Archive for November, 2011

About Leaving Voice Mail Messages…

November 16, 2011

I am 180 degrees in the opposite direction of how many ‘sales pros’ feel about leaving voice mail messages, as I am totally against it. What you will find most common with salespeople that decide to leave a message is that their justification for doing so is based upon their belief that doing something is better than doing nothing. They feel better about themselves when they make the effort to leave a message. It gives them hope…
In comparison, I guess I could get a similar sense of hope by going down to the beach with a blow torch and trying to boil the ocean. I know it’s impossible to do, but I would still get a ‘feel good buzz’ knowing that I tried. That’s what leaving voice mail messages of solicitation does for salespeople. It gives them a sense that at least they tried. And then maybe, just maybe if they leave enough voice mail messages somebody will call back. Hope reigns eternal…
Leaving voice mail messages that solicit business, and expecting a return call is a pipe dream, and shame on those that promote it. Think of how many voice mail messages your prospects get each day, and the countless dozens of emails they have to sift through. A recent study shows that your average worker spends up to 2 hrs. per day sifting through emails and phone messages. That’s 40 + hours (another work week) per month. The mindset of your average prospect is to cut through all this communication clutter and get to the core of what means the most to them in terms of their job responsibilities at a specific point in time. Believe me, prospects aren’t looking through their emails, or listening to phone messages with any great attention to detail. When they hear a salesperson talk, they know it right away. It doesn’t matter how good the voice message script is. The simple fact that the prospect doesn’t recognize your name is sufficient enough cause for them to hit *6 and delete your message into the abyss. But once again, if you need a sense of hope, you’ll leave a message anyway if only to achieve the same sense of possibility you get from buying scratch off lottery tickets. Hey, ya never know…

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Dear Abby, My Uncle’s a Salesman!

November 11, 2011

Dear Abby,
I am facing a real problem that I am hoping you can help me with. First, let me share some background.
When I was very young my father ran away and left my five brothers and two sisters to be raised alone by our mother who had a drinking problem. When our mother wasn’t drinking she would try the best she could to support us. She worked two, and sometimes three different jobs to try and make ends meet. One night while on her way home from work our mother was killed in an automobile accident. Suddenly, I was left alone to fend for myself at the age of fourteen.
I dropped out of school and began hanging around with all the wrong people. I began drinking and taking drugs, and eventually started shop lifting to support my drug habit. I was arrested for stealing and was sentenced to spend three years in a half way house for drug rehabilitation. It’s been a hard life, but I’m making progress.
A few weeks ago I met a beautiful girl, and we have begun to date. She doesn’t know anything about my checkered past, but I think she’ll understand if I tell her.
This past Monday I received word that I will soon be released from the rehab center provided I could find a place to live. My uncle has offered me a place to live. He is a salesman, and travels away from home most of the time. He wrote in his letter to me that I could stay at his place while he’s out on the road making sales calls. That’s the good news.
Here’s my problem. I think my new girlfriend would forgive me if I came clean and told her the truth about my criminal past and drug abuse. On the other hand, how do I find the confidence to tell my girlfriend that my uncle is a salesman?
– Worried in Kansas

Don’t Call The ‘Underlings’…

November 3, 2011

If you are NOT cold calling at the executive level within a company these days, you are wasting your time. Need I say more?
To explain what I mean, let me take you back to the late 90s when things were different. I remember selling technology to the financial services industry before the Y2K fiasco, and when the dot.com bubble popped. It was like fishing in a barrel. Middle managers had the budget authority to buy whatever technology they wanted. If you weren’t making your number back in the ‘hay-day’, there was something wrong with you. Just about anyone within the enterprise had the authority to buy something.
All that changed following the dot.com collapse in March 2000. Suddenly, all the middle managers that once had the money, and the authority to spend it, vanished into thin air. Some salespeople continued to call on them anyway.
Those Darn ‘Underlings’
Since 9/11, the Iraq War in 03′, and certainly since the financial collapse of 2008, ‘Underlings’ are indeed the major obstacle to getting your foot in the door, and closing new business in 2012. I can’t think of any one business today that is placing financial decisions in the hands of middle managers, or ‘underlings’. These days, each and every decision has to go up the ladder for senior management approval. These days you have to start at the top!
Start at the Top
What in the world are you afraid of? Most salespeople call at a level within a company that is in line with how they see themselves conceptually. If you feel like an office manager, then you’ll call on other office managers.
The perception most salespeople have of the president, or any other high level executive is that they are harsh individuals, impatient, and have the potential to overpower you with their might. This is patently false. Over the years I have had more intelligent, and productive conversations with presidents and senior executives as opposed to middle managers. My theory is that middle managers are routine ‘naysayers’ because they could care less about the company they work for. When it comes to doing the job, ‘underlings’ do just enough so they won’t get fired, and earn just enough so they won’t quit. The days of employee ‘company pride’ are long gone.
On the other hand, senior executives are focused on the overall health of their company, and the value to shareholders. That’s what makes a call to a chief executive more productive, and more profitable.
What to do…
In order to be successful calling on senior executives you have to change your way of thinking, and the way you speak. Senior executives are competent communicators, and getting their attention requires you to get to the point quickly. Quick sound bytes that describe in simple terms the nature of your business, and the purpose of your call, usually work best. State the facts, and leave that sales pitch at home. When you have a clear and concise message, and carry yourself with an air of confidence, you give birth to ‘peer-level’ conversations that get you taken seriously by senior management, and in the door to meet with them.
Take a close look at the call script you use for making sales calls. Don’t have a written script? Well, that’s your first problem. Don’t ‘wing it’ when talking to senior executives. You’re liable to lose your place, talk too much, and sound like an amateur. It only takes an instant for a senior executive to pick up on this. Instead, think about the problem you solve, and who you solve it for. Now get that thought into a simple ‘attention-grabbing’ statement that cuts to the chase with senior executives. Do that, and you’ll find that presidents and senior executives are by far the easiest people to call on, and are far more willing to give you your ‘day in court’ than the ‘underlings’ who can’t even buy paper towels.