Editor’s Note: Today we welcome a new guest contributor to the blog — Sales expert and author Tibor Shanto. All Tibor’s areas of expertise contain the word “Sales,” which will only be to the benefit of our audience! We look forward to many posts, all chock full of the advice and leadership that are the hallmarks of his writing.
We’re Not in Sales Because It’s Easy
I remember once complaining to someone I respect as a sales professional about how hard a deal I was working on was to pull together. He looked at me and said
“If it was easy they wouldn’t need us.”
Since then I have stopped looking to the sky above hoping for a short cut or the easy way. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go looking for the harder way, but have come to accept the heavy lifting required to win some deals and get ahead in sales.
Let’s be clear, if there is an easier way to achieve the same result, go for it. What I have an issue with is when they look for an easy alternative to something that usually involves a greater effort to get the right or desired result, both in terms of planning and execution. Adding to the challenge is the plethora of tools, methodologies, apps, and stories promising sellers great (at times unrealistic) results without the effort.
Resist Wishful Thinking
As you would expect, salespeople are most susceptible to these silver bullets, secrets, amulets, and potions in areas they like least. Few mind going to get a contract signed, probably why you don’t see as many apps or noise at the tail end of the cycle. Most of the tools tend to focus on the front end of the sales cycle, prospecting, engaging the right number of the right buyers to fill your pipeline. One can compare it to fitness; there are more ab machines being hawked, promising to make any couch potato a runway model.
Salespeople already have a propensity to chase shiny objects with shinier promises, when that collides with the speed at which new tools and apps are offered up, you get some interesting dynamics.
Combine All Quality Sales Techniques
it’s important to remember that the people bringing these tools and apps to market need to monetize their new apps, and so will behave in similar ways to those looking to capitalize on people’s fears and dislikes. And there is no greater fear or dislike among B2B sellers than telephone prospecting. One common practice is to denigrate and raze all that came before. In this case the target is telephone prospecting.
One of the best and overlooked reasons not to put all your eggs in one basket is that our prospects and clients don’t all fit into one bucket. They have different modes of communication, often multiple modes. They react and respond to different things in different ways. This suggests that placing your bet on one method versus another can, and usually does, limit your success. For every buyer who doesn’t return calls, or may not look positively on being prospected by phone, there are others, who ignore LinkedIn, or other social avenues. This is why some of the best social selling tools position themselves alongside or in support of other prospecting methods.
I am not clear as to why the proponents of the new engagement tools or methodologies insist that cold calling or telephone prospecting needs to be dead, unless it is a prerequisite for their stuff to work. The reality is that side by side they both make sense, and combined are greater than the sum of the two. I have had success in engaging prospects and customers using strictly traditional prospecting methods, as well as succeeding with using only the latest tools and methods; but by far my best results have been by combining both tools and approaches. These days that would be social and telephone prospecting — and yes, cold calling. Quality, old and new, can not only coexist, but strengthen each other.
Reserve the Right Technique for the Right Time
The discussion needs to shift to how we can create efficiencies in prospecting by applying the right element at the right point along the journey. How do you take a conversation that started online or in the social realm, and extend it into live discussion by applying traditional telephone techniques? How do you use social to support your sales effort after you cold-called someone and secured an appointment (live or web)?
As with most things it is good to remember “buyer beware.” I have learned that when you are offered an easy way, especially one too easy to be true, you usually end up paying a steeper price. As with fitness, it takes a mix of things to succeed, always including a commitment, effort, and a willingness to combine new ideas with proven techniques.