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4 Tips on How to Get Past The Gatekeepers

If you’re in B2B sales, you’ve probably battled a gatekeeper. They can make or break your sale. This is especially true of B2B mid-market sales. Gatekeepers hold the keys to the kingdom. If they don’t see an opportunity, they can ensure no one else sees it either. That’s why we call them gatekeepers.

Without a doubt, B2Bs hate gatekeepers. They frustrate salespeople and hurt business relationships. The real trick is finding ways to overcome these obstacles. If you’re interested in selling to B2B companies in the future, it’s essential to know how to get around gatekeepers.

4 Ways to Get Past the Gatekeeper

You can’t just pick up the phone and call to accomplish this. Gatekeepers live to prevent salespeople from getting through. Here are four ways to bounce over, under, and around gatekeepers to reach prospects you otherwise couldn’t.

Whether a receptionist or an account manager, a gatekeeper is designed to keep you out. They’re tasked with filtering visitors, calls, and emails from prospects and determining if the person you want to reach will be willing to listen to what you have to say.

Respect the Gatekeeper

#1: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

A gatekeeper has control over whether or not you can speak with your prospect, but they don’t have to be the end-all-be-all of decision-makers. Most gatekeepers are just doing their job—managing their boss’s schedule and ensuring they don’t get interrupted by unnecessary people.

You can win over gatekeepers by showing them that you value them as an essential part of the process and that you’re not just trying to get past them so you can sell something. You need to have a sense of empathy for their role in the company and understand how much they must be juggling on any given day. That way, when they say no, it won’t feel like a rejection from someone who doesn’t want to hear from you at all—it’ll feel like a rejection from someone who does want to help but just doesn’t have time right now!

#2: Make It Personal.

1. Handwrite a note.

If your prospect is someone who cares about personal touches, this can be an excellent way to break through their defenses.

2. Make an appointment in person.

If you’re able to arrange an in-person meeting, do so! It’ll help show that you’re serious about wanting to have a conversation with them, which can go a long way toward getting past their defenses (and gatekeepers).

3. Send swag!

If your prospect is the type who responds well to gifts or small tokens of appreciation, send them some marketing swag as soon as possible after making contact with their gatekeeper—it’ll help show that you’re serious about wanting them as an account

Changing Your Perspective.

#3: Changing Your Perspective.

Every gatekeeper is a resource. Each of them has access to valuable information. They know where your prospect is, their schedule, phone number, and much more.

You must view each gatekeeper as a resource rather than an obstacle. Viewing each gatekeeper as an obstacle can lead to some frustration if you’re not careful. Asking for the name of someone’s assistant can be an excellent way to get around this problem and make sure you have the right person on the line when you call back.

You should also try to be polite and respectful when dealing with gatekeepers. Remember that they are people too and may be working in an uncomfortable situation themselves (for example, fielding calls from angry customers). Don’t take it out on them just because they’re not letting you through!

If you’re having trouble getting through to someone by phone, try sending them an email instead or following up later in the day when their schedule might be less busy.

 Bypass the Gatekeeper.

#4: Bypass the Gatekeeper.

If you have a sales team, they probably spend most of their time on the phone and emailing leads. They may be spending more time doing this than they are selling.

You should be if you’re not using a CRM (customer relationship management) system to track your contacts. But even with a CRM, there are still plenty of people who aren’t using it as effectively as they could be.

Gatekeepers will always exist in some form or another — whether it’s a secretary or someone else who answers the phone or screens your emails — so it’s vital for you to find ways around them if you want to get through to decision-makers

The most effective way to bypass gatekeepers is to invest in sales data. Partner with a B2B data provider, such as Pipeline Signals, to secure your most important prospects’ direct dials and email addresses.

Once you have these contacts, send them an introductory email explaining who you are and why you’re reaching out. If they respond, it’s time to start building rapport and working on establishing a relationship over time.

Another approach is to research your prospective company and find out what their employees are talking about online. Look for groups or communities where they participate and join those groups yourself. This will allow you to engage with them online in a more organic way than sending an email cold call — which could see it as spammy or intrusive (and therefore not read).

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How to Effectively Manage Objections in Sales Conversations

Almost every prospect you speak with has sales objections or reasons for not buying your product. If they didn’t have qualms about the price, value, applicability to their situation, or purchasing ability, they would have bought it already.

While dealing with objections is an inevitable aspect of the sales process, it may be a significant stumbling block for moving prospects through the pipeline. Accepting the complaints and sending a breakup email right away may be tempting. If you’re going to be successful, you’ll need to learn how to find and overcome these concerns.

What is a Sales Objection?

Any concern a prospect expresses about a barrier impeding their ability to buy from you is a sales objection — an unambiguous indication that you’ll need to handle more areas of the buying process than you thought.

According to Brett Trainor in an Expert Talk, customer objections are a sign that they don’t grasp your value or your ability to solve their problem. When customers raise objections to a purchase, it’s a sign that they’re interested in what you’re offering. They enquire, demand more information, and express their worries.

Instead of being afraid of sales objections, learn to see them as chances to move your sales process forward.

how to deal with sales objections

How to Deal with Sales Objections

While objections are one of the hardest and more unpleasant aspects of sales, they are not necessarily dead ends. Let’s look at how you can get around these potential stumbling blocks.

Taking care of objections 

Dealing with objections is an inevitable and frustrating part of the sales process. The process entails specific actions and skills that every salesperson should be familiar with. Situational awareness, gathering background knowledge, leading with empathy, and asking intelligent, open-ended questions are just a few.

assessing the situation

Being aware of the situation

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing objections that will address all of a prospect’s concerns. You’ll need a good sense of where you are in the sales cycle, the kind of the deal you’re chasing, and your prospect’s demands and interests, among other things.

Understanding the conditions that shape a prospect’s objections is critical to effectively addressing them. As a result, you must retain situational awareness as your talks with a prospect proceed.

Getting a lot of background information

This argument follows the previous one: comprehensive background information informs effective, actionable situational awareness. Investigate your prospect’s company and, to some extent, the prospect themselves.

What are the company’s current challenges? What problems do the prospect’s industry peers regularly have? If you’ve previously worked with similar-sized firms, try to recollect their concerns.

And, in the event of your contact, be aware of their responsibilities. What authority do they have to make decisions? Daily, what areas of the company’s operations do they deal with? What are the most common issues that someone in their job faces?

If you know all of this and more, you’ll be in an excellent position to answer objections gracefully.

sales leadership skills

Empathy in leadership 

Objections are a normal part of the sales process, and they often — if not always — reflect legitimate concerns. When your prospects push back a little, you must avoid being visibly upset and impatient with them.

Every great sales effort starts with empathy. You shouldn’t sell to a prospect solely to make money; you should sell to them because your product or service is the best fit for their problems. As a result, you must always keep their wants and interests in mind.

You may set yourself up to anticipate and effectively answer their objections if you stay on top of their problems and circumstances and approach them with compassion and understanding.

Posing open-ended, thoughtful questions 

Every other element on this list can be bolstered by the capacity to ask meaningful, open-ended questions. If you want to comprehend and effectively resolve the objections raised by your prospects, you need to go to the bottom of their problems.

Asking them meaningful, courteous questions and providing the opportunity to address them thoroughly is an excellent place to start. Avoid queries that can only be answered with a single word, “yes or no,” and don’t be afraid to use silence to your advantage.

There could be more underlying objections that the prospect hasn’t expressed or has merely hinted at. Before you can react successfully, you’ll need to ask open-ended questions to assist you in uncovering all of the objections.

Allow your customers to express themselves. Determine their issues – and put yourself in a position to anticipate their objections.

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How Focusing on Clients’ Success Can Pave the Path to Your Own Success

Customer success is critical to every company’s progress in modern selling. This strategy is intended to ensure that the client successfully uses the company’s products and services. As a result, customer loyalty and retention improve, churn decreases, renewal sales remain consistent, and the business owner can upsell these accounts.

The distinction between customer service and customer success has recently aroused much debate. Although the two require similar skill sets and objectives, they take distinct methods.

What’s the difference between customer success and customer service?

difference between customer success and customer service

Reactive vs. Proactive Management

Customer service is often “reactive,” meaning that it responds to a customer’s request for assistance or when they contact them with an issue or query. Customer success, meanwhile, is “proactive,” concentrating on assisting clients in identifying and achieving their objectives.

Relationship-Oriented vs. Transactional

The majority of customer service and support contacts are transactional. It starts when a client contacts you and terminates to respond to their request. Customer success, on the other hand, does not have an endpoint. It’s a continuous, dynamic, and persistent focus on enhancing current connections to strengthen the tie between the client and your business.

Key Performance Indicators and Metrics

Customer service metrics are focused on monitoring and improving both the speed and quality of assistance interactions. This level of assessment usually ignores events that occur before or after the support engagement.

On the other hand, customer success is concerned with the beneficial effects that those interactions may have on a happy client, such as improved retention rates, rising repeat purchases, higher lifetime value, and higher upsell or cross-sell rates.

The path to customer success

The path to customer success

Make the client, not your product, the focus.

There’s a reason it’s called customer success. Make it such that you assist clients in achieving their objectives and your product benefits as a result, rather than the other way around. 

You must also be aware of your clients’ journeys. To do so, lead them through their journey from awareness to retention. You must be familiar with your product, including what it can and cannot accomplish. Always make sure that your reaction is in line with their cultural beliefs. Never make a promise you can’t keep. Make sure they know how much you respect their time.

Clients’ perspectives must be taken into account when speaking with them. Avoid sounding excessively professional or bombarding them with jargon. Use their degree of comprehension to communicate. You could think that using templates and prepared replies is a good idea, but clients will notice. As a result, you must leave such replies to automated communications. Also, pay attention to what they’re trying to say. Make your replies and background on your inquiries as precise as possible. You must make every effort to please them.

Keep expectations in check.

The requirement to manage client expectations is inextricably linked to creating an Ideal Customer Profile. Success should not be defined by closing a sale; instead, it should be determined by resolving your clients’ problems. Accounts don’t buy your product; they buy a solution. When they get the result they want, their problem is solved. The question is, what problems are you tackling specifically?

Clients with different issues will demand varying levels of solutions from your product if you don’t narrow down the value proposition. You’ll wind up with many unhappy and furious clients whose issues your product isn’t addressing, and they’ll tell your genuine clients about their bad experiences.

So, how do you keep track of your accounts’ expectations? Of course, by being precise about your value offerings. Don’t be an all-in-one bargain for your clients. Instead, choose your product’s finest qualities and advantages and promote them in your communications.

Ask regularly.

Requesting feedback is standard corporate practice. What’s to stop you? It aids in the development of a clear image of how real people use your product. This is the foundation for making product changes and enhancements before they become serious problems. It also aids in the development of client loyalty.

Customer success, as previously said, takes a proactive approach. You may also apply this to your clients. Inquire about their work and feelings towards your product or service. Maintain an open line of communication and various communication channels so that people may contact you at any time and via their chosen mode.

Assign the right people to the job.

Assign the right people to the job

To increase your bottom line, success management is essential. As a result, it should go without saying that the individuals in charge should be outstanding. They must be able to deal with various situations and communicate effectively with consumers.

At the absolute least, your customer success team members should possess the following characteristics. 

  • Experienced

They must have extensive knowledge and experience in the industry they work in. They’ll provide guidance, answers, and directions, among other things.

  • Great listener

When clients take the time to come to you with a concern, the least you can do is listen. Good customer success people, on the other hand, go beyond that. They pay attention to the issue at hand and recognize the issue they’re experiencing, no matter how minor. This is the most effective technique to deal with their technical and emotional problems.

  • Patient

Early consumers demand a lot of hand-holding and assistance. In addition, they have great expectations. As a result, successful sales teams must be competent in dealing with this. They must be able to lead their clients through the entire process, including the ups and downs, and answer any questions they may have, all the while retaining a calm and polite approach. 

Conclusion

Producing a high-quality product and marketing it to your target market is no longer enough. Clients are more demanding than they have ever been. They won’t settle for anything unless they’re confident the solution they’re investing their money in will work for them. To keep your clients loyal to your business and generate sales, you must be the best match for them. Ensure this by implementing customer success in your business.

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The 5 Components of a Winning Sales Team

As sellers, it’s our responsibility to stay abreast of the latest sales trends and best practices. So when we read the Harvard Business Review article “The Sales Playbook of Successful B2B Teams”, we immediately wanted to share it with you because it really resonated with us.

Right at the onset, the article, which was written by four Bain & Company partners, mentioned one of the most common problems that sales teams face: underutilizing the tools at their disposal.

“Every major B2B company invests millions each year in sales technologies, yet 62% of 167 companies surveyed recently by Bain & Company said the return on their investment fell short of expectations. What companies hoped would be an intelligent CRM system ends up being used as a simple accounting and workflow management system. They’ve bought a high-octane car but lack driver training.”

At Sales for Life, we’ve also encountered a lot of companies with this same problem. Solving it isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s not just a matter of installing the tool on everyone’s computer or browser and enforcing its use. All the technology in your roster should work together seamlessly to achieve your organization’s goals, and there has to be an overarching strategy governing their usage.

The 5 Factors of a Winning Sales Team

Revenue teams need to develop different sales strategies for different occasions. Similar to how sales teams these days use data and statistics to select their players and create training routines and game plays, all of your revenue team’s moves should be based on proven facts instead of relying on gut feel or following what’s popular.

While different revenue teams have different priorities, thus having different strategies, the article’s authors observed that the highest-performing sales teams have certain distinct commonalities. These factors, described below, enable them to surpass their peers in terms of revenue growth and market share gain.

1. Detailed, specific data and sales signals that lend insight into an account’s priorities and spending habits at the individual customer level.

These data should go beyond contact information and surface-level company and financial data. Sellers should likewise know their target accounts’ priorities and goals, ensuring that their communication efforts address these.

Sales reps should also take note of Compelling Event Signals, which are specific, time-sensitive insights and events that can be leveraged to gain a competitive advantage. Compelling Event Signals give sellers a heads-up when there’s a particular situation that the seller can capitalize on, such as the installation of a new C-level executive that used to work at one of your existing customer accounts. If such a Signal comes up, the seller should act fast and play the appropriate sales strategy.

2. A sales play factory that can churn out a variety of plays that can be used for every conceivable occasion: Securing new accounts, upselling and cross-selling to existing accounts, renewing expiring accounts, and winning back former customers.

Selling isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. Different customers have different priorities and situations, and they will naturally have different ways of responding (or not responding) to your outreach efforts.

That’s why it’s important to have a selection of various sales plays, ready to be deployed if a particular situation calls for it. By applying a variety of themes, messaging, engagement strategies, your sellers would have a higher likelihood of providing value to your customers during the activation cycle.

3. A command center that tracks and manages sales plays, pushing out the most effective plays to the rest of the team.

In the same way that sports teams analyze their games and continuously refine their strategies and training regimens, sales teams should keep working on their most effective sales plays in a strategic manner, at the same time shelving sales moves that failed to produce favorable results.

In addition, the best sales teams also have a global command center for their sales signals. All their signals are aggregated on one platform, which is easily accessible to the entire revenue team. This way, sellers can take note of the hidden links connecting all the accounts in their total addressable market, allowing them to see the sales opportunities and risks that might be present. When all the information is centralized, they can roll out the best sales plays for any situation.

4. Consistent, intensive coaching like what Sales for Life offers, which delves into specific areas of improvement and requires actual results.

Sales training and coaching give your team the knowledge and skills necessary to keep growing and supporting your client base. It also fosters accountability in your sales leaders, allowing them to guide their sellers to produce better results.

Remember, building the best B2B sales team doesn’t just entail hiring the best sellers and investing in the best sales tools. While these could propel your revenue team to the top, you’ll need to invest in regular sales training and coaching in order to stay there for a long time.

5. An array of interconnected sales technology tools that are integrated within your existing sales system and are fully utilized by your whole team.

Even if you have all the best sales tools at your disposal, they wouldn’t make a difference if they are not maximized.

“One software-as-a-service (SaaS) company had invested in technologies for customer relationship management, marketing automation, sales enablement and cadence, and call recording, but it was barely using them. By taking the time to embed these technologies properly into its sales processes, the company was able to increase revenue growth by 200 basis points within a few weeks.”

Conclusion

These five factors are essential for revenue teams that want to succeed in today’s cutthroat sales environment. With these systems in place within your strategy, all the departments within your sales and marketing teams work better with each other.

These five components also allow you to address your customers’ needs efficiently. You’ll be able to provide more value at the right time, benefitting your customers and giving you more opportunities to successfully close a deal.

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How To Hit Your Sales Goals: Reverse-Engineering

Achieving your sales goals is easier said than done. There are so many circumstances that can give even the most experienced sellers a hard time meeting their sales targets.

Case in point: The global COVID-19 pandemic, which forced revenue teams to replace in-person, face-to-face networking events and client meetings with social media interactions and Zoom calls.

In order to conquer the curve balls thrown your way, you should first recognize that the only things that you could control in order to achieve your sales goals are actions and activities. Everything else is an influence, aligned to something beyond your control.

For example, you couldn’t control when it would rain. But you can plan ahead to ensure that you’d be ready in case of a sudden downpour. You can always carry an umbrella or a raincoat in your bag, or you could map out a shaded route that you could take while walking to work.

The same principle applies in sales. Keep in mind that you can’t achieve your desired sales goals by yourself. You can only influence them and align with them so you’ll end up in a favorable position.

Working Your Way Backwards From Your Sales Goals

To have the best chance of hitting your annual sales goals, you should create your gameplan by reverse-engineering from your target.

Imagine that there are stepping stones leading towards your sales goals. These are your sales objectives, or milestones, and they indicate your progress towards goal completion.

Milestones inform your revenue team about what success should look like at a certain week, a certain month, or a certain quarter. They help your sellers stay focused and motivated, and prevents them from being overwhelmed by your main sales goal.

For example, if your sales goal is achieving a total annual revenue of $1 million, one of your milestones could be closing a certain number of deals by the end of Q3. Achieving this milestone will indicate that you’re on track to achieving your sales goal.

Take note that hitting all your milestones wouldn’t guarantee a 100% chance of achieving your sales goals. As we’ve said before, you never know when life decides to throw you a curve ball that could derail your strategy. You will, however, have a higher likelihood of hitting your goals since you’ve already made the necessary preparations for it.

Actions and Activities: The Building Blocks of Your Sales Goals

Now, the milestones you set are influenced by the sales actions and activities that you undertake. These are the things that you and the rest of your revenue team can actually control, such as the messaging of your content, the cadence of your emails, and the videos you send to your prospects.

That’s why these sales activities and actions should be carefully planned and coordinated. Cooperation between the sales, marketing, and enablement teams is critical. The whole revenue team should be aligned and focused on one thing: To achieve the sales goal you set for yourselves.

If the revenue team isn’t properly aligned, some departments could find themselves unnecessarily spending time doing arbitrary actions and activities that can boost their own profile, but don’t really propel them towards their milestones. It’s a distraction; a waste of time, effort, and resources.

We can’t stress enough how crucial it is that each member of your revenue team should know what their top priority should be. If a certain sales action or activity can’t influence your milestones, then it can’t lead you closer to your main goal of achieving your sales targets.

To Summarize

To achieve your sales objectives, you need to take to heart these two notions:

  1. Understand that you can only control actions and activities. Everything else, you can only influence to achieve an outcome that’s favorable to you.
  1. To achieve your sales goals (or any goal for that matter), start planning at the end. Reverse-engineer your progress towards goal completion by determining the milestones indicating that you’re on track to achieving your target. Then, figure out the actions and activities that will help you achieve those milestones. 
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Account Planning: Competitive Intelligence & “Seeking out Poison Pills” in key accounts

knowledge is power

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Why you Need Account Based Marketing for Your Organization?

Are you implementing Account Based Marketing? If not! It’s time you started applying it in your organization! Studies have shown that the most effective marketing approach in recent times is proving to be Account-Based Marketing. This marketing strategy is more focused and results in better ROI compared to any other marketing method. Account Based Marketing entails identifying prospects that are key stakeholders and strategizing marketing to resonate with the specific personas.

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Do’s and Don’ts for your 2019 Sales Kickoff

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How Do I get Started with my 2019 Sales Plan?

Calling all sales leaders! 2019 is right around the corner and that means your 2019 revenue number is probably bouncing around your head right about now. Questions like:

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3 Tips to Find Sales Talent That Can Engage with the Modern Buyer

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