The Holy Grail of any hard-working sales team is a multitude of high-quality leads that will generate that all important new business for your company, not forgetting a well-deserved bonus. But the disheartening truth is the majority of leads don’t result in a purchase and no matter how practiced your sales pitch there are factors outside of your control that can impact your chances of a sale.
So what are the most effective ways to sift out the lucrative from the dire? How can you take that all too familiar despondent sales team who are tired of putting in long hours with no payoff, one that has been disconnected with success for too long and help to transform them into a super efficient and productive sales force ready to embrace all the day has in store? Incorporating these simple steps, if you don’t already do so, could make a marked difference.
Depending on the source of the leads you’re working with, many of the contacts on your list can be identified as non starters before you even need to pick up the phone. According to a report issued by Marketing Sherpa, only 56% of B2B organisations will have qualified their leads before passing them on to their sales team. A simple bit of online research into the companies should provide enough insight to see if they are likely to buy. Establish what their business does, how many employees they have and where you can see your product or service fitting in. A simple grading system from 1 to 3 with will allow you to prioritise your list and identify where you start directing your energy.
Identify, Listen, Bond
Your next task, and often a tricky one, is to identify the person who has the buying power and the ability to make decisions regarding the purchase of your offering. Don’t waste time on anyone else as chances are key messages will be lost in translation or information will be filed in the bin.
Now you’ve got the attention of the decision maker it’s time to pitch, right? Hold your horses for a minute. The most important thing you can do now you have them is to listen, and I mean really listen. Introduce your product/service and delve to find pertinent information that will help you qualify the lead. Important points to ascertain should include:
- Do they currently or have they previously used a product/service similar to yours?
- If they are looking to buy then what is motivating them to make the purchase? Is it cost savings, are they looking for greater functionality or is it an RFP in a tender process?
- If there are any concerns around implementing a product of its kind, or even your product in particular?
- Establish their objectives for implementing your product/service
- Are they in discussions with any other suppliers or considering alternative solutions and what attracts them to these competitors?
- Who would be involved in the decision making process and what are the timelines. This will help you identify leads that can be parked for the time being.
Beware. The way your gather this information is as important as gathering the information itself. Any questions you ask should come across as conversational not interrogational if they are to have the desired result. In his book Questions that Sell, Paul Cherry cites a study conducted by Gallup that suggests people are 12% more likely to purchase if an emotional connection has been made, and Hudson, a US-based consultancy, believes that using emotional intelligence (EQ) is the key to developing an authentic approach that leads to greater insight, intuition and the development of positive results.
If it’s apparent your product or service cannot meet their requirements or expectations let them know why and then step away gracefully. There’s no point wasting days or weeks worth of developing a lead that will not progress to a sale.
Give my pitch last? Um, yes. If you think about it, it’s pretty obvious. For starters, there’s nothing quite as infuriating as taking a sales call and being forced to listen to a five minute sales pitch before having established if there’s a need. If you’re fortunate enough to have made it through the pitch without having had the phone hung up on you, then you’re likely to have left the prospect with a bad impression of your company. Most importantly though, by pitching last you’ll have listened to what your potential customer has to say and have identified their aspirations for their business, the vital elements your product or service would need to deliver and their concerns for implementing it or the issues surrounding a change in supplier. You can deliver a pitch that addresses these points specifically. You’ve developed an emotional connection, you have tailored your pitch, now see where it takes you.
As a final pointer, a key area to assess within your sales team is their general approach. Gone are the days where aggressive sales tactics are expected and tolerated. People in general are incredibly wary of sales people so tread lightly. From personal experience I can say that the sales people who came across as being highly personable got my budget, even if they were more expensive. From a customer point of view, you want to work with people you can get on with and whose values reflect your own, especially if it’s likely to be a lengthy business relationship. Who wants to work with a company that is cantankerous and ignorant of your requirements? In the world of sales, those who shout the loudest don’t always win.