The Sales Leader
Cutting Edge Strategies for Sales Leaders by Colleen Francis
I have been thinking a lot about business development lately because I find it’s more common than not for sales professionals list cold calling as their weakest sales skill, the skill they hated the most and the skill that they felt could have the largest positive impact on their results if they improved at it!
Ironic isn’t it….
So I got to thinking… Since cold calling is clearly so essential, what can we do to make it more fun and more profitable?
Target your approach and focus on only one niche market.
By focusing all your efforts on a particular group, You will be able to build solid relationships and establish a proven reputation much more quickly. Once you’ve cemented your position at the heart of this group you’ll no longer have to make any cold calls, because all your cold calling will be replaced with introductions, referrals and warm leads!
Take a moment to fully grasp the power of this concept. There are always a small group of ideal buyers who are cheaper and easier to sell to, but who also bring greater rewards. You likely have some of these “Dream Customers” right now, but if you’re like most sales people, they probably represent a relatively small portion of your client list.
Now imagine how much more successful you would be if all your customers were ideal customers? You’d not only close more deals and make more money. You’d also have more fun, because when you sell to people you know are ideal for your business, you’re more persistent, more passionate and more engaged.
To help I recently developed the “The Dream Sell List” model for our clients.
One Engage client is using the “Dream Sell List” model right now to improve his revenues and profits. First, he identified the top 30 potential clients in his market. Then, he began sending them a newsletter or value-based marketing piece every two weeks without fail.
Next, he reduced the number of networking events he attends and association work he does to those few select groups that his top 30 are involved in. He made a commitment to attend events he knew they would be at or call them a minimum of four times a month. He also staged a monthly invitation-only series of seminars and guess who he invited?
Since these prospects represented the biggest buyers in his market, the first four months of intensive marketing and selling brought no financial reward. In the fifth month, however, one of these “Dream Clients” moved their financial planning over to him. By month number six, three of the 30 largest potential customers in his market had given him their business.
Ask yourself: who are your best buyers? If you sell B2C, whether you’re a dentist, accountant, chiropractor, real estate broker or financial advisor, chances are your best buyers live in the best neighborhoods. They have the most money and the greatest sphere of influence. So take a look at your current customer list, identify where your best customers live and target your marketing efforts to others in those neighborhoods. If you send them an offer every single month without fail, within a year, I can practically guarantee you’ll have built a great reputation among the very wealthy.
If you sell B2B, your best buyers are usually the biggest companies Fortune 100 if your business sells internationally, or the biggest companies in your area if you sell locally. What are you doing every other week, no matter what, to let these companies know who you are?
Persistence always pays off. There’s no one you can’t get to as long as you constantly market to them, especially after they say they’re not interested.
People will not only begin to respect your perseverance; they’ll actually begin to feel obligated to at least hear you out. It may not happen right away. But believe me, even the most hard-bitten and cynical executive can’t help but respect a sales person who just won’t give up.
Just make sure you don’t cross the line between persistence and stalking, or all your hard work really will be for nothing! For more on this topic, check out our article The Fine Line Between Persistence and Stalking
That client I mentioned earlier? By freeing the time he used to spend going after business outside his core target group, he’s been able to spend much more time building relations with his top 30 and their networks. He now works fewer hours than he did before, and his referrals and sales have doubled.
Another company I work with that sells to the government used this strategy recently to target the ten highest directors in each of the ten largest departments in the country. That’s a list of just 100 unique names.
For the first three months, no one responded to any of their direct mail pieces or phone calls. But by the fourth month, most of the directors started saying: “I just have to meet you. I’ve never had anyone continue to call me so many times after I said no!”
hin six months, the company’s sales reps had gotten in to see 75% of the high-level directors they had targeted.The secret is to NEVER give up. No matter what they say. Period.
Once you’ve identified your list of dream customers, just keep going after them again and again until they agree to meet you. Or if you sell to consumers, commit to sending a value-rich promotional piece like a newsletter every single month to those wealthy neighborhoods. Eventually, all the wealthy people in your area will know exactly who you are.
So who are your dream prospects? And how committed are you to getting them as clients? I would love to hear your success stories so please post a comment to our blog or email us.
My goal has always been to never let a day go by without reaching out to at least 1 new potential customer and 1 current customer. I was thinking about this goal today because many of my coaching clients seam to go days, or weeks without doing anything to generate new business. If you are not continually looking for new people to talk to about what you sell…how can you grow your business? Top performers are disciplined. They do things everyday without fail that are focused on finding people to talk to, talking to them and converting them to customers.
Do yourself a HUGE favour. Get into the habit of not leaving the office, or not going to bed, without completing at least 1 business development task. A letter, and email, a card or a voice mail. It doesn’t take much….and it will yield huge long term profitable results.
You are right. This is not rocket science. 3 simple tasks are all you need to focus on everyday in order to have your business soaring. The hard part is the discipline to do it everyday. To make it easier, and to ensure success, I suggest you do your business building activities first thing in your day. Our clients have shown that the morning is a more productive sales time because there are fewer distractions, both in your day and the prospects resulting in more “reaches” and conversations.
I’m curious. How many new people do you reach out to everyday, without fail?
I received this email from Lead-Up mentoring participant Raj. I thought it was a smart observation…
“By the way, whoever invented the term cold call needs to be shot. Why do we represent one of the most important activities in our careers with something such a negative, demotivating phrase?! What would be possible if we just said to ourselves “Hey, let’s pick up the phone and make a new friend!”
Raj….I love the way you make cold calls, or prospecting calls the most important part of your business. Its true, you always needs prospects. No matter how good a closer you are, if you don’t have anyone to talk to, you can’t be successful. Everyone should make it a habit to talk to someone new everyday. Whether its a cold call, a referral or a business partner. Consistently active prospecting will ensure your success!
What is the most important thing for my sales team to remember when converting prospects to customers?
The most important thing to remember about converting leads into customers is that sales is about helping your customers
Hi everyone – some interesting research has surfaced that combined with client success is changing my mind on telesales.
According to the American Telemarketing Association, you have a 5 times better chance of reaching your prospect over the phone between 9 and 10 am their time than any other time of the day. You know that I have never placed much stock in a set daily call time. I may be reconsidering…The above stat combined with actual client results, do have me looking seriously at the 9-11 am time frame for business /sales funnel development activities. We have seen tremendous results with clients who commit to making sales calls for new business development during the hours of 9-11 am. Now to be fair, their success could be a result of making the calls. Period. Regardless of the time.
Or there could be something to this research. 80% of my clients who commit to regular daily calling activity insist that their calls be made during those hours. Coincidently (maybe not??) those 80% are the most successful clients I coach. …so maybe the research has some teeth. You try it. I’d love to hear your results.
Furthermore, research shows that you are twice as likely to close a prospect that you see or call at the end of the day, after your “last call,” than at any other time. Now this is really interesting. A few months ago a client was $3000 behind her quota for the month when on the last sales day of the month a faxed Purchase Order arrived on her desk at 4:45 PM on a Friday for $4500. Luck? Maybe. More likely? A testament to her hard work and continuous daily prospecting to keep her pipeline full of potential customers.
So why might this work? Maybe it’s because you are relaxed or in a good mood at the end of the day because you are done working. Maybe its because you have the guts and the work ethic to make “just one more call” Regardless of the reason try it. When you’re all done for the day, make one more call. It might be your most profitable.