The name of the game is to generate sales opportunities at scale… don’t believe it? I’ll prove it to you.
Let’s have a little friendly competition. Assuming you and I have the same product knowledge, roughly the same skill set when it comes to sales, equal experience and equally relevant contacts – who will get more sales?
George Dudley, world-renowned behavioral scientist and author of the book, The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance started studying salespeople some 30 years ago.
To find out why some salespeople converted so many prospects into clients while others, with the same amounts of talent, skills, and abilities, did not. You might be asking yourself the same question, especially if:
- Your team is not selling enough to achieve goals set by your company
- Selling opportunities exist that are not being addressed by you or your team but are being addressed by your competition
At first George thought that it might simply be due to personality differences. Perhaps some naturally were more shy or withdrawn.
But after looking at the data, he came to the same conclusion that salespeople have known for years— “success in sales is determined by the number of contacts initiated with prospective buyers on a consistent basis.”
So back to our competition, let’s say that the one difference between us is that you make 10 new contacts a week and I make just 1. Obviously, you’d get more sales, right?
If prospecting is about keeping your sales pipeline full, what you’re doing is continually generating sales opportunities. So sales is definitely a numbers game, but let’s be honest, that’s not all there is to it.
Sales is More Than Just A Numbers Game
At the end of the day, you’ve got to prospect more to continually generate new sales opportunities and the more you have, the more sales you are likely to close. The numbers game is no doubt important, but everybody has been focusing on the wrong number.
The thing is, instead of focusing on the number of prospects in your pool, you want to be focused on the number of whales.
In other words, how many of the right kinds of prospects do you have; the quality prospects who are able to pay and ready to close?
This is why, besides just focusing on the numbers, you also need to focus on your sales skills. A large part of those skills isn’t just in knowing how to close, it’s also in understanding prospect quality and relationship building.
Today we’ll talk about how to:
1. Reach out to X amount of qualified prospects
2. Use a multichannel outbound approach to grow your prospect list
3. How to engage people to open up, not shut down
4. Why it’s crucial you focus on having a conversation, not a pitch fest
- Get them to the point of accepting the process and the system (make them admit they need the solution)
- Give examples of LinkedSelling conversation vs common pitch
- The conversation is when you start to understand issues the prospect has, bringing out the real pain points
- Seek to understand issues before pushing your solutions
Do these things and you won’t only beat the numbers game, you will have real, productive conversations that lead to many appointments with qualified prospects who say YES.
We talk about this at LinkedSelling all the time – you want to work with the right kinds of people. Whether that means big accounts or not, it always means that your prospect needs to fit certain professional and personal demographics and psychographics.
- They need to understand the benefits of investing in a multi-channel outbound system
- Seeing the relationship as a partnership and not a agency/client agreement (contract)
- There needs to be an established amount of trust on both ends of the relationship
- They need to understand the value of what you offer.
How can you accomplish this? What’s the best way to make sure you have more whales in your pool, instead of small fish you might end up throwing back anyway?
Both sales and marketing can influence this by first understanding your prospects and adjusting your messaging in a way that will maximize the probability that they’ll develop trust with you, feel understood, and reach out to schedule an appointment.
This means that you adjust your sales cycle to their buyer journey in order to build a relationship.
When people think of sales, they too often think of the pushy cable television salesperson.
The used car salesman.
Unwanted cold calls.
We still have that feeling ingrained in us from our parents, grandparents and portrayals in the media that links sales with the traveling “snake oil” salesman pushing his magic cure-all elixirs on an uninterested audience.
It’s no wonder sales has a bad rep.
Couple that with the bombardment of advertisements and our shortened attention spans and
businesses feel they have to go to extremes in order to get any attention. The problem is, extremes are the new norm.
So how can you possibly stand out? It’s surprisingly simple: relationship selling.
Now, “relationships” are NOT just a buzzword, especially not the way we use them here at LinkedSelling.
In fact, we define “relationship selling” based on one simple truth:
Turning the focus from product-focused, hard selling tactics to systematically building the right connections and having real conversations with your best prospects.
This is especially important if you’re going after quality prospects.
Because long done are the days of hard selling. Even though we’re making the case that success in sales is in large part due to the number of prospects who make appointments with you, your prospects certainly don’t want to feel as if they are a part of those numbers.
That’s where your relationship building skills come in. More specifically, your ability to build trust, engagement and have real conversations with your prospects.
There’s no doubt about it… people buy from who they trust. Just take a look at this data:
This chart from LinkedIn’s State of Sales Survey says that the #1 contributing factor in making a purchase decision is if a buyer has TRUST in the salesperson, even more than “ROI” or even price factors.
There’s a problem that makes it hard for businesses to develop trust though. Trust is something you have to win because people’s “BS radar” is sky high.
The research backs this up –
- Forrester predicted that the advertising market will be FLAT and that advertising budgets won’t go as far because people just plain don’t trust ads as much.
- A recent Edelman Trust Barometer has the data that proves trust is not only in decline, but “in crisis around the world”
To overcome this, it’s imperative you put people at the heart of everything you do to prospect and close sales.
Businesses are focused too much on the sales process, the automation, the metrics, and the mechanics of selling.
We’ve lost the softer side of sales – the “relationship” with our buyers, deeply understanding their needs, and providing customer value.
To give you an idea of the effect it can have in your sales development efforts, here’s an example of relationship selling in play…
Cohen Woodworking Gave Me A Chance Because They Knew Me
One of our very first clients was Cohen Architectural Woodworking. A company that creates high-quality custom millwork components and casework for healthcare, education, retail, transportation, hotels, and more. They were also fed up with the “snake oil” system and strategies that most others had tried to push on them and they were skeptical of everything because he runs a typically straight-laced business: woodworking.
Not exactly the most exciting industry in the news these days, and they weren’t sure if any one strategy touted by the so-called “experts” would work for them.
However, when they saw what we were doing with our system to get high quality sales appointments consistently, they wondered if it would work for them too. The only reason they were even open to talking about the strategies we use was because we had developed a relationship with them by showing results we were already getting with others. So even though they were skeptical about the multichannel outbound approach we use, they still hired us as partners because they trusted us.
Since then not only have we helped them keep a full pipeline, they have gone on to do over $30 million in new sales and their company has grown by leaps and bounds.
Now let’s focus on another aspect of relationship building…
The typical sales scenario is that you have your Sales Development Rep (SDR) call, and email, and send a LinkedIn message. Repeat several times until either the rep determines the prospect is a no-go, or they get a straight “No” from the prospect.
What causes prospects to completely ignore your sales reps? They’re simply not engaged.
When we talk about “engagement” it becomes a buzzword that doesn’t seem to hold much weight, especially when it comes to sales. However, there is a case to be made that the more engagement you have with your prospects, the higher your sales will be.
According to Gallup, customers and clients will always buy from people they trust – but note it’s tied directly to engagement. They found that an engaged customer “represents an average 23% premium in terms of share wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth when compared to the average customer and that disengaged customers “represent a 13% discount on those same measures.”
You can see how it makes sense. Having engaged prospects means you have prospects who are interested in what you have to say – and they want more.
This doesn’t happen by accident.
Again, it starts by understanding your prospect, mapping out the buyer journey, and knowing what information to provide when, and how to adapt your messaging so that little by little, your prospects feel more comfortable taking more and more steps with you.
This involves not just your sales team, but marketing as well. Each touchpoint offered by either sales or marketing will affect and will be affected by engagement.
At LinkedSelling, we make it almost impossible for someone NOT to engage with us (or our clients on their behalf) because we use a multi-channel approach to getting sales appointments on the calendar.
- LinkedIn ads
- Or more…
There are opportunities everywhere to engage. That alone is important. Another aspect is this:
Increasing engagement is in large part about offering value – the right value at the right time for the right prospect.
One example that comes to mind is MarketSmiths, a client who used a multi-channel approach to get the whales in their prospect pool that they wanted.
Using our multi-channel outbound approach (including LinkedIn messaging, email and more), we were able to target a wide-range of industries and connect with top executives at companies + startups with an employee range of 51-10000+. We’re even able to connect with the exact types of people at those companies, including CMO’s, VPs/Directors/Managers of Marketing, PR, Communications, Content, Digital, Growth Acquisition, Lead Generation, Demand Generation, and SEO.
Once we connect with targeted people, we implement strategic, multi-channel, outbound campaigns that nurture these highly targeted prospects to book a phone call, creating the opportunity for Jean and her team at MarketSmiths to close new clients.
Focus On A Conversation
This is where more of your suave sales skills come in because long gone are the days of hard selling.
Think about these quotes on closing sales…
“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not on the attitude of prospects.”
— W. Clement Stone
“Keep yourself positive, cheerful and goal oriented. Sales success is 80% attitude and 20% aptitude.”
— Brian Tracy
“To build a long term successful enterprise, you don’t close a sale, open a relationship.”
— Patricia Fripp
I love these quotes because they exemplify the state of mind salespeople need to be in in order to engage in real conversation.
As an example, we recently had a client we partnered with in strategizing and executing lead generation and sales development campaigns on their behalf. When we got them on a video call to talk about their experience in working with us and some of the results we got them (you can see the full case study here), they had wonderful things to say.
After all, we did our part in keeping their pipeline full (i.e. we fulfilled the “numbers” and the “quality” part of the game) and they were very pleased with our results. The one thing they said they had trouble with though was that they realized that in their own sales process, after we delivered quality prospects, they had to consciously change their approach from “customer service sales” where the customer or client already pretty much knows what they want and are ready to buy, to a more “consultative sales” approach.
Think about it like this:
This is about a mindset shift. It’s about reframing your approach to sales in order to position yourself as an advisor and a true resource, not just another vendor. The numbers game is real, but your prospects don’t want to feel like they’re numbers in a chart.
- They want service.
- They want the best service.
- They want attention.
They need to know that you understand their pains and problems and that you’re invested in helping them find the right solution for them… not pushing whatever your solution happens to be, whether it’s a good fit or not.
You can win their business by rethinking how you approach sales. Again, it’s about offering value. Just make sure that it’s relevant to the right prospect at the right time.
Here are a few tips to help you do make the shift:
- Speak directly to your prospects. To do this properly, you need to have defined your target and get specific in your communications, speaking directly to your IDEAL prospect’s needs.
- Be honest and sincere. You are here to help your prospects find a solution, you are not here to push a solution on them. This mindset shift makes a big difference in how you approach your lead generation strategy.
- Be consistent in staying top of mind. Of course, not everyone will want to buy right off the bat, no matter how well you’ve positioned yourself or how much industry authority you’ve cultivated. For this reason, you need a strong system to stay top-of-mind with your prospects, so that when they are ready, YOU are the one they turn to.
- Be helpful, relevant, and valuable. KEY to building relationships, you’ve got to give something to the relationship yourself. Think of it like proving your value, getting your prospects to think about the issues you can help them solve.
Become THE top choice in your industry. When you follow all these steps, you naturally stand above the crowd in your industry and when your prospect is ready for your services, they know exactly who to turn to.
If You Want to Beat the Numbers Game… Work Smarter
At the end of the day, if you speak with enough prospects, you will get sales regardless of your selling skills. However, if you improve your performance in each step of the buyer’s journey, knowing your client and how they think, you will reduce the number of prospect contacts you have to make per sale. This is how you work smarter, not harder.
The numbers are crucial, but it is not just about the numbers. The key is to create plenty of quality conversations and quality sales opportunities. The best sales teams have strict qualification criteria and don’t waste their time with prospects that are at too low a level, companies that aren’t the right fit, or buyers that don’t have the funds to spend. Top sales teams spend the time and work hard to find out this information early on, so they don’t spend their precious time on prospects that aren’t going to go anywhere.
So put your time into the numbers that count.
Understanding that sales IS a numbers game, but that it’s also your own skill set in building relationships via trust, engagement, and a consultative selling approach will immediately increase your sales and the quality of your prospects and clients.
If you’d like to understand how LinkedSelling can fill your pipeline with quality prospects and keep your sales team focused on the right numbers and on developing their relationship building and closing skills, click the banner below.