Sales Resolutions You Should Make in 2014

by Shannon F. The InsightPRM team is committed to self-improvement in the coming year. While we don’t plan to limit our junk food intake or hit the gym more frequently, we do want to do an even better job of helping our customers achieve their sales goals. To start, here’s a list of resolutions we think you should make in 2014 (we’re bossy like that). Feel free to tell us your suggestions for resolutions WE should make.   1. Refresh your knowledge of your industry. Don’t go around quoting last year’s facts and figures. Dig up some surprising new insight, like a famous success story or a study indicating that a change may be necessary for your customers. Sharing bold new facts will give you a burst of energy and confidence in your product. Here’s why you need to be an expert.   2. Put a new spin on tired old content, like email templates and call scripts. Try out new attention-getting subject lines or different ways of reaching out to tough prospects you weren’t able to sign in the past. Changing up your approach can be a surprisingly easy way to drive more sales in the New Year. Need to write an amazing sales email?   3. Find more time for calls. Even in an increasingly digital world, old-fashioned phone calls are still the backbone of B2B sales. Making cold calls and follow-up calls is time-consuming, which is why most salespeople don’t do it consistently. Make it your priority […]

How can you determine your sales rep’s chances of success?

by Shannon F. Hiring a new sales rep can be a gamble, especially considering that he or she may take three to twelve months or even longer to become fully productive. If you recently hired a new sales rep, you are probably trying to gauge whether he or she is going to be an asset to your team in the long term. Fortunately, there are some key signs to look out for. We’ll break it down into performance-based and character-based indicators of success. Performance-based Cold-calling activity. Sales success has a lot of components, but a big one is simply your activity levels. High activity levels (especially when noted consistently over time) are always a good sign. Sluggishness in the beginning may be due to your sales rep’s lack of familiarity with your products and services, but after the first couple of weeks, activity levels should be steady and consistent with your company’s expectations. Appointment-setting rate (# of appointments set/# of leads contacted). The ideal appointment-setting rate depends heavily on your industry, so be aware what your top sales reps are doing. Often, having a high ratio of appointments set depends on consistency of follow-up. Is your rep giving up after a couple of calls, or is she persisting until she gets her prospect on the phone? Lead follow-up time. When a new lead comes in, such as through the company website, how quickly is your new sales rep following up? If he acts right away, that’s a great sign. A […]

3 Expensive Ways (Worth Every Penny) To Help Your Sales Reps Kill Their Goals

by Shannon F. There are many reasons why sales reps won’t make their goal this year, but it often boils down to time. After all, the more selling activity salespeople can accomplish in the day, the more appointments they can set and the more deals they can close. So not having time-saving processes in place means less activity, fewer appointments…you get the idea. Here are three investments you should make to speed up your sales team and help them surpass their goals this year. 1. New, faster computer. Everyone can recall their first computer–mine was a Compaq Presario the size of a small planet. But while PCs of decades past can be remembered fondly, they have no place on a salesperson’s desk. You’d be surprised how many sales reps are working on outdated machines; it’s a big problem, because slow computers kill productivity. If it takes your sales rep 30 seconds every time they want to log into their CRM or find a prospect on Linkedin, the day will quickly be consumed by wasted minutes. Today, salespeople must work at a frenetic pace to keep up with busy, hard-to-reach prospects. In fact, many reps are so overwhelmed by keeping up with existing clients that they don’t have time to set appointments with prospects and sign new clients. An expenditure of $500-$1000 per sales rep to equip your team with new computers that allow them to work faster is a small investment with a potentially huge return over the lifetime of […]

Do your customers know how well you did?

by Shannon F. You hate to pat yourself on the back, but you went above and beyond on the last project you completed. Self-congratulations only goes so far, anyway. You want your clients to acknowledge that you provided excellent service. Here’s why they won’t: -Your client doesn’t always understand the nuts and bolts of the project, so they may think your job is simpler than it is. -You didn’t want your client to worry, so you didn’t tell them about the complications/roadblocks you encountered and conquered. -Your client doesn’t think they necessarily need to shower you with praise, since they paid you fairly for the job. But here’s why it is important to get your customer to acknowledge how great you are: -You’ll want to build a relationship with them in the event that they need your services again 5 or ten years down the road. Therefore, leaving them completely satisfied (and with a positive impression of you) is in your best interest. -Happy customers can provide testimonials and references that will help you build your image. -Happy customers don’t mind referring you or introducing you to others in their network, helping you grow your business by leaps and bounds. Here’s what you have to do to extract compliments from unwilling customers: -Let your customer know when you went the extra mile. You don’t have to brag about your greatness, but don’t downplay the lengths you took to get the job done. The client won’t appreciate all the little details […]

How not to micromanage

by Shannon F. It may not come as a surprise to you that micromanagers are born out of a shaky economy. When sales are not as good as they could be, managers don’t just blame external forces or poor sales rep performance; they blame themselves. Tough times, an urgent need to drive revenue, and the pinch of desperation are all fairly understandable reasons for tightening the reins and beginning to monitor your sales team’s activity more carefully. But don’t risk going too far; it’s harmful and counterproductive to get too immersed in the daily minutia, and your sales team will resent you for it. Here are some tips for letting go of your need for control. Listen to others. Micromanagers may come off as highly conscientious or even anxious, but at the heart of this personality is a touch of arrogance. If you’re a micromanager, you tend to think you are the only one capable of making the right decision or having a good idea—after all, you are the boss for a reason. But if you’re the only one who does the talking in your sales meetings, you are missing out on a diverse source of ideas and insight. Encourage your team to contribute their suggestions and solutions. You may find that someone has a better way of approaching a sales situation or overcoming an objection. Trust your sales team. Chances are that your team is not comprised entirely of newbies. If you have a group of proven professionals working […]

Know Your Trigger Events for B2B Sales

by Shannon F. If you sell a B2B product or service that depends on perfect timing, you must focus on trigger events that introduce the need for whatever it is that you sell. Every purchase involves a trigger event, but only some purchases can be predicted based on that event. These two types of purchases—purchases that can be predicted based on trigger events and purchases that cannot be predicted—must be handled in two distinct ways. We’ll start with purchases that cannot be predicted. Typically, when a company needs to make a sudden purchase, the decision comes down to particular features and—detrimental to your bottom line—price. Decision-makers research options themselves, not giving you a chance to consult. By the time you arrive at the scene of the bidding war, you are essentially just a number. Unpredictable Purchases For example, someone forgot to water the bonsai tree in the lobby of XYZ Co, and the plant has sadly expired. The decision-maker at XYZ Co quickly researches local nurseries and gathers prices for various bonsais, ranging from $200 to $1000. Your company, a corporate plant service, is among the “bidders.” You may have to sell a bonsai practically at cost in order to win the deal. The benefit to you? You can check in regularly with XYZ Co to see how the bonsai is holding up and charge them to prune it, water it during holiday weekends, etc. You can also convince them that they need bonsais in other areas of the office, […]

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 […]

Selling to the Gen Y Buyer

by Shannon F. So you’re selling to a decision-maker who was born after 1980. This generation has an unfair reputation for having a short attention span, poor interpersonal skills, and a host of other negative characteristics. Sure, we were raised on ADHD-inducing cartoons, colorful and experimental food products, and the notion that we can do ANYTHING. As a result, we’re high-achievers who dream big, but we’re also a little…different. Here’s what you should know when it comes to approaching this group of prospects. 1. Your Gen Y prospect does not want to talk to you on the phone. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that we would rather have you connect with us in a less invasive way and give us more of a choice as to whether or not we want to interact with you. So send us an email or connect with us on Linkedin before or instead of calling. 2. Gen Y has already looked up you and 5 of your competitors online—unless you enter at the consultant level before Gen Y even knows she needs your product or service. Basically, as soon as a business need pops into Gen Y’s head, she is going to Google it—that’s a fact. So BE the one to introduce the need. Remember that by the time the client searches for you online, it’s too late for you to build rapport, influence the buying decision, and name your price. But by approaching Gen Y early in her buying process, you can inform […]

Why do I need CRM software for sales?

by Shannon F. Many small businesses that we encounter prefer doing things the old-fashioned way—even if that means recording customer and prospect information in the margins of a mildewed ledger by the light of a dripping candle. We’ve found that making sales cold calls doesn’t actually take much time—it’s preparing for and logging those calls the old-fashioned way that can be time-consuming. Thumbing through spreadsheets to find your contact takes a couple of precious minutes, and after you’ve made the call, you’ll waste even more time scribbling notes, setting a follow-up call date in your calendar, and looking up the prospect’s email address to send a follow-up message. If you are doing everything manually, there are simply not enough hours in the day to make all the calls you need to drive revenue and achieve your sales goal this year. You better learn to like working by candlelight, because you won’t be able to afford your electric bill. The thing is, we understand why so many salespeople like doing everything on paper. It’s simple and intuitive to get your leads in a spreadsheet and work through them with nothing but a notepad and a telephone. It’s just slow. And unfortunately, today’s salespeople need to speed up productivity to reach their busy prospects. Gone are the days when you could get in touch with someone via a single easy phone call. The good news is that there are some pretty fast CRMs on the market that are simple and intuitive to […]

Why Nerds Make Good Salespeople

by Shannon F. The stereotype of the successful salesperson is changing. A few years ago, you may have imagined making your next B2B purchase from an avid golfer with a chiseled jaw and a firm handshake. Maybe he or she excelled at schmoozing, had a bit of an ego, and used too much cologne. But B2B sales is evolving. Gen X and Y decision-makers are savvier consumers who tend to do a ton of research before buying. They don’t care if you wined, dined, or played 18 holes with them—if you can’t offer your unique insight into their business development needs, you’re useless. That’s where nerds are coming into power. Everyone wants to be a nerd. Today’s new breed of super-nerd is nothing like the socially awkward, taped-glasses-wearing nerd of yesteryear. (We’re not going to get into the nerds vs. geeks debate—there’s just too many gray areas.) Urban Dictionary offers hundreds of definitions of this social classification, but here’s a couple. Nerd: “A person who gains pleasure from amassing large quantities of knowledge about subjects often too detailed or complicated for most other people to be bothered with.” “A person with an inventive, intelligent, and or obsessive mind that strives to learn as much as they can about a subject(s) and becomes a leader in the study of it.” “The sexiest social class of them all.” Joking aside, it has become more desirable than ever to possess the skills and attributes of a nerd. Nerds have Insight sales skills You’re […]