Getting the Sales Forecast Right: A Sales Mastery Interview with Rob Brown

Last week, I talked to Rob Brown about sales compensation and forecasting and a new tool that he has developed to help ensure that those forecasts are actually accurate. Prior to the interview, I had Rob walk me through how his forecasting tool worked, and I admit that I was impressed. Easy to use and it uses a visual appeal to help you spot potential problems easily.
Let me tell you about Rob…

Robert Brown, President of Incite! Decision Technologies, is an experienced decision strategist with over 17 years of professional experience. He provides advanced decision guidance, risk management, and business analytics to help executive decision makers gain deep insights into complex and risky capital investment opportunities, system behavior, and planning exercises. Robert is a 1992 graduate from the school of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

When you listen to the interview, you’ll learn:

  1. How sales compensation and sales forecasting typically functions today.
  2. The gaps that sales management needs to know about and why.
  3. The problem that Rob’s forecasting tool attempts to solve.
  4. Conceptually how the tool solves the problem that Rob uncovered in his work with sales teams.
  5. The information that the tools provides to Sales Executives when striving to accurately predict their revenue.
  6. The sales groups that benefit most from Rob’s forecasting tool.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!

Stop Doing That: An Entrepreneur Mastery Interview with Essie Escobedo

In January, I wrote a blog post about a little book called Stop Doing That! 21 Activities Critical to Business Success that YOU Shouldn’t Do written by my colleague Essie Escobedo of Office Angels. The message is powerful. If you want to succeed as a business owner, you have to transform your thinking and stop trying to do everything yourself. The book prompted me to start a new podcast series called Entrepreneur Mastery. Naturally, I wanted Essie as my first guest.

Let me tell you about Essie…

A veteran small business owner with more than 20 years’ experience starting and running two success businesses, Essie knew what she needed when she was in the corner office - stellar accountants, administrators and project managers who were flexible enough to fit in where they were needed and move on to the next challenge. She also realizes that the employee-like performance she wanted had to come at a nonemployee-like price. Essie launched Office Angelsto bring the skills and talents of a world class support staff to even the smallest business owner.

Here are a few of the things you’ll learn about when you listen to my conversation with Essie:

1. Why she wrote the book in the first place.

2. Why it is difficult for business owners to let go and feel they have to do it all themselves.

3. The #1 thing that Essie believes business owner MUST understand about their business to be successful.

4. What you lose when you insist on doing everyone alone.

5. How the concept of Office Angels came together.

6. The difference between Office Angels and a traditional staffing agency.

Thanks for listening! Oh, and go buy the book!

STOP doing that!

As an avid reader and learning junkie, I can’t think of a nicer gift than to receive a book. Just such a gift showed up in my mailbox during the holidays, and I was delighted to see that it had been written by my colleague Essie Escobedo, the Chief Executive Angel at Office Angels. The book is called STOP doing that! 21 Activities Critical to Business Success That YOU Shouldn’t Do.

At fewer than 100 pages, Essie words of wisdom smacked me right upside the head yesterday morning. I didn’t have so much of an “ah ha” moment, as I did an “oh $%*#” moment when I realized that out of 21 activities, I’m guilty of doing 15 of them. Ouch!

Right then, I decided that I needed to change some things. How else can I expect my business to grow to the level I’ve been envisioning? But it is a funny thing about change. We commonly think that change of any significance takes a long time to make happen. I’ve come to agree with Tony Robbins that this is a myth. Start feeling enough pain and I guarantee you’ll change anything - instantly.

Entrepreneurs largely think that they have to do it all themselves and often use lack of money to fund the necessary resources as the excuse. Been there. I’ve boot-strapped it like everyone else, but the problem is that there will NEVER be enough free resources available to help you get to where you need to go. You must invest in yourself and your business and guess what…you must delegate the things that you don’t do well and that pull you away from your core strengths. The fact is that you’ve got to spend money to get the professional assistance you need in order to create a thriving business.

While I’m not going to share the entire list - because I want you to buy Essie’s book - I want to use activity #8 Creating Your Own Business Plan, as an example of what I resolved to change immediately. Yes, I have a sales and marketing plan, which probably puts me farther ahead than many small business owners, but an honest-to-goodness business plan that looks at all aspects of my business and considers today and the future of my company? Uh, a little lacking there. And I know exactly why. Not only am I too close to the situation and think all of my ideas and strategies are brilliant – come on, what business owner doesn’t? – but I’m not the most skilled at it. I am fully aware of the importance of having a clear and detailed roadmap but with so many opinions out there about how to do planning well, I become overwhelmed before I even begin. Convenient excuse, isn’t it?

If you truly want to succeed, you must hire help! It really is that simple. I know. I did it yesterday when I hired a business advisor to help me get that plan in order.

Now it’s your turn. Read Essie’s book. Determine what help you need. Commit to hiring someone immediately, do it, then come back to my blog and share your success story.

By the way, I’ll be interviewing Essie about her book in an upcoming podcast on Entrepreneurial Mastery. I know you’ll want to tune in!

New Year, New Questions

sales, social media, social selling, planning, goalsI’ve spent a substantial amount of time over the last few weeks reflecting. Personally and professionally, 2012 was another pivotal year that included, among other things, the loss of my beloved shepherd/retriever Shorty, and the closing out of a business partnership that didn’t quite turn out as I had hoped.

Though tough for me to admit, I was feeling a little defeated at the end of the year. After all, I worked hard. I gave my all. But there I stood at the end of the year, feeling as if I’d taken two steps backward, and I wasn’t happy about it.

What to do?

For me, the choices were pretty simple. I could choose to focus on what went wrong and spend time entertaining myself at my own private little pity party. Or, I could choose to ask for the help that I needed to get myself back on track. I chose the latter.

Help came in the form of a book called Awaken the Giant Within. A long-time fan of Tony Robbins, I’d read the book twice before. At least I thought that I did. This time around I must have been more open and receptive to doing the work, because I found myself saying many times…How did I miss that before? The insights I’ve gained have been invaluable.

And I want to share one with you today:
Ask better questions. Questions that empower you and inspire you to take action.

For some of you, your sales year begins anew. For others, you are at the mid-way point in your fiscal year and may have just gone through some grueling reviews of your sales performance. In either case, what you choose to do next, where you decide to focus your attention will chart your course.

When things don’t work out, it can be easy to default to Why me? If you focus on that question, you are sure to come up with a list of all the reasons why life just isn’t fair. All that does for you is to create more negative energy, which can never lead to a positive outcome.

Regarding any challenges you may be facing, I want to you to use these 6 questions as you think about them.

How can I turn things around?
What is positive about the problem?
What am I willing to do to create the outcome that I want?
What can I learn so that I never have to repeat the situation again?
How can I improve my product or service?
How can I enjoy the process of turning things around to get what I want?

Working through questions such as these leads to a more empowering and positive state of mind. And that’s when miracles occur!

Want better results, a better outcome? Ask better questions.

How Profitable is Your Selling?: A Sales Mastery Interview with Kenneth Darryl Brown

If you have listened to any of my prior programs, and I hope that you have, the theme of the interviews is pretty straightforward. To help you increase your sales, improve the profitability of those sales and close those sales far more quickly than you are today, I want you to learn from the best in sales and social media, because selling today requires an entirely different approach and new skills are required!

Recently, I talked to Kenneth Darryl Brown who is a master at showing business owners how to be more profitable by increasing sales and maximizing technology to improve productivity and efficiency.  We don’t talk enough about how important the “profitability” of a sale is to a business. The smaller the business, the more important it is to be sure that every business action that you decided to take leads you in the direction of profitable business.

About Kenneth…

Kenneth Darryl Brown is President and CEO of eWeb 2 Sales and Profits, a sales, profit and business development company that shows companies how to leverage the web to increase sales and improve profitability. Kenneth was selected as one of the Top 25 Influential Sales Leaders by InsideView in 2011 and 2012. His show, “The Passionate Entrepreneur “was selected as one of the best podcasts for small business by Anita Campbell’s Small Business Trends for 2010 and 2011.

During my conversation with Kenneth, we talked about:

  • Sales 2.0 and what that means to small business
  • The benefits to entrepreneurs using the web
  • Increasing cash flow, profit margins and profits
  • Improving sales conversion through your website
  • Lead generation approaches that lead to revenue

And more…

It is easy to become excited about winning deals. After all, who doesn’t want revenue flowing in the door? The problem is that if, over time, you are not carefully evaluating whether or not your deals are making your money – that’s what profit is after all – then you could find yourself in trouble down the road. I know you’ll enjoy hearing what Kenneth has to say. As always, please let me know what golden nuggets you picked up and what you’ll do to put them into practical application for your business.


Are Your Choices Moving You Closer to the Revenue Line?

Revenue drives the business engine. Without it, like no gas in the car, everything stops running. So what gets in the way of putting ruthless focus on only those activities that will drive revenue?


If you sell for someone else, you are at the mercy of management meetings, endless emails, questions from finance about your deal, new products and services to learn, customer issues related to implementing the solution you just sold and on it goes.

If you sell for your own company, you face challenges like paying the bills, handling the marketing, juggling the delivery time of the service you just sold with more sales to be made, managing employees and contractors, fending off salespeople who have the latest whiz bang solution to offer and the list goes on.

The point is that we know revenue needs to be our number one priority each day but “circumstances” often hinder our ability (or we think so anyway) to focus the majority of our time on revenue producing opportunities.

To focus ourselves in the right direction, I think it comes down to making choices moment to moment and sometimes those choices are tough to make. I sort of equate focus with two things. The first is knowing WHAT you need to focus your attention on to begin with and the second is knowing WHEN to say no. No to requests that pull you in the opposite direction of that revenue line.

Perhaps, you cannot control having to attend the weekly sales meeting, but you can control if after you leave that meeting you either pick up the phone and make 25 phone calls to prospects and referral partners, OR you choose to waste time wading around in email hell.

As a business owner, you have to ask yourself if you’ll even have bills to pay if you don’t get busy following up with the prospects that you met at that networking event last week. Either hire someone to take this responsibility off your back - ideal! - or be sure to handle the bills at points that don’t interfere with your number one priority…generating revenue.

With every situation that comes your way, you need to ask…

Does this activity I’m about to spend time on move me closer to the revenue line?

Example: Should I be answering email or responding to the proposal that I said I’d have done today?

The answer is easy…shut down email and go sell something-:)

BTW - there are plenty of people who advocate that you respond to every email that comes your way and promptly to boot. I’m not one of those people! Not all email is equal nor does it all require a response in the next 5 seconds.

If your job is to bring revenue in the door, then I can’t think of anything more important than wisely choosing the activities that help you do just that!

Happy Selling!

P.S. Hear from Joanne Black of No More Cold Calling on the importance of building a referral network that leads to revenue.

What’s the Experience, Really?

I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t read about companies touting how important it is for them to deliver a stellar customer experience. Think Apple. I also hear executives from companies, including our own clients talk about their focus on improving upon and delivering on a customer experience that wows.

But does the talk always match the walk?


In two unrelated personal situations, it became obvious to me that the people chartered with delivering the said WOW customer experience haven’t gotten the memo about how important it is. Even though the people are nice enough, the overall experience wasn’t all that!

Here’s the story of just one situation…

Early last week, I had an important need to upgrade our credit card processing service. The promise is that the process takes 2-days. A longtime customer, I was confident all would go smoothly. While that was mostly the case, there were a few bumps in the road…

The story begins with finding out that there was a limit to the credit card processing dollar amount on my current account plan. That meant that a customer transaction couldn’t not currently be handled. I needed to upgrade my account. OK, I put in the application to apply for the software upgrade needed. How tough could it be?

A day later, I receive a phone call from one of the reps who needed to “grill me” on my business and the services offered. It was like I had to justify myself as a business professional by someone who clearly knew nothing about my business.

Next, I’m told that I have to submit additional paperwork (contact, payment terms, etc)– to prove I’m legit, because I guess the Federal Tax ID and owning a business for 10 years wasn’t sufficient.

I receive an email with instructions to FAX the documents to a specific number. I do that immediately.

Next day, I receive a phone call from another rep that evidently confused my application with something else, which got me confused. Now I’m wondering why the rep that I talked to the day before didn’t tell me that I had not signed up for what I thought that I did. Now I’m becoming annoyed, but the gal on the line with me says she’ll clear it up.

She also tells me that she called because the documents I was to send to them had not been received. I said I faxed them at 5pm the day before and have confirmation. Oh, she says, it can take up to 24 hours for us to receive the paperwork. Of course, they don’t tell you that up front. She then goes on to say that it is faster if I upload them through my account. I do that while on the phone with her. I then ask why – if it’s better to upload through the account - that this information isn’t in the email that they send to you. I’m not sure she says…this happens all the time. Uh, hello, fix it someone.

Ten minutes later my rep calls me back. Turns out, I’m not crazy. She made a mistake. I had applied for the right service upgrade. I’m wondering if we can now finally move this forward.

I’m told I’m good to go. No, wait. I’m not. The credit card is American Express. Another approval needed. That clears and I get the email saying things are all set.

I input the credit card transaction and it goes through smoothly. But…wait for it…

Bam – I go to transfer funds to the company bank account and I receive an error that says that funds cannot be transferred until I submit requested paperwork. This is the very same paperwork that the gal the day before confirmed she had in hand.

End of story…I write customer service about my problem and give them the names, dates, times, I talked to folks. Someone woke up and cleared up the issue.

I’m sure you have your stories too. There are just too darn many examples of how lousy service provided by most companies really is. In my example, it is redundant phone calls, faxing documents as told, but then told that uploading documents is faster and moves your account processing along. People not clear on the product that I was purchasing. Having funds being put on hold because another service doesn’t see the documents in my account? Is this a case of people looking at different systems and maybe they aren’t all tying together? Whatever the reasons, this is a process that needs some cleaning up.

This cost me about 2 hours of my billable time. Exactly how is that a great customer experience?

My recommendation to every company out there…

Stop talking about how important creating that WOW customer experience is to your business and actually do something about it.

Here’s a thought…

Find out for yourself what it is like to be on the receiving end of what you believe to be great service. Put every single one of your service people…heck, everyone in your company…through the process of your customer experience. I guarantee that the exercise will give you a whole new perspective about the type of service experience your customers and prospects are actually receiving!

Are You an Email Addict?

It is a rhetorical question. I already know the answer. You are. I was too.

Recently, I conducted some serious soul searching regarding my own productivity. I’m an idea person and the list of things I’d really like to do is usually long. The problem I was faced with though was that I wasn’t executing on most of them. Other projects I was working on seemed to take much longer than necessary. I wanted to find out why.

What did I do? I studied my habits. I looked closely at where I was spending my time every day. What I discovered, although it wasn’t a shocking surprise, was that I was being sucked into email and ending up stuck there off and on throughout the workday.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. Don’t you?

Here is how it would go. I’d clear emails and then realize I’d better get started writing that blog post, preparing my material for the next client program or making those sales calls needed to bring in revenue. I’d be making great strides and then bam…that urge to check email. I’ve read various reports that say that once you do that, it can take as long as 20 minutes to get yourself back into the groove again and pick up where you left off. Maybe you never even get back to where you were.

Email addiction is a big problem and it is costly in more ways than one. This obsessive compulsion to be always “on” is robbing people of their productivity, the opportunity to be present with friends and family and the opportunity to enjoy life without constantly stressing out about what they think they might be missing.

In April 2010, Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project posted a poll on Huffington Post about workplace experience. A question about email was included. Here’s what they found out:

“Out of 1200 respondents, some 60 percent said they spend less than two waking hours a day completely disconnected from email. Twenty percent spend less than a half hour disconnected.”

Less than half an hour of your waking time disconnected? Seriously, that’s sad.

I love what Brendon Burchard has to say about email. He says, “Beware of your inbox, it’s nothing but a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.” That really stuck with me and two weeks ago, I made a decision.

No email before 12 noon each day. The only exception I make is if I have meetings scheduled, I will “scan” to see if meeting times have been changed. Even if they have, I do not respond before 12 noon.

My new habit is working. In addition to completing client work and bringing in new business, I have:

  • Completed an e-book
  • Finished my Sales Meets Social Media training course and facilitator program
  • Recorded an audio series
  • Recorded several new videos
  • Written blog posts
  • Begun my plans to create an interview series of top sales pro’s

If you are reading my post, I’m going to ask you to challenge yourself to set boundaries with respect to email. After all, whose agenda is more important - yours or theirs?

A Small Medium Biz Sales Strategy

A few days ago, Dan Greenfield asked for a few of my thoughts regarding what companies selling to small/medium sized businesses need to know. Today, I returned the favor. Big business doesn’t understand the SMB space as you’ll see from reading today’s post.

We are supporting this event later this year in Atlanta. Registration begins in July. Check out  for updates. We will offer an early bird special and discounts for multiple ticket purchases.

1) Dan – you’ve successfully brought your Social Media makeover events to market. What prompted you to want to focus big companies attention on the SMB space with your October 2012 event in Atlanta?

I think there is a real need for the B-2-smb Social Media Conference.It has been my observation that social media teams at the corporate level have succeeded in making brand building, corporate communications and customer support top priorities.

On the other hand, I have talked to many enterprise companies at various stages in launching SMB initiatives, and interestingly, a lot of them have not fully factored the role of social media into the equation.

SMB sales teams in the field often lack the resources, expertise or mandate to tap the power of social media to engage customers where purchase decisions are being made. Meanwhile, data shows that small companies are increasingly relying on social media to aid in making purchasing decisions.

So this conference is a real opportunity to help give sales teams and channels partners the action plans they need to gain a competitive advantage through social media.

2) What is the number one problem that SMB’s have cited about how brands market to them?

A recent Inc Magazine survey revealed that more than half of the small business owners (SBOs) who responded don’t feel that big brands know how to market to them.

Many of these SBOs feel that companies fail to reach them on a personal level, the very level that is the psychological engine, motivation driver and competitive differentiator for this group.

This lack of personal interaction plays right into social media’s strength.

Social media is all about the power of engagement. It’s my belief that social media’s reliance on trust and sharing can help enterprise sales team forge stronger relationships with small companies and ultimately generate more sales.

3) Social media usage is on the rise, but are enterprise organizations using social media effectively to reach SMB’s? If not, why not?

Many of the enterprise organizations that I have spoken to are struggling with their overall SMB strategy, let alone their SMB social media strategy.

Enterprise organizations are entering the second phase of social media adoption. The first phase was using social to build a national, corporate presence. The next wave is to localize social media efforts to reach smaller customers. The problem is that the sale teams servicing local accounts are not prepared to take advantage of these efforts.

The problems vary from company to company, but some issues stand out:  Enterprise organizations:

  • want to manage social media efforts at the top and don’t want to give control of the brand to the local sales team.
  • lack expertise to train local sales teams and channel partners.
  • don’t have the budget to do so.
  • don’t have the culture, systems and people in place to manage the process.
  • don’t understand the extent that social media is being used by their customers and are therefore reluctant to expend resources.

Another challenge is “old school” members of the local sales team are still resistant to social media – skeptical of its usefulness and believing that traditional efforts continue to work just fine. Of course, this will change as a new generation of small business owners and salespeople emerge who are more accustomed to using social media.

4) Are SMB’s using social media to make their purchasing decisions? What are key factors that enterprise marketers need to keep in mind when marketing to the businesses in this space?

While still in its infancy, social media is becoming increasingly more important for SMBs who are understaffed and operate under the mandate of “doing more with less.”

SMB decision-makers are utilizing the social media’s low cost tools and channels to help make purchase decisions – relying on online discussions with peers, customers and key influencers for valuable advice and content.

For future success, sales and marketing teams need to supplement traditional sales channels with social media efforts that include online forums, blogs and discussion groups.

Social media is accelerating the purchase decision making of SMBs and enabling them to purchase more technology faster. The growing level of trust in social media peer groups is now certainly a factor in many B2B business arenas.

AMI Partners found that an estimated 4.8 million SMBs in the U.S. and 76 percent use some form of social media for business use. This represents $180 billion in information technology spend and 48 percent used some form of social media in the purchase decision-making process.

One study I found showed that 41 percent of respondents are more likely to think favorably of vendors who provide business management advice, 39 percent are more likely to visit that vendor’s site, and 32 percent are more likely to do business with that vendor.

Another study found that search engines remain the primary resource for SMBs to find information about products and services. However, once most SMBs have search results in hand, many rely on word-of-mouth referrals when making their purchasing decisions. The main word-of-mouth referrals come from blogs and forums (34 percent) and third-party reviews (35 percent).

All of which leads to a second point: When using these channels, the enterprise organizations need to understand the rules of engagement. The goal is not to sell and advertise; it is to share information and be perceived as a partner trying to help with useful information.

The “non-selling” sales approach is very different, but if done correctly will provide enterprise organizations a new point of entry to prospects.  As you said Barb“, “While it sounds a little counterintuitive, you don’t use these tools to spit out sales spam. That only annoys people and harms you rather than helps you. In this world, you are judged by the value you give before expecting an immediate return. Be relevant and share valuable content related to your industry and people will take notice.”

5) With so many conferences to choose from, especially those that have a social media focus, what is different about The B-2-smb Social Media Conference?

In coming up with the idea for the B-2-smb Social Media Conference, I discovered that there are plenty of events that broadly address the latest and greatest in social media from a technical and marketing perspective. There are also many others that focus on helping small businesses with social media. But I have come across very few that specifically target ways to help the enterprise use social media reach the SMB market.

In many ways, the SMB market is a new frontier. The fruit is higher on the tree, but businesses with fewer than 500 employees make up 99.7 percent of all employer firms. The SMB market provides a great opportunity to those that understand how to engage and sell to it. In time, social media will only continue to grow in influence.

6) Give us a hint…what topics are on the agenda?

The agenda is pretty straightforward and intended to meet two goals:

  • Helping attendees understand how SMBs are using social media to make purchasing decisions (including how they find the right technology solutions and how they identify and interact with online influencers to validate those solutions)
  • Helping attendees increase the impact of their social media efforts to identify leads, engage small and mid-market businesses with relevant information and track and measure results

The morning is devoted to getting into the mindset of a SMB and understanding how enterprise companies are successfully using social media to reach their target customer.

The second half of the day begins by getting down to helping attendees understand how to reach prospects which is your specialty area, Barb. I appreciate your willingness to moderate a panel and share your expertise in social selling.  We will then explore  ways to help the enterprise understand the social media habits of existing customers to reveal what they are doing online and why.  We conclude by building an action plan a successful social media strategy.

7) Who benefits from attending the conference and what are the key learning’s they can expect to take with them at the end of the day?

This conference is ideal for:

Sales and marketing teams and channel partners at mid and enterprise level companies who want to:

  • Better connect with the SMB market via social media
  • Integrate social media into an overall marketing and sales strategy
  • Localize corporate social media efforts
  • Enterprise level companies who want to exhibit their social media thought leadership
  • Consultants and vendors trying to identify and market their social media tools and services to the SMB market
  • Mid-sized businesses that want to make connections with big businesses

8) I know you are looking for sponsors, who in particular will benefit from sponsoring the event?

This conference is a great sponsorship opportunity for:

  • Corporations with social media tools, technologies and platforms that help enterprise-level companies reach and serve the SMB market
  • Vendors, consulting firms or agencies with social media expertise and/or SMB experience that helps enterprise-level companies market to SMBs, manage the process, and measure the results
  • Companies wanting to build your presence in the SMB market
  • Companies wanting to showcase your social media prowess with SMB customers

9) What’s the event date, the cost and how do people register?

Registration begins in July. Check out  for updates. We will offer an early bird special and discounts for multiple ticket purchases.


The producer of the B2SMB Social Media Conference is Dan Greenfield, president of
LISTEN Interactive - a social marketing and PR consultancy. A veteran communications
executive, Greenfield has extensive experience working with corporate and political
leaders, senior management and teams charged with executing strategy and delivering
results in the Internet, telecommunications, environmental and health care fields.

Greenfield is creator of the SMB Social Media Makeover Forum where small businesses
receive expert social media advice from successful brands. Previously he produced a
series of PR+MKTG Camps around the country working with hundreds of PR and
marketing professionals to help them better understand how to market, manage and
measure the social engagement process.

The Gaps Discussion Continued

In my last post I talked about the five gaps that I believe are impeding salespeople from reaching their goals. The most critical to resolve of these gaps requires a change in thinking and mindset. Until that happens, until salespeople and their management come to accept that the way that we need to sell today has changed, they will continue to wonder why they aren’t hitting their goals.

Adapt - If we know that buyers start the sales process without salespeople when they have a business problem to solve (and a variety of sources like GartnerSirius Decisions and others back this up), then salespeople need to have strong, compelling, visible presence on the web but especially LinkedIn if they are B2B. Moreover, they need to be actively sharing real-time, relevant information that adds value for prospects in advance of sales opportunities.

Leverage - Salespeople are not leveraging technology (LinkedIn, InsideView, etc.) before making a call to a prospect or even to reconnect with a client that has done business with them in the past. They are not using real-time data and the social web to look for triggers or events that would indicate a need to solve a business problem. Instead, they are trying to secure that phone call or face-to-face meeting blind with their goal being to present features and benefits. They make phone calls or go into meetings asking questions that they should already know the answer to. They are not demonstrating the traits of a “trusted advisor”, so to today’s buyer they look like any other vendor.

Research - Cold calling. Really? Don’t even get me started. I’m on the receiving end of a lot of it and it is awful. Canned or scripted phone calls and emails fall on deaf ears, but salespeople keep doing it. InsideView says that 92% of the time the phone call and email is ignored if the buyer doesn’t know the person. Why do it when there are better, more effective ways to invest time? An post yesterday, laid out a cold calling script that they claim gets results. While better written and classier than most that I’ve seen, I wonder what would happen if the rep actually did a little homework to know more about the business they were calling. Even a well written script that is one-sided and about what you want rather than what your prospect cares about is still not a good approach.

Qualify - Too many salespeople give everyone an equal amount of attention when they should be qualifying who has the greatest potential for business now and in the near term. Just because someone took your call doesn’t mean they are qualified to buy or that they are even the relevant decision maker. Smart salespeople learn to ask the right questions to determine if a real opportunity actually exists and they make sure that they are talking to the real buyer. Someone may have a budget, they may have what appears to be the right title, but finding out who really owns the decision is critical. Time is precious. Spend it wisely.

Engage…or not - Salespeople get really excited when they reach someone and chat a few minutes and that person says, “send me a proposal”. Me, I’m not turning cartwheels. Generally, if that’s the case, it is likely too late in the game and someone else is the front runner. Proposals take a lot of work, so salespeople should know they have a real shot at winning before investing their time. Do you really want to spend all that time only to have your work used to negotiate a better deal with your competitor? Our Sales Opportunity Snapshot training and coaching helps to resolve gaps #4 and #5. It’s basically a process and methodology for asking the right questions to determine whether the opportunity is qualified and/or worth investing time in at all.

Buyer 2.0 has spoken. They are tired of gimmicks and scripted sales pitches. They want relevance. They want you to know their business. They want you to add value.

I’m asking again…are you listening?


SOCIAL SALES SURVEY – take this quick, 3-minute (I promise) survey to help us understand how salespeople are using social media. You will receive a copy of the results. Click here to complete the survey.