Mon, 30 June 2008
Throw Your Sales Pipeline Away
Now I know you're all familiar with the idea of the sales pipeline, right? You go out and cold call, prospect and generate as many leads as you can. You put all these leads into your pipeline and then hope and pray that some of them come out the other end and turn deals, right?
That's the basic idea and it’s how almost every sales company I've ever worked with or have read about currently run their sales departments. When managers draw this on the board, it looks like a funnel, doesn’t it? The larger end at the top is where you put all those leads, and then you watch the smaller bottom end waiting for some deals to trickle out.
In fact, there are even ratios and numbers you assign to measure this. Out of 10 leads you might close one deal, or out of 15 leads close one or two deals, and so on.
Now, this is how 80 to 90% of salespeople and companies run their business.
But not the Top 20%
You see, there are problems with the pipeline idea. The biggest problem is that 80% of salespeople are more focused on putting prospects into the pipeline than they are on really qualifying who goes in it.
Their motto is, "If I throw enough crap on the wall, some of it will stick." Well, excuse the pun, but that method stinks. And top closers know this
The Top 20% have thrown their sales pipeline away and instead they use a sales cylinder. They spend most of their time disqualifying prospects and only let in the select few who are highly qualified and most likely to buy.
They know they don't need practice pitching unqualified leads, rather they need practice finding real buyers.
Because of this, the Top 20% usually generate the lowest number of leads but have the highest closing rates in the office. In other words the same number of leads that go into their cylinder usually come out.
Here are 5 things you can do today to begin exchanging your pipeline for a sales cylinder.
Number 1: Look at all the leads currently in your pipeline and assign a #1 to the ones you know will buy, a #2 to those that might buy, and a #3 to those you have no idea about or probably won't buy.
Number 2: Now this is going to take some courage, but Throw your #3 leads away!
Alright – you may not be ready for that stage yet, so at least close them hard and get an immediate decision)
Number 3: Determine what your current closing ratio is on each group of leads. It should be pretty high on the #1 leads, and pretty bad on the #3 leads...
Number 4: From now on reduce the number of leads you send out by half. Either disqualify out the #3 category leads, and trial close potential #1's and 2's before putting them in your sales cylinder.
Number 5: Repeat the process with each batch of leads that you turn into prospects.
Bottom line -- if you want to become a Top 20% closer then you have to stop spending time with unqualified leads and start spending time finding, qualifying and closing real buyers.
In my coming podcasts, I’ll show you exactly how to go about doing just that.
Thu, 19 June 2008
“How to save Gas AND make more sales: The 5 Secrets of Top 20% Producers”
Well not the Top 20%.
Top 20% producers are still making 80% of the sales because they know how to adapt in a changing market like the one we’re in today. They also know that companies are still buying their products and services, and what they are doing is adjusting how they sell so they can be more efficient with their time and energy. And one of their top priories these days is improving their phone skills.
Whether you only prospect and set appointments by phone, or if your entire sales cycle is conducted by phone, learning to use the phone more effectively is going to be crucial to your success in today’s economic environment.
Here is Part One of 5 Secrets of Top 20% producers and 5 critical phone skills you need to master today:
Secret #1: Use the phone to disqualify prospects rather than qualify them. With gas prices around $5 a gallon, the last thing you want to do is set a bunch of unqualified or so/so appointments and then spend your time, energy, and gas running around accomplishing nothing.
So do what the Top 20% do: when they get an answer that gives them that feeling in their gut (what I call a Red Flag), stop and qualify it! Ask the tough questions. For example, if your prospect says you can drop something off if you wish, ask:
“I’d be happy to. And let me ask you, after you see the information, when are you planning to make a decision on it?”
“I’d be happy to. What do you need to see in it to move forward and put my company to work for you?”
Don’t be afraid to throw away the non-buyers! Remember: Leads never get better!
Secret #2: Be prepared with solid scripts to handle the common brush offs you get – especially the, “We don’t have the budget now”. When you get this, you should reply with:
“I completely understand. Like most companies, I know you don’t have extra money to throw around these days. But I also know that you still need to advertise your business and drive customers in the door. ________, let me ask you - if I could show you how advertising just $1,000 with us this month could bring you back $2,000 or more in business, isn’t that something you should know more about?”
(Adapt this script to fit your product or service)
Secret #3: When closing, learn how to cut through smokescreen objections and find out what is really holding your prospect back – and whether they are ever going to be a deal or not!
To do this, start questioning and isolating objections rather than answering them. If your prospect says: “The price is too high,” say:
“I can understand that. Let me ask you – if the price were right where you wanted to spend, is this something you would go ahead and order from me today?”
Any answer other than yes means that this is just a smokescreen and answering it will get you nowhere.
Secret #4: Start recording your phone calls and make it a habit to begin listening to them and finding ways to improve.
This is without a doubt the most important thing you can do but, surprisingly, it’s the last thing 80% of sales reps will ever do. You will learn and improve more in a week than you will in 5 years of sales training. In fact, I’ve literally doubled my income in 90 days using this technique. Try it – it’ll change your career…
Secret #5: Make a REAL commitment to improving every aspect of your phone calls and of your sales presentations. I call it Practicing Perfection. You’ve heard the saying that practice makes perfect, right?
Well that’s wrong! Only practice of perfection makes perfect. If you keep adlibbing your way through your qualification calls and closing presentations, you’re going to keep getting poor results.
But if you commit to finding and then using proven skills like the ones above, then you’ll improve on each call and you’ll make more sales. Just like the Top 20% do right now!
Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, offers FREE Closing Scripts, and a FREE audio program designed to help you double your income selling over the phone. He works with business owners and inside sales reps nationwide teaching them the skills, strategies and techniques of top 20% performance. If you want to Close Business like a Top Closer, then learn how at: http://www.MrInsideSales.com