Ask your peers – the successful sales people are probably farming accounts they’ve had for years. Others have a different strategy. No one wants to hear from a sales person they don’t know.
I’ve had several coaching calls this week with sales people who are either new with their company, or new in their role. Some are large company sales people calling on enterprise accounts, others are SMB resellers selling managed services. The story is the same. They’re making 100s of cold calls, with about a 1% return – converting to meetings. Note, this is not a sale, just a meeting.
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They’re wasting their time.
Not only are cold-callers wasting time – their managers will soon give up on them. Even though they are the ones that assigned the task of cold calling. The misconception is, if you make enough calls and your message is good enough, you’ll get a meeting. From there you can show them value through the amazing features of your product, and make the sale. It’s wrong thinking – 90s thinking.
Death of the Salesman
I wrote an article years ago called, “Death of a Salesman” where I explained many of these concepts. Of course, I stole the title from Arthur Miller, but I did give him credit. Sales as we know it are over. You might still be making some headway, but don’t expect it to last. 80% of purchases today are made based on Google research. Most sales calls come after the product research. The research has been done, the shopper knows the street prices, and now they want a deal. Google is taking over the function of presales consulting. Google knows more than you or your presales engineer will ever know.
How do you know if I’m right? Look at your conversion rates. Are you converting more than 10% of your calls to meetings? I would be surprised if more than 20% of your calls lead to anything more than voice mail. I spoke to one guy this week who is reaching 30% of his audience, but still, only about 2% are converting to meetings. Another rep in the enterprise space can’t reach anyone meaningful. Several of my calls were with people who have recently been handed lists – they know their primary contact is too low in the food chain, and they need a way to move up. But how?
A Radical Approach to Selling
Over the past 12 months I’ve been conducting workshops on a radical approach to sales. If you look at my sales concepts in detail, you’ll see they have a lot more to do with marketing than sales. David Merman Scott recently published an article supporting this idea – sales and marketing must merge. He’s right. That doesn’t mean the marketing department goes away. We still need meeting planners, data sheets produced, and marketing graphics. But the marketing concepts are what drive new logo business. And sales people will need to master them, essentially becoming their own marketing department.
Look at the big 4 – they are consultants…but behind it all, everyone is still in sales. They create business. No one wants to meet with another sales person. And no one wants to see your corporate presentation. But there are things you can do.
Marketing is a science. The science of how we think and what we respond to. Conversion depends on great marketing. Consulting is the art of helping one move from point A to point B – where Point B is the preferred state to be in. Can you do that? If you think the engineers are responsible for this and your job is to set appointments – you’re wrong. You need both. You need the ability to attract new business through marketing, and the ability to help them solve a problem at the business level. This is consulting. This is why PWC wil continue to prosper long after the technology sales person is out of work.
Can you become this person?
The answer is yes. The university system would have us think we need to go back to school, get a new degree, and start over. The truth is you can make the jump by applying the concepts given in Napoleon Hill’s well known book, Think and Grow Rich. There are 17 things to do, but the bottom line is a passion to get there. From there it’s working hard to get there. Reading the right books, working with the right coach, and being willing to invest in the right tools. Your company may not allow you to expense these things – what should you do? Look for the ROI. If you don’t you’ll lose. Spend your money wisely, but make the investment where you’ll get a strong return. I spend my own money on coaching, books, and marketing tools every month. It’s paid off – it’s multiplied. I’ll continue to invest.
That’s right – there are tools. Learning to use LinkedIn as a marketing platform. Learning to write great copy. And then putting your new marketing brain to work – what would attract a new logo buyer?
One of my clients actually took my advice and wrote a book! I have it right here – he sent it to me last week and I was amazed as I held it. There’s nothing more powerful than sending your book to a VP, and then following up with an email to…not sell them something, but talk about the book. From there the sale is easy. But you don’t have to write the book. You could send someone else’s, but it must be profound, and you must have studied it in a way that brings new applications to benefit you new prospect. Writing a special report can be almost as powerful….from there, its a matter of finding ways to get your book or report to the right people. This is a whole lot easier than cold calling.
Marketing events are still the number one way to get business. The problem is, most are doing them wrong. This won’t lead to business, and will often leave you wondering if it’s worth the investment. You’ll need to spend more to do it right. You’ll need a great speaker – which you will have to pay for. But if you can land 20 new logos, as I did a week ago, your return will be obvious.
You will also find yourself needing auto-responders, your own personal blog, hard-copy sales letters, and landing pages. These are all marketing tools, and they work. But chances are, your marketing department won’t use them in a way that creates new leads for you. It’s up to you to figure out how to use them, and how to bring in new business. I’ll give you more in the upcoming Ingram event – What I Learned About Sales While Working on Multi-Million Dollar Projects with PWC.
© 2015, David Stelzl
P.S. One thing I learned from PWC is how to price…resellers are losing margin every day simply by how they go about pricing….I’ll show you some strategies that are easy to apply later this month. Don’t forget to sign up.
Not only are they wasting time; their employers will soon give up on them.