We were lucky to catch up with sales leader Anthony Iannarino and, as expected, he blew us away with his real talk and advice that just motivates action and greatness.
If you’re in the world of sales, you’ve likely heard of Iannarino because he is the creator of The Sales Blog, and an international author, speaker and teacher. When he’s not busy sharing daily bits of wisdom on his blog and producing video guides and ebooks for sales professionals, he travels around the world to help sales teams optimize their sales strategy. And somehow, he even fitted in time to write an entire book, “The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need”, available on October 11, 2016.
We asked Iannarino 4 common questions that salespeople wrestle with and didn’t get the 4 answers you’d expect.
1. Anthony, what’s the biggest piece of advice you have for qualifying and prioritizing leads?
You are never going to hear me say that qualifying isn’t important. You should never spend your time or energy pursuing people or companies who will not benefit from what you sell, or who may benefit from what you sell, but won’t value how you do it enough to pay for that value.
That said, most sales organizations and salespeople simply over-qualify. Let me tell you why: they don’t understand where their prospective client is in their buying process, or if you like the new vernacular better, their “buying journey.”
“Just because they’re only experiencing dissonance, and they don’t have a well-developed problem worth solving, doesn’t mean that they are not worth your time.”
What it means is that you have to help them develop that dissonance into a compelling case for change. If you’re a salesperson and you believe that the lead needs to be ready to buy, then you don’t understand sales. If they were ready to buy, I wouldn’t need a salesperson. I need someone to help them – the prospective client – through their buying journey.
2. And once we do a kickass job with building a qualified list of leads, what are your best tips for closing?
My best tips for closing are to think about how fast is slow and slow is fast. What’s most important is you figure out all the commitments you need from a prospective client from target to close.
“There are at least 10 asks in a normal B2B sales scenario. What you want to do is to earn the right to ask for the next commitment in every interaction.”
If you asked for the commitment of time, that scheduled appointment with your dream client has to be so valuable that they can easily imagine taking the next step with you. You’re going to have to tell them what value you will create for them and that next interaction. You do this for each and every interaction, never leaving one without scheduling the next.
People place too much emphasis on the final close, when you ask the prospective client to buy. That’s the easy part. Getting all the smaller commitments tends to cause more challenges.
3. What is your view on cold calling? Is it still relevant in this day and age?
If you are not making cold calls then you’re not producing the numbers you could be, you should be, and that you will be when you pick up the telephone.
“The people who tell you that cold calling is dead sell social selling products and services.”
Those are the only people that tell you cold calling is dead. Most sales organizations are opportunity-starved because they are passive, believing that inbound marketing is going to generate enough opportunities and falling under the spell of acquiring opportunities without having to put forth the effort of making calls.
When you look at the best salespeople in almost any company, they all use the telephone. The truth of the matter is they use all prospecting methods available to them at some level. If cold calling isn’t part of your prospecting plan, you are missing out.
You’re free to believe whatever you want to believe about cold calling, but you better hope your competitor doesn’t have a different set of beliefs, or they’ll eat your lunch.
4. And lastly, how do you see the sales landscape evolving in the future?
I see the world of sales being pulled into directions. It’s being pulled to be more transactional. People want to automate every single part of the client engagement as much as possible. I would’ve said “humanly” possible, but the idea of automation is to remove the human element. This pull to be more transactional is driven by deep, tectonic economic shifts like commoditization, disintermediation, and globalization.
At the same time there are sales organization and companies making exactly the opposite choice in deciding to be super relational. This means they are creating greater value, and they are capturing greater value to be able to deliver it. In every market there is a high-caring, high-trust, high-value offering.
Those in the middle are getting pulled apart. Many of them are moving towards transactional, believing that is what they need to do to compete.
“The truth of the matter is creating greater value is always an easier way to build a profitable business.”
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