Mar 15 2017
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
The sales department is frustrated because the leads coming in are unqualified and unprepared to pay the rates set out by upper management. This in turn affects their ability to hit their sales goals. They blame the marketing department for not listening to their feedback about the services and products qualified clients are buying. Even worse, when the sales team closes a deal, marketing tries to take some of the credit.
The marketing department is frustrated because they are building demand for the services and products defined as top objectives by upper management. They blame the sales department for not converting more of these primed opportunities that come through the funnel. Even worse, when the sales team closes a deal, marketing gets none of the credit. Even upper management questions their value.
See the problem? A disconnect is causing significant friction and a toxic environment.
Upper management is handing down goals, objectives, and rates that appear removed from facts on the ground.
Sales sees Marketing as disconnected from the reality of the marketplace.
Marketing sees Sales as inept and unable to close qualified opportunities.
In this example there is no cohesive set of guidelines or principles guiding the various teams in the organization. Moving forward is like herding cats. Everyone is running in different directions. The consequences of this dynamic are obvious.
Sluggish sales performance occurs in key service and product areas that results in missed revenue targets
The company experiences turnover from frustrated and unsatisfied team members
Company culture deteriorates and begins to affect other areas of the organization
Even the brand itself starts to lose equity with customers
How On Earth Did We Get Here?
There are countless reasons why an organization dissolves into tribalism and internal competition, but the process of disintegration happens so slowly that most teams don’t recognize the breakdown happening around them. Teams fracture and drift apart into independent silos free from distractions from the other departments.
You may recognize many of the attitudes that occur inside the silos.
- “This is the way we’ve always done it!”
- “I don’t trust .”
- “I don’t want anyone messing with my . I’ve worked hard to get things running smoothly!”
- “What if we miss our goals?”
- “They have no idea what they’re talking about.”
Once an organization loses touch with one another it takes a seismic change to bring the various components back into (buzzword alert!) synergy.
Get the Band Back Together
Say the word “synergy” in a room full of your best employees and watch their eyes roll back in their heads. The mere thought of cohesive communication conjures up images of fruitless meetings, memos, and inaction; and for good reason. The old “Death By 1000 Meetings” phenomenon can be just as unproductive as internal tribalism. Or worse, companies talk a good game about bringing teams together, but then no one really follows through. Within a couple months things return to how they were before.
It doesn’t have to be that difficult, and it doesn’t have to devolve into feigned kumbaya team building. Start by reexamining the company’s brand strategy. What are the company’s values, mission, and overall plan for connecting with clients? Explore these together as a cohesive team. Encourage each member of sales and marketing to consider how their current activities propel the company forward towards revenue goals, or conversely how their silos hold the company back.
Establish channels of communication and strategies that allow sales and marketing to give valuable insight and guidance to one another. This may come in the form of joint sales and marketing meetings during which productive conversations can occur about goals, training on new products/services, methods of reaching customers, and how each team can contribute to the success of the organization. These meetings could even act as a brainstorming session that provides valuable feedback to upper management or other departments in the company.
Note: these meetings don’t have to occur all that frequently. They just need to happen.
Another activity is to map the customer journey together. Explore how each team engages the customer as she moves from Awareness to Conversion. Provide updated information about buyer personas, buyer behavior, and what truly motivates the buyer to make a purchase. Sales and marketing teams have unique perspectives on this, which can be incredibly informative for the other team.
The aforementioned process should also include an exercise that defines a qualified lead versus an unqualified lead. This is a helpful characterization for just about everyone on the business side of the company. If you can’t identify a qualified lead you will find yourself dedicating time, money, and resources to people who have no intention of buying. This activity alone could reduce headaches and heartbreaks across the company.
Embrace New Tools And A New Future
I expect many leadership members to read this next section and say “AHA! Let’s buy new software!” But it’s not quite that simple.
Don’t be afraid of new technology or new methods of reaching customers. If your company holds the mentality of “This is the way we’ve always done things”, then this definitely applies to you. The fact of the matter is that society and buyer behaviors are changing very rapidly thanks to technology. For better or worse, old tools may still “work”, but they may also be inefficient, provide no security, or (even worse) don’t adapt quickly to changes in the market.
Embracing new tools may mean investing in updated software like CRMs, marketing automation, or interdepartmental communication platforms (like Slack…. We LOVE Slack). But before you open up your wallet and throw money at the problem, think critically about what bottlenecks occur in communication and with executing a cohesive sales and marketing strategy. Compare that with the brand strategy and the buyer journey. If you see pain points that prevent you from motivating buyers or converting leads in ways that are consistent with your core values, then find solutions to fix those kinks. That may also include replacing team members that are toxic to the overall mission.
Finally, don’t accept mediocrity. Your customers deserve better, and frankly so do you. The silos in your organization may be delivering “just fine” for now, but better teamwork is always a good thing. We may not have covered your unique problems within this article, but that shouldn’t be grounds for giving up and accepting the status quo. Eventually your silos will run out of grain and your company will be just another rusty relic on the horizon of the past.
Want to move your business forward? Let’s talk.
Nov 16 2016
You worked hard for this appointment.
You sized up the prospect, researched the company, and determined how you could help their business. It took weeks to hunt down the Decision Maker. You made it past the Gatekeeper. You set up the meeting, and much to your relief they didn’t cancel at the last minute. This is a big opportunity that would help you go from red to black… or hit your monthly quota.
Five seconds into your meeting Bob Decision-Maker drops the bomb on you:
“Okay, whatcha got?”
If you’re like most people, you freeze.
It wasn’t supposed to go like this. You were hoping to get to know them more before jumping into your presentation, maybe even ask a few personal questions. This bonding exercise is the first step of the sales process. Under better circumstances you’d establish a connection with them, build trust, learn about their business, and guide them to the next steps in the process. [nbsp_tc]
Experienced salespeople have had dozens, maybe hundreds of scenarios just like this. Even though you’ve set aside enough time for a complete appointment, your prospect immediately ambushes you in an attempt to get information.
Unless you’re careful you’ll fall into the conventional Buyer-Seller model:
Buyer rushes the process.
Seller goes into “Sales Mode” and starts guessing at what the Buyer wants to hear.
Buyer asks all the questions.
Seller spits up Features and Benefits in the hopes of wowing the Buyer.
Buyer builds up hope.
Seller likes what they hear and doesn’t attempt to rock the boat with any deeper questions.
Buyer ends the appointment.
Seller never hears from them again. Misses quota.
Don’t take the bait. Instead, pivot to an agenda.
“Bob, we set this appointment for 30 minutes. Does that still work for you?”
Let Bob answer. Yes, no, it’s all the same. If he’s really pressed for time you can decide if you should reschedule your appointment. But if you engage Bob in a compelling, mature business conversation, he’ll make time for you. He may even cancel his next appointment with that other salesperson you passed in the lobby.
“I’d like to use our time together today to ask you some questions, hear more about your company, and discover why you’ve invited me into your office. I’d also be happy to answer any questions I can about my company’s services and see if we’re a good fit for you. If at the end of this appointment it makes sense for us to continue talking we can schedule next steps. If not, it’d be great to know that, too. Does that work for you?”
Let Bob answer and start your line of questioning.
Just like that you’ve regained control of the call.
This is not a power struggle. This is not manipulation. This is not jiu-jitsu.
You are a professional. You have an agenda, and you’ve asked for a commitment. Bob now knows your time is valuable. He also knows you have a process, and from process comes order.
Let’s unpack this idea a little.
Bob may not realize he’s put you on the defensive. He may genuinely be in a hurry, or he may not really be all that invested in the outcome of your meeting. There are endless reasons why Bob skipped the usual chitchat and rushed into a conversation. But he invited you into his office. It’s up to you to find out why.
By creating this initial agreement and setting an agenda you can start the process of assessing Bob’s needs. The agenda lets Bob know there will be a two-way discovery that helps both of you determine whether you’re qualified to move forward. If so, there will be more work to do. If not, each of you can respectfully pull the plug and move on. As a bonus, you’ll establish the trust and personal relationship you’d hoped to achieve up front.
If only all of Life’s relationships were that honest.
What if Bob continues to throw you off?
“I was hoping to learn about your rates and services. I don’t have much time today.”
This is your first red flag about Bob, but it’s not a cause for concern. Go back to your agenda.
“Great! Let’s use our time today to determine exactly what you need…” and go right into your questioning. Once again the outcome is the same:
You stand your ground and get right down to business.
Want to move your business forward? Let’s talk.
Sep 21 2016
You’ve heard it said before, often with a smug tone and a noticeable air of relief:
COLD CALLING IS DEAD!
All you need is research, a handful of online marketing tools, and a strategy to attract leads to you. Inbound marketing killed the cold call.
But did it really?
Let’s say you’ve identified a company who fits the criteria of your ideal client. We’ll call them “Company A”.
What happens when “Company A” doesn’t respond to your marketing? They don’t see your social media. They don’t open your emails. They don’t click on your ads. They don’t respond to your well-placed content and blogs. They’ve effectively tuned you out. What happens then?
Some marketing gurus would tell you that “Company A” isn’t qualified. They aren’t a warm lead. They haven’t opted in for messaging about your product or service, so they’re most likely not ready to buy. You are wasting time pursuing “Company A” when there are other qualified leads to push into the funnel.
They might even tell you to rethink your strategy and invest in better marketing.
COLD CALLING WORKS BEST WHEN YOU KNOW HOW, WHEN & WHY TO DO IT
Let’s acknowledge something here:
Marketing and advertising DO produce results.
They work especially well when you know how, when and why to use them. The same holds true for cold calling.
Marketing and advertising bring interested leads into the funnel and enable your sales team to gracefully convert warm opportunities. Who doesn’t love that? But this model takes time, and it’s still not 100% effective at capturing all of your ideal clients. There is no silver bullet.
With marketing, your sales success relies on one critical prerequisite:
“Company A” knows they need something, they want to buy, and they know you have it.
Cold calling quickly solves a tougher problem:
“Company A” doesn’t know they need something, they don’t want to buy, and they don’t know you have it.
Some people call this an unqualified lead. The truth is, it’s an uninformed and misunderstood lead.
Good salespeople assess the market and understand their offering well enough to know which kinds of clients derive the most value from what they sell. They can quickly qualify a prospect during a brief conversation.
Good salespeople also know that the time will come when inbound leads dry up and their network will fail to deliver referrals. That’s when they pick up the phone.
BUT COLD CALLING IS BAD
Think about the last time you received a call from a telemarketer.
It interrupted your day. You could hear the sounds of a call center on the other line. The sales rep hastily stuttered through a script, and – CLICK – you hung up on them.
If you were kind enough to stay on the phone, you were treated to a pitch designed to get you to buy something. They may have even told you there was no obligation to buy, but you’d never be able to tell. They goaded you and used pushy techniques to “overcome objections”. Then they tried to “close” you long before you were ready to buy.
At no point was the call focused around your needs. At no point were you given control of the conversation. In the end, you felt annoyed and manipulated.
This approach to cold calling has created an environment so toxic that people today are averse to any kind of direct, unsolicited sales outreach that actually involves talking to a stranger. You can call it social awkwardness or a reluctance to interrupt a person’s day, but more likely, it’s the result of head trash that says, “Cold calling is a nuisance” and “Cold calling is bad”.
Walk into a room of sales people and ask for a show of hands: “How many people like making cold calls?” 99% of the time, no one does.
It’s no wonder why people celebrate the death of cold calling.
Weak salespeople always take comfort in the news that cold calling is dead. They eagerly stick their hands out ready to catch warm leads they can easily convert. These people deserve some credit for doing their jobs, but many companies will struggle without a quicker outreach strategy – especially during hard times.
Anyone with experience closing millions of dollars in new business will know that one of the greatest strengths of an outside salesperson is their ability to pick up the phone and go directly to the Ultimate Decision Maker. It takes very little research, very little time, and it cuts to the chase.
STOP SUCKING AND MAKE THE CALL
We’ve heard companies say, “We’ve tried cold calling. It doesn’t work for our business.”
Okay. Does your business involve decision makers? Do the decision makers have phones? The answer to both is almost always, Yes.
Most likely, the reason why cold calling doesn’t work for your business is because you don’t know how, when, or why to do it. And when you try it, you’re just not very good.
How do you measure success on a cold call?
What is your success rate on the phone?
Are you calling the right person?
Do gatekeepers constantly shoot you down?
Are you asking the right questions?
Do you have an outreach strategy?
Have you turned over control of the call to the prospect?
Have you ever recorded yourself on the phone?
If you’re confused about any of the questions above, you should call someone to help. There is a time and a place for cold calling, and when executed properly it will create the immediate results you need to see real growth and transformation for your company.
Want to move your business forward? Let’s talk.