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 […]

What to do when the Sales Cycle is Lengthening

by Shannon F.   Recent research  shows that the B2B sales cycle is lengthening, causing more and more companies to miss sales goals, fail to achieve growth, and ultimately lose millions. Why is today’s average sales cycle longer than it was five years ago? For one, the buyer’s mindset has changed; even as the marketplace bounces back, the economic downturn did its damage, making business decision-makers cautious, skeptical, and less willing to part with money. Don’t expect this mindset to go away in a hurry; just as our Depression-era grandparents still tip on the wrong side of 10% and buy these cookies, today’s buyers are once burned, twice shy. They also have less decision-making autonomy and may be increasingly required to get approval on proposed purchases from higher management. This results in delays when it comes to finalizing decisions and closing the deal. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your sales pipeline filled, overcome buyer hang-ups, and make sure a longer sales cycle doesn’t negatively impact your bottom line. 1. Focus on trigger events. A trigger event with a timeline (such as an office move) gives the buyer a compelling reason to make decisions quickly. A trigger event allows you to accurately predict when a deal will close. For example, if a company must be up and running in the new office by September 1st, they are going to have to decide on a new phone system at least 30 days prior, or major delays will occur. […]

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 […]

Signs that you are a Sales Perfectionist (and how to fix it)

by Shannon F. Sales is a field that requires a rapid response-rate, quick decision-making, and the ability to let the small stuff go. If you’re a perfectionist, you may struggle to generate the sheer volume of activity necessary to make your sales goal this year. The problem is, perfectionists can be deceptively imperfect, making them hard to recognize. They don’t all sort their paperclips by color or own a personal label-making machine. If you are like me (an admitted perfectionist) you might not ever bother to wash your tea cup, assuming the germs will be microwaved out on each subsequent use. That sure doesn’t sound like perfectionist behavior! So here are some signs to look for, and some ways to save yourself before you get bogged down by perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionists are highly self-critical. In sales, like in anything, you’ll have ups and downs in your personal performance. Having a bad day is something that rarely matters in the long run, but perfectionists tend to beat themselves up about their perceived shortcomings. This turns into time wasted on worrying. The fix: Strive for excellence, but be forgiving of your mistakes. Don’t take it to heart if you are having a “bad phone day” or you stumble during a demo. The more you hone your selling skills, the more consistent your performance will be. Perfectionists take rejection personally. Their feelings are hurt if someone is curt on the phone, and worse, they blame themselves for not achieving a more positive interaction. […]

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 […]

Don’t wait for referrals; ask for them!

by Shannon F. Referrals are a great way to grow your business, but they don’t always happen as frequently as you’d like. Think about how many referrals you’ve given so far this year, and you’ll have some idea of how hard it actually is to get business this way. For one, your product or service has to come up in a conversation between your satisfied customer and someone in your locality who is in the market for what you have to offer. If you simply wait for that scenario to happen (unprompted by you), your chances of significantly growing your business by referrals are slim. It is possible to give your referrers a nudge, however; here are the steps for driving referrals the easy way. Step 1. Wow a new client. As always, the key to getting referrals is to earn them by making sure your customer is absolutely satisfied. If your service was well-received, you should be able to ask for referrals confidently—you earned it. Step 2. Narrow down the prospects you want to be referred to. For example, say, “I often assist companies that are moving or in transition. Do you know anyone like that who might need my services?” Linkedin provides an even easier way to seek referrals, as Brynne Tillman of Business Development University taught us. Simply connect with your satisfied client on Linkedin and take a look at his or her connections. See anybody you’d like to do business with? Ask your client to introduce […]

The Importance of Being Expert

by Shannon F. “I know. In fact, I am never wrong.” –Oscar Wilde We like to remind our clients that potential customers are always most in need of a product or service when their company is in a state of flux. During a trigger event, like an office move, a merger, or even downsizing, companies reevaluate their needs and often come up wanting. This means that vendors providing B2B products or services have an opportunity to fill these unmet needs. But how will you connect with companies in a state of flux? One way is to market yourself as an expert. Companies that are changing, evolving, or relocating their facilities almost always seek information before making major decisions. They need answers, and they often welcome a consultant. That’s you. You’re probably already an expert in your field (in case you doubted yourself). You have years or even decades of experience in telecom, equipment leasing, IT, office furniture sales, or whatever it is you do. You’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and you’ve probably been able to help your clients avoid common mistakes. So how do you convey your expertise to potential customers? Here are a few strategies we recommend to our own clients: 1. Offer a free evaluation. Say you work in Managed IT Services. If you offer to take a look at a prospect’s current system and give them a risk assessment or tips for a safer IT relocation, they’ll probably welcome your input. It never hurts to […]

Top 5 Ways to Engage Prospects Before You Sell

If you’re familiar with the concept of engagement marketing, you know that giving prospects something valuable for free can help you close deals down the road. The trick is not to bring up your sales pitch yet—don’t even think about it. When you have wined, dined, educated, and inspired your prospect, only then can you seek an opening for discussion of your product or service. But what exactly should you offer to your potential customers? We list our top five favorite freebies. 1. An invite. You can contact prospects via LinkedIn, use your sales automation software to log in some cold calls, or send the old-fashioned snail mail invitation. Just make sure the word gets out to your prospects that you are personally inviting them to a free networking event. Offer guest speakers, food, entertainment, or whatever you think it will take to lure your target crowd. Hosting an event is not an opportunity to talk up your company. Instead, foster relationships and build trust by engaging your prospects in a friendly, low-pressure environment. 2. Your book. So you aren’t a 21st century reincarnation of Dale Carnegie? It’s okay if you don’t have a best-selling sales book or any book at all. You probably have it in you to write up some White Papers about your area of expertise or even provide valuable advice by word of mouth. The whole point: be clear to prospects that you’re an expert in your field, and they’ll be more inclined to do business […]

Long, hot summer for your sales team?

Here in the Philadelphia area, temperatures have been off the charts this summer. Are your sales spiking too, or are you feeling the pinch from sales reps who are dreaming about their next beach vacation instead of logging cold calls? Summer is often a slow time for companies, but it doesn’t have to be. We have some tips for keeping your summer sales productive, at least until Labor Day. 1. Have a contest. Sure, we’d all rather be snorkeling, but it’s possible to have fun at work while increasing sales revenue. How? Try throwing in a summer-long sales contest or put a few bonuses up for grabs to keep your team focused and working towards a goal. A little healthy competition can enliven the summer months, and you’ll likely see results. Sure, it’s not a margarita at the poolside bar, but it will get your sales reps going. 2. Reward your sales team. You don’t have to stage a summer bash complete with Polynesian flame jugglers and mai tais, though you could. A dress-down day or pizza in the break room can be a much-appreciated reward for your team’s hard work. Your employees will be motivated to keep on increasing sales even when other companies are slowing down for the summer. 3. Switch up your approach. Keep in mind that many of your prospects will be vacationing over the summer, which means an email blast might not be the best way to reach potential clients. Who sifts through a week’s […]