Add to this the fact that no potential customer worth meeting is lonely, bored or looking for a new friend. Nor do they lay awake at night hoping a salesperson will call them the next day to waffle-on about the joys and wonders of their company and thing they sell. Successful salespeople and entrepreneurs leave clues. What separates the best sales people from the rest?
Differentiator #1: The right 'value narrative', delivered with passion. They grab the buyer's attention and set the agenda on 'business value'. Compare these two videos. The first is just like every other pitch... 'Disney nice' and includes a story but the winner is the second video is the same material but delivered in a way that grabs you by the throat to have you gasping before you laugh. We all need to sell like Michael Bay (Director of the Transformers movies) and put the other person in the picture with some positive drama.
The pitch below is [yawn] like everyone else
This next 'pitch' achieves real cut-through!
Few people hone the right 'value narrative' to grab the other person's attention and hook their interest. To do it well, think like a script-writer developing a compelling movie script that choreographs 'the hero's journey'. Then deliver it in a way that focuses on the outcomes you can help them achieve and lead to the value you offer rather than lead with a pitch or 'value proposition'. Have some humility in your approach yet pepper it with belief in the difference you can make. You want them to think you are someone worth talking to, who can help them achieve their goals or achieve a better way of operating. As Phil Lori says: "You're initially selling your expertise and lessons learned from working with others they regard as relevant."
Every communication, whether it email, InMail, voicemail, text message, or the very words from your mouth (when you are surprised by a live voice on the other end of the phone); all need to be about them and the business outcomes you believe you can help them achieve. Note: Buying from you is not a business outcome for them! What's your headline and 'promise of value'? Why should anyone invest his or her precious time in listening to you?
The 'pitch' from Ridley Scott to the studios when selling the original Alien movie was...
"Jaws In Space"
They got it. They loved it. The rest is history. By the way; Alien Covenant is a great movie... I saw it last week and it recovers the misstep that was Prometheus.
Differentiator #2: Strong personal values: The best sales people are highly driven, inquisitive, disciplined and ambitious. Yet real success is all about making a positive difference in the lives of others. Zig Ziglar was a legendary sales training and a man of genuine faith and integrity. Early in my sales career, he said to me: "You can have anything you want in life if you help enough people get what they want." Success is not about grasping and greed, nor about dominance and power. It's not about crushing and closing. It's about courage, values, leadership and service. Be the person worthy of the success you seek. Love and respect yourself and others as you strive to make a difference by giving everything you've got. Most importantly, have the courage to believe you are capable of anything you put your mind and hands to do.
Differentiator #3: The right mindset and using social AND the phone. Sales success demands Combinations of the right activity and that means using every channel available to break through to those we seek to help. We need a minimum of two hours every single day doing outbound prospecting where we seek conversations and meetings with potential clients. We MUST do this regardless of how 'successful' we are with current revenue and no matter how busy we become with existing clients. Before you go home each day, make sure you have your list of calls to make first thing in the morning.
Consistent intelligent hard work always wins but sales is one of the hardest jobs in the history of the world. You can run for 18 months and exhaust every resource and still lose. It's extremely repetitive and tactical but also demands masterful strategy. You've got quotas, deadlines, management breathing down your neck, reporting, admin, expenses, travel. It's a 50-hour week job of rejection and disappointment if you suck, and it can be a 70-hour obsession if you're great.
The point here is you must first inculcate yourself to just how difficult achieving 'high performance' is in professional selling and life generally. It's going to be painful and you're going to want to quit if you don't know why you're doing what you do. Once you pass through the trough of disillusionment and out the other side, you can gain a determined conscious competence. But it really all starts with overcoming your fear; and that fear is always, always, always... the telephone. This is because when you're not using the phone, you aren't really being fully rejected - aka, punched in the mouth. The phone is becoming more important because your competitors are abandoning it in droves but the smartest people are where the competition is not but where the customers are present. Everyone you want to sell to has a 'social phone'.
This type of disciplined intelligent activity is what sets the great apart from those who are merely talented. At the end of the day, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's success isn't a fluke; he worked out 6 hours a day for 20 years. Arnie was the same and so are all the greats. Without being desperate, you still need to hungry and driven to wildly exceed your quota. The harder I work, the luckier I get. Daily, smart activity builds the mental muscle and grit to break through. Abs are made in the kitchen and the gym; but the first discipline is usually the hardest. Analogies abound, at the end of the day, you have to be tenacious beyond belief.
You can't just send the same stale template over and over. You need to keep a consistent message but one that is smart, well researched and has an edge for cut through. You need to take that one extra step to make each task just a bit better. Reverse lookup their email address in discover.ly or Rapportive. Double-check your common connections for a warm introduction. Check their LinkedIn profile to see if they publicly share their email address or cellphone. Who on my team knows this person or used to work with them at a company in common? What are the internal and external referrals I can garner? What are the trigger events I can monitor and pounce upon? We've already covered all this and more... but will you actually do what needs to be done every workday?
The world is filled with busy fools who feel justified in their failure. One failing senior salesperson looked me in the eye and said: "There's nothing else I could be doing; our brand is just not strong enough and I'm not getting enough leads." His qualified pipeline was less than 70% of his target. He needed to make it 3X but he persisted with tiny deals that made it impossible to succeed due to there not being enough hours in the day. I explained the CEB Research that revealed 53% of the buyer's decision is due to how the salesperson and their team engage; brand and capabilities contribute 19% each; and price accounts for a mere 9% of decision-weighting. Yet he chose to lead with price and seek to 'be the cheapest' as a way of entering an account. His strategy was madness - he was fired.
Added to the CEB slide above is Corporate Visions Research that reveals 74% of buyers choose the first salesperson to educated and provides insights.
When is come to being successful, the way we sell is more important than what we sell.
Differentiator #4: Intelligent Action! You can also sit on a silent sales floor and work 12 hours a day blasting out emails and socializing in LinkedIn but never do a deal. Massive dumb action, at any level, is just plain stupid. It's even dumb to do the right activity but inconsistently. I see it everywhere I consult - salespeople lurching into action once they realize, too late, that they don't have enough pipeline. Prodded into action, they thrash around and create barely enough opportunities before stopping on the basis they are now busy 'selling and closing'.
Imagine a timeline going left to right in a spreadsheet. Two key metrics are tracked for each month - prospecting calls and revenue. Tracking the number of calls is the only key pipeline metrics needed because all social and email activity is designed to result in making a phone call for a real H2H connection.
My experience is that 98% of people have wild cross-overs in the two tracking lines of 'prospecting activity' and 'revenue achieved' over time. Here is how the story goes: 'I'm so busy responding to web leads, updating the CRM, following-up existing deals, doing proposals and closing that I just don't have time for prospecting... no one answers the phone anyway. I do what I can each week and push updates in LinkedIn and social... that's outbound isn't it?'
Note: The idea that 'no one answers the phone' is one of the strangest and most powerfully destructive beliefs in sales! It's 100% wrong so don't buy the lie! Chris Beall, Mike Scher, Kyle Porter, Steve Richard, Anthony Iannarino, Jeb Blount, Mike Weinberg, Jill Konrath and Mark Hunter are just a few who can prove incontrovertibly that senior people answer the phone to then become customers.
For those who don't consistently do the required prospecting activity, sales results fall well below target within 60-90 days: 'Holy crap, marketing and the SDR team have failed to deliver leads... again! I've gotta prospect to fill my pipe!' A few weeks of furious activity ensues to create enough qualified pipeline to keep the wolf from the door... but then the cycle repeats. The lag between activity and revenue creates a false impression that they are disconnected. The same happens with our weight. We diet and don't seem to lose any weight after a week so we give up and binge only to see weight fall off. Wow; dieting doesn't work! I do the right thing and don't lose weight yet when I eat crap (carbs and sugar) and don't get fat! Wrong; it's just a lag between inputs and results. Selling is exactly the same.
What have I missed? Jump into the comments of this article and let me know what other factors differentiate great salespeople.
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Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published on LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award-winning blog. Also, visit Tony's keynote speaker website at www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.