We’ve all heard of large public companies such as Coca Cola, Dow Chemical, Merck and Hewlett Packard and a part of their successes can be attributed to sales expert and trainer Alice Heiman. Alice has trained some of the largest and most complex accounts, and has been awarded recognitions such as Saleswoman of the Year, Marketer of the Year, and the US Chamber of Commerce Small Business Blue Ribbon Award. Whether you’re a sales rep or business owner, her advice will have you selling more comfortably and successfully.
We’re fortunate to have Alice with us today to draw upon her two decades of sales coaching experience to help you improve your business networking, lead generation and sales skills. Below are 5 questions that we got to dive into with Alice and, surprisingly, she didn’t emphasize technology much at all. Sometimes, you just need to master the fundamentals first before jumping into other solutions.
1. Salespeople can’t sell if they don’t have quality leads to sell to. So, to start off, what is the most effective way to prospect?
There are many ways to prospect and prospecting can be shared between sales and marketing. It’s always nice when we have a steady flow of inbound leads leads but it’s rarely the case. So salespeople need to prospect. Depending on the industry and whether you have inside or outside salespeople here are some of the things I recommend:
Friends and family – Often overlooked but your friends and family can make introductions to people who can buy from you. They can do that in person, by phone, email or social media.
Referrals from happy clients – Leverage your existing customer relationships to meet prospects. What could be easier? Ask them who they know and ask if they can make an introduction. Or be more specific and share some company names with them to see if they have connections they would be willing to share. You can also use LinkedIn to know who your clients are connected to.
Referral partners – Who knows your target prospects as well as you do? Find referral partners that sell to the same crowd but do not compete. Develop a plan to make introductions. Be very intentional about it and don’t leave it to chance.
Multi-platform, Multi-touch campaigns – Make a list or buy a list of ideal customers and plan a multi-faceted approach. Develop 8 to 12 touches with great customer-focused messaging and use many channels to deliver it. I like a combination of email, voicemail, phone and social media – especially LinkedIn. Do this in a very account-focused way finding several potential influencers at each company you target. Some call that Account Based Marketing or Prospecting.
Events – A great way to prospect. Hold events and draw your ideal prospects to you. Attend events where your prospects will be. Speak at those events if you can. Of course you can attend a tradeshow or conference to meet them and maybe exhibit but you need a great plan for before during and after (I have an ebook on that I am willing to share.)
To sum it up, there are many ways to prospect and you need to use the combination that works best for your company.
2. Once you have these leads, how do you best approach them?
Approaching someone who has been introduced to you and approaching someone cold are similar, but with one basic difference. In the first case you have been transferred some credibility, while in the second scenario you have to establish credibility quickly and this can be difficult, especially over the phone.
The best approach is always to come informed and with ideas to share. This means in both cases, you do your homework first and learn everything you can about the business and the people you will be calling. The internet makes it so easy and in the case of the ones you were introduced to, you can go back to the person who made the introduction and get some good info. It’s important to know the industry, the business, the challenges and the people. Ask questions and make statements that show you know who they are and what they need. Be careful not to assume. When you make a statement about what you learned about their business or industry, check in to see if they agree. Approach each person as if you were making a new business friend for life. Care more about them reaching their goals than you making a sale.
3. Earlier this year, you wrote a blog about presentations, which was surprisingly refreshing because social selling seems to steal the show nowadays. What are your best tips for delivering presentations that will close deals?
Presenting always needs to be in the context of the learner – the people you are presenting to. Always start with your audience in mind. Who are they? What do they need? Why will they listen? What will get them excited? No one wants to hear about you or your products — until they ask. Your job is to get them curious. Tell the story – their story. Show them you know them. So build your presentation with that in mind and you will win.
4. And even after delivering a great pitch, the question about price inevitably comes up. How should we deal with prospects who have price objections?
Price objections come up when the buyer doesn’t see the value or they want your offering but can’t afford it. Don’t discount! When a price objection arises confirm the objection and ask some questions to learn more before offering a solution. Some prospects can’t afford what you sell. That’s okay. Don’t spend any more time. Acknowledge that it’s not a good fit because the price doesn’t work with their budget or help them figure out how to get the budget.
5. As the year winds down and we’re all closing upon our Q4 goals, what should we be doing to prepare ourselves for a strong start to 2017?
Prep for the new year should start in October. You want to hit the ground running in Q1. I like to have some business already booked, my plan in place and my lead list built long before the holidays. If you haven’t started preparing, start now. Carve out some time and build your plan. Start with thinking about how you want the new year to work for you. Sit and envision yourself at the end of the year and everything has gone really well. What happened to make it go well? Now start building your plan. Set your sales goals and make an attainment plan for each goal. Be as specific as you can. Then look at your calendar and start scheduling the actions you need to take. Once you start executing, be sure to review, adjust and measure. Don’t forget to get help. Find a mentor, hire a coach, find an accountability partner, don’t try to go it alone. The best always have a great team around them.
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