Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Has "Cold Calling" ever really been "Cold" Calling? #sales20

Cold calling – secret weapon or waste of time? #sales20

· Have you ever wondered why some sales people (usually the top 10% of your sales organization) consistently 'luck out' with solid leads found through 'cold calling'?
· Is your Sales Manager driving the other 90% of you crazy by pointing to these high performers as an example of why you have to make more calls to hit your number?
· And just how many cold calls do the ‘lucky’ ones really make? How do they do it? What is their secret? Have you ever asked?
· Does your Sales Manager really care how many calls you make? Or is he/she looking for results?

Maybe you should consider this: the best sales trainer I've ever known started his program by saying ‘‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. Likely, these consistently 'lucky' people have done their homework. They work from a skeleton script that is augmented by specific insights they've researched about that particular prospect to grab initial attention – and they use a reference story to support it. They are also likely to find a 'trusted advisor' or personal contact that they can use as a referral to gain trust. The point is they prepare uniquely for each call to ensure that it makes an impression and differentiates them from the myriad of other sales folks who call that potential buyer every day. And they make the most of the connection – ensuring that the second call will be ‘warmer’.
There are lots of messaging techniques that can be used to make this approach personal and more effective. I'm hoping we'll see some good comments from some sales ‘stars’ to help us all learn how to more effectively engage prospects using this ‘secret weapon’.

So, stay tuned. My next discussion will focus on how to leverage newer 'Sales 2.0 Technologies' (most are available free or at a nominal cost) to make this important part of every sales person’s life even more productive.

Thanks for your comments and insight.
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Monday, June 1, 2009

What is Sales 2.0 Really?

There has been a lot of noise recently about Sales 2.0 with every Saas service jumping on the bandwagon. But what is it really? And, what does it mean for a sales producer?

In my opinion, a key element of Sales 2.0 is a methodology to leverage Social Media techniques to increase direct sales results. From a B2B perspective (my personal area of interest), companies need to implement a process to integrate Social Media tools into their day to day prospecting and communications processes. This includes tools like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin and most importantly Social Media Monitoring and Analytics. Linkedin also has an application option to implement "buzz monitoring" right on the home page.

These tools should become a part of the CRM no differently than current use of email and telephone. The analytics tools will help understand industry issues, find prospects and monitor their ongoing needs relative to your products and services. From there, the communications vehicles can be used for effective relationship building and communications at the "opportunity" level. There are many instructional blogs to help your sales people learn how to use them.

Take a look at solutions like Insideview or Google's new Wave as examples of how best to integrate these capabilities.

But, stay away from pure advertising, it doesn't work!

Be sure to develop reasonable policies around the use of these tools so that everyone is able to clearly understand how best to leverage them within the organization. Some terrific examples are publicly available from IBM, Intel and others. These companies have baked Social Media into their daily sales and marketing practices and seen exceptional results.

Then, encourage your sales teams talking about Sales 2.0 applications in sales meetings and share successes or ideas. This is likely the best way to get started.

Looking forward to your comments and thoughts!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Still Pitching? Is anyone really listening?

Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.

In my humble opinion, this topic is the essence of the “Cluetrain Manifesto”. Whether you are a B2B or B2C enterprise, the concept of this topic is really not new. The “Internet Age” has only made it easier to see and address. In blogs about Cluetrain being published today, there will be a lot of discussion around conversation, relationship building, the current economic climate and transparency. And, there will be a significant focus around marketing and PR as a key business drivers connecting all these discussions.

I’d like to take it a step further and outline the importance of this thesis statement and the impact this realization is having.

Have consumers (businesses or individuals) ever really relied on the “pitch” as their primary influence? Effective advertising in any form of media (online or offline) has only ever been a way to reinforce and focus consumers towards considering products offered by organizations they trust. Unless trust has been previously established through reputation, relationship etc, has any form of “pure advertising” ever been effective?

The internet, specifically Web 2.0 and the emerging 3.0, has just further enabled organizations to capitalize on this. Not only can they effectively engage directly, their customers become their advocates or detractors. Influence and reputation then spreads virally. Now they can become measurably more effective and efficient over a broader audience with various forms of media (advertising or otherwise).

Like anything new, the hype factor occurs first. Then reality sets in. With this “reality” comes an extremely powerful impact on our corporations, our consumers and the economy in general. I believe that unlike “The Great DotBomb”, a significant lesson for us all, the “Social Media” hype factor is quickly eroding as corporations apply common business and corporate principles. We are now seeing the entrance of comprehensive business systems vendors into the Social Media space from the Business Intelligence and Knowledge Management markets.

These vendors have the attention and respect, through proven experience, of our most senior business leaders. They will blend Social Media with standard corporate systems, data, business processes and most importantly corporate governance and regulatory compliance. They will also pay attention to security, privacy and shareholder / stakeholder concerns. And, because these major business systems have “grown up” in the corporate world, they have a natural understanding of business realities: “Nothing is Free”, “Intellectual Rights need to be Protected” and “Without Profit, Business Cannot Exist”. The Social Media industry as a whole also needs to understand these basic fundamentals.

With these more comprehensive business systems comes the inherent ability to analyze, measure, predict and manage the impact “Social Media” will have on the business as a whole. Not just sales, but everything from product development, manufacturing, forecasting, marketing, profitability, customer service and most importantly risk mitigation. As a result, the true value of Social Media will be clearly understood, added to the overall corporate knowledgebase and effectively leveraged.

Some would believe we are heading towards a “CluetrainWreck” due to the hype factor and the lack of sound business practices currently plaguing the Social Media domain. But I personally believe, being an eternal optimist, that because of recent lessons learned, a distinct advantage of the increasing speed of change in our lifetime, that these evolved business systems now entering the market will protect us from ourselves as basic economic laws prevail.

In summary, the reality of this simple statement “Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone” has always existed but is now having a profound impact on our ability to leverage the economic power of the rapidly evolving online world in this economic environment that we see before us today.

Special thanks to Kevin MacKenzie, Hessie Jones, Amanda Chapel, Tim Moore and Scott Purdon for all of your help with this!