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Archive for March, 2011

Utilize Name Dropping as a Cold Calling Technique

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

When making cold calls, it is important to hit the phones and have high activity levels.  But doing that alone is not a guarantee that you will be successful.  In addition to working hard and smiling and dialing, there are very simple techniques that can be implemented to improve sales effectiveness.  One cold calling technique is to name drop other people’s names to improve results.

Why Name Dropping is Important
When making cold calls, the person that you contact will typically start out having their guard up at a medium level.  They will be subconsciously assessing who you are and trying to determine if you are friend or you are foe.  A friend is someone they know, someone that works for the company, or someone that works with the company in some way or another.  A foe would be someone that is more of a stranger and someone that is on the outside trying to get in.

If the person on the phone senses that you are a sales person and trying to sell something, they will label you as a foe and their guard will go from a medium level to a high level and this will have an immediate impact on your chances of a successful cold call.

What is Name Dropping
To avoid having the people we cold call put their guard up and shut us down, we can use a cold calling technique of name dropping.  This is where we mention someone else in the organization by name to present the image that we are already on the inside and not a stranger or outsider trying to get in.


How to Name Drop
The way to effectively name drop is to simply mention the other people you have worked with, have spoken with, or have meetings scheduled with during your introduction on a cold call.  For example:  “Hello Ms. Gonzales, this Henry Johnson with XYZ Corp.  I work a lot with Tina Smith in accounting.”

But the most common scenario, or when this can actually come in the most handy, is when you have not spoken or met with anybody yet.  When this is the case, you can simply say that you are planning to meet with the person that you name drop.  The great thing about this cold calling technique is that you can do this even when you have never spoken to the person that you name drop as the statement of “planning to meet” could just be your intentions and not a confirmation of your schedule.

Source:  Jake Atwood, President at Ovation Sales Group & BuzzBuilder Pro

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Trial Close Regularly to Improve Sales Effectiveness

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

The most important thing in sales is the closing the sale.  And many people believe that a sales person is either a closer or they are not.  And some people believe the harder they work, the more aggressive they are, and the more times they call they prospect translates into more closed deals.  While some of that may or may not be true, what is true is that there are clear tactics that can be implemented to improve sales effectiveness and improve the ability to close deals.  One these tactics is to trial close throughout the sales cycle.

What is a trial closing?
Trial closing is the act of checking in with a prospect to get their thoughts.  This differs from actual closing as the goal is only to get feedback and information and is not intended get their final decision.  The tactic can be used to gather information to identify if the prospect is onboard and heading in the same direction as the sales person..  This can also be utilized to identify the path forward in terms of challenges and opportunities.

Examples of a trial close

Below are some examples of trial closing questions:

What do you think of what we have discussed so far?
Do you agree with the return on investment analysis?
Do you want to continue forward with these discussions?
Is this something you could see your employees using?
What are your feelings for what we have demonstrated?
How would that feature help your operation?
What direction do you want to go from here?

When to use this tactic?
To improve sales effectiveness, it can be helpful to use this tactic throughout the sales cycle.  If this can be viewed as a “check in” or opinion gathering technique, than it is reasonable to use this tactic during and at the end of every meeting with a prospect.

Benefits of trial closing
The main benefit of the trial closing is that it gives the sales person valuable information on what is going on the prospect’s side.  This tactic can help a sales person to understand what the prospect’s perception is and any challenges or opportunities that exist.  By having this additional information, the sales person will be able to be execute better in the areas of qualifying sales opportunities and also figure out what direction to take meetings and sales cycles.


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Define the Value Proposition When Developing Sales Strategy

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

When working on developing sales strategy, a good place to start is working on refining and defining the value proposition.  This can be a good starting point as the value proposition can ultimately be the foundation that all sales and marketing messages are built on.

Value Proposition Defined

One way that the value proposition can get misconstrued is by having it get intermingled with the features and benefits that are a business offers.  While those are certainly related to and feed into the value proposition, features and benefits are at a lower and more technical level when looking at how a business delivers value to its clients.

The way to get to the core value is to look at what the action a set of features and functionality provides.  And that action will yield some sort of purpose or benefit to the client.  These benefits are still not the true value proposition.  If we add up all of the benefits and translate to how that helps a business, then we start to identify the business value and can begin to formulate the value proposition.

The Foundation

One of the reasons it can be beneficial to start developing sales strategy by working on the value proposition is that it can be the foundation that all sales and marketing messaging.  When it comes to website content, marketing brochures, email campaigns, cold calling scripts, sales presentations, etc., all can use the value proposition as the core message that they all build around and off of.

By starting with the value proposition first and then building out all documents, deliverables, and communications, the sales messaging will all be more aligned, consistent, and clear.



Identify the Target Market

Another reason to begin developing sales strategy with focusing on the value proposition definition is that it will help to identify the target market for the sales strategy.  By clearly knowing the value delivered, we are in a better position to know who is best served by that value and this can help us to identify whom to target and go after.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales consulting helping companies to improve their sales strategy.

 

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Using Sales Outsourcing to Achieve Growth

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

One thing that just about every business has in common is a need for growth and increasing sales.  One factor that limits the growth businesses are able to achieve is size of the sales organization and number of front-line sales resources they have.  With sales resources being expensive from a hiring, training, paying and retaining standpoint, it is very common for a business to not have a sales organization that aligns with the desired growth plan.  One way to resolve this misalignment is through the use of sales outsourcing.

Outsourcing sales can be done in many different ways, but the ideal scenario is for a business to always maintain core internal sales staff but to outsource certain tactical areas to augment its existing footprint.  For example, outsourcing cold calling is a way that companies can shift certain tactical tasks away from their internal resources who can best utilized on more strategic activities.

Below are a few benefits of outsourcing some sales functions:

Lack of commitment

Staffing up an organization is a significant commitment in terms of infrastructure, financial investment, time, and resources.  If the business environment or corporate strategy changes, it can be very difficult and costly to walk away from this commitment.  By leveraging a sales outsourcing model, a business can more easily scale up and scale down the operation providing more flexibility to respond to a changing environment.

Speed
It can be fairly time consuming to recruit and train the right resources.  With sales outsourcing, a service provider will typically have resources that are ready to be trained and take on the workload helping to drastically increase the speed of growth in terms of feet in the seats and on the streets.

Specialization

By outsourcing some of the tactical sales functions, like cold calling for example, a business can create and leverage more specialization.  If cold calling is taken off the plate for seasoned sales executives and transferred over to a cold calling service provider, the sales executives can become more specialized in strategic activities like account planning, presentations, proposals, etc. and the business can leverage the already existing specialization in cold calling that the service provider has.

Headcount avoidance
Sales outsourcing allows companies to grow with headcount avoidance.  This means that company will be able to do more and technically have more bodies working and do this without increasing headcount.  This can be beneficial for many different reasons.

Cost
A business can stand to either decrease cost or grow with less incremental cost through sales outsourcing.  From a recruiting, training, compensation, benefits, and overhead perspective, sales resources are fairly expensive.  And when you breakdown that cost to get to the true cost of a cold call, it can be expensive for seasoned staff to perform some of the tactical sales functions.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales outsourcing services helping companies to achieve growth.


 

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Use an Evaluation Plan to Improve the Close Rate

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

One of the most important events in the sales cycle is the closing of the deal.  And many people believe you were either a closer or you were not.  As if you are born with the ability and it is in your genetic make up or it is not.  I personally don’t believe that that is the case and have the complete philosophy that skills and tactics can be learned and used to drive results and improve the ability to close transactions.  An example of a tactic that can be used to improve your close rate is using an evaluation plan.

An evaluation plan is a document that outlines all of the main activities that both the sales person and the prospect must do during the sales cycle to reach an executed agreement.  The purpose of this document is not only to outline the path and required steps, but to also level set expectations and secure agreement with the prospect.

A typical evaluation plan will be a table that has four main columns or categories:

  • Activity: The first column in the table is for the actual activity or item that needs to be accomplished.
  • Owners: Lists who owns or is involved in each step.
  • Dates: The date for when the activity needs to be complete.
  • Status: Status for the activity.

Filling out evaluation plan for a prospect is only half of the work that needs to be done when trying to improve the close rate.  Effectively using it during the sales cycle is the other half as using it correctly is an art in itself.  Below are some key ways to best utilize the evaluation plan.

Initial meeting: In an initial meeting with a prospect, a sales person is trying to qualify if the opportunity and prospect are qualified in terms of interest and ability to purchase.  One great way to qualify them is by showing an evaluation plan that lists out everything that will need to be done between now and the end of the process.  Not only will their reaction help to further qualify, but that is a great time to secure sponsorship and level set expectations.

Revise together:
Ideally in a second or third meeting, possibly when some sort of discovery is being executed, it would be productive to revise and build out the evaluation plan with the prospect.  Specifically in the area of the prospect’s internal processes and steps, this is a good time to have them outline those and put them down on the evaluation plan.  By having the prospect help to build the evaluation plan, their buy in and knowledge of the path forward will be increased helping to improve the close rate.

Email updates:
During the sales cycle, it can be helpful to email the prospect the updated evaluation plan that shows activities being completed and any changes that have occurred.

In the home stretch:
Executing when the deal is in the home stretch is the key to improving the close rate.  By having an evaluation plan that outlines all of the steps that the prospect must execute on their side to pull the trigger will help with managing the prospect at the end of the sales cycle.  This can also help with communicating with sales management on where the deal is and how it is tracking.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales training helping organizations to improve sales results.

 

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Use Search Engine Optimization to Increase Sales

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

One productive way to find new clients is by using tools to get your prospects to find you.  One way to accomplish this is to use search engine optimization to lure your prospects to your company’s website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a methodology that will make your website more valuable in the eyes of the search engines.  If your site is considered to be more valuable by the search engines, also referred to as “ranking”, they will put you higher on the search results for keywords that users put into the search engine.

They key is to get your website to rank on searched phrases that your target prospects would put into a search engine and this will drive very targeted traffic to your site.

Below are some steps that can be taken to improve search engine optimization (SEO):

SEO Friendly Pages
To improve search engine optimization, you will first want to focus on building a website and web pages that are more friendly toward search engines.  It is important to note that search engines use spiders that crawl your website.  If you have frames or text in images, the spiders will not be able to crawl your site as well.

Search engines also do not want send people to pages that are time consuming to load.  As a result, the search engine will consider pages with better load rates and more friendly and factor that into how they rank.  This means sites that are very cool with a lot of high resolution images and flash animation could be considered less friendly.

Content
Search engines want to send users to the most informative sites first.  This means that a site with more content per page, with more pages being regularly added, and more total pages will be labeled as a site that is very informative.  Note that this goes against the traditional marketing philosophy of clean pages with fewer words and more graphics and animation.  The more text the better in the eyes of the search engine.

To use search engine optimization, blogs and articles are good ways to add pages and content regularly to a website.  These should be focused on topics and key words that are tied to the products that will bring targeted traffic to the site.

Backlinks
Backlinks are another important way to use search engine optimization to improve your ranking with search engines.  These are links to your site that are posted on other websites.  The more sites that point to your site, the more valuable search engines will consider your site to be and this will help you to rank better.  There are many ways to get backlinks, but a few are registering with directories, distributing articles, swapping links, and posting on forums.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales consulting helping companies to increase sales.

 

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