It almost can be called a perfect storm. Just as the world of existing buyers has rejected being interrupted by sales cold callers, a generation has come along that not only has no appetite for such an ancient practice but offers a valuable alternative.
Since the beginning of selling, sales representative making cold calls has been the way of life. If sales were down, you made more calls. Sales management could rely on a simple formula ‘cold calls equal sales’ and that’s that. Buyers were open to the daily interruptions because, prior to online access, receiving a cold call was a major source of information. Thanks to the internet, buyers are more informed today and have little time for a stranger’s intrusion, asking, “Tell me about yourself and what do you do here”. There remains, however, the sales management element that still subscribes to the notion that even though it’s not working, just do more of it.
It is a bit ironic that we now have a Millennial or Millennial-influenced workforce that possesses the DNA that is averse to wasting time with random, unfocused actions. Their reliance on technology has given them the title of Technophiles and has set them on a course of value and efficiency that not present with cold calling. They recognize the practice of calling someone without both information and purpose makes about as much sense as removing your hand from a bucket of water and looking for the hole it left behind.
Millennials know that trying to fill a sales funnel with anyone that will listen is a waste of time and resources. They reject the inefficiency of selling to unqualified prospects and embrace more of a cylinder approach over the traditional funnel. These technophiles are using digital resources such as social media and business intelligence to work with only those who are predisposed to buy their product or service. By focusing on their target market, armed with information about the buyer and their company, they fill a cylinder with qualified buyers and see a greater and faster return on their efforts. How many touches now have been replaced with meaningful interactions? Technology exists today that will help you identify your target market’s buying influences and even create a personality profile of your buyer before making contact. Millennials are more inclined to use this technology in place of calling cold.
Today’s selling challenge is getting to interact meaningfully with a qualified buyer. Buyers have changed and we should be thankful the next generation of sales is also changing. Before we demand more of what doesn’t work any longer, let’s embrace a Selling in the Now attitude, and take advantage of the Millennial sales evolution.
Author: Rich Lucia
March 29, 2017
It’s the time of year that brings to mind the Leprechaun and how many sales people operate every day as if they were this bearded green mythical character. Like the Leprechaun, sales people are observed tap-tap-tapping their tiny cobbler hammer, driving nails into shoes, appearing they are hard at work, confusing activity with results. It is the same expected behavior and selling techniques that have been passed down for hundreds of years with the hope that it will lead to a pot of gold. There is no pot of gold using antiquated sales practices and the customer of today is in a different place. Why do we continue to follow a rainbow that has moved or doesn’t really exist?
Why then, are we teaching our sales representatives to continue to tap-tap the same way they did in the past. We have even implemented CRM technology that inspects our out of date practices when the real answer is to change the way we sell. Our customers have changed. How they get their information has changed so it just might be time to put away the cobbler hammer and start ‘Selling in the Now”. Selling is no longer folklore but a deliberate effort to keep in tune with today’s buyers and how they buy.
Let’s take the tap- tap practice of cold calling. Ancient wisdom always told us that if we tap (knock) on enough doors we will find someone who will buy from us. Behind those now locked doors are buyers who get their information from the internet and each other, yet we still address this phenomenon by just making more calls. Are we taking the time to target those prospects that are predisposed to buy? Standing at the edge of the woods, taking a shot and hoping to hit something isn’t hunting.
Why are we spending our sales training dollars on what to say when we get in front of a prospect when the new challenge of today is getting that face-to-face appointment. We work very hard tap-tap-tapping on a standard brochure or elevator pitch when buyers have ceased to be standard. We challenge our prospects when confronted with an objection, yet the buyer of today is too informed (or think they are) to let us get away with a challenger attitude. Do we fully understand that today’s buyers talk to each other to seek consensus of thought? Are we truly too busy tapping our cobbler hammer to look up and see who our new buyer is and what matters to them.
The good news is, there really is a pot of gold if you follow and understand the rainbow of today. It’s no longer how many nails you hammer but which ones and where you place them. We grew up in a world that taught sales tactics yet today’s success is embedded in the correct selling strategy. Get your sales team on the right track first, then speed up the engine.
Remember history is a great educator of what not to do in the future, so leave the Leprechauns out of your sales practices and realize your customers are no longer attracted to a tricky green man with mythical results.
Author: Rich Lucia
March 15, 2017
There’s a sales lesson to be learned by how we shop. Before we go shopping, we mentally decide what we are shopping for, about how much money we are willing to pay, and what store is best to go to make our purchase. Let’s say we want to buy a lawnmower. We don’t go to the mall and start going into each store asking if they sell lawn mowers. We know in advance that Dunkin Donuts, Radio Shack, Macy’s and the food court don’t sell lawn mowers. Why waste of our time and have a very low likelihood of finding a lawn mower. Maybe we should use the same wisdom when looking for new business.
When we cold call, we do the equivalent of looking for a lawn mower at Dunkin Donuts and when we don’t find one there, sales managers tell us to just try more places. It’s as if sales people have a recessive gene from snake oil salesman that makes them automatically start each day with, “everyone gather around” assuming everyone is dying to buy what they are selling. Sales trainers encourage this ancient practice with phrases like, “Sales is a numbers game”, as if doing the wrong thing again and again will somehow change the outcome.
People today, have little patience for being contacted cold, and less, for something they don’t want or need. Selling to Zebras is a process that does away with blind cold calling and is in tune with Selling in the Now. Like shopping, it helps you identify where to find your best prospect. Who is that best match for your company and services and has the budget to buy from you? Contacting people who are predisposed and have the money to buy from you makes more sense than wasting your time calling people who are not a good fit. So before you waste your time cold calling ask yourself, “Do I shop this way”?
Author: Rich Lucia
Did you ever notice how, for years, sales training has been closely matched to a rodeo event? Sales reps are taught to chase after and rope prospects like mindless steer before they get away. We call that cold calling. When the rope is secure around their neck, we move into a trained sales pitch. If they fight to get loose, we break out another rope and tie their feet. We call that handling objections. The process of both roping steer and selling assumes that your target doesn’t want to interact with you and getting trained in clever verbal ropes will bring them to their knees.
Prospects are not mindless steer. Thanks to the Internet, they are more knowledgeable than ever and are more guarded from anyone who is a self-serving roper. Knowledgeable prospects are 60 to 75 percent through the order cycle before they even interact with a sales person.
So why to we continue this annoying random cold calling, roping selling technique to close business? Prospects today don’t want to be roped or sold; however they do want to buy. Selling in the Now takes into account today’s buyers, how they want to buy and from whom.
Using social media as a cold calling replacement is a Selling in the Now technique that is more aligned with the world today. Another is focusing on prospects that are already predisposed to buy from you. This results in a more valuable customer and doesn’t waste selling time on trying to close someone who will never buy from you. So leave your rodeo sales training home and tune in to your prospects and how they buy today.
Author: Rich Lucia