This blog originally published in Printing Impressions.
Building a predictable sales model sounds great and it can work, but it is hard to do. Making sure that you and your team are up for the challenge is the first step in the process. In fact, it’s probably the most difficult step as you’ll find that while most will say, “yeah, I’m all in,” changing their behavior and past practices can be a challenge for the sales team and senior leadership. In transforming how companies go to market, one obstacle is that we tend to move into uncharted waters. “We’ve never done it this way before,” is what I frequently hear. Starting at the top, a decision and vision needs to be created that says something like — while we cherish the results of our past practices, we realize that repeating those today will not necessarily get us to where we need to be tomorrow.
Dialing for Dollars
For example, “just start calling people and get appointments, come on, you can do it, try harder!” How’s that been working for you? Let me ask you, how often do you answer your phone when you don’t recognize the caller ID? Are calls an interruption to your day? Do you even listen to your voicemail messages? I was on a flight recently, still at the gate, and the person sitting next to me was on her phone to a colleague. She said, “um, I’ve got 127 voicemail messages, I’ll never listen to those.” So, while the phone can and is still a very effective tool for connecting with people, it’s not very effective for trying to reach those who are not anticipating your call. Even when we tell them we’ll be calling, it’s still hard. We can do better than this.
Believe in the Plan
Many teams are spending their valuable resources determining the best way for getting the initial attention of their key prospects. That can be through social networks, conferences, educational sessions, or even direct mail (there’s a concept!). Which is the best way? I believe that the best way for your company will be the way that you can:
- Agree to,
- Develop a detailed plan for,
- Execute each and every day.
You’ve got to believe in it. Pretend that new business is your oxygen and without it, it won’t end well.
You also should determine who is going to do what. Unless you have a brand new rep, most of your sales reps have existing business that they are managing (and growing), so new business isn’t a full time job for them. It can, and should be a portion of their time each week. You’ll need to determine who will drive the social networks and plan the conferences and educational sessions and how their efforts will best interface with the sales effort.
Ask Great Questions
The goal of your initiative should be to drive sales-ready leads to your sales team, where through a repeatable discovery session, they can determine the best approach to take with the opportunity. What’s the best approach? Depends on your business and depends on what you learned from your discovery meeting. Note: I find the second hardest thing for sales team to master is the discovery session. Here’s where the objective is to interview the prospect to best determine whether or not you can make an impact on their business. Too many reps spend their time auditioning for the gig, and leave the meeting not knowing much more than when they walked in. Part of your plan should be, “what do I need to find out from this first meeting in order for me to invest more time in the opportunity?” Work on this until it becomes second nature for your team.
I’ll continue next week with more ideas for changing your sales model. In the meantime, if you have something that is working well for you or comments on the subject, please include them below. Good luck and remember, doing nothing is not an option!
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org