Author Archives: Yafit Davis

Putting the right sales resource in the right place

Great sales people are a scarce and valuable resource, and they need to be put in the place where they can have the most impact on your business. I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) that really struck a chord and explains some of the mistakes done by companies when allocating their sales resources.

One of the key points made by HBR is that, while sales people can improve their results by improving the quantity of sales effort or improve the quality of sales effort by investing in coaching and training, the best way to improve sales results is to change how you allocate your sales resources.

Working out where your existing sales force can have the maximum influence is quite straightforward.  You spend a lot of time and money building the product and client knowledge that enables your team to effectively close sales. The problem arises when they spend time inappropriately because they have diverse, and sometimes conflicting demands, placed on them. The best thing you can do to affect your sales results is therefore to consider whether your sales people are focused on the areas where there skills and knowledge will add most effectively to your bottom line.

Another key area to consider is consistent lead nurturing and relationship building. A stat I talk about frequently is “80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact yet, 90% of sales people make 3 contacts or less”. That often isn’t a failure in the quantity or quality of sales effort, it is more likely to be about those conflicting demands on their time.

That’s not to say that areas like lead generation and nurturing are unimportant, it’s just that there are more cost effective ways of handling them like outsourcing the operation to a specialist provider. 

Your Business Development Team’s three step sales conversion programme takes the time consuming process of generating leads, highlighting specific target markets to identify those potential clients with an interest in your business. We build on that with initial conversations to identify interest which we then nurture and pass on to your sales team when appropriate.

Allocating your valuable sales resources to the tasks that they best suit their skills and knowledge will bring the best return on investment. Placing your in-house sales team in front of the customers who have the biggest and most immediate need for you makes sense. Having Your Business Development Team working in the background to feed your sales pipeline is one efficient way in which you can achieve this. Get in touch to start identifying your growth opportunities and acting on them.

The Secrets to an effective follow up

‘You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.’ Zig Ziglar

Current market conditions make winning new business harder. With many companies choosing to defer any decisions until clarity is restored, planning a tailored approach and keeping in touch will increase your chances of winning the project later. What can you do to encourage your sales team to follow up more often?

Many sales managers and business owners conclude that their sales professionals must work harder but often they are stretched in lots of directions having to keep existing customer happy, while also prospecting for new business. In my opinion, an even bigger problem lies in the fact that many sales people are not sure how to follow up effectively.

To ensure that you and your team are following up effectively you need to consider a number of things:

Be clear on the value of following up: many people believe that if a prospect is really interested, they will come back to them. This is true in an ideal world, but it depends on your product, industry and their relationship with the competition. Whilst we want to strike the right balance, most decision makers are very busy and will need a few approaches to refresh their memory.

  • Top tip: Call it ‘Building a relationship’ instead of following up to help build the value and understanding amongst your team

Make sure you set goals: like with everything else, setting a goal each time you follow up with a prospect will ensure you ask the right questions and get a better idea of where you are. Just sticking with converting to a sale is not specific enough, a good follow up system will have a goal for each call.

  • Top tip: Understanding that what you are selling is not suitable or a priority to a prospect is a good step forward. Flogging dead horses does not take you very far

Ask good questions: these take some time and planning. Once you have a goal for the call, ensure you write down a few questions you should ask to find out more. Don’t try to find out everything at once but rather break it down to bite sized chunks. This will allow you to get to the real detail but also to build a relationship gradually.

  • Top tip: If you are not asking any questions that make you feel uncomfortable you are missing some key points

Find out more about their problems: what keeps them awake at night and takes up too much of their time? Remember the Status Quo Bias by Daniel Kahneman which predicts that unless people perceive an urgent reason to change, they will stick with the status quo. The more you find out about their pain the better your chances of selling to them, if your product is indeed relevant.

  • Top tip: Most people buy to alleviate pain and not to further their gain

At YBDT, lead nurturing is a key part of the support we offer our clients. We identified that having a clear sales process is a great way to ensure you have an effective follow up system. That said, we think that many companies fail to create an effective process that is used across the board. To support our clients and contacts, we are launching a series of quarterly seminars to cover key elements to creating a sales process and using it successfully.

If you want to learn more, sign up for our first lunch webinar: How to follow up effectively on Tuesday 23/03/21, 12:00- 13:00.

What are the key sales performance drivers?

The world has changed in so many ways in the last year and businesses have needed to adapt to the shifting situation to keep growing and thriving. Now that we are slowly making our way back to normality, it’s worth going back to basics with your sales and marketing and reviewing your approach to generating and nurturing leads as well as converting those into sales.

If you have been following the same sales path for years, then it is probably time to look at changing things up. Here are a few thoughts to start you on the road to sales success.

  • Clarify: Understanding where your business sits in the marketplace is key to this. What do you do best? Who needs what you do? How do you best approach them? How much are they willing to pay?
  • Goals: Every sales teams needs goals, both as something to strive for, and to give you, as their manager, something to measure your success against. When did you last review your sales goals? Are they fit for purpose in 2021? If they are the same ones you had in 2019 then you should certainly be looking at how your priorities have changed.
  • Results: Drilling down into your sales data will teach you how good your goals are. If your sales team are under-performing, is it about inappropriate targeting and goals setting than under achievement?  Reviewing the number of leads, conversion rates, and other KPIs will help you focus on the real problems and enable you to look for solutions.
  • Activity: Simply doing more is the best way to generate more leads. Talking to more of your existing prospects will connect them to your business more closely. Looking at the results will tell you what has worked, and what hasn’t, meaning you can start to establish a route to growing your sales pipeline.
  • Understanding: Knowing what your key prospects, and your existing customers, want and expect of you will enable you to strengthen your relationship with them. This will help establish a sales process and create workable and effective follow up routines which fit in with your overall process.

These are just the first few steps on the road, and we will look at other aspects of building your sales performance another time. The quickest way to building an effective sales pipeline is to work with a reliable established partner.  Your Business Development Team have a fifteen-year track record of generating and nurturing leads, and supporting our clients in many industries to build and refine relationships. Our “Improved Sales Conversion” process provides a clear roadmap to enhanced understanding, better follow ups and a sales pipeline that you can develop into profitable orders. To learn more about how we can help get in touch

Thinking of taking up some hard selling techniques? Think again

If you are as old as me you might remember Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, depicting the life a sport agent operating in a high pressure sales environment in LA. As part of their effort to get themselves into an invincible sales mindset, they use the famous words, ‘Show me the money,’ repeatedly. If you have ever worked in a high pressure sales environment yourself, you might remember other techniques used to get the team selling: a pint at lunch, take away pizzas and league tables are some of my memories.

Think what you like of these techniques, most high pressure sales environments belong to the past and were much more popular in the 80s and 90s. That does not mean that holding up a sales job has become easier but many companies have changed their approach. This is mainly due to the fact that the way businesses like to purchase has changed in the past 30 years. A few key changes to mention are:

  1. The internet allows people to shop around and research more easily. Most buyers prefer to get the information they need, download product features or run a software trial before they speak to your sales team.
  2. Centralised budgets, tendering and outsourcing of procurement to professional consultancies, has become commonplace to help quality and cost management.
  3. Many senior people hold very busy jobs and have less time to spare. They are therefore less likely to agree to meetings that do not carry clear value to their organisation.

To adjust to this, many companies have adopted a consultative approach which aims to understand and solve clients’ problems and add value to the organisation. Some of the new lead generation approaches taken up by companies include inbound marketing tactics such as:

  • Providing useful information through articles, blogs and e-books
  • Creating digital funnels based on users’ needs
  • Offering free webinars and workshops to develop interest

It is apparent that nowadays, many companies aspire to developing a helpful and knowledgeable reputation as opposed to hard-nosed sales tactics and lengthy contracts. This is all very well; I am a big fan of consultative selling and we use many of the above techniques ourselves. But what happens when the economy downturns and new sales are harder to come by? In my experience, some companies will pile pressure on their sales team to get in the revenue in any way they can. We may also see more sales professionals lose their job due to a lack of sales.

If you are a business owner or a senior manager looking at this situation and feeling unsure of the best next step, I would recommend that you stick to your guns and keep going with your plan and approach. That does not mean that you do not make any changes or respond to feedback but essentially, try to avoid making decisions out of panic and fear. Here are a few things to consider:

  • If prospects are not making a decision, there is a reason for it. Rather than getting frustrated with your sales people or ditching them, try to get to the bottom of it and see how you can adapt your approach to support this.
  • Jumping from one product to the other, or stopping and starting lead generation campaigns will only set you back. Marketing communication needs time to take hold, out bound lead generation needs a build up to be successful so be patient.
  • Silver bullets are for Westerns. To get the best value out of your sales and marketing, you should listen to the feedback from the market, make small changes and make the most out of every lead you uncover.
  • Having a clear sales process which is adopted across the team is essential to ensure that you keep up quality and conversion. Take our conversion test here to see how good your current process is and make changes if you need to.

In summary, remember that patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude whilst waiting. At YBDT we can help you build a pipeline and then ensure you convert a higher percentage of it. Click here for more information.

Why selling takes time and effort?

On a cold February morning in the middle of another lockdown planning how to improve your sales can seem like all too much effort. If you are thinking “well this worked when we did it before”, and before was 2019 then it likely will be wasted effort.

Doing more of “the same old same old” in 2021 is not very practical. Walking into your customer’s office with a smile and a firm handshake just isn’t happening. Unimaginative selling had been slowly dying long before the Pandemic, but now we all need to think more clearly about how we sell, and most importantly what our customer thinks of our interactions with them.

“How you sell matters. What your process is matters. But how your customers feel when they engage with you matters more.” – Tiffani Bova

Innovation in your lead generation and nurturing is important. Now more than ever. With the world now firmly online, there is the temptation to rely on a few social media posts to do your lead generation for you. Your competitors probably think the same, but my experience shows that contacting customers directly raises you above the background noise of the Internet. Going offline to engage with your potential customers can positively influence their view of your company. One of my team was sent a drinks coaster by a supplier, a simple gesture but it showed that when so many companies have gone quiet and are just hoping for it all to be over soon, his supplier is still there ready and able to do business.

So, why does selling take time and effort? Because your customers are worth it. Taking the time to build a relationship with a new contact, understanding their business and what they need from you is a key piece in building the jigsaw puzzle of a sale. When much of their contact comes from instant sales pitches on LinkedIn, or they haven’t heard from a supplier in months, being contacted by a company that is interested and actively seeking to work with them will encourage them to look seriously at your offer and ultimately to buy from you.

A stat I have used on our website comes from Wanda Allan; “80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact yet, 90% of sales people make 3 contacts or less”. Your Business Development Team offer dedicated support to your sales team. Lead generation can be time consuming and your skilled salespeople’s time is usually best spent on the later stages of the sales process where their knowledge of your products and services matters most. That leaves the crucial area in the middle, nurturing those leads to the point that they are ready to buy. Remember Wanda’s stat. It isn’t your sales team’s fault that they only have time to make three calls rather than five or twelve. They are doubtless stretched in lots of directions having to keep existing customer happy, while also prospecting for new business. Your Business Development Team can fill in that gap between the lead and the sale.

For more information how Your Business Development Team will work with you to generate and nurture the leads that are vital to your business’s recovery visit our Lead Nurturing page, and get in touch to talk amore about our service.

Are you being noticed or just seen?

The Leadership coach Tanya Geisler rightly said that people should not confuse getting noticed with being seen but what is the difference?

I think this is best demonstrated on Social Media where many companies choose to be seen rather than be noticed:

When you are noticed:

  • People react to your posts naturally
  • You get higher volume of views
  • Others want to connect and work with you
  • People mention your posts in conversations

When you are seen:

  • You get little feedback
  • Your posts are ignored
  • You get no tangible value from your content

It is worth remembering that posting daily does not get you noticed unless you choose your material wisely and invest the time in making it authentic to your Brand.

Now this sounds like a lot of marketing speech, so how do you go about doing this successfully?

Create a content strategy: As always, a strategy should be your starting point here. Consider the following factors:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • What products/services/skills/ knowledge do you want to share?
  • Have you got any specific solutions that you want to promote?

Consider the key phrases and terms which will interest your target markets. There are a number of free tools like Semrush and Answer the Public that can help you understand what people are searching for which means you are more likely to get noticed. It is important to remember to consider the google suggested searches as part of the mix too.

Set up a theme and posting type structure: Having a weekly structure makes creating the posts easier as you know what you are looking for. Consider your strategy and decide what types of posts you want to share and in what order. Here are a few examples of types of posts you can consider here:

  • Your own Blogs/ articles
  • Interesting articles from others
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Quotes
  • Jokes

Use the above information to write a monthly content plan. This is important for a number of reasons:

  • It makes creating the posts much easier
  • It will allow you to create and use themes
  • Your posts will be more meaningful and interesting
  • You can delegate the post creation or outsource it

We hope you have found this useful. Should you want more, we have created a small series of targeted eBooks, designed to help you put together a successful sales process from lead generation to conversion. Click here to download them from our website.

Three things you might want to consider between Christmas and New Year

I think that we all agree that Christmas this year is not going to be as we are used to. Just like the rest of our lives through the pandemic, we will need to make do with a quieter Christmas. People I speak to are divided between those who are looking forward to having a quiet time and those who can’t wait for Christmas 2021…

Wherever you are on this, you are likely to have a bit more time for resting and recreation between Christmas and New Year. Just in case you get to a point where you are in need of some constructive thinking in the holidays, I thought I would share some great lessons I learnt this year whilst reading John Jantsch’s book, The Referral Engine.

The book explains how to create an effective referral system through focusing on key elements within your organisation. It made a big difference to our business in terms of customer satisfaction, increased referrals, and retention. Here are the main elements to consider:

  • Make your company the one people are speaking about: People don’t talk about boring products and they certainly don’t talk about boring companies.’’  John Jantsch, The Referral Engine

How can you make your company interesting? Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Come up with a new product or innovation which will make your company stand out against the competition.  This can be a small thing that makes a difference to your client like offering some training or best practice, so they get more out of your product.
  2. Write your business story: consider how it all started and what really matters to you and the rest of the team.  People buy from people and your story can make a difference to their buying decision.
  3. Identify the elements that define your business and make you different. Things to consider are your unique process or approach to doing business as well as your core strategy.
  •  Everyone is in Customer Service: I believe marketing, sales and customer service falls to everyone in your organisation. Widely referred businesses seem to find ways to empower everyone to create, deliver, mend and extend the total customer experience’. John Jantsch, The Referral Engine

In order to achieve this level of engagement, the book suggests that you consider ways of changing your team culture. Consider what mechanism, training and mind-set is necessary to ensure everyone in the company is delivering the right attitude which is aligned with your vision and mission statement. A few examples include

  1. Share your vision and mission with the team.
  2. Promote your company values in internal meetings. Ask your team how they relate to them.
  3. Share company performance figures and put together goals that matter to everyone.
  4. Ensure you are clear on the type of people you want to work in the organisation.

Create a customer network: ‘…It is not enough to simply provide a good product or service, that’s probably the minimum of what is expected. Your marketing, sales, content and service must all converge in a systematic fashion to move your customers through the referral lifecycle of know, like, trust, buy, repeat and refer.’ John Jantsch, The Referral Engine

Whilst referral marketing is recognised as a key marketing approach, you should consider how many referrals you get from your own customers. If you feel you could do better in this, there are a few key things to consider:

  1. Figure out a way to introduce referrals as a key element of your relationship with new clients. Make sure it fits with your brand and culture.
  2. Exceed your customers’ expectations; surprise, and delight them.
  3. Work out an appropriate way to reward your customers for referrals.
  4. Equip your team with tools and processes to make referring your business easy.

I hope you have a lovely break and think this should keep you busy over a few constructive sessions if you so wish. I hope you can then take it further and introduce some changes to your organisation.

Whatever you decide, to have the full affect, I recommend that you put the Referral Engine on your Christmas list this year: it is one of the best business books I have ever read.

Top 5 tips for business growth in 2021

Whilst 2020 has not been what we planned for, for many, 2021 needs to be a year of significant growth if we are to return to where we were pre-pandemic. This time of year, is traditionally a time to gather your plans for new campaigns launched in the new year. This week, we wanted to offer you our top tips for business growth:

Tip #1CHOOSE THE RIGHT MARKETING TOOLS TO SUPPORT YOUR MESSAGE

A successful campaign needs a specific approach and message which are relevant to the issues that you wish to solve. As part of this process, you will decide which will be your target markets and then choose the appropriate tools.

We are not suggesting that you have to choose one marketing tool only; you can run a number of campaigns using different tools and tactics. In many ways, the tools and tactics you use are all relevant as long as they appeal to your target markets and convey your message correctly.

Tip #2: HAVE A CLEAR SALES PROCESS:

How many times have you been told that selling is not rocket science? Whilst we agree that you should keep things reasonably simple, don’t be too simplistic.  A clear process that everyone works to, can help streamline your process and increase productivity and success. Some things to consider are:

  • Speed of response to enquiry
  • Accuracy in identifying needs
  • Demonstrating your capabilities
  • Packages and standardisation of products
  • Your CRM and automation tools
  • Relationship building

Tip # 3: FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP

One of our favourite quotes demonstrating this is from Wanda Alan, who wrote Follow Up Sales Strategies. She said that 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact, yet most salespeople only make three follow up calls or less. The number of contacts are irrelevant; what matters is that you make as many as it takes to get a definitive answer.

Against popular belief, prospects normally appreciate your follow up as long as it is done in a polite and appropriate manner. Timelines will depend on your product and sales cycle, but we have been known to keep in touch with people for several years before they eventually became clients. Don’t give up: believe in your product and remember that you are talking to people who expressed an interest in your company.

Tip # 4: UNDERSTAND YOUR PROSPECTS

When we get frustrated with following up, we take a deep breath and remember some research undertaken by DISC which identified that only around 35% of the population make decisions quickly.  The remainder still like to take their time but, importantly, do make buying decisions eventually. To help you use this in practice, consider your prospects’ buying persona, of which there are four:

  1. The Decisive: These buyers have a clear picture in their mind of which results they want. They value rapid action so will typically make quick decisions if they feel your solution is right.
  2. The Interactive: These buyers want to shape events and enjoy “getting their way” when it comes to negotiations or buying something. They typically make quick buying decisions, particularly when they feel a sense of connection with you.
  3. The Stabiliser. These buyers are more passive and introverted and interested in the how and why of a solution. Their primary interests are in maintaining stability, so they prefer to “take their time” and weigh up all options and outcomes before making a decision.
  4. The Conscientious: These buyers are also more passive and introverted. They too take a much more detailed and accuracy-based approach to their buying habits. Without sufficient data to prove any statements made to them, you will fail to achieve their buy-in.

Tip # 5: TEST AND MEASURE

Once you are clear on your message and campaign tools, start experimenting to see how you get your message across best. This will ensure that you get a better return from your campaign. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Try a number of platforms to promote your message
  2. Segment your data and send smaller campaigns to see which get better engagement
  3. Try to use new tactics you have not used before

All of the above are great ways to test, but the key thing is to measure your results carefully to ensure you understand what works best at the moment. One more thing to remember is to be realistic and give it time and some repetition to ensure you are being heard.

We hope you have found this useful. Should you want more, we have created a small series of targetted eBooks, designed to help you put together a successful sales process from lead generation to conversion. Click here to download them from our website.

Planning in the age of uncertainty

Here is a wonderful quote from J.R.R. Tolkien which is particularly apt for the current environment: ‘It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.’

Planning is recommended by experts in all walks of life as a way to support business growth but what happens if planning becomes very difficult due to uncertainty, as we are experiencing at the moment? Do you abandon it all together? I believe that you should always have a plan in place, covering short and long term, whilst not forgetting the dragons nearby. Here are five tips I have collected for you to consider:

  1. A tip from Oxbridge Academy Blog:

Focus on what you can control: You have to accept that some things are completely out of your control. For example, you cannot control most of the effects that the coronavirus has had on your everyday life. While accepting the things that you cannot control, you should focus on controlling the things that you can. This can include maintaining a positive attitude, controlling your spending habits, or deciding to learn something new. In the face of a difficult situation, you may need more determination than ever before to work on yourself and get through the tough times. 

  • A tip from Life Lanes:

Have “go-to” people who can help you every step of the way. Having people you can reach to in times of change can get you through even the most uncertain of times. You do not need to know everything. You just need to know people and organizations you can trust to fill in the gaps for what you do not know.

  • A tip from Management Centre:

Use scenario planning instead of traditional goal setting: Scenario planning can get you outside the normal strategic planning box by encouraging you to think about multiple futures and how these futures would impact on what you would need to deliver your mission. They may even, if profound enough, encourage you to change or adapt your mission.

  • A tip from Great Performance:

Prepare yourself for various possibilities: The most challenging part of being uncertain is the inability to feel in control. Being human, we want to know how things will go so as to be comfortable. Uncertainty takes this from us. Things change too fast for us to experience this. Therefore, instead of expecting specific outcomes from life, it makes more sense to simply prepare yourself for various possibilities. For example, you can make lists of the activities that you will perform in case things go one way or another. One of the characteristics of an uncertain future is luck. This is when things go exactly as you desired. It is important to know that luck happens when preparation and opportunity meet.

  • A tip from Your Business Development team:

Always be selling: Planning for growth is one of the key things that will make a difference to your future as a business. Creating new business and improving your sales conversion are born from a structured process which you can set up and follow in any environment. This process takes time so use the downtime to plan and start conversations with people in your target market. This means that when things move forward you will be first in line for consideration.

I hope you have found some inspiration in our Blog today. If you are looking to create a sales process or strategy, we might be able to help you. Click here to find out more or get in touch to discuss your specific circumstances.

What are the key obstacles to selling well?

‘Learn from the mistake of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.’ Eleanor Roosevelt

This quote emphasizes the opportunity to learn from others and use it as leverage to improve your skills. Is this applicable to sales though?

Sales skills are often referred to in a negative manner, from the ‘gift of the gab,’ to free lunches and going home early on Friday; salespeople are not always portrayed in the best of lights in many organisations. This attitude is also used as a reason for many people to avoid developing their own sales skills, even if it can make a big difference to their business or organisation.

This question is particularly important in current market conditions when new business and additional revenue become even more important. This is precisely the time when marketing and sales departments are scrutinised, and the pressure to achieve tangible results is on. So, the key question is not, can you sell? More importantly it is, can you sell well?

To explain what I mean by learning to sell well, I thought it would be useful to review the key obstacles that get in the way. These are generally divided into three areas:

  1. Understanding your prospect: How much do you actually know about your prospects and their company? Consider questions like:
  • Who are the key decision makers?
  • What are the main issues?
  • What are their key preferences?
  • What is their budget?
  • Who else are they talking to?

The list goes on and it can be easy to forget to ask these questions in the initial process of conversation.  Getting better clarification will help you build your knowledge and discover the best way to approach the prospect and close the sale.

2. Having a clear sales process: How many times have you been told that selling is not rocket science? Whilst I agree that you should keep things reasonably simple, a clear process that everyone works to can help streamline your process and increase productivity and success. Some things to consider are:

  • Speed of response to enquiry
  • Accuracy in identifying needs
  • Demonstrating your capabilities
  • Packages and standardisation of products
  • Your CRM and automation tools
  • Relationship building

3.Setting up a review process: Without testing and measuring, you will never find out if the changes you implemented have made any difference. The review process needs to cover all of the aspects of your sales from lead numbers through sales conversion and individual’s sales targets. Having KPI’s in place will allow you to set a standard and define what success looks like thus helping your team to aim higher and develop.

Selling is one of these occupations that you can keep improving upon; you can always find another way, learn a new skill, or rebuild a relationship. The point of our Blog this week is to remind you of the basics because if you get them right, you can free time to evolve your process and identify new opportunities.

If I have helped you identify some elements that need attention, why not take a look at our new sales conversion support service to see if we can help you shake things up in any way. Get in touch if you want to discuss your specific circumstances further.