Exponential Sales Blog

Why inside sales is your most important next hire!

As a Social Sales Training company we train, and have trained thousands of sales professionals across North America.

Over the years the activities of most sales members have evolved, none more so than that of “Inside Sales”.

So what is this role in the first place and how has it changed?

Traditionally, inside sales teams were primarily charged with customer service related duties with some up-selling if time allowed. For most organizations, while the concept of up-selling and growing existing accounts was easily understood, it’s not often this was effectively deployed.

In fact, “Inside Sales”, was and is defined as a sales role wherein a trained sales person would grow, nuture and engage with existing customers and new inbound customer opportunities.

Again, while this definition is common, the results were almost always left to chance. Very little if any sales acumen is expected in these roles. Worse, compensation is generally not properly aligned, leaving the inside sales person to behave as expected. Compensation alignment models are the single most important factors in developing results from any sales role, but that is a topic for another day.

Today, with the evolution of a proactive and engaged buyer, the inside sales person can really shine and become the key revenue channels for any progressive organization.

By tapping into existing relationships and utilizing strong social selling practices, a company can double and even triple the sales from existing customers while continually adding new. No person in an organization is better positioned to do this than a properly trained and compensated inside sales person.

The trick is two fold. First, the organization needs to be a social magnet attracting existing and new customers alike. Secondly, a much more serious and proactive approach needs to be taken with your inside sales team. This is not just about compensation but also includes making sure that social selling skills are proactively being developed.

A strong inside sales person should be producing a average of 25-30% growth on their account base while also adding new leads for the rest of the sales team to be developing as part of their sales activities.

If your inside sales team are merely customer service agents, it’s time to look at the quickest and easiest opportunity to grow your revenues. The cost of training your inside sales people will be recouped in one or two quarters depending less on their performance and more on the social buy-in of your own organization.

Buyers have changed, traditional sales methods have not. But there’s good news! If you act now your organization will be among the leaders of this new sales revolution, if you don’t, well you’ll likely be trampled by everyone scrambling to catch up!!

 

Written by Thomas Ross  — @tross999 || @ExpoSalesLtd

You’re the Problem!

 

By now it is abundantly clear and very well established that buyer behaviour has radically changed. It is equally clear that traditional advertising and lead generation techniques are no longer effective.

So why are organizations so slow to adopt new and frankly much less costly methods?!

Let’s take a closer look at the facts.

1) Trade Shows ::  Attendance has dropped somewhat, and the real change is in the results. Lead generation as reported by all of our clients has steadily dropped over the last 5 years to the point that the costs are not consistently being recouped.

2) Cold Calling ::  While many of our clients still actively incorporate this activity the results are mostly dismal and ineffective. This is no longer about having a thick skin and skilled objection handling, this is simply getting your prospective customers to answer or reply to phone calls!

While persistance is still the key, the level of calls required now in most industries is far beyond the cost and resources required.

3) Email Marketing ::  Out of 107 active clients across North America in 2017 to date, not one reports success with their email marketing campaigns. Many outsourced marketing organizations will vehemently dispute this, but the facts are the facts.

4) Account drop-ins :: While it’s very rare that this meets with success, it does help with follow ups as a prospect is much more likely to answer or return the next call. However the cost is far higher than the return for most of our clients who use this approach.

5) Seminars and or Informational events :: This is the one activity that still has a heartbeat. When combined with other important elements such as industry experts and or innovative new solutions, these can be both cost effective and successful in developing new leads

6) Website marketing :: While still better than not being in place, not a lot of new lead generation is common here either, unless and until, SEO and other more progressive elements are put in place. Still, while this is a good starting point, it is only the start.

I could go on to include a number of other traditional sales methodologies, but it should be clear by now where this is headed. This is not just a question of asking what might be the best potential sales solution for your organization.

This is about admitting that your organization has a problem. No one likes to do this and this the answer to our question. If your organization is still using the same sales techniques as you did in 1994, well…

As the Owner, CEO, President, VP sales, sales manager and or marketing manager the problem is:

“You!”

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the answer is also,

“You!”

You’ve already witnessed what has happened to print media and how social media now dominates in every category of communication.

This is your wake up call.

“Social Sales” is the answer to the very questions you’ve been asking yourself, and the sooner you embrace what it can do for you and your organization, the sooner you will begin to reach the sales goals you are currently setting for 2018!

 

Written by Thomas Ross  — @tross999 || @ExpoSalesLtd

Gone in 1.3 seconds

Originally Posted on Social-Experts.net by @Alexander_Low || @DigitalLeadersA

I was at the Insurance and innovation disruption event a few months ago and Nicola Day from Facebook shared this stat :

“You have 1.3 seconds to engage someone with content before they thumb down”

In the first instance, this sounds crazy. The more you think about it, it is not. When I think about how I scroll through Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin, I always refresh the content first as I want to see what the latest is (or let’s be honest, it’s what their algorithms think you want to see), and then I just start thumbing down.

Then you consider where we spend most of our time :

 

So, not only have you got the problem of how to engage in such a short space of time, you also have to think about the different channels in which to engage them.

Look how high YouTube is featuring – video is lynchpin of any content strategy. YouTube is also the 2nd biggest search engine after Google.

Enjoyable content is a critical piece of your sales & marketing strategy. Without it, you may well soon find yourself having a Kodak moment.

5 Things I’ve Already Learned With Social Selling

I am a newbie to Social Selling. Other than LinkedIn I ignored the other social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. I saw no value in them and perceived them only as a way to spend time non-productively. I read articles on Social Selling and thought, yes some of the ideas make sense, but I have always been able to develop a customer base through the old-fashioned way of picking up the phone.

I was recently engaged by a client to develop their customer base. They manufactured a product that needed to be sold through non-traditional channels of business. Although it has been years since I have actually had to develop a virgin customer base, I thought no problem, I will use the tactics and processes I have employed for years to develop their business. I would use the three things that had made me successful in the past:

  • Cold calling
  • Email
  • Personal visits

 

 

Here’s what happened:

Cold calls: It was easy to make 100 or more in a day! Why; because no one was answering their phones. Yes, the receptionist answered and put me through, but I got voicemail. So, I diligently left messages and asked for a return call. I averaged 3 out of a hundred return calls. OK so I did get three out of 100, but then most of them were not interested in the opportunity. Ultimately if I got 1 person a week to listen and explore the opportunity I was doing well. Of course, I continually called the others back, and they continually ignored my message. Because I was calling them back, I was not getting to as many new prospects. The results got poorer and poorer.

Emails: Well at least with cold calling there was a personality leaving the voicemail. There were just no relies on email. I know, you will tell me that my subject line was poor or that my message was poor. Let’s assume that is the truth for a minute, even the worst pitch gets some response. You can cut and paste the message all you want, if it is not personal, the rate of return will be even lower.

Personal Visits: I have always relied on the fact that I am an engaging person and much of my sales success over the years has been due to the relationships I have developed with my customers, many of whom are still personal friends to this day. Well it was a whole new world. While I did get a few people to see me on a cold visit, the results were less than spectacular. First, I had to get by the gate keeper. They are damned good at what they do today and can be quite protective. Once again, the cost of the travel and time allocated to this, did not provide a return.

OK so now what do I do? I have a client who wants to grow their business and they have engaged this supposedly experienced person to launch their product into the North American marketplace. So, I began to search the internet for articles on how to become better at cold calling. Most of them just regurgitated what I already knew and was attempting. Really there is nothing new about what I was trying to do, but in 2017 there just had to be a better way.

That was when I met Tim Hughes(@Timothy_Hughes) and Adam Gray(@AGSocialMedia) from Digital Leadership Associates (http://www.social-experts.net/). They were plugged into Social Selling, and I spent a day with them as a sponge. That day changed how I will look at selling forever.

I am not an expert at Social Selling, but am a willing student, I can tell you this. By doing a few simple things that they taught me in a few short hours, I was able to acquire more inbound requests for business that day, than I did in months of cold calling, emails and personal visits. I was stunned and a convert. A few weeks later I continue to use their tactics to grow my client base and develop business.

I am not going to go into a long dissertation about what I have learned, but here are a few nuggets:

  1. Develop your LinkedIn profile. Oh, I know you are on LinkedIn and it extolls the product and service you are manufacturing or selling. Really! So the first thing you do when you meet someone is tell them what a great product or service you are offering. Good luck. You didn’t do that in the old days and you can’t do it today. In the past you got to know the person, created a relationship, and then you got the opportunity to sell. You have to do the same on LinkedIn. Be personable, tell people who are you, what you like, etc. If people can relate to YOU, they are more likely to buy from you.
  1. When you decide to connect with someone, make sure that they can help you build your business. Connections for the sake of connections is useless. In this case fewer is more. Make sure that you can help them accomplish their goals, before you ask them to help accomplish your goals.
  2. When you do connect, DON’T send an immediate email back selling them your product or service. They don’t know you yet. When that happens to me, I immediately block the person. They don’t want to know me, they want to sell me.
  1. Be on multiple platforms. Just like there are many routes to take to the office, there are multiple social platforms out there and you do not know which one the prospective customer will take.
  1. Be an expert! Write articles about your area of expertise. Don’t sell, just be an expert at what it is that you do, your industry, your discipline, your product category, etc. People want to do business with experts. Purchase decisions are already 57% of the way down the line before you discover them today. If you are out there and are considered an expert at something, you are more likely to have been noticed in that decisions making process.

Social Selling is not new. We have always been social in our selling. It is just that Social Selling today is done on a different platform than in the past. You still have to create a relationship. It is how you strategically approach that process that will determine whether you enhance your close rate or not.

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd

Why I Love Cold Calling!

Originally Posted on Social-Experts.net by @Timothy_hughes || @DigitalLeadersA

I was cold called today, the conversation went something like this.

“Hi is that Timothy?”

“Yes, who’s that?”

They tell me their name: “I’ve been on your website and see you don’t use video, would you be interested in using video?”

“I would but don’t have any money”.

“Oh.”

“Do you know what we do?”

“Something about social?”

“Yes, we help companies use social so they don’t annoy people with cold calls. We get a better, faster return than cold calling. Would you be interested?”

And that’s how the sold to, quickly became a seller.

How Do You Do, Fellow Sheep?

Try it next time you are cold called!

Now, nobody needs to cold call me.

I’m pretty visible, as is the company. If you have a product or service that could help us we would love to hear from you.

Let me write that paragraph slightly differently.

In any cold outreach scenario, I would expect you to write to me directly. I’ve seen all the templates, in Social Media Examiner and MarketingProfs.

Trust me, use them and you just get deleted.  I get 10 of these every day.  I would expect you to explain why, using the information you have researched, why you can help us.

If we get the message about how you can help us get another 10 spaces in your car park, when we don’t have one, it will end up deleted, like all the others.

“But this takes time and effort Tim!” I hear you say.

So, let me get this right, you are OK spending time and effort writing templated emails that I will just delete but not emails where I might purchase?

I don’t get this logic, but if somebody can, please get in touch.

You are a salesperson, right?

Your job is to sell?

Can I be so bold as to say, if you are only sending me something I will delete and not meeting me on the platforms where I am active, ie on social and not email, you are not doing your job?

Good luck!

If you want some help in prospecting using social, then give us a shout.

Whiteboard Versus In-Field training

There are quite a number of sales training methodologies that have become common. Most, if not all of these, incorporate a “classroom style training” with whiteboards and other visual aids. Some even still use powerpoints, and I had hoped to have seen my last!

People look up “storytelling”, really, please, now! Ok, I digress…

Many of the larger training organizations are also using webinar style formats for larger groups hoping to gain more efficiency. I even seen some online training courses for the DIY crowd.

I am here to tell you that very little if any of this works, especially stand alone, and it really does not matter whose material or course it is. People do not learn behaviours and skills from these methods. You might think that having then break into teams and doing role playing will help, but sadly, no. Your fellow sales people are not customers. That’s the trick, it’s not real to anyone.

You see, “Sales”, is a contact sport. My favorite analogy (and there are lots!) is that of learning to fly.

In this example you’re trapped on a deserted island with others after a hurricane, but you’re in luck!  You and the survivors have found two small planes, and you have two choices of how to make your escape.

  • The first plane will be flown by Pilot “A”. She who has taken a course and was the best in her class passing every course with top marks, but has not yet flown.
  • The second plane or Pilot “B” has not taken any of the written classroom material yet, but has flown 1000’s of hours directly and as a co-pilot with her dad.

So which pilot are you getting in the plane with???!!

This analogy may not be perfect, but it makes the point. Whiteboards, webinars, videos, powerpoint presentations (ugh), do not accomplish much if anything. However, when either combined with or replaced by practical in-field training with a one on one format, well, great things happen.

Efficiency has no place in proper actual skill development!

You can spend weeks with dry runs, but the real world is the only way to learn

I have been training sales teams for years, and what people do and retain from a classroom setting does not translate into the real world. They may ace the test, but they will likely have the same sales skills after the course and the money spent as they did before they started.

Learning the skills of a sales person can only happen when you are with them while they are selling! That’s the real world, and that’s where they can learn to improve. Sure they are going to crash a few times, but with practice and direction in the field, or learning social selling techniques through practice they will actually learn and develop real skills.

So it’s just my opinion, but if the sales training course your considering for your team does not include practical hands-on, one on one coaching, well just get a big bell everyone can ring, it will be just as effective.

Written by Thomas Ross  — @tross999 || @ExpoSalesLtd

You’re in Sales and Introverted – Is Social the Answer?

Some people would see the title of this as an oxymoron. How can you be in sales
and be an introvert at the same time?

I have been doing this for 40 years. Being an introvert and entering a room full of
people is not easy. For years, I have heard about what an extrovert I am.
Well, the people that see me as an extrovert don’t see me at the end of the day when I
get home. I am the person who immediately heads for some solitude to get relief from the
demands of being a sales introvert.

All by My Self..The only way I could develop a sale was to create an actual relationship. It took
a lot of learning, but eventually I became skilled at overcoming my fears. I had to or I wouldn’t survive, and the funny thing was; I loved selling!!!
If I was able to connect with the person, I could feel comfortable, because I now knew something about them. That allowed me to open up, and voila, we began to do business together.

Building relationships, and the process of overcoming your fears, hasn’t really changed. What has, is the means by which you do so. How does a current day introvert survive in this demanding business
environment? They thank goodness for social — and you know what, social makes it easy
for all of us introverts to compete on the same level playing field as the extroverts!

Today, being successful in social demands that we create relationships. I know many of you have had the “hard sell” on a social network like LinkedIn. You connect with someone and immediately get a sales pitch in your inbox, clearly a copy sent to hundreds of people.
Thanks, but no thanks. They lose a good number of potential customers with their hard sell attitude. It’s no different from a cold call, or someone knocking on your door.

If you use social effectively, whether an introvert or an extrovert,
you can create relationships that can ultimately result in a sale.
It is not about selling a product, but about nurturing those relationships. Back in the day, I never led with
a product, program or campaign. I always ensured that I made that personal connection by asking
about them and showing genuine interest. People love to talk about themselves. That
hasn’t changed. If you engage people and forget the business speak, you are on your way.

What can you do for them besides sell them a product? Can you introduce them to a
person in your network that they see as a potential customer? Is their child involved in sports and in need of a good coach? You get the idea.
Doesn’t that sound like the relationships you have in your personal life, and wouldn’t you
give those people in your personal life your business if you could? Wouldn’t they do the
same for you? Of course, because you have a relationship with a foundation in mutual understanding.

So good news introverts, social allows you to be in front of the people that you want to
connect with, and levels the playing field with the extroverts in a safe environment. As
we all know, once we have the relationship, the face to face meeting is not an effort,
but a wonderful experience with a trusted friend.
Use social to create relationships first. Once you have established that, the business
will take care of itself.

 

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd

Gestalt thinking and why it matters to your sales pitch

Originally Posted on Social-Experts.net By Adam Grey | @AGSocialMedia

The human mind is extremely complex. We process data in multiple streams simultaneously and are able to grasp and hold multiple and disparate concepts at the same time. To do this, we employ some very interesting techniques and you need to embrace these in order to be competitive.

Let’s assume that you are pitching for business and you are in competition with nine others. Given that you are all offering a similar solution, you have a one in ten chance of being selected. Because of how the human brain deals with this there is an inevitability in this decision making process.

However, if you make yourself different to the other nine organisations on the shortlist, something strange happens. The brain now has two choices: you…and everyone else. You have increased your odds from one-in-ten to 50:50.

So, the key thing you need to do in this scenario is to stand out from the crowd.

Have you considered whether the thrust of your pitch document is about ticking boxes or delivering a stand-out experience? This is so important because people jump to conclusions and you want to make sure that they jump to the conclusion that you want. When they read your pitch document do you look like everyone else? Because if you cannot make yourself look different how on earth can you help the client you’re pitching to appear different to their clients?

The key to this is social media. Does your social media make you look different from your competitors?  It is just another stream of endless “me me me” articles and comments from your corporate marketing department?

You have a USP, it’s crucial that you lead with that. This is the thing that sets you apart from your competitors because increasingly there’s no mileage in being part of the herd. That’s Gestalt thinking. Look different and shorten the odds of success.

Outside Sales, A Relic of the Past

We work with many organizations across North America with nearly all directly employing outside sales teams. In fact, we’ve trained and still work with many of these teams.

Wait up, I dropped my cards and it takes a while for me to pick these back up!

This traditional sales methodology has been around as long as I have been in sales — Having outside sales teams roaming the countryside looking for new customers is as old as the hills they climb.

Well, times they are a-changing! While we still very much need these sales professionals, (likely many more!) the nature of what they do and how they do it has radically changed. No longer does dropping in unannounced on a customer or prospect have the impact it used to. No longer does cold calling endless lists of target accounts and fighting through gate keepers return useful results. In fact all of these traditional sales techniques are for the most part, “over”.

So then, what’s the answer? Social sales and community building is the answer. The sooner organizations and their teams learn the art of “social” and it’s counterpart, “social selling”, the sooner we can all check our emails in 1 minute or less (no more pushing the delete button for 10 minutes!)

So this sounds good, but how does it work?

Much of the process remains the same, with some new elements along with much different execution. The familiar portion is in developing those organizations and contacts that we would like to communicate with and develop as interested, engaged opportunities.

The not so familiar is in providing them with content and information they may find both important and interesting on behalf of their organizations. From here it’s simply a matter of connecting the dots and engaging with customers who are truly interested and qualified.

However, if you’re not prepared to work hard on providing great content and much needed information to your

customers, the results will be as lack lustre as your efforts.

600 Characters is all you'll ever need!

First Bulk Email, unknown software company, 1996

What are the results?

  • Significantly reduced sales cycles
  • Much higher closing ratios
  • Far less time on the road
  • Much lower cost of sales
  • Much more time available to support and help customers

It’s not about working less, it’s about driving less and working smart!

 

Written by Thomas Ross  — @tross999 || @ExpoSalesLtd

Are You Social Selling or Social Marketing?

Originally Posted on Social-Experts.net By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

If you didn’t know, social selling is a reaction to the self-educated buyer. But in spite of the name, it is not selling on social. It’s subtler than that.

Let’s start at the beginning.

This isn’t about social selling vs cold calling.  We as sellers no longer call the shots.  Buyers have access to the internet, and start their buying process on-line. They research your products and services, your competitor products and service, they can also look you up.

We all do it and so do our prospects.

There are many gurus out there who will offer you social selling programs and while they fit under a social selling umbrella they are in fact about social marketing.

So what’s the difference?

Social marketing courses will teach you about demand generation.  How to get meetings and leads.  All good stuff, but they won’t explain how to use social to progress pipeline, nurture pipe and take clients through to close by using social.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. We all need more leads and meetings and at DLA we can teach you that. But once you have created the lead how do you use social through the sales cycle?

You can accelerate the pipe using social, (over non-social pipe) a subject of a previous blog of mine, with case study examples.

So, social selling does mean a different way of working.  Which actually requires you as sellers to empower buyers to buy.  None of us likes being sold to and the modern buyer will proactively avoid sales people.

That requires us not to sell, sell, sell, like we did in the past. But to be trusted and help people. This is a change to the way we sold in the past.

The mistake brands make is that they believe that social selling is there to distrust their content.  It isn’t.  In fact it is often a shock to marketers that in fact nobody cares about your brand or branded content.

No employee left behind! 

No employee left behind!

So how do we get new skills?

Training is always a vital subject, something we take very seriously here at DLA.  If it does not “move the needle” we don’t do it, which is why we don’t do web training.

We have been asked too many times by people to sort out social selling projects that have been delivered over the web.  Fail.  Why? We have found that the web does not get the people and process change you need.

Change requires us to understand why you need to change. This is more about psychology than facts or reason.

In addition, how do you embed the new behaviors so people don’t just go back to doing what they did before?

How will you mentor your team outside of the training program.  Again this is about taking all staff along with the project and not just the “ninjas”.  So often we find that people say they “get social” in training courses, but don’t.

No employee left behind!

Finally, as I’ve mentioned before, LinkedIn training alone is not social selling training. LinkedIn is only 30% of your social graph. By implementing a LinkedIn only social program means you are leaving money on the table and placing your pipeline at risk!