The # 1 key to prospecting success: situational fluency

Posted by Mike Scher

Apr 22, 2015 9:22:00 AM

. . . and four things you can do to improve it for your team

Sales development people are inundated with requests from lots of different directions. They have a sales manager that wants them to follow process and update CRM.  shutterstock_149681156They are likely paired with a few field reps that give them “direction” and are constantly vying for their time and attention.  Marketing wants them to follow-up on leads, trade show responses and other campaigns regardless of how valuable (or not) these leads are.

They have to wade through a myriad of tools for sales intelligence, dialers, data capture and email solutions armed with scant training — and no one in the company really knows how to use them in an optimal fashion.

From a prospecting perspective, they get lots of conflicting information from reading blogs and the typical “tips and tricks” sales training they may get.   These reps are tasked with figuring out which “nuggets” to take away and how best to apply them to their daily job function.  To make matters worse, much of this information is contradictory.   I recently received an email about “The five best sales books in 2014”. One of the books proclaimed, “Cold calling is dead,” and yet the title of another was, “The art and science of cold calling.”

All of this happens BEFORE a single call is even made.   They have inaccurate lists to deal with, CRM systems to manage, value propositions to perfect, phone systems to navigate and administrative assistants (gatekeepers) to deal with.

At FRONTLINE Selling, we have developed the only proven, enterprise-level prospecting solution on the market — called Staccato™.  Staccato was developed based on the scientific study of 1.8 million outreach efforts across every imaginable vertical market and solution set. Controlling for all other variables, the study revealed that the number one attribute that separated the good from everyone else was situational fluency.  Notice I didn’t say product knowledge or command of content.

Situational fluency is the ability to maintain command and control of each interaction and execute your prospecting strategy. This means managing every dialogue (be it with the administrative assistant, key player/decision maker, receptionist, etc.) and getting the most out of each discussion.

The difference between “good” and everyone else is dramatic.   Reps that are situationally fluent perform at 2X-3X those who are not.   What is the difference between getting 8-12 appointments per month and 20-25?   Answer:  situational fluency.

Here are four steps your team can take to become situationally fluent and increase prospecting outcomes.

1.  Take Situational Inventory – To create situational fluency, you must first define all the scenarios a rep would face.  The good news is there are surprisingly few.

2.  Architect Best Practices – There is a right way to do something and every other way.  Once you have defined all the scenarios, you need to develop the best practices for each scenario. A common scenario, for example is reaching a key player’s voice mail.   To establish best practices for this scenario, you’ll need to evaluate a range of questions/options such as:

  • Should your rep leave a message?    
  • If yes, what are the circumstances to leave that message?
  • What message should they leave?
  • How long/short should it be?
  • How do you document that in CRM?
  • When would you follow-up?  
  • How often?
  • How many times?

3.  Practice Like You Play – Role-plays are effective ONLY if they closely approximate reality and they are consistent.  The person playing the prospect must act like a prospect and not a caricature of a prospect.

If it isn’t a real and honest role-play, it won’t be effective to drive situational fluency. In Staccato, we utilize a digitized call simulator with interactive voice-response technology that mimics the scenarios a rep will face. It scores the rep in an objective fashion eliminating natural human bias.

4.  Measure and Coach – Inspect what you expect.  The best coaching of situational fluency goes well beyond the typical activity-based metrics — you know, the obligatory “dials”, “connects” and “talk time”. It focuses more on the metrics that indicate the quality of outreach, for example, are your reps leveraging multiple touches to multiple people in an account?  

There are many tools available for sales development people.  The challenge is figuring out where, how and if they all fit. The manager of a large business development team recently confided that too many tools with too many options have been introduced resulting in a reduction in productivity for his team. He quipped, “We are like a golfer with a bad swing who goes out and buys new clubs.   The clubs aren’t the problem; it’s the golfer!”

Just like the golfer needs to learn how to hit all the shots, your team needs the situational fluency to handle all the scenarios they face; and to handle them flawlessly.

To learn more, download one of our eBooks by clicking here.

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FRONTLINE Selling can help you refine your client communication processes. Contact us today for more information on services that help you prospect more efficiently and close more sales.

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