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3 Strategies for Effectively Developing the Right Calling Approach

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 23, 2017 8:19:00 PM

Whether you’re new to sales, or an experienced pro, developing the right approach to making sales calls is a strategic advantage.
As a salesperson, oftentimes the first impression you make is over the phone. Whether that’s talking to a new prospect, building a client relationship, or maintaining contact with long term clients.
Developing an effective calling approach and phone persona is essential to your sales success. But how can you develop an approach that will consistently drive results?
Consider these 3 strategies as you develop, refine, and optimize your calling approach: 
sales call approach ideas

1. Personalize Your Message

Think about who you are calling and why you are calling them before you pick up the phone.

First, we must consider what kind of leads are you calling and what’s the right strategy for each?

For example, let’s say you were just assigned a new lead. This lead came in through the website as an inbound lead who downloaded your newest eBook. What’s the approach for this type of lead?

To start, we must do our best to research who the person is, what company they work for, why they might be interested in the eBook, and whether they’ve downloaded any other resources from your website.

Why are these things important?

Because each piece of information helps you paint a picture of who you are calling. The more you know about the company, the person, or the industry in general will set you up for success because you’ll be able to tailor your message by saying something that resonates with the lead.

In this inbound lead example, you could personalize your message in a simple, yet logical way by helping them identify the key takeaways from the eBook they just downloaded and offer ideas about how the information applies to their job, company, or industry.

Taking this approach helps you position yourself as an expert, presents your company/offering in a positive light, and lets you take the role of the helpful salesperson who is educating them on new information and solutions.


2. Build Your Sales Story

 Identifying the right approach for each type of lead is only part of the game. The next step is to build your value proposition by crafting a compelling sales story.

We often think that facts and figures are what motivate people to take action. But the truth? Facts and figures aren’t nearly as effective as telling a great story.

Let’s say you’ve got a prospect on the line and they want to learn more about your solution. Instead of rattling off numbers that will mean nothing to them, consider walking them through the story of how you’ve helped other companies, maybe even mention a competitor of theirs, and help them visualize how your product and/or service delivered results for that company.

For example, you could say something like: “We’ve had a lot of success with companies like yours who have experienced some of the same challenges you may be facing, so I’d like to learn more about what you’re doing, tell you how we’ve been implementing solutions for businesses like yours, and see if there’s a match.”

You’re not only going to get their attention fast, they’re going to want to know how they did it, when they started doing it, how far behind they are, and what they need to do to catch up.


3. Understand the Rhythm of the Call

Listening is the key to a great conversation. So when we are speaking with prospects and clients over the phone, we must listen to the rhythm of the call and make certain decisions based on the rhythm.

If you ask a question and the other person responds as soon as you finish speaking, this probably means they’re tuned in. On the other hand, if there’s a long gap and their response doesn’t really relate to the question you asked, they’re probably not connected to the conversation.

As sales professionals, our goal is to ask 2nd level questions in order to create a more substantial conversation. 2nd level questions, asked in the right context, encourage the customer to share relevant information needed to understand their true interest in our business solution as well as their motivation to help their organization acquire it.

This is the type of conversation when the customer reacts to the salesperson’s interest and capabilities by sharing relevant information about their background, biases, plans as well as their power, influence, and motivation to buy.

The best way to help them make more sales is to maximize their time with people most likely to buy and minimize their investment in time with the rest.  At the same time, sellers need to dig out opportunities that are not immediately obvious but lying just below the surface waiting for a skilled salesperson to uncover and close.



Remember these 3 strategies the next time you’re ready to pick up the phone, and you’ll be on your way to building a connection with your prospects and clients while creating a more open sales dialogue.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated.

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Topics: sales, tips, selling, sellers, prospecting, value, skills, sales tips, sales training, digital media training, cold calling, call, small business, improving, marketing, strategy, phone

4 Tips to Improve Your Phone Prospecting

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 9, 2016 8:42:00 AM

The phone doesn’t work for prospecting. Only email, InMail, text, etc. work, right?

Did it ever occur to you that the only reliable way for customers to know for sure that the email they just received is from a real person and not some spam spewing bot, is when the email is followed by a phone call?

Regardless of your feelings about the efficacy of the phone in your prospecting work there are times you need to have an actual conversation. Since getting people on the phone is harder than ever, it behooves anyone who tries the phone prospecting method to be great at it---you don't have the luxury of warming up on the first few calls because there may not be more than one.


To get that good, I recommend you train yourself using these 4 self-improvement strategies:

1. Time

We all seem to be in a world where everyday there seems to be more to do than there is enough time. No matter how early you get up or how you manage your time there is always something else to do. There is an opportunity cost of spending time doing any one thing in favor or doing something else.

Given that, there are 3 things that every salesperson has to fit into their day: finding leads, contacting leads (using a combination of email, networking, and phone), and writing it all up in your CRM or other database.

Some CRM "ninjas" can do all 3 tasks in one contiguous motion. But in my 20+ years in sales training, I have only met 3 ninjas good enough to pull that off, of which two actually worked for Salesforce.com. For everyone else, I recommend creating 3 separate blocks of time for each task which leverages a classic time management phenomenon.

When you cluster together similar activities you do them all more efficiently. So finding all the leads in one or two sessions is more efficient than finding one lead and then spending the next 10-20 minutes researching, calling, sending emails, and then writing up the whole tale into your notes.

My advice is to find tomorrow's leads today and block out "do-able" calling slots---20 mins, 30mins, 45mins --but not 8 hours. Calling is like sprint work for an athlete. You can't keep up a sprint for 8 hours, but you work at a 100 mph for 20 minutes, especially if you already have your leads.

2. Count the “No”s

Learn how many “No”s are in your sales ratios. Based on your ratios you need to reach a certain number of leads to generate enough proposals for you hit your sales goal. Working backward from your annual sales goal you need to determine how many leads you need to reach out to everyday.

If you need to reach 20 people a day in order to score 5 proposals which produces for one sale for you, then 20 is your magic number. No amount of crossing fingers while calling "better leads" will suddenly enable you to get by with only calling 10 people.

While plowing through all of those leads count the “No”s not the “Yes”s. If you know you need 19 “No”s to get 1 “Yes”, you feel like celebrating when you get to #19. When you’re not counting in this way, your 19th “No” will only make you depressed and worsen your phone performance.

3. They Say, I Say

Create a “They say..., I say…” list matching objections and questions that stump you with answers that you have perfected over time.

Phone call conversations are like games of catch played at 95 mph. To "catch" their objections and toss back the right turnaround you need to be more than ready and improvising your way through every call simply won’t work.

It’s hard to reach people, but it’s potentially lucrative when you actually do. However, that’s only only if you say all the right things and avoid making common mistakes.

Salespeople have recurring conversations so eventually someone will ask you the very thing that stumped you today. Be ready the second time. Sharing your “They say…, I say…” list with coworkers will also be helpful so that you can all be ready for every possible objection.

4. Record Your Calls

Recording and listening to your calls is an extremely important step. At first it’ll be awkward to listen to yourself and you might feel like you sound funny, but keep going.

You’ll slowly begin to realize and hear when you were too fast, slow, loud, soft, happy, serious, etc. Eventually you will also hear that you tend to have auto-responses and filler words (such as "Well, actually...") some of which really don't sound like you are interested or even listening. Finally, you will hear how well your "I say..." match up with their "They say..." in the context of a real call.

Simply by realizing these things, you’ll be on your way to improving your calls.

We take time for golf lessons, personal training, and other skill building lessons, which we pay for. Let's invest in ourselves so that we can develop the skills that help us pay for those golf or sailing lessons.

5 Simple Prospecting Tips to Increase Your Sales

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Topics: calling, prospecting, sales tips

7 Strategies for Selling Search Engine Marketing

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Dec 29, 2015 9:30:00 AM

1. Start with a Great Target List

If you observe veteran search marketing salespeople, you will see that they receive inbound calls and email inquiries quite frequently from potentially ready-to-buy advertisers. Unfortunately, half of the calls will be less than optimal and shouldn’t be considered real prospects, but the other half will be first class opportunities.

Watching those veteran sellers, you may wonder what sort of magic makes them so effective. What is the real magic? The seller and his/her company have been prospecting for years.

The odds of cold calling someone today and reaching the final decision maker is low. But you can sow the seeds today- make sure they already know about you, and make them impressed enough to remember to contact you when they are ready.

So if you want a successful career, think ahead to the advertisers you want to be working within the next 1-3 years and begin pursuing them, without appearing desperate. Each day, given that you will have to make about 10-30 calls (especially if you are in your first year of SEM sales), you should be having at least one good conversation with a decision maker/advertiser.


2. Prospect Every Day

Although this seems obvious, especially given the point mentioned above, it can sometimes be difficult to carry it through. Since you sometimes actually reach an interested advertiser, you lose some prospecting time.

The "interested" calls can easily go on for about 10-45 minutes. Those calls often result in the promise to send something. That something can take an hour to 3 days to prepare. Managing your time so that, despite these needs, you still find time to prospect enough, ideally, you should aim for a call to be only a few minutes long that results in a face-to-face meeting.

3. Prepare for Each Meeting Like an Investor

Before investors will put their money into a company, they want to know everything about that company. Therefore, apart from the information you will glean online and from various databases, etc., you need to make sure you understand how big the vertical is, how big a share your target-prospect has and what their plans (ideally budget) and timing needs are to grow that share.

This level of information can only be acquired through conversations with the prospect. You may even need more than one good conversation before you can learn enough about this advertiser.

Remember, you are also trying to determine if this advertiser is a good fit with your own agency. Given your competition, you may never get a second chance at getting that advertiser back.

4. Create a Presentation that Tells Your Agency's Story

The normal flow of events leading to a sale with a new advertiser goes either through the RFP process or through a process led by the search agency. The RFP process gives the customer total control while the other gives the agency total control.

Either way, you are likely to need two presentations. The first is either the RFP response or your agency's initial presentation; the second will include the agency fee structure.

If you are involved with an RFP, you will likely be presented with a variety of categories (for example Proprietary Technologies, Bid Management Strategy, Service Team Structures, etc.) with a series of detailed questions below each. Your answers should tell a story about how your agency services accounts.

If the sale is outside the RFP process, then the focus still needs to be on telling that story: the story of how your agency's philosophy of servicing accounts is a superior fit for that particular advertiser.

5. Create a Sense of Urgency

Assuming the advertiser is trying to improve the ROI of their search campaign, the seller needs to be specific about the advertiser's timing for those changes. Even if the advertiser's goal is to increase their SOV of search traffic (and conversions) to their vertical by the following year, the good search seller will be able to build up a sense of urgency in the client.

How does one do this?

By building a backward timetable.

Let's say it's currently January, and the advertiser wants to take advantage of the Q4 traffic increase. By describing each and every step leading up to October/November/December along with the amount of time needed to test and optimize each step (including keywords selection, creatives, matching strategy, landing page, etc), you can easily show the advertiser that starting in January may not even be enough.

6. Involve Your Team of Experts Pre-Sale - Without Wasting Their Time

If the seller is the smartest person in their agency, then the advertiser will suffer having to work with a not-as-smart service team. On the other hand, if the service team is a bunch of rocket scientists that the advertiser never meets, then the advertiser may have trouble visualizing the benefits of working with them.

Make sure you as a seller appear well-informed, but then top yourself by introducing the advertiser to at least one additional member of either the management or the service team - ideally both. Consider the introductions of other team members a great "next step strategy."

7. Stay Involved While Handing Off Campaign to Your Account Management Team

Some agencies ask their sellers to stay involved after the sale - some even insist that the seller joins weekly Account Manager calls. Other agencies ask that the seller cleanly hands off the advertiser, turning to focus on the next sale.

Either way, the seller is well advised to make sure they schedule a conversation (or 2, 3 or 4) during the first week/month of the new advertiser's campaign with both the Account Manager and the client. The last thing a search seller wants is to learn - too late - that the advertiser was unhappy and unable to get resolution through the account team.

How to Transition into Digital Ad Sales - eBook

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Topics: training, sales process, prospecting, value, sales tips, sales training, marketing, strategy, phone, account manager, agency's story

4 Guiding Principles for Successful Phone Prospecting

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Oct 6, 2015 8:30:00 AM

Whether you’re in sales, marketing, business development, or if you’re a senior executive, everyone who prospects by phone needs to follow certain guiding principles. These include being simple, honest, direct, and conversational.

Since effective prospecting is usually such a critical factor to both an individual's success and the team's success, let’s look at these four ideas from the perspective of somebody who's trying to identify new revenue opportunities over the phone.

Woman dialing on smartphone

1. Be Simple

No, that doesn’t mean you should talk like a simpleton.

What it means is that you must work hard, ahead of time, to simplify your message for the prospect. Make your message powerful and easy to comprehend in just an instant.

You have to summarize what you are trying to say in the fewest number of words with the most repeatable sound bites. You want to paint a picture of the information you’re presenting.

It takes practice, so start rehearsing today!

2. Be Honest

Don't lie. Start being honest.

Customers often anticipate false statements or lies.

So you want to bend over backwards to tell the truth.

If it's a sales call, it's a sales call. If you don’t know the answer, you don’t know the answer. If your company is not a good fit, your company is not a good fit.

Tell the truth and don't ever apologize for telling the truth. You'll be surprised how often you generate a good conversation.

3. Be Direct

Get to the point.

Don't imagine you've got an unlimited reservoir of attention to work with.

When you’re lucky enough to get someone to connect with you on the phone, you need to remember that they’re only going to be willing to stay with you for a couple of beats. They want you to get to the point where you say, "Well, here is why I’m calling.”

They want to know the reason for the call. The longer the call goes without you clearing that question up, the more suspicious they are going to be. And you know they’re already suspicious just because you’re a salesperson!

4. Be Conversational

Being conversational means that you should try to be the most enthusiastic, authentic version of yourself. It has to be the real you.

Consider this: If you were to listen in on one of your own calls, would you sound like someone you would want to talk to? When you are at home and you are speaking to loved ones on the phone, what does that sound like? When you are speaking to somebody that you have a great relationship with and you're excited about something, what does that sound like?

It sounds like a real conversation!


Because the emotion is real!

That emotion is you in your most natural state, your most interesting state. If there is no authentic emotion on your prospecting call, you can sound dreadfully dull without even meaning to.

If you don’t have the sound of authentic emotion in your call, you will end up sounding like the bottom eighty percent of sales performers. You don’t want to be like them!

The next time you pick up the phone to prospect, remember that the very best way to do that is to keep it simple, be honest, be direct, and be conversational.

5 Simple Prospecting Tips to Increase Your Sales

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Topics: sales process, prospecting, skills, sales tips

4 Ways to Increase Your Sales Forecasting Accuracy

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Sep 8, 2015 11:11:00 AM

Sales forecasting is about taking the necessary actions and implementing proper sales techniques to understand, predict, and forecast promising sales. After working with thousands of salespeople and sales managers, we’ve reached a definitive conclusion about most of the sales forecasts salespeople submit…they’re inaccurate and unreliable.

What can you do to increase the reliability and accuracy of sales forecasts?

Forecasting works best when you’re not guessing, but only when you actually consider real prospects, when you apply a 50 percent correction factor, and when you take the time to remove old prospects.

Businessman forecasting with crystal ball1. Stop Guessing

The first thing you need to do is stop guessing!

Start off your next meeting by identifying the customer’s buying timetable. For instance, ask a question like: “Mr./Ms. Prospect, I’m just curious. If you and I end up working together, when do you envision us delivering our service/product?

The response they give you will help you identify the pace at which you should proceed through the sales process. By understanding the timetable for delivery early in the sales process, you’ll be able to more accurately account for what’s going to come in when you say it’s going to come in.

The timing has to be known, it’s not something that should be guessed at.

2. Only Consider Real Prospects

Many times, prospects will say something that makes them seem like they’re really interested. They might have even started the sales process originally months ago by calling you or going to your website and asking for more information.

But regardless, if at some point the sale is not moving forward, you should start to take those prospects out. You don’t want to include those prospects or the potential dollar amount in the forecast because you can’t confidently say the sale will actually happen.

It might eventually happen, but as a sales gets older it gets more difficult to figure out when it would actually close. Therefore it shouldn’t be included in your forecast.

If you start to consider only real prospects that are galloping ahead and not stagnant, then you’ll be more capable of accurately forecast your sales.

3. Apply a 50% Correction Factor

If you took your entire pipeline of everything that you thought was going to come in, say within the next quarter, and you identified the next sale that was likely to happen, consider what the contract amount would be.

Whatever that number is, take no more than 50 percent of it into consideration. That’s not to say that only half of your prospects will close, but you need to understand there are different sized opportunities.

If you take this approach, your forecast is never greater than 50 cents on the dollar, which makes most sales forecasts already a lot more accurate. Over time, if you see evidence that your number comes in at less than that, you want to change the correction factor, but 50 percent is a good starting point.

4. Remove Old Prospects

The longer a sale goes beyond its normal sale cycle, the less likely it is to happen. As sales begin to get old, they become less likely to happen.

You should begin removing those from your pipeline. It is equally important to start removing those prospects mentally. This means you need to start prospecting for new opportunities.

If you think you’ve got more in the pipeline than you really do, you’ll tend not to prospect enough and the end result will be that you did not bring in enough sales to cover your forecast.

Remember to practice these four tips for a more accurate sales forecast: stop guessing, only consider real prospects, apply a 50% correction factor, and remember to remove old prospects.

5 Simple Prospecting Tips to Increase Your Sales

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Topics: sales, selling, sales process, prospecting, business, improving, strategy, closing

4 Things To Do Before Reaching Out to Prospects

Posted by Anna Adamczyk on May 21, 2015 1:52:00 PM

Cold calling has a bad reputation for a reason. Aside from the fact that usually almost no one picks up the phone, it’s just not easy for the seller and can be completely unbearable for the buyer. Going in completely blind and sticking to a predetermined script is a sure way to make the situation even more excruciating for everyone. It can get awkward quickly and really isn’t the most efficient use of anyone’s time.

So what’s the best way to prepare for a point of first contact and how can you make sure you’re ready to make the most out of your outreach?

1. Research the prospect

It’s relatively easy to find most professionals on the internet. They might have their own website, be posted on their company’s site, have social media profiles, etc. Taking the time to read about them will give you a better sense of who they are. This doesn’t mean looking up personal information about them or their families on Facebook, but reading their description, summary, and work experience on LinkedIn is something they’d expect you to do. It will give you a more well-rounded view of them professionally.

2. Understand their role

Phone-Contact-Reach_outIn some situations, an individual's title will make understanding their role rather straightforward.  However, you should never take that at face value and additional research should be done into what they themselves see their role to be. Don’t underestimate that either, since responsibilities usually vary widely and aren’t always clearly visible to an outsider. Taking the time to make yourself aware of a prospect’s role including what they’re accountable for and what their struggles and pain-points are will help you differentiate yourself and tailor your pitch to them specifically. They’ll appreciate your understanding and will be more likely to open up.

3. Know their business

A prospect will only be open to your solution if you’ve expressed knowledge and comprehension of their business. Knowing the details of how their business and industry operates will allow you to adapt your presentation to how your solution would benefit their needs. It’s not necessary to be an expert, especially if you’re selling to a broad scope of industries, but you should be well-versed in the fundamental pieces that enable you to intelligently and thoroughly explain why your offering would give them an advantage.

4. Get ahead of the competition

Reaching out to a potential buyer should never produce any surprises. A key part of ensuring you’re properly prepared for a discussion with a prospect is not only knowing your competition, but also knowing theirs. Do you know exactly what your competitors are offering? It’s a possibility that they got to your prospect before you. Knowing how to approach and counter any comments your prospect might make will help guarantee you’re truly putting your best foot forward during the conversation. Being aware of where your prospect sits in their competitive space will also give you additional insights into things they may be excelling at or struggling with. Being informed and perceptive about their goals with regards to the competition can be something that will help differentiate you and your offering.

Reaching out to a lead for the first time is a challenge, but there are quite a few things you can do to ease the process. Doing research and approaching the meeting with a general understanding of the potential buyer, their role, their business, and the competition will help you be ready for anything. You’ll have made discoveries along the way about how to best present your solution and position your offering. The prospect will also take notice of your preparation and knowledge and they’ll be much more willing to do business with you versus someone who simply dialed a number and recited a pre-rehearsed script. Reaching out to prospects using this preparation method may take some more time and effort, but the results will be worth it.

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Topics: prospecting, prospecting for new business

How to Eliminate Anxiety During a Sales Call

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Aug 26, 2014 1:27:46 PM

The daunting task of picking up the phone and actually calling someone can be frightening to some, heck it may even be terrifying. But, why let your nerves get the best of you? Eliminating anxiety is a common problem for salespeople who are faced with budgets, pricing, legal, marketing, and a slew of other things.

How can you conquer your anxiety and become the sales superstar you were born to be?

1. Be the man (or woman) with the plan

What would you say you do here?Preparation is a key element to creating and developing essential conversations that will enhance your deal flow. The best types of conversations are organized into parts so that the listener can fully comprehend the material being presented. This gives both parties the opportunity to fully take in the material being presented.  

How should you start this plan? Make a list of the questions you need to answer. A great way to do this is to have a series of questions which lead into another; a domino effect. One question like “What kind of challenges do you face with your sellers?” may lead into “How often is this challenge faced?”. Soon enough you will have all the answers to the questions you need to know.

2. Breathe!

http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6wusg6ppI1rziwwco1_400.gifWell you should already be doing that, but incase you’re convinced otherwise this can have a major impact on your voice tonality while over the phone. Relieving your shoulder muscles and clearing your throat is vital to ensure you get off on the right note.

Hesitation in your voice will lead to hesitation from your prospect. This could lead to early warning signs and red flags to why your prospect may not want to further the conversation with you. Your confidence is vital towards grabbing their attention and closing sales!


3.  Make a Case & Point

I-love-you-man-awkwardIdentify why you’re contacting them for this sales call. Validating this will help ease awkward introductions and follow-ups. Some questions you may want to ask yourself are: Where are they in my sales pipeline? Am I nurturing them through the sales funnel? How am I building next steps into my call? This will help remind both the prospect and yourself of why this conversation was initially started.

But what is the point you are trying to make? The point is to get your message across, effectively. By asking yourself the questions mentioned earlier, you can identify material, tactics, and strategies for them depending on where they are throughout the sales funnel. Your sales funnel will help identify next step solutions for a prospect.  


4. Bring in the Backup


When the going gets tough, it’s time to call in backup. You may want to bring your Sales Manager in or a coworker who would be willing to help you out in a jam, in order to make delicious jelly of the situation. Having a “3rd wheel” to fall back on absolutely makes sense for both parties. A coworker on a call could provide reassurance, and further explain some parts of the product you may not fully understand. From the prospect’s point of view, it shows them you are really interested in their business and encourages mutual engagement towards finding a solution that best fits.

Follow some of these tips and you’ll be sure to conquer your anxiety and get to sales superstar status in no time! How do you eliminate your sales call anxiety? Please leave a comment below!

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Topics: prospecting, sales tips, cold calling, closing sales, selling tips, phone, sales advice, sales meeting

How to Gain a Competitive Advantage through Prospect Management

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Jan 13, 2014 5:15:00 PM

Do you find yourself constantly searching for new ideas and strategies about how to gain a competitive edge or advantage over your competitors? You are not alone. But search no more, we’ve got a sales system that will help make you achieve sales success all year long.compete_arm_wrestle

Prospect Management is planning tool for salespeople and sales managers. This is a competitive sales management system that teaches essential sales strategies, tactics and habits to support your ideal sales pipeline.

Let’s break this down into 4 parts:

Competitive Advantage
Set Points
Sales Culture


Competitive Advantage

When I talk about prospect management, the majority of sales people and most sales managers stop me and say, “Steve, we already know that. We already know about managing our pipeline.” Now, sure they may know about it but what’s happening is they are actually confusing monitoring a pipeline with managing a prospect base. There is a difference.

For example:
A warning sign that you’re merely monitoring your pipeline rather than managing it is when a salesperson looks at their pipeline and the only take-away they get is “oh, wait a minute, now I remember I am supposed to call the XYZ company. I’m glad I spotted them in my pipeline.” If that’s the only take away they have, that’s a clear sign they are monitoring their pipeline.

Managing your prospect base is a completely different thing. Managing your prospect base is about organizing your work life in order to create the right prospect base needed for you to hit your goals. If you’re not managing your sales activity, your prospecting, your sales strategies and tactics, everything associated with selling that gives you that prospect base you need to hit those goals, you’re not really managing anything. What you’re supposed to do is look at your pipeline and immediately think “what is my ideal pipeline supposed to look like?” And then by comparing the ideal picture to my actual pipeline allows us to make changes to make my real pipeline come closer to the ideal. That's managing a pipeline.


Set Points

Now, if we really want to manage our sales pipeline efficiently, then we must manage four points. These are four specific set points that managers, as well as sellers, need to keep a close eye on. What are those points?

First Appointment
A first appointment to begin the sales process is set! This could be either the first meeting with a new or revived lead or it is the first meeting with an existing customer to discuss renewing or upselling. At this stage, we should know the percentage of scheduled First Appointments that result in qualified “prospects” as well as have enough scheduled first appointments to meet selling needs, specifically backfilling the 25% column, which is our next set point.

We have a mutually agreed upon scheduled next step! They are interested in hearing more of what we’ve got to say. At this stage, we’ve already had our first appointment and now we are working on information gathering and advancing the sale to the next stage. Remember, prospects will either advance or fallback, we must have enough prospects at this 25% stage to backfill both our 50% and 90% column.

We are about to get a decision soon! At this stage of the game, there is a 50% chance the decision will go our way. We can help our chances by confirming that we’ve gathered the correct information. There are four pieces of information that need to be confirmed, which are: Person (or People), Proposal, Budget, and Timetable. It’s important for us to have this information so that if the sale moves forward, we have a clear picture of who is involved, what deliverables are needed, and the timeline for implementation.

We’ve received a verbal agreement from the prospect! Now, we can expect the contract or purchase order to come in soon. And keep in mind, this stage should always have enough prospects to assure “deal flow” that’s needed to hit sales goals.

These four set points are guidelines to help us properly prepare and accurately diagnose/assess our current sales pipeline, which ultimately helps us respond accordingly and take the steps necessary to meet our ideal pipeline picture and goals. Remember, the goal of each salesperson is to become self-correcting.


Sales Culture

Successful sales cultures have two important qualities. They have a shared sense of mission and they have a shared language. Instituting the prospect management system will help you achieve these two qualities and establish the right sales culture you need to stay ahead of the competition. For example, each salesperson should share the same meaning when it comes to the inspection methodology and overall sales process. If we’ve all agreed upon a shared sales process and language then it will be easier to make sure we are on track to hit our goals. Think of the Prospect Management System as your sales GPS, always making sure you stay on course.


After implementing the Prospect Management System, one of the first things that will be obvious is a new found visibility into sales activity. How? Why? Because this system forces sellers to think about their own sales activity and the overall impact their activity has on the bottom line. It helps the seller think about and focus on things like: how they prepare for meetings, whether they are properly qualifying, if they are gaining the right information, as well as their approach to presenting, negotiating, and closing. And finally, for all the sales managers out there, this system isn’t just for sellers but it will help you coach your team more effectively because you will know exactly where they need help and how you can have the greatest impact. That’s prospect management.



Prospect Management System
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Topics: sales, prospecting, sales manager, prospecting for new business, sales activity, prospect management

How to Easily Negotiate a Deal

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Jul 17, 2013 11:07:00 AM


Negotiating a deal can be one of the more difficult tasks while being a sales person. It's all about negotiating at the right time and understanding everyones point of view.

We compiled some tips you should follow in order to have a successful negotiating process:


1. Why are we Negotiating?

Look at why you’re negotiating from both the sales person’s point-of-view and the customer’s point-of-view.  Think about it from the customer’s point-of-view. Why are they negotiating?  After all they could simply say, “Hmm I don’t like your deal as presented or I don’t even care what you’re presenting.  Here’s the deal we want.  It’s perfect for us, so take it or leave it.” Why is it that they’re willing to hang in there and negotiate with you when walking away would be a perfectly viable option?  Does this mean you have a better position of strength that you originally thought?  Do they need you more?  Does negotiating make it easier for them to buy it from you? 

By the time you’re negotiating, you have probably already delivered a proposal, which includes all of the fact-finding you would typically do in advance.  You figured out what they need, what to sell them, how to package it, how to describe it, what to charge them, when to deliver it and of course you have your own terms and conditions. 


2. The Concept of Ideal v.s. Walk-Away Points

Understand how your ideal and walk-away points fit into this. You understand your ideal customer.  Beyond a certain point, the customer will walk away.  What’s their ideal, and what’s their walk-away point?  You want to present something closer to their ideal because it will simplify the negotiating process, but at the same time, you don’t want go there if the only reason you’re negotiating at all is to make some money on this deal. 

In other words, maybe their ideal deal doesn’t work for you, from an economic point of view, or it takes up too much of your time and it ruins your business flow in some way. You need to not only anticipate what their ideal walk-away points are but what yours are and if you’re able to do that correctly, you’ll have a short, painless win-win style of negotiating.  Otherwise it will result in a situation where you will be leaving money on the table or where the client is unhappy.


3. The Notion of Comprehensive Offerings

Very often the best way to deliver a package which looks valuable and in fact is valuable is by putting together several different offerings in terms of  products and services.  Taking one price, one product and trying to sell it to you, would make your offer a commodity.  But if you were to get a couple of products and other services, (maybe three, four, or five services) and put them all together, you can offer a great deal.  

My personal favorite strategy is to incorporate something for free into that package.  If I could insert just one thing of value for free, it brings the average of all the other pieces down and creates more value and makes it more difficult to turn down or compare. If I were to give you a free mango, you can no longer just compare my apples to my competitors’ apples. 


4. Don't Negotiate Against Yourself

Don’t do it. How do customers get you to do this?  They say, “Please lower the price” and you proceed. You can lower it a bit more, but when will it stop? To save yourself the trouble, why not ask them for a reaction before you ever counter offer.  When they ask you to lower the price, say, “How about if I lower it by $1? Will that work? If not, then how off are you? Without that reaction, you won’t know by how much you need to lower it. 

Only lower a deal if you really want to acquire this deal or to get a feel for how far off you really are from the ideal amount. Are you so far away from the target amount that it’s not even worth negotiating or are you so close that you could easily negotiate this? Decide on the best course of action and don’t negotiate against yourself. That is a strategy that only leads to price discounting and erosion of margins.


So keep those four things in mind and you’ll negotiate more artfully.  Understand why you’re negotiating, understand your ideal and walk-away points, understand the notion and strategy of comprehensive offerings and finally as a firm reminder: Don’t negotiate against yourself.

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About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

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Topics: prospecting, prospect, customer's perspective, how to negotiate, dealing with a customer, negotiating, deals

5 Inspirational Business Books You Need to Read

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Jun 27, 2013 12:21:00 PM

What inspires you?

When it comes to getting inspired in our personal or business lives, it can be difficult to decide what the next step to take should be without some type of guidance. Most of us seem to be waiting for that inspiration to strike, but there are others that seem to create their own inspiration through constant learning and curiosity.

The books compiled here have a great mixture of stories that provide humor, insight, and encouragement that most people can relate to. You can absolutely apply the lessons in these books to your everyday life.


networking5. Networking to Win

by Steve Bookbinder & John K. Waters

Networking and promoting yourself or your company can be a daunting task. Look at the competition, its fierce out there!  Networking to Win talks about how social media networks are the fastest, most cost-efficient, and effective way for businesses to expand their business and promote their products.

Steve Bookbinder, social media business guru, and John K. Waters, veteran hi-tech report, show businesses how to balance networking and take advantage of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, along with dozens of other social media sites to access millions of potential clients and customer.

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how_to_be_your_own_coach4. How To Be Your Own Coach - Six Simple Questions for Achieving Your Goals

by Steve Bookbinder & Jeff Goldberg

A step-by-step, informative, fun, and intelligent "how-to" book, written in a visually arresting full-color comic book format, designed to help anyone achieve their goals. While many books and seminars help people to define their goals, this book poses and explains six simple questions designed to help the reader reach their own goals successfully. See some of our other resources about "How to be your own Coach" as well. 

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The-Power-of-Full-Engagement-Managing-Energy-Not-Time-is-the-Key-to-High-Performance-and-Personal-Renewal3.  The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz

The epic groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, explains a simple, yet great concept towards managing energy, not time, is the key to enduring high performance as well as to health, happiness, and balancing life. Some topics covered include increasing your energy levels through tapping four primary sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. This book is highly practical and engaging for all readers.

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 2. Leverage Your Laziness: How to do what you love, ALL THE TIME!

by Steve Bookbinder & Jeff Goldberg

Sixteen principles, dozens of motivational quotes from dozens of recognized leaders, and the opportunity for individual readers to get specific in applying these principles personally make up the format of this humorous, practical, and powerful guidebook.

Drawing on their personal insight, diversified experiences, and passion for life coaching in the writing and production of "Leverage Your Laziness!" In this collaboration both author’s Steve Bookbinder and Jeff Goldberg introduce an approach designed to use leverage and laziness as a strategy for attaining effective performance with the least work and maximum enjoyment!

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dont_sweat_the_small_stuff1. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

by Richard Carlson

Don’t. Sweating the small stuff can get you sick physically, mentally, and emotionally. Awarded “#1 Best-Selling book of the Year” by USA Today this best seller speaks for itself. This series is not only extremely inspirational, but evokes ideas for living a calmer, richer life.

This marvelous book is packed with ideas that will uplift the spirit, open your mind and heart and free you in a delightfully easy manner as it guides you into a clearer focus of your life. Author Richard Carlson, takes our lives and breaks our activities into bit-size pieces to savor and study easily without choking on our whole life all at once.

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We hope you have enjoyed our list of the top five inspirational business books you must read. Don’t forget to share with your friends, and comment below about your opinions of each book and feel free to add to our list!

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Topics: prospecting, networking, managing, business, stress management, sales strategy, coaching, book