Events / Conferences / Exhibitions * Preparation pre-event * Work the room * Attend as a delegate: talk to your neighbours, the speakers, the other vendors * Gather competitive info but... don't steal it! * Don't forget your business cards * Manage your contacts (business cards, outlook...) * Follow up in the next 10 days * Business networking
* Business issues * Market * Regulation * Competition * Products -> match that to needs * Questionning * Role plays * Call together * Challenging -> what do you think? Question/challenge. Ask them to explain * Listen to colleagues * Start with small prospects
Support / resources * magazine and websites * internal presentation * templates * pipeline * product training with product managers
I am convinced appearance is very important, and the way you reflect your company will help your sales team sell more. To support your sales force, you need to have a strong marketing. You are selling to people who will take the responsibility and sign off the contract: they need to be reassured and confident they are making the right choice.
The goal is to make your prospect comfortable working with you and your company. There are several ways to achieve that: * Client References * Awards * Partnerships * Labels & Endorsements
The things your prospects don't know * Client References: which kind of relationship? Which services? Which country? Global deal? Still current business or not? * Partnerships: which kind of partnership? Smooth or tense? * Label or endorsement: what the validity of the endorsement? Do companies have to pay to get endorsed?
I believe in the importance of relationships. From the very first second, you start building an excellent relationship... or not!
Warm is always better than cold Bad targeting could be catastrophic both for the company (waste of time and efforts, so money too!), and for the sales rep who could loose confidence if calling people who are obviously not interested.
It reminds me of my experience as sales executive for a leading financials news magazine. I joined the sales team for roughly a month, as I was looking for a job in sales/Business Development in London.
My task was to sell a £200/year subscription to top executives in the financial services industry in France. France is already a fascinating country when you talk about sales: sales is almost bad, or it is annoying. As Mr said in his interview in HBS magazine of June 2006, in the US "..."whereas in France "...".
At that company, the targeting was pretty bad as I was asked to contact CEO and MDs at a time where the market was very bad and the costs cutting at their upmost. We are talking about people who have a very busy schedule,so time is precious and they already read Les Echos and the Financial Times...
After a couple of weeks, I initiated a strategy to target Business Schools and especially Masters and MBAs: Deans, Directors, Alumni and Student associations. The response was very good, and I got a job of Business Development Manager EMEA for a leading information provider!
The Quality of your relationships is your most valuable asset Targeting, identifyng and generating the best leads is critical to build a successful sales organization. In 2006 with the internet, I am impressed by the number of companies offering solutions in new leads generation: I think they need to review their strategy and quickly diversify!
Indeed, nowadays you can do a lot yourself and can identify excellent contacts very quickly and efficiently. For most companies though, there is still a long way to go in terms of online presence, search engine optimization, traffic and lead generation through their website.
* Existing clients * Friends / ex-colleagues / fellow alumni * Business Networking * Conferences (Speaking engagement, exhibiting, delegate) * News & Magazines (Writing articles / white papers) * Associations / User Groups * Influencers (consulting companies) * Websites of competitors & partners _____________________________________________________________________________________ * Existing clients The first step is to understand who your clients are, and especially to find the "champions" among them. People who like your products, and who like your sales people and who would be happy to recommend your company to their peers. You may leverage your success with compelling case studies.
* Friends / ex-colleagues / fellow alumni Search your database of contacts and find the people who could help you to get in touch with influencers and potential prospects.
* Business Networking I could spend hours talking about business & social networking, one of my favourite topics! Leverage your online visiblity, and your profiles on excellent business networking sites such as Linkedin. It is a goldmine of contacts! But you need to do it smartly...
* Conferences - Precious info for free Conferences are a great source for contacts in your industry. But as they are costly, prepare your budget wisely and identify the ones really worth spending money for (in terms of exhibitors or sponsors) First, identify the speakers and store their details in outlook. Send them an email to congratulate them for their speech.
* Conferences - Sponsoring / Exhibiting Of course, sponsoring or exhibiting usually gives you access to the list of delegates: I advise you to contact the organizers to make sure you will receive the list, and to check the amount of info available.
* Conferences - Delegates Most of the time, sending one or two people as delegates is the winning strategy. As long as the people demonstrate good interpersonal and networking skills: when you are in the room, be in the room! You need to work the room, and to get to people and start conversation. Attending the conferences themselves is very useful, and make sure to identify the day with the cocktail or the diner party.
* Conference - Speaking engagement: great, but a double edged sword Getting a speaking slot is to me the most useful: it gives you an incredible exposure, and you can show your expertise in your industry... But don't be too selly... and be prepared! You can become a champion, or you can easily loose your credibility!
* Specialized websites & Magazines - Precious contacts Webistes and magazines are great sources of useful contacts: make sure to add any new names to your contact management system (like Outlook) and ideally send an email to congratulate the person and share your opinion. You will find excellent contacts at Associations, Regulators, Vendors, Clients...
* Specialized websites & Magazines - Writing articles or white papers Like speaking at conferences, this is a fantastic way to build credibility and show you understand the market, the industry. You will generate interest from the market, from potential clients... to your competitors.
* Associations & user groups I strongly believe in the importance of lobbying. Associations and users groups need to know who your company are. By experience, they don't recomment proactively a vendor but they can advise their members to contact you...
* Influencers - consulting companies It is extremely important to develop good relationships with consulting companies. Your prospects and clients can contact them to ask for advice. They will investigate, research, and present an alnalysis and their recommandation: your company must be identifyed, and short-listed. I find not tolerable not to be shortlisted because the consultants did not know about you! On his territory, the sales needs to make sure to develop those relationships.
* Websites of competitors & partners If you want to sell efficiently, and build credibility you need to a) understand the market, b) be confident. It is critical to keep track of the competition: competitors' websites is a valuable source of information. The news section is very important, and the partners zone. In the news section, you can understand what the strategy is in terms of territory and client acquisistion, launch of new products/services, and identify what conferences they find useful. In the partners zone, you can understand the technology they use, their policy in terms of distributors, and you can check the type of relationship with their partners (exclusive or not?...)
The latest annual survey from the sales consultancy, based in Boulder, Colo., and San Francisco, found that the percentage of reps making quota had remained steady, but quotas had increased an average of 20%.
"Things clearly are improving," said Barry Trailer, partner with CSO Insights and co-author of the report. "Is that because people are working harder or working smarter? What was interesting to us was many of the metrics we look at to see if the life of the sales rep is improving were either static or declining. In our view, reps are working harder."
One clear reason for the increased difficulty is the change in the buying cycle, Trailer noted. With the Internet providing so much information, the buying process often starts long before a sales rep even gets involved. No longer does someone simply "raise [his] hand" and ask for information from a salesperson.
"The shift in the buying cycle has companies re-evaluating their sales goals, according to the survey. An increase in revenues remains the No. 1 priority for sales organizations, but it is followed by increased sales effectiveness and increased market share."
This is quite systematic with Head Hunters, and I can't think about anything else as misconceived: why would you have to ask for figures and current goals?
Of course, reaching your (realistic) targets is one way to understand how successul a sales person is. But asking for the number without understanding the industry/product first does not make anysense!
First, understand the market and the products/services I am selling. Selling computers for £5million is different from selling information worth £50,000, isn't it? But the main questions should be "how complex the sale is?" "Who are your main targets in the organization?" "How senior are they?" "Are they the same ones who sign deals worth millions of pounds?"
Try to understand what are the key requirements/skills for the new position: negotiation skills? Presentation skills?
It is not a big issue if you loose a deal, as long as you have done everything you could to win. One more time, the sooner you identify a concern or problem, the quicker you can address it and chances are that yo uwill be successful.
If you lose a deal, I would ask you the reasons why, and who won the deal, what made the difference, what we can close shortyl, when we could get back to them to win back the contract...
When I am recruiting, I am usually looking for someone with the right attitude and the right approach/skills. The industry is not a problem, and I am confident with the right training anybody with the right skills will be credible just after a couple of weeks.
Don't rush the product training, insist on the industry first! There is nothing more efficient than talking and meeting with clients and prospects. Involve the rest of the team, and make the new recruit listen to them or attend meetings with them.
It is a good moment to identify new contacts, and make him do some research. It is more difficult when you are kept busy dealing with clients, and traveling!
Market Business issues Regulation / Competition Products (concepts, key benefits, most appealaing features) Differentiator / USP Questionning Role plays Listen to colleagues Products (training with product managers) Start with small prospects Listen / Challenge / ask questions Share documents (glossary, templates, internal presentation) Pipeline, contact lists