10 Completely Counter-Intuitive Tips to Close More Sales
October 27, 2011
Chasing sales can be a thankless task. Use these 10 tips to help you save time, reduce your stress, and close more sales.
1. Throw out 50% of your leads
Every salesperson chases too many unqualified leads. Most know right from the start that a lead won’t be good for them or their company, yet most persist and make the first call to stick with the process, make their call quota, or plain old hope this time will be different. Give yourself a different kind of quota, the fun of throwing out the 50% of your new leads you know won’t work. Make a ritual of sending them a nice email letting them know they will do better elsewhere, maybe with a recommendation to help. Once they know you are not right for them and why, they may refer you to someone who is a better prospect.
2. Stop selling
All the top sales training courses say that listening is far more important than talking. Selling has a bad name because it can be so obnoxious. Every lead and prospect knows exactly when you stop listening and start selling, and their guard goes up. If you don’t sell, you will build better relationships and create trust. Most salespeople know this, but revert to selling as soon as their quota is due or they are having a rough spell of sales.
3. Promote your Engineers into Sales
Everyone knows how easily an engineer can ruin a good sale by talking too much or insisting on going through reams of technical data for the executive buyer, after they are ready to close. What you probably don’t know is that a percentage of your engineers (or other technical people) are your best potential salespeople. If you test them, using a tool like the Asher Strategies CPQ Sales Aptitude Assessment, take the top 10%, and give them sales skills training, they will excel. They already have great product knowledge, are easy to motivate, and are more likely to follow your sales processes.
4. Forget Social Media Marketing
Blasphemy for an Internet marketing company to suggest such a thing, but we see companies every day working hard on new social media campaigns when they don’t have the basics of marketing and sales processes in place. They are so worried about getting a Facebook fan base or a series of great YouTube videos that they lose sight of the basics. Social media is important BUT not at the expense of getting the 14 other basic sales and marketing processes in place first.
5. Stop Networking
Do you hate chamber meetings, trade shows, or association meetings? If so, stop going to them and go to the things you enjoy doing. Odds are that if you don’t enjoy them, they are not going to be productive for you. We have proven repeatedly, that leads can be generated from a wide range of marketing activities. Internet marketing budgets typically come from re-distributing trade show money into Pay-per-Click or SEO. Do the things you enjoy and the money will flow.
6. Make your cell phone your friend
Imagine that when your cell phone rings your eyes light up and you say “Money Calling”. One of the basic principles of sales is that a prompt response to an inquiry has a 85% better chance of making the sale than a better qualified company calling back the next day. Yet still, we see most companies make it almost impossible to reach someone by phone. Salespeople hate to have their phone number out there in public. What are they afraid of, an angry customer? In our company, I want to be the first to hear of those complaints and I want leads calling in directly to me.
7. Quit bugging people
When was the last time you took a hard look at the email autoresponders, email newsletters, and the other information you send to your mailing list on a recurring basis. It’s little wonder we have become less interested in email blasts from most companies, they are irritating and useless. Companies just don’t get it when they cross the line from being a valuable resource to being a pest. Email marketing still has tremendous ROI if it’s done properly. All it takes is valuable information, sent at the right frequency, and personalized to the recipient. What’s so hard about that?
8. Create individualized sales incentives
Are salespeople “self-motivated” or are they motivated by incentives? If you struggle with this question, consider making an individual sales incentive program for each salesperson. That sounds like a lot of work, right? Well there is a little truth to both sides; everyone has to be self-motivated but we can help most people along if we offer the right incentives. The problem is that what’s right for me isn’t the same as what makes you tick. Consider the time for these individual plans vs. the time it takes to train a new salesperson, the revenue lost if you don’t meet your sales goals, and the upside profit if you get it right.
9. If your CRM isn’t working, trash it
CRM has become a must have in every sales organization. Yet, we see well over 50% of the teams not using them, sometimes even loathing the new processes and extra admin time. You really have two options, one is to just trash your CRM and revert to the chaos of excel spreadsheets. Or, there is another alternative trashing, to get rid of all the admin in favor of a marketing automation system. If you use Internet lead generation, this can be implemented with almost no interaction with the sales team. They will only get a lead (and work to do) when the lead is a qualified prospect. They will be happier either way and more work will go to selling and less into maintaining and complaining about your CRM system.
10. Test All Your Marketing Messages Every Year
Time after time we see companies stick to old, outdated marketing messages right to the brink of bankruptcy or worse. They never stop to ask the simple questions of:
- In our market, is our message really unique; something no one else can say?
- Is this message really valued by my customers?
- Can we actually deliver the claim in our message reliably over the long term?
Why not throw them all out once a year. Run a contest with your customers to see what your new marketing messages should be. Or, test some alternatives on your website to see which ones perform best. Letting old marketing messages hang around for too long is such an easy fix, once you test them against reality. You may be surprised at the results when you TEST.