(and what to do about it)
Over the past 13 years, we have worked with over 20,000 sales reps, from hundreds of companies across six continents. The sales people are evenly split between field sales people, inside sellers and sales/lead development reps. Sure, there are differences with certain cultures, but in the grand scheme of things, those differences are subtle and minor.
What strikes me the most are the similarities that exist.Regardless of whether we are in Buenos Aires, Bangalore, Boston, Sidney, London, San Jose (Costa Rica or California) or Lincoln, Nebraska; the challenges and the actions of these teams are very much the same.
Like you, these salespeople are always faced with trying to locate the right decision maker, getting them to respond and engaging them effectively in a first, meaningful business conversation.
We also see many make some of the same mistakes. The top three include taking a single threaded approach, confusing no answer with not interested, and inconsistent documentation. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Single Threaded Approach
Most sales people believe in a “multi-touch” approach.Usually, there are multiple decision makers.As such, it makes sense to touch multiple people in an account; touch them multiple times; follow-up in the right frequency and interval while delivering a consistent message.
Instead, we often see no more than one contact per account. Sales people will generally do what you “inspect” and not what you “expect”. Our decade-plus of research clearly shows that touching multiple people in an account creates more opportunities to tell your story. Our clients who are successful not only expect their sales reps to touch multiple contacts within an account, but they actually measure the breath of contacts to determine the quality of that outreach.
2. Confusing “No answer” with “Not Interested”
It is not uncommon for a sales person to make a few phone calls, send a couple of emails; and when the prospect doesn’t respond, assume they are not interested. That is a big mistake.
These key players you are reaching out to get dozens of phone calls and hundreds of emails a day. Those who think that a just couple of calls and 2-3 emails over a week or two are all they need to do are generally not very successful. Our study says it typically takes three rounds (a series of different touches, e.g., email, voicemail, dialogs) of outreach to multiple key players above and around your decision maker before you begin to get their attention. In fact, many of them WANT to call you back; they just happen to be tied up with other priorities at the moment.
Remember “No” means no. “No answer” means you just haven’t gotten my attention yet.
3. Inconsistent Documentation/Approach
Many reps document their activity in a CRM (or worse yet, don’t use a CRM because maybe it is too “clunky”) in haphazard fashion. They might log a call, open a task, type some cryptic notes and put in an arbitrary follow-up date.
If you have done any amount of outreach, you will soon find yourself having way more people to follow-up with than time to call that day. Without a consistent way to manage your follow-up, you end up having reminders going off in your CRM (which you dutifully ignore like the car alarm in the parking lot), so who do you call first? How do you make that decision?
All this makes it next to impossible to organize and prioritize follow-up.
Having a system that works with your CRM, guides the user through the process so they can document activity in a fast, easy and normalized fashion is essential for helping you manage your day, versus your day managing you.
While the three mistakes outlines above are pervasive, they are not difficult to solve but require both a little discipline and some technology. That said the payoff is huge with 100%-300% increases in outcomes common.
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