No Two Leads are Alike

call-center-outsourcing.jpg

Salespeople are all trying to refine their sales approach. Sales managers are all looking for that perfect script. Businesses think that if they can just figure out the right combination of emails, in-person meetings, offers, and benefits, that they can sell to anyone.

But the truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to selling. And that’s because every lead is different.

Customers are human beings. And companies are unique. You can’t expect that exact same techniques to work for everyone.

How Are Leads Different?

  1. Leads come from different sources. It is unwise to assume that a lead that finds your product or company organically is the same quality as one who was driven through an advertising campaign.
     
  2. Leads come with different amounts of knowledge. Some people will do a lot of research before you ever connect with them, while others will need a basic introduction.
     
  3. For B2B sales, leads will have different amounts of power. Some of the sales leads that you speak with will be able to pull the trigger, while others will require approval from several layers of management.
     
  4. Leads will be in different financial situations. For B2B or B2C sales, one of the biggest things for salespeople to understand is how pricing and discounting will impact different types of buyers.
     
  5. Leads will have a different understanding of the competitive arena. Some leads will know who your competitors are and what they offer, while others will be starting their research with your brand.

These are just a few of the many ways that sales leads can vary. They will turn up at different places in the sales funnel, asking different types of questions and expecting a personalized experience.

So the question becomes, how is your sales team equipped to handle them?

What’s a Sales Team to Do?

  1. Ask lots of questions. The best salespeople are great at getting the information they need to craft the appropriate strategy. Asking questions at the outset of a conversation allows you to ascertain who the buyer is and what they are looking for.
     
  2. Target specific segments of the market. It’s important for companies to know what types of customers they are most likely to convert. Rather than trying to create a one-size-fits-all approach to selling, fine tune an approach that works for one specific segment of customer.
     
  3. Prepare for surprises. Having the right kinds of promotional resources (case studies, whitepapers, testimonials, etc.) for different stages of the sales funnel will allow a salesperson to tailor their strategy to each individual buyer, rather than a static sequence that will work for some leads and not others.
     
  4. Measure and optimize. The worst thing a sales team can do is settle into a pattern without understanding how they’re performing. We need to continually update our approach based on real-life feedback and metrics, always pushing to convert more customers.

Top 5 Sales Mistakes to Avoid

Sales and marketing go hand in hand. In many organizations, it’s the job of the marketing team to provide sales with a steady flow or qualified leads for them to sell to. But there are some surefire ways for salespeople to lose sales and thereby waste the efforts of a strong marketing team.

Here are five sales mistakes to avoid if you want to convert prospects to customers:

1. Stick to the script

Sales scripts are important, whether you are selling by phone or in person. Scripts help new salespeople learn on the job quicker, and help experienced salespeople stay on track. But there is a problem when companies require their salespeople to stick to the script too strictly. The best salespeople are able to go off script based on the nature of the conversation they are having with a prospect. A script should be a loose outline, not a word for word mandate.

2. Forget the coaching

Nobody is perfect, and no worker is ever as effective as they can be. Even professional athletes still have coaches. Sales people will benefit from constant coaching. Experienced coaches and sales managers are able to offer genuine feedback on performance, help with new sales strategies and techniques, and make sure the team is operating at maximum capacity.

3. Don’t ask questions

Questions are powerful conversational tools. The right questions, in any conversation, help to guide and steer the flow. In sales situations, questions put the focus on the prospective customer. When used effectively, they can help the salesperson find the sources of hesitation, the real problems the customer is looking to solve, and the right answers that will lead to the ultimate sale. When you ask questions, you put the prospect in control of the conversation, and you make them a partner in getting to a sale.

4. Sell the product, not the customer

One size does not fit all. Not every customer is the same. Your job as a salesperson is to identify the problem that the customer is trying to solve, then focus your pitch around the benefits specific to their situation. Prospects don’t want to hear a laundry list of product features, they want to know how your product will make their life better.

5. Ask for the sale

A great sales pitch can fall flat right at the end when the salesperson is afraid to ask for the sale. When you have a prospect who is impressed and ready to make a deal, your job is not done. Don’t be afraid of scaring them off. When they’re ready, close the deal.

Answer the Why

As marketers, we love to rave about our products. Given the opportunity, we can talk at great length about all the features that make our product the best product that was ever produced.

The problem is that for most purchases, for most consumers, the product is not what you’re selling. What you’re selling instead is the solution to somebody’s real-life problem.

It’s not the WHAT. It’s the WHY.

Customers care about whether your product will let them do something they want to do, fill a need they have, solve their problem, etc. And so, you need to answer the WHY.

“Why should I buy your product?”

You don’t answer that question by listing off the product’s features. You answer that question by starting with the problem that it solves and working backwards, allowing the consumer to “experience” your product in terms of the role it will eventually play in their lives.

Will it save time on a task they do often? Will it help them meet a goal they set for themselves? Will it make their family healthier?

When you sell the WHY, you are selling the benefit. You are selling happiness, or satisfaction, or freedom, or safety. Those are things we value far more than products.

How to Gain Manager Buy-in

Depending on what situation you work in, it can take more than a great idea to succeed. It might take you selling that idea effectively to your manager. When you need your manager to sign off on a new plan, idea, or project, there are a few things you can do to improve your odds.

  1. Sell it. Become a sales person and treat your manager like a prospective client. If you really believe in this project, show it. Present it with power and outline all the possible benefits.
     
  2. Give them a chance to ask questions. In the process of selling it, encourage questions. You want to hear your manager’s concerns so that you can respond to them appropriately.
     
  3. Have the answers prepared. I have heard people say that when PHD students go to present their thesis, they should leave an obvious question unanswered so that they can better predict the questions they’ll get and have answers prepared. I’m not recommending leaving anything out of your presentation, but if you can try to figure out what types of questions you’ll get from your manager, you can be prepared to answer them right away.
     
  4. Calm as many fears as possible. Identify the risks in this project. What if it doesn’t work? What is the worst case scenario? The more you can identify the risks, the more you can show your manager how you can manage them. Managing risk doesn’t mean eliminating it, but it does mean have a plan of attack should things not go 100% to plan.
     
  5. Can you test it? When you’re doing something brand new for the first time, you can manage risk by testing your way into it. Not all projects allow for testing, but if you can start small and work your way up, especially when it comes to money spent or time committed, it’s helpful.
     
  6. Involve them in launch. Have a place for your manager to get involved if they want to. Encourage them to become an active player in this new project, which could help allay their fears and make them a strong supporter.
     
  7. Develop a track record. The more you work on projects that succeed, the more faith your manager(s) will have in your ability and judgment. Keep track of past successes and use them to your advantage.

Give Your Sales Force What They Need

Sales is a crucial part of marketing. Too often we focus so much of our energy on advertising, and forget to pay attention to what happens when the advertising works. It gets people to visit or call, gets them to request more information, or research your products and services. But then you have to sell them.

Sure, in some industries, you rely on people to checkout themselves. You might not have a sales force. But in most you do, and it is a big part of the marketing team’s job to give that sales force the tools that they need to turn interested prospects into paying customers.

Here is a brief look at the sales cycle and what marketing can do to assist sales all the way through the process.

Beginning/Interest:

Your advertising generates interest. Activities on social media can generate interest. All efforts by the marketing team at this first stage should be intended to reach new prospects and start them down the sales funnel by piquing their interest.

You can create whitepapers or promotional material and use them to generate leads on your website. You can design your website to encourage people to email, or chat, or call, connecting them directly to someone on the sales team. You can create special offers and discounts that encourage people who otherwise might not shop with you to take an interest.

Middle/Selling:

At this stage, your sales team has leads in the queue. This is when the selling starts.

Sales people should be provided a variety of different assets to help them sell. A basic information packet, in the form of a PowerPoint or single document can be used to reach out to people initially. In addition, when prospects ask for more information on a specific area, the salesperson should have something to show them. This might include case studies and references from other clients or customers, a more detailed brochure explaining what you offer and how it works, industry research, etc.

End/Closing:

To close the sale, it is important to provide sales people with a certain degree of flexibility. At this stage, the ability to discount the price or create added value for the customer could mean the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. Make sure salespeople know what they can do to close the sale, and what they can’t. And give them the proper answers to all possible customer questions.

All other aspects of your marketing might be dynamite, but if you can’t close the sale once you pique someone’s interest, your business will not succeed.