this is part of creating your call to action but what you are actually doing is giving them a great excuse for never returning your call. “Oh he wants me to call back at 3? Well I have a meeting at that time – too bad!”

Make yourself accessible and don’t ask for any favors.

Alright, have I renewed your enthusiasm for voicemail?

It’s time to take action, ask for what you want and ditch the ‘salesy’ tone. Voicemail is far from dead and is yet one more skill you can bring to the table. Closing sales is your goal right? It all starts with paving a great foundation.

How to Crush Your Next Sales Presentation

Let’s face it, sales presentations can get stale after awhile.

Like loaf-of-bread-left-on-the-counter-2-weeks kind of stale…blue science project mold included…

Sure, you may be so comfortable with your go-to  presentation that you don’t feel much incentive to change it but that’s a sign in itself that it’s time for a revamp. The moment you get too comfortable with anything in the sales world, something is amiss, right?

Nothing induces a snooze fest faster than stale, old and irrelevant presentations.

Nothing induces a snooze fest faster than stale, old and irrelevant presentations. Click To Tweet

Your goal is to be persuasive, unique and keep your clients awake and interested.

That’s the crux of how sales presentations work, right? Sounds simple, but it’s not always so cut and dry.

Depending on your personality, the presentation process either leaves you excited or biting your nails in anticipation. No matter your personal feelings toward them, presentations are at the heart of what you do and they aren’t leaving the picture any time soon.

Having a presentation that’s unique and that you feel proud of will give you that extra boost of confidence you need to close the deal. Confidence is contagious, if you have it, your potential clients will feel it and become more confident in your company and brand.

If you are feeling a bit stuck for ideas, here are 5 tips to help you knock your next sales presentation out of the park.

1. Speak to the Challenges of Your Clients

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This is the most basic tip we will cover today but it’s extremely important and often overlooked. Remember why you are there – there is a problem or challenge that your company can help solve.

The moment you lose sight of this important detail, you have killed your own presentation.

No one wants to hear about what you offer when it doesn’t relate to them. Focus on the particular parts of their business that you will make easier/more effective etc. with your products and services, not just about your company.

Many salespeople fumble at this stage by having a cookie cutter presentation that lacks focus on the exact needs of the company they are presenting to.

2. Master Your Body Language

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There are many factors you can’t control during your presentation…the obnoxiously contagious-sounding cough of the guy closest to you, the heavy breathing of the executive to your right…fortunately one of the most effective factors is something that you can control –  body language.

Our body language says more than our vocal chords each and every day.

Our body language says more than our vocal chords each and every day Click To Tweet

Jennifer Burnham over at Salesforce has several great tips for mastering your body language during presentations:

  1. Lean Forward – It’s not hard to tell when someone is engaged in the conversation. Think about a great date or a great conversation with a friend you’ve  had recently. You were engaged in animated conversation and probably nodded and leaned forward excitedly, right?It comes naturally when you are with those you are comfortable with but you will likely have to be a bit more conscious of it during your presentations. If your slumped or not looking dis-engaged, your audience will notice it.
  2. Keep Your Arms Open – Did you know that crossing your arms not only makes you look unapproachable, but it also makes you retain less information? In fact, you retain 38% less information with your legs and arms crossed!
  3. Never Point – Pointing is often viewed as aggressive and rude. If you need to gesture toward something, use a full sweep of the arm or basically anything softer than the finger point.
  4. Smile Naturally – You aren’t a robot, the people watching your presentation want to see an actual person with actual emotions. There is, of course, a  difference between a forced smile and a natural one, but try your best to smile and act naturally throughout your presentation.
  5. Utilize Eye Contact – One of the easiest ways to keep any audience listening to you and engaging with you is by maintaining eye contact. It gives the appearance that you are speaking directly to them, this naturally awakens curiosity and attention span.
  6. Notice What Your Feet are Doing – This lesser-known body language secret could be giving you away, your feet may be showing your true feelings. Studies have found that our feet naturally point to those we prefer and away from those we don’t. When you consider the undeniable feeling we get to run away when we aren’t feeling connected, it makes sense. By comparison, if we are engaged in conversation that we want to be in, we lean toward the person and naturally face them.Additionally, feet placed close together is a sign of timidness while wide stance feet show more confidence.

 3. Don’t Just Spit Out a Memorized Script

sales dd-value-meme

If your presentation is too well rehearsed, it can actually backfire. Many salespeople swear by memorizing each and every aspect of your presentation, but honestly if you sound like you are reading a memorized script, people will tune you out.

If you were like most kids growing up in America, you probably had to memorize the Preamble for the Declaration of Independence. That awful type of memorization is mind-numbing. Make your presentations more fluid and open to going with the flow.

If you are simply spouting out a memorized speech you will be bored and you will be boring to listen to.

4. Focus on the 80/20 Rule

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This tip follows closely on the heels of addressing the company’s challenges that you will fix rather than focusing on what your company does. Essentially spend 80% of the time speaking to them about how you will solve a problem they are experiencing.

Picture it like a first date, is there anything that’s more of a turnoff than listening to your date ramble on and on about their accomplishments, their background and the 1000 things they’ve done since graduation?

Don’t be that bad first date.

You are essentially courting your clients, so be that gracious date that asks questions and focuses on the person on the other side of the table.

Twenty percent you, 80% them. When in doubt, just remember you are there to solve a problem.

5. Utilize Case Studies

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Remember those seemingly endless days of being trapped in school listening to your teach drone on and on…?

Chances are, you probably perked up a bit when there was at least some visual aspect or how-this-relates-to-you example. If your sales presentation consists of you talking and talking…and talking, you will lose the client’s interest.

Case studies are a worthwhile tool for not only creating visual stimulation, but also for showing real examples of how what you offers has been utilized and why it was a success.

They also serve as a way to cut through the confusion. No longer is it a list of 20 things you can do for them, but an actual outlined example of what you have done for others and why it worked.

It’s another form of social selling really. We honor customer reviews above the words of a company, and when we utilize case studies, we are providing social proof that we are as good as our word.

A great post by Steve Woodruff sums up the process of using case studies in sales presentations in 5 main points:

  1. Make sure your story is tailored to your audience: What good is your case study if it’s not relevant? No good at all, and worse yet it can only contribute to the customer’s confusion if it isn’t focused on a relevant topic.
  2. Focus on the client’s main need- There’s likely many problems you can help solve but your goal is to focus in on just one. Cut through the clutter and use a case study that speaks exactly to the problem at hand.
  3. Use the case study to show specifically how you can ease their “pain points” – Every  company has “pain points,” or specific areas of difficulty. Reinforce how you will make life easy with your customer success stories.
  4. Focus on results – The journey is great and all but when it comes to winning clients, it’s all about the results. Make sure you focus on these.
  5. Include customer testimonial or quote – Social selling is where it’s at, when possible utilize the voice of your clients.

Allow yourself plenty of time before your next sales presentation to utilize these changes. Once you do, you’ll likely feel much more confident in your presentation style and your client retention rates will reflect this.

What’s your go-to method when it comes to acing a sales presentation?