What should I do when my prospect lies to me about their trigger event?

In the past, we’ve discussed how trigger events such as an office move are the best indicators of an impending purchase. But what happens when a prospect refuses to admit that the trigger event is actually happening? This is a customer scenario that we see frequently:


Sales Rep Bob contacts a confirmed office relocation lead, and the company (let’s call them ABC Co.) promptly tells him: “You’re the fifth salesperson to contact me today. I don’t know where you got your information, but we’re not moving our business.” Sales Rep Bob becomes discouraged and assumes that ABC Co. is telling the truth: they’re not moving. He gives up on the lead. Several months later, ABC Co. relocates their office, using the services of Bob’s competitor.

Understanding the new buyer process

by Shannon F. As you have likely experienced, today’s business decision-makers rarely turn to salespeople first when they need to make a purchase. They rely instead on the information, guides, and product comparisons they find online. Be honest; you’d rather research a need online instead of first talking to a person who is going to try and sell you their solution. There are some positive benefits to this new level of buyer independence (buyers are savvier and better-informed, so by the time they get to you, they are ready to have a high-level conversation about your product; buyers may find you online and give you a call—that’s a lead you didn’t have to work for!) But in general, salespeople must work harder than ever to compete in this new buyer climate. Here are the cons to buyer independence: -Buyers form strong preferences and requirements in the early stages of realizing a need, defining the need, and researching options. If you are not involved in this discovery process, you will have zero chance to influence the buyer’s vision. -Forrester Research reports: vendors that are involved in the early phases of the buying process (1 through 3 in the graphic above) will get the deal 65% of the time. The problem is: many salespeople are powerless to get involved in the early stages, since buyers purposely exclude them. -By the time the buyer finds you online and contacts you, you’re reduced to a bidder. It’s too late to get in as a […]

5 Things Salespeople MUST Do to Stay Relevant

by Shannon F. As B2B sales evolve, some salespeople will be left clutching their rolodexes and wondering how they went from top performer to nonentity. It’s harsh but true: if even the best sales reps don’t keep a finger on the pulse of sales shifts and long-term trends, they’ll slowly lose touch with how today’s buyers want to be sold. Here are the 5 things you MUST do to keep from becoming irrelevant. 1. Embrace social networking as a sales tool. This is no longer optional. Use Linkedin to actively build your network, connect with influential decision-makers, and find leads. If you aren’t doing this, you are losing out on the countless potential opportunities that are only a few clicks away. Plus, nothing screams “trustworthy” to today’s business decision-makers like an active Linkedin account complete with a picture, endorsements, and recommendations. The first thing an interested prospect will do after receiving a voicemail or email from you is google your name. If they can’t find you, you are irrelevant. Why? Today’s business leaders make buying decisions by researching, comparison-shopping online, and looking for referrals/testimonials from satisfied customers. They no longer make decisions solely from a telephone conversation or even a face-to-face meeting with you. 2. Network with peers. If you are the lone wolf in the sales department, you won’t learn from your peers’ mistakes. It’s helpful to seek feedback from the rest of your sales team as you approach everything from product knowledge to strategic email content. Why? A […]

Do you care about what you sell?

by Shannon F. In school, you probably learned more from the teachers who were passionate about their subjects, not the ones who just clicked through slides about cell division while droning on and on. The same goes with sales. The one factor that really separates mediocre salespeople from great salespeople is caring passionately about the product they’re pitching. Sure, your product might be so boring that it makes cellular mitosis look like Cirque du Soleil, but chances are that it solves some key problems for businesses. Here’s how to start caring more: Find something that you love about your product If there’s nothing to love about your product, you probably shouldn’t be selling it. Find something to get excited about! We don’t know what you sell, so we can’t tell you what that one lovable aspect might be. Our advice: search deep within yourself. Or get inspiration from listening to your company’s founder/CEO talk about the product. Learn as much as you can about what you sell. Knowledge=confidence. If you have questions or doubts about what you’re selling, get them resolved, because gaps in your product knowledge will sap your confidence during your sales call. And the more you learn about what you sell, the more interested you’ll be! Think of each sales call as a chance to consult prospects in how to make their company better using your awesome product. Listen to the top salesperson in your company. Chances are that he or she radiates enthusiasm for the product. […]

Questions not to ask when cold-calling

by Shannon F. Phone conversations start to go south for many salespeople when they begin asking questions. After all, no one enjoys being cold-called by a stranger only to be put through a detailed interrogation. And while certain questions are necessary for a productive phone call, you’ll find it easier to engage with prospects if you already know a little bit about their company. Don’t get all creepy or stalker-ish on them, but take the time to learn more about what they do. You can get a better idea of what their goals are and what needs they may have. Here are some questions you simply shouldn’t be asking your prospects: “What kind of company are you?” or “What do you do?” Seriously? You can find this out yourself in literally 2 seconds, so asking this on a phone call is a definite no. “Who is the decision-maker I should speak to?” Or, similarly, “Can I speak with the owner?” You’ll have a much better chance of being transferred to the person you wish to speak to if you actually know his or her name. A quick search on LinkedIn or Jigsaw should yield results (if you store your leads in a lead management system, you should be able to do some pre-call research directly from the program). “Can you tell me what your objectives are?” or, “What kinds of problems are you having?” While it makes sense to find out what your prospect hopes to accomplish (so that you […]

Do sneaky cold-calling attempts pay off?

By Shannon F. The easy answer is: sometimes, but not usually. When sales reps find that being straightforward isn’t working for them, they may resort to other tactics with varying degrees of success. Most gatekeepers are pretty good at making sure salespeople never get through to key decision-makers, so we’ve heard cold-callers try everything under the sun to keep from being brushed off. Some sneaky cold-calling practices that we dislike include: Mumbling the name of your company. If you’re not proud to say who you work for, you probably shouldn’t be selling your product. Plus, you’re crazy if you think a gatekeeper is just going to pass you off to the boss without asking you to repeat yourself. Some sales reps refuse to say the name of the company even when pressed, which brings us to the next cold-calling don’t: “It’s just a business call.” This often-used line is intended to brush off gatekeepers, but be warned: you’ll definitely ruffle their feathers. They know it’s a sales call, and because you weren’t transparent from the beginning, there’s no way they’ll put you through to the decision-maker. Pretending to be the boss’s best friend. “Oh hey, it’s Greg. Is Sarah around?” is not going to fool anyone, since you would have called Sarah’s cell or direct line if the two of you were actually close. And if you do reach a decision-maker, don’t cross the line between friendly and manic. Gushing “How are you!” is pretty off-putting if you have no […]

Sell BEFORE they go online

by Shannon F. Informal opinion polls show that the internet is not just a passing phase. Though MySpace, homemade Angelfire websites, and certain derelict forums may be ready for the digital junkyard, the World Wide Web is generally still thriving, and only a few stragglers still believe that customers will find them in the Yellowpages. The availability of products, information, reviews, and comparisons online make it difficult to compete if you’re continuing to sell the way you did ten years ago. That’s why the most adaptable salespeople, instead of fighting the inevitable, learned how to do two things early on: harness online marketing tools and, just as significantly, reach prospects before they go to the internet. Be the expert they find online. When was the last time you made a complicated or expensive purchase because a salesperson talked you into it? Chances are, you researched your options extensively before you even went to the store. If you decided in advance that you wanted a Brother MFC-8510DN Laser Multifunction Printer, it’s going to be much harder for a salesperson to convince you that the HP LaserJet Pro 400 M475DN is your best bet. You’re now an educated buyer, because you found out the pros and cons of each product online. So how can you sell your B2B products and services to today’s educated buyers? For one, you have to provide the information that prospects seek online. If you sell business telephones, for example, you should be blogging about selecting a phone […]

How Insight Sales is Like a Relationship

by Shannon F. Valentine’s Day, love it or hate it, is usually a time to reflect on your relationship status. So whether your Valentine’s Day involves an expensive, multi-course meal, a wild night out with your other single friends, a quiet evening spent at home watching a documentary on the mating habits of spider monkeys, or some strange combination of the three, relationships will probably cross your mind at some point today, February 14th. The best romantic relationships have a lot in common with the best sales relationships, and vice versa. Yesterday, we explored how Insight Sales is rapidly replacing Solution Sales as the way to go. Some pundits have said that relationship selling is out the window, but we don’t think that’s true. Insight Sales is about changing the dynamics of the relationship between prospect and salesperson so that it’s healthier and more productive. Here are some characteristics of a thriving prospect relationship based on Insight Sales principles: The best couples have insightful discussions. Solution Selling can mean some pretty boring conversations: the prospect or customer presents an existing problem, and you, the salesperson, provide a ready solution. Luckily, today’s prospects are educated consumers. They’ve done their research already, and they aren’t looking for answers to easy questions. Instead, they’re in the market for innovative ideas that could transform the way they do business. Identifying a prospect’s unmet need and helping them to revamp their business practices makes for a much livelier first date. They don’t always agree with […]

Tips for better email campaigns

  by Shannon F.     It doesn’t matter whether you are selling commercial real estate, reams of paper, or your services as a consultant—prospecting is an integral part of growing your business. Prospecting often comes with predatory associations (in the past, you may have rolled your eyes at comparisons to tracking game and hunting down your prey). But pursuing potential customers should be much more convivial than that—think prospecting for vegetarians. Email marketing is a less-invasive way to introduce your product or service to customers who may be in the market for it. Of course, you have to do it right. Here are some tips to convert your email list into customers, or at least keep them from hitting “mark as spam” and damaging your reputation as an email marketer. 1. Don’t try to sell…yet. If you are making contact with a prospect for the first time via email, focus on engaging him or her. Offer free information, like an article or factsheet. Provide a link to your blog, and invite prospects to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. (It’s also a good idea to ask prospects to opt in to receiving similar emails from you in the future—this deters them from marking your messages as spam.) Whatever you do, don’t start pitching your product—it’s like proposing marriage on a first date. Stick to friendly small talk in the beginning, and watch how your relationship grows. 2. Choose your words carefully. There are certain words that trigger “spam” […]