A sales plan or sales strategy can be the difference between an organization merely surviving and a company exceeding all sales objectives. With so many ups and downs this year, as well as company pivots and new long-term strategies, sales planning is more important than ever. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a born leader to devise a master marketing plan or hit your sales objectives.
If you're a sales leader of a 21st-century business, you will not be successful unless your sellers understand how to use sales tools and engagement strategies and their impact on relationship selling. Though this is still extremely important, my guest on this podcast episode says, "you can't have relationship-building be your seller's home run swing."
A successful face-to-face seller doesn’t always translate to a virtual selling superstar. In fact, virtual selling requires a particular set of skills that will keep your customer engaged and eager to continue to connect with you. My guest in this week’s episode of The Modern Selling Podcast, Andy Springer is the Chief Client Officer of RAIN Group and co-author of the Amazon Best Seller, Virtual Selling: How to Build Relationships, Differentiate and Win Sales Remotely.
One of the most important qualities a sales rep must possess is knowing how to prospect. Many argue that due to the number of tools available to sales professionals, prospecting is as easy as ever. But sadly, many still continue to call their prospect list and ask questions that could have easily been avoided had you performed proper sales prospecting. In this article, I will go through expert tips on how every salesperson should approach their ideal prospect and how by using personalization and storytelling, your sellers will be able to create sales engagement. The Importance of Knowing How to Prospect If this COVID addled 2020 has taught us anything, it's that experts' predictions of the world going completely virtual, happened way before any of us expected. Countless organizations have had to adopt virtual selling and improve their sales prospecting skills to reap the benefits of all of the readily available information. Old school sellers prior to the internet didn't have the luxury of locating anything from company size down to a trigger event and even competitors. On the contrary, a sales person from the pre-web era had to rely on good old' fashioned phone books to get most of their information. It surely is a wonderful time to be in sales. With prospecting and other sales tools being introduced left and right, sales leaders have a plethora of options to ramp up their sales team. But can these tools be overwhelming? Of course. Sales Automation Tools When it Comes to Prospecting In this episode of Modern Selling Podcast, I speak to Ed Calnan. Ed is the co-founder and CRO of Seismic, where he leads the company’s go-to-market efforts. Ed brings more than 20 years of sales leadership experience from ADP, Thomson Financial, S&P, and EMC to Seismic. In 2016, he was named a Top Boston Startup Founders Over 40 by Tech.co. This episode highlights the tools that are part of every sales team’s arsenal as well as how incorrect usage can do more harm than good. That’s right, we receive countless emails and phone calls where it appears that proper prospecting wasn’t done. This in turn, instead of being beneficial, it leaves the sales team looking lazy by not using all of the readily available information. Lazy Reps Yield Poor Sales Engagement Results It’s an interesting time to be in sales. Those who have been in the game for 15+ years are excited to see that new age reps have access to so much information prior to any call. Before picking up the phone, previous research is pivotal to create a real conversation with your leads. If your sellers call a lead asking what problems they’re facing, they’re likely going to waste both parties’ time. Instead, if they leverage the information found on social platforms, even if it’s just flattery, they’ll spark the interest of prospects. They should use what I like to refer to as, “show me that you know me.” This is at the very minimum what prospects expect out of any call they take. A correct prospecting plan is all about using the tools at your disposal but not relying on them entirely. Ed says that “automated tools get reps headed in the right direction but there is a point where the system ends and people need to take over.” In layman’s terms, tools like Xant are fantastic sales engagement platforms but it’s up to sales leaders to ensure their team is humanizing them. The Concept of Personalization In the B2C world, some of the world’s biggest brands are already where they need to be. Brands like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon grab what they know about you and people like you (thanks to similar interactions within their platforms), and provide their users with recommendations. For example, Netflix knows what shows you watch and grab similar titles that other people have watched, and provide you with a list of suggestions. The same goes for Spotify with their weekly playlist for every year. And Amazon knows that you have an infant at home and tells you when you need diapers and or formula. Sales automation will eventually get to that level of intuition but we’re not there yet, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done manually. Here’s a great example of a conversation Ed proposes. “I understand you, I think I know what your organization is going through and I’ve helped organizations and people very similar to you. Here’s what I’ve done and here’s how their problems were resolved.” It’s not quite as intuitive as Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon but it does create real conversations that will let your prospects know you understand them. It will also ensure you’re talking to the right people because let’s face it, you don’t want to be speaking to a leader whose problem you can’t solve. What Does it Take to Book a Sales Meeting with a Top CIO? I wanted to share an interesting anecdote about a business relationship I had once upon a time with Mckesson Corp., one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and medical supplies companies and current fortune 6 company. My relationship was with the then CIO, Randy Sprad. I decided to open up a can of worms and ask why out of all of the calls he received on a daily basis, being prospected by just about everyone, did he decide to take my call? What did it take to have him become a potential customer? Randy succinctly answered, “everyone seems to be in a hurry to explain product specs and how they can save me money. Sure, these are things that are important, but those who go out of their way to explain to me what my competitors are doing and what they can do to give me the competitive advantage, that’s what I’m looking for.” But how is this done? Through the art of storytelling. Storytelling: The Key to Personalization Storytelling is fundamentally important, it’s a skill that can be honed but can’t be left out of any sales process. A sales raconteur is someone who is skilled at telling stories and it is these individuals who can spark up immediate interest. Tenured reps have a barrage of stories in their repertoire and some don’t even know it. From past experiences, stories and memories will inform your ideal customer of the experience you have in similar situations. Buyer personas might not all be created equally, but letting qualified prospects in on what has happened in their peer group will create genuine interest. The best reps will work with their marketing teams to leverage these stories to create compelling content. It isn’t just about sharing these stories with their prospects. It’s about creating content that will be used as resources on your company’s website to send new prospects to. It will also help your training team to teach incoming reps about what information attracts new buyers. Here’s some great sales prospecting advice: decision-makers want to feel like they’re part of a movement. If you can show these companies (through stories and real-life examples) that you know what they’re going through, they’ll listen. Show a decision maker that other companies in their peer groups are going through a similar predicament and they’ll surely want to be part of your solution. Using video and social media to improve your prospecting strategy The modern buyer is as knowledgeable as they ever have been. With so much information available to them as well, a personalized email or text might not even be enough. Adopting omnichannel is fundamental to getting ahead with today’s buyer. Social media, text messages, cold outreach, calls, they need to all be interwoven with your business strategy. The best sales reps are masters at the social game. They have also mastered the art of video prospecting. Failing to recognize the importance of these as part of your current strategy will have you looking ancient. Sales leaders need to learn what’s available and coach their teams to use every arrow in their quiver. If you don’t and continue to think the sales world hasn’t evolved, you and your business will become obsolete. Become socially engaged, adopt omnichannel and video-centric and you’ll pave the way for your team’s success. Both your potential client and existing customers will appreciate the extra effort. How to train your team on sales engagement tools With new sales engagement tools being released periodically, the sales world is looking bright for those high-performing sales professionals. Organizations are forced to digitally engage, which makes training for this virtual world a lot different than it was 10 years ago. I predicted 3 years ago that in 2022, the world would go completely virtual. Unfortunately for many, the COVID era has expedited this process and many are struggling to keep the lights on. Every sales leader has a list of their favorite tools, but these tools aren’t as important if your team isn’t using them correctly. Along with training them on how to best use these tools, as a leader you need to hone your team’s digital sales training skills. Social skills aren’t inherent to all millennials and before approaching any prospect they’ll likely have the following questions. How do I engage well on social media? What do I say? What’s the right way to say it? Who am I looking for? If you’re going to be using cold calling, or cold emails it’s important to look for as much information about your sales prospect as possible. Make it a habit to find out 3 important things about each prospect before you call. When using video, don’t overdo it. You have 7-15 seconds to capture the attention of your prospects, make it count. Lastly, we’ve seen countless individuals reach out to us on LinkedIn and even via emails with abysmal spelling skills. Ask your organization to invest in Grammarly, it might not close deals but it can break deals if your spelling isn’t on point. Wrapping up There’s an interesting idea Ed shared with me on this episode that I think is a great practice to consider. Once a week, Ed likes to take a B2B sales call and listen to a rep's sales pitch. Not only is it good sales karma for the universe but he also stresses the importance of rewarding creative young people. Of course, this is all predicated on correct prospecting but those who have done their homework and know where they want the call to go, deserve to be heard. Content, storytelling, and personalization require a three-headed team. This team is marketing, sales leaders/reps, and sales enablement. Without these three teams in sync, it’s impossible to be effective in today’s sales world. Think of these teams as an NFL roster. If offense, defense, and special teams aren’t working together, they can have the best players, but they’ll lose every game. Outline of this Episode [1:04] About Ed: From Student of the Game to Founder and CRO. [9:12] What is Prospecting? What do we consider prospecting to be? [18:33] Why aren’t more sales leaders helping reps focus on bringing content that serves me up as a buyer. [22:32] Learning to leverage sales content for storytelling [23:53] Your prospects will react better to stories if they feel they’re part of a movement. [32:02] What role does video play within social media for sales reps? [42:06] Early predictions of a completely virtual world. Resources Mentioned in this Episode Connect with Ed on LinkedIn Follow Ed and Seismic on Twitter: Ed & Seismic Seismic’s Website Ed’s favorite movie: Empire Strikes Back Connect with Mario! www.vengreso.com On Facebook On Twitter On YouTube On LinkedIn Subscribe to Modern Selling on the App of Your Choice!
Any modern sales strategy must include offline engagement with sales gifts. In the COVID era, prospects, customers and even employees are craving something that will break the pattern of their daily activities — and nothing beats a physical gift delivered to their home to do just that. This is the topic of this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast with my guest Erik Kostelnik, the co-founder and CEO of Postal.,io, a sales and marketing engagement platform that generates leads, increases sales, and improves customer retention. Prior to Postal.io, Erik founded TextRecruit, one of the fastest-growing HR technology companies in the world, leading it to acquisition in 2018 by iCIMS, Inc. He also served as the Head of Sales at Wrike from 2014 to 2016 helping it reach #116 in 2015 Deloitte Fastest 500. Erik was named an Upstart 50 Top Inventor by the Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2017. Listen to this episode to learn more about using sales gifts in your account-based marketing strategy. The Ever-Evolving Selling Environment In this new virtual world, sellers need to think differently about how they approach their business and, more importantly, sales leaders who grew up selling in a very different way in a completely different environment. Years ago it was all about the phone and cold calling. Sellers came up with different strategies on how to use the phone, how to make people engage during a cold call. “How to cold call was a big thing in the late 2000s,” Erik says. “And books were written on how to cold call but then you realize everybody got that book. Everybody got that memo of how to cold call, so then the impact of cold calling got suppressed and ultimately we had to change the way we do things.” Then in the 2010s, came along platforms for sales cadences that allowed a salesperson to schedule emails and call sequences. But as it happened with the cold calling playbook, now everybody knows about that. According to Erik, the new trend today centers around social selling, video for sales, and sales gifts sent through direct mail. “You're starting to see this differentiation happening,” Erik says. “And by the way, 10 years from now everyone's going to have this Playbook. So don't think that this is going to be where it stops. You always gotta be learning. You always got to be figuring out, what are competitors not doing? What can I do more effectively and how can I scale that?” Sales leaders need a scalable system where they can dedicate technical and human resources to increase pipeline and revenue. Such a system is Account-Based Marketing (ABM) or Account-Based Selling (ABS). According to HubSpot, account-based selling is a multi-touch, multi-channel strategy coordinated across the entire company to pursue a target number of high-value accounts. An ABS strategy is a hyper-personalized approach to go after strategic accounts. Erik says you must ask yourself several questions, such as: How do you attack these strategic accounts? How much do you want to spend on each target account per lead? What do you need to do for that opportunity (what is the cost per opportunity)? What channels will you use in your omnichannel approach? Using Sales Gifts in your Account-Based Marketing Strategy A successful account-based strategy will seek sales engagement through a variety of channels, both online and offline. Erik’s company, Postal.io specializes in helping companies engage prospects and customers offline, with physical corporate gifts sent by mail and tracking them within the CRM’s workflows. These gifts may include a gift certificate or gift card, a gift basket or any kind of personalized gift, like a mug or a holiday season card with their names and interests. He says he is educating people on how to leverage and how to scale the offline in direct correlation to how they scale the digital. Unfortunately, not every company has even scaled the usage of their digital sequences (like email automation, for example). Today, however, it’s imperative that every sales leader understands what sequences his or her team must use, what works and what doesn’t. “You got to look at what it is in your opportunities,” Erik says. “So how many calls did it take to get an opportunity? How many emails did it take to get an opportunity? And then with Postal what we're able to do is, because everything is tracked inside any CRM that you use, you can then see how many offline pieces that I've had in this account for in this opportunity. How much did I spend on this gift? If that cost for that lead or that opportunity to that meeting was $80, you got to make sure that that's in the account record. That is the key.” Sales leaders in mid-market and enterprise companies are very familiar with account-based selling or account-based marketing. Instead of focusing on lead volume, they define well their target buyer personas and industries and go after specific clients or accounts. According to Erik account-based marketing has everything to do with blueprinting, appointment dialing, sequencing, and running demos. You need a strategy or policy per account, knowing how much you are willing to spend on them, through advertising, social media, or direct mail. “Define the dollar amount that you want to spend per account,” Erik says, “and then develop your sequences for your sales reps on those blueprints that you’ve created within that account. And that really for me is scalable.” Offline Engagement with Sales Gifts Anytime a sales gift is sent, the salesperson must include a personalized message. That message must be aligned with the overall branding of the company and follow marketing guidelines and policies for product promotion. For example, there might be a policy against sending alcohol to a client and your sales reps must be aware of that. There must be a process within your company to approve sales gifts, budget, design and messaging. Listen to this episode as Erik explains why sales and marketing alignment is necessary for a successful account-based strategy. Erik states that Direct Mail today is more relevant than ever and should be part of the new normal of selling. “We got a lot of folks saying I'm just not sure about sending Direct Mail pieces or things to people at their homes,” he says. “Believe it or not, people are extremely receptive to receiving anything at home, anything that takes them away from the daily norms that they're facing: Zoom calls, phone calls, putting data into whatever system they have. People want a break. So, break up the day and give someone something that they can physically engage with.” Offline engagement is about engaging with people where they are, but your sales team must do it through the right message with the right branding, at the right timing and must be relevant in the sales process. “You create a different brand experience when you actually engage with someone offline,” Erik says. “The data that supports why you need to be using offline engagement and why you should be sending things to people's homes. I have not heard yet anybody tell me that they are not happy to see the UPS man.” Offline engagement is not only a great prospecting strategy but also a way to engage with employees. Listen to our conversation to find out how gifts are a valuable strategy to motivate and engage remote employees, prospects and existing customers. As a sales leader, you must have an omni-channel approach to touching every sales prospect. You already have email and phone, but you must also add social selling, video for sales and offline engagement with platforms like Postal.io. Outline of this Episode [2:00] About Erik: From Seller to Entrepreneur and CEO [10:00] What sellers need to be doing differently to reach today’s modern buyer [17:30] How to effectively engage your audience with online and offline efforts [21:54] Account-Based Selling or Account-Based Marketing? [29:30] Offline engagement with the perfect gift [31:10] Is direct mail still relevant? Resources Mentioned in this Episode Connect with Erik on LinkedIn Follow Erik and Postal.io on Twitter: @erikkostelnik and @postalinc Postal’s website Erik’s favorite movie: Braveheart Connect with Mario! www.vengreso.com On Facebook On Twitter On YouTube On LinkedIn Subscribe to Modern Selling on the App of Your Choice!
In 2020, video for sales became more than a trend. It’s now a vital tool for remote sellers, who need to prospect digitally and maintain relationships with customers. We all know about the amazing growth of video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom and Google Meet for synchronous virtual meetings. But there are other asynchronous sales video platforms that are changing the way remote selling teams interact with customers. But, as I like to say, a fool with a tool is still a fool. Even after you provide tools to your sellers, you still need to train them, so they can use them effectively. That is why for this episode of the Modern Selling podcast, I invited an expert on video for sales, Steve Pacinelli. Steve is the Chief Marketing Officer at BombBomb, a video messaging platform that makes it easy to record, send, and track videos. Steve is the co-author of the best-selling book to better business communication, Rehumanize Your Business: How Personal Videos Accelerate Sales and Improve Customer Experience. Prior to leading the charge of the "relationships through video" movement, he was a Sales Manager, Vice President of Events, and the National Speaker for Realtor.com. He has presented to more than 1,000 audiences throughout his career. Thematically these presentations focus on online marketing, video communication, lead conversion, consumer psychology, and sales automation. Listen to this episode to discover how to leverage sales video for your sellers. The Difference between Video Marketing and Video for Sales People often confuse video for sales (or “relationship videos,” as Steve calls them) with video marketing, but they’re not the same. Video marketing is usually professionally produced with green screens, drones, editing, and fancy tools. However, video for sales is recorded directly by salespeople at their desks, using a webcam or a phone. Video marketing involves one video intended for thousands of people, while video for sales is thousands of videos, one for each person. In other words, video for sales is intended to replace the simple text messages that lack the emotion and personality of the seller. “We removed the messenger from the message 25 years ago, when we decided to move most business communications into text,” Steve says. “So we removed the most important part of the message.” Since inboxes are filled with messages that are devoid of the messenger, it’s impossible to know which ones are actually written for you and which ones are just generic marketing messages. Relationship videos can convey that they are personal messages just for the receiver. Steve says that he sends out video messages by email all the time. His response rate is 80%, because he breaks through the noise and stands out from the rest, who just send text-based messages. That is the power of video for sales -- they are short and sweet. And they are about the prospect, not about the sales rep. Although sales leaders should be teaching their sales teams how to leverage video for prospecting, many are still relying on email or the phone to reach out to potential customers. Steve explains there is a disconnect between how sales leaders behave in the real world and how they do sales prospecting. For instance, when sales leaders hire salespeople, they don’t just do it through text messaging. They have face-to-face conversations with them, either in person or through video-conferencing in the COVID era. Why? Because they want to read their body language; they want to see their reactions and expressions. This also applies to prospects and customers. And although synchronous video conferencing would be ideal, people are not always available at the same time. That’s where asynchronous personalized video messages come in. There are different use-cases for sales video messages that your sellers can use to stand out from the crowd, either to fill their pipeline with video or for internal communications or training purposes. Why Sales Video is Better than Text Steve says that an asynchronous sales video message is better than text, because the seller can deliver a message with a precise intention; it will be understood without the risk of misinterpretation. A text message, on the other hand, has no emotion and the reader can inject whatever emotion they want to the text. Video allows sellers to have control of the emotions of their sales pitch. They can deliver their message with the undertone that they want. “When you are selling something,” Steve explains, “you want people to stay on the emotional side of the brain. You don’t want them evaluating every feature. When they read, they will switch to the rational side.” For example, if the reader is upset because of something that just happened at home or at the office, and they receive a written email, they will interpret whatever the seller wrote with that negative state of mind, even though that was not the intention. Another important advantage of video: the ability to earn trust. When a prospect sees the seller’s face - through both verbal and nonverbal cues – they are more likely to trust them. “People want to connect with other people,” Steve says. “And now more than ever, they want to see your face.” Steve shares how, when he worked with Remax LLC, selling Remax franchises, the results were incredible. They saw an increase from 58% to 72% of people showing up to appointments when they received a video before the meeting. Listen to Steve explain what goes into an effective video message (30:08). This includes showing excitement, explaining the work you have already done for the prospect or client, and teasing something they can look forward to during the meeting. What if your sellers don’t like to be on camera? Here are some of the tips Steve provides for sellers who do not feel comfortable in front of a camera: Don’t think about video for sales as a marketing video. Think of it as a normal means of communication (like a voicemail). Don’t memorize a script. Write your main points on a whiteboard, so you can look at it while you record. Think about something you are grateful for before recording the video. This will enable you to enter a positive state of mind and reduce anxiety. Frame of mind is very important. Remember, the way you look on camera is the same look you have when you meet in person. Just be yourself. “Video is not about you,” Steve says. “It’s about how you make the person on the other side feel.” Listen to the episode for more tips on how to make sales videos more effective. Identifying Opportunities when Sales Video is Most Effective Steve describes three use cases for sales video. You can use video any place along the process where the seller needs to build trust or rapport, whenever emotion is involved, or in a complex situation. For example, during a cold outreach where the seller needs to build trust, video is a great way to start. Just make sure it is personalized, the right message is used, and it adds value. Also when delivering good or bad news, since both are emotionally charged, video is fantastic. A third example: If part of the team missed a complex meeting, recording and sending a three-minute video with the executive summary of the meeting would add a lot of value. This is especially effective if the information is conveyed with excitement. Here are some other tips from Steve: Text is the best delivery method only when there is no emotion involved, the relationship is already built, and you only need to provide information If both emotion and information are involved, video is a great option If there is emotion involved, as well as several dependencies on the response to that message, asynchronous video meeting is the best option Advanced Strategies for Video Engagement How can your sellers make people click on their videos and get more views? Steve says you should use the curiosity gap, both in the text that drives the video play (on LinkedIn or email) and the thumbnail (image or animated gif). If you say the same thing in the text as in the video, you will train people to skip the video the next time, since they can just read the shorter text. You don’t want that to happen. The message will be conveyed better on video. Instead, write something different that piques their curiosity. Ask a question or leave part of the story out, so they have to watch the video to find the answer. Listen to Steve explain how he uses a whiteboard in his animated previews to make people want to click: he does something unexpected, writes the person’s name, creates ambiguity, or adds details. Outline of this Episode [3:40] About Steve: From Real Estate to B2B Sales [11:05] Why he wrote a book about video for sales [14:15] Video marketing vs video for sales [20:00] Why are sales leaders not teaching sellers to leverage video for sales [23:50] Why video is better than text [30:08] A successful use case of sales video messaging [33:33] How to make it easy to be on camera [42:55] Identifying the right opportunities to use video [47:20] Strategies to get engagement Resources Mentioned in this Episode Connect with Steve on LinkedIn Follow Steve and BombBomb on Twitter: @stevepacinelli and @BombBomb BombBomb’s website Steve’s book Steve’s favorite movie: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Many of today’s sales leaders developed their careers before the digital era and therefore lead their teams with traditional methods that are not relevant to the modern buyer. In this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast, my guest, Tony Morris, shares three prospecting tips that sales leaders can teach their salespeople to engage with today's tech-savvy buyer. Tony Morris is an International sales speaker, best-selling author of 5 books and MD of an International sales training company. Tony and his team have helped develop over 30,000 sales professionals across 62 industries to perform at the top of their game. On his podcast, Confessions of a Serial Seller, Tony has interviewed the top 100 sales performers from around the world, to learn what they do differently to give themselves an unfair advantage over their competitors. Listen to this episode to discover the importance of researching prospects, using technology, and building rapport. Here are Tony’s top three sales prospecting tips. 1. Research Each Sales Prospect Before Reaching Out According to Tony, the number one challenge for today’s sellers is that they are not well trained and fall into the trap of believing sales is a numbers game. They dial as many numbers as they can hoping to find gold someday. Instead, sales leaders should teach their sales reps the right sales prospecting process, which includes conducting research before the outreach. "That way, it turns into a quality game and not a numbers game," Tony says. "Conversions and sales will increase." If your sellers take a step back and make fewer calls to the right people with the right message at the right time, they’ll be more likely to get the right outcome. It takes seconds to look up people on LinkedIn. Find something in common and get a hook. When a sales rep does his homework and knows who the customer is and the company they represent, they can know the pain or the goals they might have. Your solution should help solve that pain or reach that business goal, so the rep must be prepared to tell a success story during the call of who you have helped. “Your message should not be what you do,” Tony says, “but what you've done successfully with people like them, how you solve a problem they might have or how you helped a similar company with a goal they might be striving for.” Research may show they are in the market for your product or service, or that they have a challenge you can solve. Or perhaps you know their industry so well that the sales rep can speak to their goals. Tony says sellers should always do their homework about the decision-makers before interrupting them, so they can have a sensible conversation. At Vengreso, we call this the 3 by 3, three things in three minutes. Sellers just need to look at the prospect’s LinkedIn Profile and see their activity to find out three things about them: interests, places they’ve worked at, or mutual connections. Even if they have nothing on social media, sellers can look at information about the company and mention their findings during the prospecting call. Another quick sales prospecting tip from Tony: Set up Google Alerts with your prospect’s company names to be in the know of what happens with them in the news. That way you'll have something to talk about that is recent and relevant, like a merger or acquisition, or changes in leadership. Unfortunately, most BDRs today are measured by how many calls they made and not the actual result, which is how many sales conversations they had. The real problem is that they have not been trained to figure out who their buyer is. They may have many sales tools available but lack the sales training to use those tools efficiently. 2. Focus on One Industry per Day Many leaders think doing research is not scalable and prefer to have their reps do a hundred prospecting calls so they can make three appointments. Tony says that it is in fact scalable, even though it takes time and effort. Here’s what he recommends: Focus on the same industry for a day, so the pitch or message is the same for the same people in the same type of companies. Ask your sellers to find the decision-makers at those companies using LinkedIn and get their contact info with data intelligence tools. That way they'll only need to make 30 calls and not 100, because they'll be targeting the decision-makers and not just calling random people at the companies. Knowing the industry well allows your team to craft an appropriate message that will result in sales conversations and appointments. As a result, the call activity will go down but the output will be better. Tony also suggests that every sales leader should create the A to Z of Success and provide it to each member of the sales team. Every letter of the alphabet should be an industry your company has helped. Here’s an example from Tony’s company: Column A (Industry): Banking Column B (Clients): Merryl Lynch Column C (Service Offered): Training Programs Column D (Success): Increased conversion rates Every time a seller contacts a prospect in the banking industry, he or she has a relevant success story to share. Still, they need to do their prep about the person they will be talking to. That previous research also serves to warm up the call, by interacting with the prospect’s LinkedIn posts (liking and commenting), so they are aware of the seller even before the call. 3. Use Video to Prospect in Seconds Tony’s team sends personalized videos to everyone they reach out to. These are 30-second videos with an elevator pitch, sent by email (they use BombBomb) and finish up with “I’ll be in touch in a couple of days to see where we might be aligned and where we can best serve you.” They would send 30 of those videos and then do the 30 follow-up calls two days later. If it’s a big opportunity or prospect, Tony says, he would send a video business card with the company’s information before the phone call, with a personalized letter. “I like to warm up the prospect because I think that’s the best way to prospect in today’s world,” Tony says. “Cold calling is dead, smart calling is much alive.” Tony also uses what he calls the GAP during his sales prospecting calls. G stands for Goal. What is the goal of the call? A stands for Approach. For example, talk about a success story. P stands for Prep Work. Have I done the research? How to Build Rapport with a Prospect Whether cold calling, sending prospecting emails or engaging on social media, every sales professional must build rapport with the potential customer. Here are Tony’s three golden rules for building rapport: 1. Don’t be interesting, be interested Turn the Always Be Closing into Always Be Curious and make prospects feel that they could be your biggest customer ever. 2. Treat people how they would like to be treated. We are all different, so speak their language, not yours. If you see the world through their eyes, they’ll be more likely to buy from you. 3. People buy from people like them The job of a professional salesperson is to mirror their prospects, to be a chameleon, and adapt very quickly to the person they are talking to. The objective is to identify their behavior quickly, how do they respond and react to you, and what questions they ask. Listen to this episode to learn more about prospecting from Tony Morris. As a gift to our listeners, Tony will send you a free e-copy of his book, Coffee’s for Closers if you email him at email@example.com. Outline of this Episode [3:00] About Tony Morris: From Selling Encyclopedias and Software to Sales Trainer [15:45] The number one challenge sellers face [21:30] Scaling quality calls [28:30] How to prospect in seconds [35:00] How to build rapport with a prospect Resources Mentioned in this Episode Follow Tony on LinkedIn Follow Tony on Twitter: @Tony_Talks_Int Tony’s website Tony’s book Coffee’s for Closers Favorite movies: Goonies and Glengarry Glen Ross Connect with Mario! www.vengreso.com On Facebook On Twitter On YouTube On LinkedIn Subscribe to Modern Selling on the App of Your Choice!
I started my sales career cold calling, but in my mind, doing cold calls is not modern selling. It's just basic selling. However, I've decided to bring in some experts to share some cold calling tips with the listeners of the Modern Selling Podcast. Subscribe to Modern Selling on the App of Your Choice! Recently, I had Joe Pici talk about how to write a successful cold calling script, and in this episode, my guest is none other than David Walter. David's claim to fame is setting 15 appointments every day for six months while working at a call center. He ran his own call center for 13 years and has now written a # 1 Best Selling book, The Million Dollar Rebuttal: Cold Calling is Not a Numbers Game! Listen to this episode to learn how your sales team can start making more successful cold calls. 3 Cold Calling Tips to Make 15 Appointments a Day David told me about a time when he had a lot of financial pressure. He got a sales job cold calling B2B companies and he needed to make 10 or more appointments to earn commissions. The problem was that not one sales rep in the company was making more than two appointments per day. He realized he needed to make 15 appointments to earn the kind of money he needed. So, inspired by Zig Ziglar’s book See you at the Top, David began telling his reflection in the mirror every day, “I’m going to set 15 appointments.” Eventually, that started to happen and he set over 1,800 appointments in six months. Here are David’s top cold calling tips. 1. Cold Call with a Winning Mindset According to David, it all starts with your mindset. “When I set that goal, my subconscious mind started figuring out all the steps I would have to go through,” David says. “Anything's possible. That was my attitude. I started with the end in mind, and the idea that if I start with a ‘yes’ at the end, what would I have to say to get every person back to that ‘yes’?” 2. Eliminate objections with the right questions One of the obstacles David encountered was that although he was getting through the gatekeepers and talking to the right people, most calls would end up with the same answer: “send me more information.” But as every sales professional knows, “send me more information” is just a way for buyers to brush you off. David got frustrated by that response and realized he needed a rebuttal to that objection. Instead of arguing with them, he would aggressively agree. The million dollar rebuttal starts with agreeing with the prospect. Contrary to what most sales reps are taught to do, David would answer excitedly, “I would love to send you some information.” Such a response would throw people off. He would then ask, “What kind of information do you want? Customer testimonials, a brochure? Do you want the price?” “It's like throwing that red meat bait, they go for it.” David says. “What prospect wouldn’t want to hear the price before they ever have to deal with the salesman?” The psychological principle here is to get them to agree with what the sellers are saying, to get a “yes.” But then David would try to talk them out of it and say, “I don’t really think you want the price. Do you really want it?” This cold calling tip helped David disarm prospects who didn’t want to talk to him, and actually start a conversation about their needs. Listen to the episode to discover the questions David asks during his cold calls. 3. Create a need for your potential client Conventional sales wisdom says you need to find a prospect with a real problem or need to be able to sell your solution to them. But the first thing most prospects say after hearing a sales pitch from a salesperson is, “I’m happy with what I have at the moment.” According to David, if your sellers are going to make 15 appointments a day, they can’t wait to find the people that actually think they have a need or who are not happy with their current vendor. “I realized that most businesses don't know they have a need,” David says. “They can't smell their needs because they get used to them. The issues with the slow computer, you know, all the different things that happen. That becomes their normal. Cold calling is easy. But it's hard if you're trying to find a need.” Again, the secret here is to agree with people, agree with their perspective. “If I were in your shoes, I would agree with you.” A subset of people who say they are happy with what they have are actually open-minded. That’s who your sellers should identify and say, “ I'm sure you are happy but there might be something better out there, things might change in the future, right?” People will end up agreeing with the sales rep and would like to hear more about the product or service. In other words, the salesperson’s job is to become an effective listener and acknowledge someone when they say, “I don't. I won't. I can't. It's not the right time,” and then turn that into a sales conversation. Make sure to listen to this episode as David tells some real-life cold calling stories where he used these tips to set more appointments and close deals. Outline of this Episode [3:15] About David: From Selling Encyclopedias to Best-Selling Author [7:20] 3 Cold calling tips to set 15 appointments a day Resources Mentioned Follow David on LinkedIn David’s website David’s book: The Million Dollar Rebuttal: Cold Calling is Not a Numbers Game! David’s Favorite Movie: Back to the Future Connect with Mario! www.vengreso.com On Facebook On Twitter On YouTube On LinkedIn Subscribe to Modern Selling on the App of Your Choice!
If you want to start a business or just take your existing sales tech company to the next level, you may be wondering, should I seek venture capital funding or just do it on my own? In this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast, I talk with venture capitalist and sales and marketing expert, Mark Roberge about how entrepreneurs can get money for their businesses, with a specific focus on tech companies. Subscribe to Modern Selling on the App of Your Choice! Mark Roberge is Managing Director at Stage 2 Capital, the first venture capital firm run and backed by heads of sales and marketing. He is also a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School where he teaches courses on sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Prior to these roles, Mark served as SVP of Global Sales and Services at HubSpot where he scaled annualized revenue from $0 to $100 million and expanded his team from 1 to 450 employees. Mark was ranked #19 in Forbes' Top 30 Social Sellers in the World. He was also awarded the 2010 Salesperson of the Year at the MIT Sales Conference. Mark received his MBA from MIT. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Inc. Magazine, Boston Globe, TechCrunch, Harvard Business Review, and other major publications for his entrepreneurial ventures. Mark is the author of the bestselling book The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million. Join our conversation to learn how tech leaders can get capital funding for their companies. How Leaders Can Get Venture Capital for a Business There are many ways to finance a sales tech company or any business for that matter. You can seek venture capital, go to a private equity fund, raise funds for yourself, or just bootstrap your business. Mark has some great tips for entrepreneurs and sales and marketing technology leaders wanting to know more about funding. 1. Understand the lens of the investor A big mistake entrepreneurs make at the startup stage is the lack of appreciation for the lens of the investor. “Just because they are an investor doesn’t mean they can invest in you,” Mark says. “Just because they have money, doesn’t mean they want to give it away.” For example, many investors will not invest in a pre-revenue state, but only after a company has reached a million dollars in revenue (that is the case for Mark’s firm, Stage 2 Capital). In fact, investors will do a discovery process of the companies that seek funding, and many times find problems that end up disqualifying them. So, understand well what the venture capitalists are looking for before asking for money. 2. Understand all the sources of financing available and what is best for you Mark says that people in the tech industry tend to think that the only way to do a startup is to raise seed capital and then go through funding series A, B, and C, and then double revenue every year until the IPO. But that’s a minor part of how entrepreneurship is done in America. There are other ways to do business, like franchising or private equity. Entrepreneurs must understand what is best for them - and it’s not always venture capital. For example, a niche sales software may not be attractive to venture capitalists, but may still be a good business idea. In this case, the sales tech company may have to be bootstrapped to profitability and then sold to a private equity firm or strategic buyer once they cross $10 or $20 million. “In this scenario, you could make as much money as with an IPO,” Mark says. 3. Match your strategy and your opportunity with funding Mark advises entrepreneurs not to talk to venture capitalists too early in the ideation stage. “They are not interested unless you are a serial entrepreneur like Elon Musk.” Your best bet is to network with wealthy people who make money in your space to see if they are willing to invest in your company. And even if you don’t get money, at least you can get their advice. Mark says the journey for a typical high-growth software product is something like this: They have an idea, then network with people who made money in that area and raise half a million dollars to build the product and run some tests (perhaps even generate revenue). Once the product has been tested, they talk to professional seed funds that invest in a lot of companies at the same time. Here they can get $1 million or more. The next step is Series A Funding, which has a higher bar, because the company must have $2 or $3 million in revenue. This is where many businesses fail because there is a capital gap. Stage 2 Capital accelerates companies at this stage. What are investors looking for at each stage? For seed funding, investors look more at the leader than the product itself. They want to see a leader who has the ability to pivot and change, work 80 hours a week under a very stressful environment, that can run agile, has vision for the big opportunity, and can lead an engineering team. Series A investors look at the leader but also at the customers, the economics, the revenue, the product, the competition, any barriers of entry, and also at customer retention. “Here you need to think about a big enough TAM (Total Addressable Market),” Mark says. “Show VCs a billion-dollar market, or they may not be interested. Even if you are not there today, tell a good story to show that you will be able to expand, get more revenue and how the product could be applicable to other markets. A big mistake for new entrepreneurs is they don’t get that, they don’t think big enough in terms of the size of the market.” Another important factor VCs look for is the durable ability for a business to increasingly dominate a market without losing profits to competition. This is known as MOAT. In other words, if your competition can build your unique features in 6 months, then you don't have a MOAT. Listen to the episode as Mark shares some examples of great MOATS that sales and marketing technology leaders can leverage in their organizations. Mark says that at Stage 2 Capital, they do between 30 and 50 hours of due diligence before an investment, spending time with the CEO and the team. He gives them advice and sees if they adopt it and how fast. He also looks at how they lead and how they pitch their story. The Pitch Deck What should you include in your pitch deck when presenting in front of an investor? “You have to be very careful with the first slide to differentiate from the other 100 pitches VCs get,” Mark says. “Tell a story that will get the VC on the edge of his seat, like a patent, special partnerships, the number of downloads you’ve had so far. Don’t spend time talking about your Ivy League school background. Talk about the most important success so far.” Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of making the presentation just about the product and its features. According to Mark, the product itself and the user interface are not as interesting as the churn rate, how often the product is adopted or even the capabilities of the engineering team. Another mistake is to make wild long term revenue projections. “Most VCs don’t care about the five year financials. They want to know if you have hired a sales rep before, if you have ramped a sales team, if you have a content marketing program for the next year, if you have evidence that your business will scale.” The following are some slides you can include in your pitch deck: Problem and opportunity (where do you fit and what is the problem that you solve) Value proposition (how does the product fill that need) Your secret sauce (your biggest success so far) Market opportunity Customer base and churn rate Competition What is your sustainable defensibility Business Model (insights on your CAC or Customer Acquisition Cost) Marketing strategy and channels Sales strategy Leadership (if you have some superstar in your team) Financials (what you are doing in the next year, how many reps are you hiring) The Ask Regarding the ask, Mark advises to never ask too little. “Research your VCs, as they may only invest $10 million minimum. So, tell a good story of how you are going to use that amount.” How Sales and Marketing Leaders can Become Investors Stage 2 Capital’s mission is to be the first VC fund run by sales and marketing leaders. “We need investors with a background in sales to help entrepreneurs because most come from finance and product.” Two years ago Stage 2 got 97 sales and marketing leaders to join them as investors to help young entrepreneurs. “So far it’s going well, we are raising money from different investors and are now trying to groom the next round of emerging leaders.” If you are a sales or marketing leader interested in becoming an angel investor, you can request more information by submitting the form here. Stage 2 does not only match investors with entrepreneurs but also runs an Investment School to teach investors all they need to know about venture capital. Listen to the episode to learn more about starting your own investment fund. Outline of this Episode [2:50] About Mark: From Sales Leader to Venture Capitalist [7:00] Going big [10:00] Mental Health and entrepreneurs [17:00] The different types of funding when starting a business [27:00] What Venture capitalists look for [33:45] What are investors looking for in a leader? [35:32] What to include in the pitch deck [46:48] How sales leaders can become investors Resources Mentioned Connect with Mark on LinkedIn Follow Mark and Stage 2 on Twitter: @markroberge @Stage2Capital Stage 2 website Mark’s book: The Sales Acceleration Formula Mark’s favorite movie: Forrest Gump Modern Marketing Engine Podcast – Bernie Borges Connect with Mario! www.vengreso.com On Facebook On Twitter On YouTube On LinkedIn Subscribe to Modern Selling on the App of Your Choice!
How Sales Leaders can Attract and Work with Millennials in a Remote Selling Environment, With Rakhi Voria
It is estimated that today millennials (those born between about 1980 and 2000) comprise half of the American workforce, and by 2025, will be 75% of the global workforce. For sales leaders, that means working with sales reps who have particular interests and values, sometimes different to the leader’s own generation. My guest in this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast is Rakhi Voria, Director, IBM Global Digital Sales Development. Rakhi has a strong passion for advancing women in sales and millennials in business and regularly shares her thoughts on these topics by speaking at conferences and writing publications in Forbes as a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. At IBM, Rakhi Voria manages the team responsible for the strategy, implementation, and revenue of the Digital Sales Development (DSD) function globally. Within the DSD sales force, there are ~350 Digital Development Representatives and Business Development Representatives responsible for driving client engagement, deal progression, and closure of select deals. Rakhi previously worked at Microsoft and most recently served as the Chief of Staff to the Corporate Vice President of WW Inside Sales, where she played a key role in building a new digital sales force for Microsoft, growing the team to 2,000 digital sellers globally and the business to over $5B in under 3 years. She currently serves as Executive Co-Chair of Women@IBM NYC, which is focused on attracting, retaining, and advancing women. Join our conversation as Rakhi shares some advice for sales leaders and executives who want to attract and work with millennials, especially in the current remote selling environment. How to Attract Millennials to your Sales Organization Many companies are trying to attract millennial talent based on some preconceived notions such as they like environments with free snacks and nap pods. But many studies show that is very low in their list of priorities. According to Rakhi, the top three things millennials value most in the workplace are: 1. Diversity in the workplace Millennials care a lot about people, even more than the work itself. An IBM report showed that what they look for in a job is the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people, from backgrounds, age, perspectives, industry hires, interns. 2. Variety and experiences in their careers Millennials are called “the job-hopping generation” for a reason. They want to differentiate their experiences and take on horizontal challenges, while still growing vertically. For example, they like to work in marketing, sales, finance and not necessarily follow a linear career path. For millennials, new experiences are very important, as is the ability to travel. Companies that can provide those experiences will attract many millennials. How can sales leaders invest in rotational programs or opportunities to give millennials the chance to build different skill sets across different functions? Variety in experience doesn’t mean you have to give employees a different job, just added responsibilities according to their skills or interests. For example, at Vengreso, our Sales Coordinator is also an accomplished YouTuber, who uses his video production skills to create sales enablement content and training videos for the sales team. 3. Flexibility The Deloitte Millennial Survey shows that 75% of millennials actually want the ability to work from home or somewhere other than their office. In fact, they care more about workplace flexibility than getting promoted. Millennials feel they are more productive when they work from home and a place that is more comfortable than an office cubicle. However, flexibility goes beyond the where you work and includes the how and the when. For instance, the ability to take a couple of hours off during the afternoon and not having to be tied to a desk is very important. In our experience at Vengreso, sales leaders can successfully manage a remote selling team if they create the right culture and leverage the available tools. A study by ManPower Group on Millennial Careers discovered that flexibility is in the top five priorities of millennials when looking for a job. Here are the top five: Career Advice for Millennials Rakhi offers two tips for millennials who are trying to navigate the career journey. 1. Be open to possibilities The first tip is to expand their vision and not narrowly focus on one career path. “I see so many people who are thinking this is the next job that I want and they choose a specific job and they put all of their sights on it,” Rakhi says. “And it closes them off to so many other possibilities. When you're that early in your career, you probably don't know what you really want to do.” Instead, it is better to set goals not on a particular job but on the skills they want to have. As a sales leader with millennials in your team, you can coach them to gain experience in sales while keeping an open mind about their future. 2. Leverage your unique skills Being young and sometimes inexperienced can be hard when starting a career in sales or in any industry. Selling to clients that are older and more experienced than them, can feel intimidating for millennial sales reps. Rakhi says that early in her career she had imposter syndrome. “I was sitting at tables with people who had far more experience than me, many of which were men. I was young, I was female, I was diverse. And I basically said, ‘I am a millennial so maybe I can push some of these people to think a little bit differently to invent new processes to innovate, to push the needle.’ I've been doing that here at IBM as well as a newbie.” Young sales professionals should have the courage to challenge their sales manager, sales leader and even the CEO of the company to innovate and think differently, as well as their peers. Listen to the episode as Rakhi shares her formula for networking within IBM to make herself known within the company at different levels. How to Train Millennial Sellers Millennials are also known as the technology generation, and because of that, their attention span is much shorter than the span of previous generations. That’s why as a sales leader, anytime you're coaching millennials, you must tell them what they need to know up front, including how they're going to be measured. Sales leadership must communicate: What are the top X number of things they need to take away from the training. What are the outcomes expected from them. How they are going to be evaluated. “We are an ambitious generation,” Rakhi says. “We want to make sure that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. And so to know upfront what some of those things are is really helpful.” Provide Feedback A second suggestion for sales leadership is to provide praise and coaching and feedback along the way. Millennials want frequent specific, strategic feedback. They want to know how they are doing in comparison to their peers and specific feedback they can actually use to develop and grow in the sales career. It is then the responsibility of the leader or the sales manager to provide feedback on a regular basis. Virtual Sales Training And the final suggestion is to use technology to deliver the training. According to Gallup's research on how millennials want to live and work, 85% of millennials access the Internet from their phones, which is more than all other generations. “If we can't offer training that can be accessed from anywhere,” Rakhi says, “if you could only do it when you're on premises, your organization is not great for millennials. If you can't do it on your phone. That's not great.” Women in Sales and Sales Leadership Rakhi is passionate about promoting women in sales. She fell into sales by accident when she got a job at Microsoft and felt she had to help more women get into sales. Here are some statistics that show how women are misrepresented in sales: The percentage of women in sales has only increased 3% in the last decade, from 36% to 39%. Women only hold 19% of leadership roles in sales. CEOs and recruiters must be focused and intentional in finding candidates and filling sales positions not only with women, but Black and Latino women. Rakhi says most job descriptions for sales roles are worded in such a way that discourage women and minorities from applying, perpetuating the sales profession as a white male dominated field. For example, she has seen sales job posts that list a “competitive sports background” as a desired skill. And unfortunately, women tend not to apply for positions where they don’t fit 100% of the requirements (versus men, who apply when they meet 60% of the requirements). So, how can companies increase the number of women in sales? Leadership has to treat it like any other business objective with KPIs, goals and measurement systems. Human Resources has to recruit from non-traditional sources, such as the military or retail stores. This process takes more time and may mean sacrificing hiring goal deadlines. Create a culture where women can thrive and succeed, where there are mentors and career development programs. If you are a sales leader in charge of attracting and training millennials, you can’t miss this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast with Rakhi Voria. Outline of This Episode [2:58] About Rakhi: Sales leader in tech companies and advancing women in business and sales. [7:55] Attracting millennials to your company. [20:10] Tips for millennials who want to advance their careers. [26:57] Networking within your company as a newbie. [29:30] How to train millennial sellers. [33:44] Women in sales and sales leadership. Resources Mentioned Connect with Rakhi on LinkedIn Follow Rakhi on Twitter: @RakhiVoria Forbes articles Women in Sales documentary feature Rakhi’s favorite movie: Toy Story Modern Marketing Engine Podcast - Bernie Borges Connect with Mario! www.vengreso.com On Facebook On Twitter On YouTube On LinkedIn Subscribe to Modern Selling on the App of Your Choice!