Want New Customers? Try a Sales Blitz.

Want new customers? Try a sales blitz. | DaveKahle.com

by Dave Kahle

One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is this: “I can’t seem to motivate the salespeople to call on prospects and develop them into new customers.

There is a relatively simple, fun and inexpensive way to remedy this situation. It’s called a sales blitz. Unfortunately, few companies are even aware of it, and fewer yet use it.

Here’s the problem. Most B2B sales efforts are organized around a sales rep who is responsible for a specific set of accounts, or a specific geographical area. Typically, that rep is expected to grow the business with the current customers as well as to identify and develop new customers. Clearly, most sales people are better at one part of this two-part responsibility than the other. Usually, developing new customers takes second place in the salesperson’s priorities. Staying within their comfort zones and focusing on keeping the current customers happy becomes a higher priority on a day-to-day basis. As a result, few new customers are developed, and sales management is continually frustrated with the company’s poor performance. Rather than continue beating a dead horse by trying to motivate the sales force to create new customers, one alternate approach is to implement a sales blitz.

What’s a sales blitz? It’s an organized effort by the company to focus all of its sales force on a specific task in one specific territory. The most common task is to identify, qualify and engage potential new customers. But, a sales blitz could also be used to quickly communicate some hot new product or service to a market.

A sales blitz has the advantage of focusing the entire sales force on a specific task. That alone will bring you far greater results than if you’d just left it to each salesperson to do on their own.

But there are some additional fringe benefits. For example, the preparation for a sales blitz provides you an opportunity to thoroughly train the sales force in one identifiable step in the sales process. Their competency thus improves. Additionally, you can usually measure their activities more specifically than normal. So, they become more competent and confident, and you more knowledgeable in the activities of your sales force.

Let me illustrate with an example. Let’s say that you have group of eight salespeople who are each expected to build the business with current customers as well as create new ones. You are continually frustrated with their performance in creating new customers. Out of the group of eight people, you’re lucky to have one new customer a month. Since you are not satisfied with this, you decide to do a sales blitz for new customers.

So, you select one geographical area or market segment on which to focus. In this case, let’s say one of your salespeople has a relatively new territory, so you select that territory as your focus. You decide that for a period of three days, you are going to pull your entire sales force out of their territories and direct them into the new salesperson’s territory.

You bring them together, and explain the project. Their task is to identify, qualify and engage as many prospects as possible. The information gained and the doors opened in the process will then be provided to the territory rep, who will be expected to follow up and turn a significant number of these qualified prospects into customers.

You create a form for each salesperson. They must collect the information specified on the form from each prospect. The information could include such basics as the name and title of the key contact person, some information about the account, and a sense of the opportunity for your company.

You then train the sales force in how to do just that one aspect of the sales process – make a cold call, collect some qualifying information, and fill in the form. You spend a day role-playing and practicing.

Next, you provide them with a list of current customers (off limits) and a list of potential customers. You break the group into four teams of two people each, and on the map, outline four different areas for each. You announce that at the end of each day, you’ll hold a short meeting. At that meeting, you’ll recount success stories, share information and tactics that have worked for various team members, and count up the number of contacts made and forms filled out by each team. The team with the most completed forms will be the day’s winner, and each member of the winning team will be awarded a gift certificate for dinner for him and his spouse.

At this point, you have organized the group’s efforts by identifying the specific job to be done, provided the tools (forms and company literature), trained them in the task, focused them on a specific area, and added some structured time to learn and to be recognized.

On each day of the blitz, you stay in cell phone contact with each group, encouraging them throughout the course of the day.

At the end of the three days, you will probably have accumulated more prospects for your territory rep to follow up on than he/she would have done on his own in the course of a year or two.

Turn them over to the rep, keep a copy yourself, and watch the progress he/she makes in each account.

What have you accomplished? A number of powerful things:

  • You’ve created more qualified leads for the territory rep in a few days than he/she would have created on his own in a few years.
  • You’ve created a fun experience for all your reps.
  • Each rep has learned some new skills as they focused on just one part of the sales process and repeated it over and over. They will be better at creating new customers in their own territory as a result of this learning experience.

That’s a sales blitz.

Keep in mind that there is nothing new about this approach. It may be new to you, but it’s a time-tested, proven best practice. When I was 17 years old, I attained my first sales job working summers for the Jewel Tea Company. They were using sales blitzes as a regular part of their sales efforts. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but you can measure the time duration in decades.

A couple of years ago, when I was working with one of my clients to establish a new sales force, we routinely used sales blitzes, rotating the blitz every other month from one territory to another. In the first two years, six sales people created 638 new accounts.

Here are some dos and don’ts of organizing a sales blitz:

  • Have a specific task in mind, and make it as simple as possible. In the example above, the salespeople were to engage a prospective account, and fill out a form that indicated whether or not the account was worth the time. They collected some information, and attempted to have an introductory conversation about the company in order to raise some interest on the part of the account. So, in other words, the task was a cold call to qualify a prospect.
  • Focus everyone on a specific area or market segment.
  • Equip each person with the tools necessary to accomplish this task.
  • Thoroughly train them. Even with an experienced sales group, I’d spend at least one day role-playing, critiquing and practicing. Remember, cold calls are probably not the strength of any of your salespeople. Ignore their protests that they “know how to do it,” and train them as if they were brand new. You may be surprised at how far many of them have to come in order to be competent at it.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Three days in my example.
  • Break the group up into pairs or teams, and create a competition among them.
  • Have some kind of daily debriefing. A half hour meeting at the end of each day was my choice.
  • Offer a daily recognition and reward.
  • Post the results, and follow through on the leads created to make sure that they are not squandered.

A sales blitz, well designed and well managed, can solve one of your company’s biggest shortcomings and spin off a number of valuable fringe benefits.

Copyright MMV
Originally published on davekahle.com

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every salesperson at every level. To connect to the Sales Resource Center use this link:
http://www.thesalesresourcecenter.com

Have a CRM but Sales Haven’t Improved? We Have the Answer

Because you have to GET leads before you can MANAGE leads

Thousands of small to mid-size businesses have adopted CRM software with the belief that they would generate more new business opportunities and would be able to keep those opportunities from falling through cracks.  Unfortunately, they have failed to realize this, so if you feel this way you are not alone.

CRM can be a valuable tool, but it’s valueless if you don’t have a platform in place for generating new business opportunities.  CRM is a component of the platform, but it needs to be coupled with a mix of marketing activity designed to drive new business opportunities. Here is an analogy to describe what I mean. Many startup companies are proud that they have created a modern cosmetically appealing website, but months later they are perplexed as to why they are not getting any visitors. Well the answer is simple. It’s like holding up a sign in the desert.  There is no one there!  CRM is no different. You cannot properly manage new sales opportunities if you don’t have any.  Your website is not going to produce them nor is your CRM system.  What you need is a company that can provide not only the CRM tools to manage new leads, but a program to get you the leads.

One company that has taken a leadership position with this is Commence Corporation. Commence sells CRM software like many other CRM solution providers, but what makes Commence unique is that they are assisting customers with creating marketing programs designed to drive new business.  The company’s professional services staff is helping companies to identify who are their best customers, what are their competing alternatives and how can they can proactively target them.  Once the leads are generated, the CRM software then ranks and color codes each opportunity based on specific qualification criteria and provides the ability to manage the opportunity from the initial introduction to closure.  It’s this combination of effective lead generation programs coupled with a top-rated CRM solution that is enabling Commence customers to improve sales execution and impact the bottom line.

Want to learn more about Commence?  Contact Commence Sales at 1-877–266-6362 or visit the company’s web site at commence.com.

Protecting Your Good Accounts from the Competition

4 Ways to Show Your Customers you Care

By Dave Kahle

We all know the feeling.  Your key contact in one of your good accounts sheepishly admits that they have moved some business to a competitor.  No problem with your service, it was just a price issue.

Nothing is more discouraging.  You’ve spent years developing this account, building relationships, working hard at meeting their needs, and then, in the blink of an eye, you lose the business to a price-cutter.

Is there anything you can do to prevent this?  Of course.  Here are four proven strategies that will help you prevent your hard-earned business from disappearing into the hands of price cutting competition.

Strategy One:  Deepen your personal relationships with the key decision makers.

It is really difficult, though not impossible, for your friends to take the business away from you.  So, turn the key decision makers into your friends.

Don’t rely just on the business aspect of your relationship, no matter how sound, to see you through.  Make it a point to develop personal relationships with the key people.  Try to spend time with them socially.  Take them to a ball game, a concert, golfing or fishing.  Spend one-on-one time with them outside of the work environment. Arrange to have them meet your spouse and family.  Get to know them more deeply than you would normally.

These efforts to turn them from business acquaintances to personal friends is almost never wasted.  As the relationship grows, the natural tendency to keep doing business with you grows proportionately.

Strategy Number Two:  Close any open doors that may exist in the account.

When I’m coaching sales people on how to get their foot in the door of an account that is in the hands of the competition, I have them look for open doors.  “Open doors” are lingering issues that make you, the established vendor, vulnerable to the competition, and that are within your capability to close.

When you are on the inside, trying to protect your business, you need to make sure that there are no open doors for your competitors.  For example, you may have a pile of returns that are sitting on the account’s shipping dock, waiting for a return authorization from you.  It may not be a big deal to you, but from the perspective of a competitor sales person, it may be an example of your lack of attention to that account.  And that can be a little opening into which a competitor can wedge themselves.

Make sure you take care of any lingering service-type issues… [click here to read the entire article on DaveKahle.com]

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About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every salesperson at every level. To connect to the Sales Resource Center use this link:
http://www.thesalesresourcecenter.com

CRM Success – Fake News?

CRM Success - Fake News? | Commence CRM Blog

CRM software providers are trying hard to earn your business and want to convince you that their CRM software will help you close deals faster, improve close ratios and guarantee customer retention, but sometimes the marketing pitches can go a bit too far and as our new president would say: It’s fake news.  To illustrate this below are three testimonials I grabbed from three CRM company websites.

“We are now selling faster, easier, and with more relevance. We close deals twice as fast as before.”

“Sales improved by 32% in the first 90 days. “

“Our CRM has given us a 99% Customer Retention Rate.”

As one of the leading providers of CRM software for small to mid-size businesses, I can tell you unequivocally that these statements are simply not true. In fact, CRM software has nothing to do with closing deals twice as fast as before. If sales have improved by 33% in 90 days it’s probably due to a sales promotion or an event; and if you have retained 99% of your customers it’s because you have a quality product and provide great service. It’s not because of your CRM system.

You see CRM is just a tool that requires management’s commitment and quality people to ensure any level of success.  In fact, I believe CRM has become a commodity today and the more popular solutions like Salesforce.com, Microsoft CRM, and Commence CRM all provide similar functionality at similar price points so it really does not matter which one you select.  What does matter is what complementary services these companies can offer to ensure the successful implementation and use of their products.  This is an area where Commence CRM really shines.

While some firms, Microsoft CRM for example, use third parties to sell, implement and support their product, Commence CRM is a one stop shopping provider that utilizes its own staff to implement, train and support the product. The company also provides an array of services and best practices that help customers create marketing campaigns and lead generation programs, implement a structured sales process for managing the sales cycle, and create a customer portal for providing high quality service.  These services actually play a greater role in improving marketing, sales execution and customer service than the software does.  Of course, you do need a product that offers this level of functionality and not one of the low-cost out of the box offerings that do not. But the real key here is your commitment to using the software to streamline the internal business processes that will impact the performance of your business. CRM by itself won’t make this happen.  So, forget all the hype and fake news you may read or out there and refocus your energy on the services the solution provider can provide to ensure your success.

Just a Half Hour of Your Time

This is a Sandler Weekly Sales Tip from guest poster Shulman & Associates.

Sandler Sales Tip: Badgering a prospect for a meeting rarely ends well. | Sandler.Shulman.com

The STORY:

Oh God, thought Maria, holding the phone at arm’s length, it’s another one of those obnoxious salespeople.  Don’t they know what “no” means?

“Look… Tim, isn’t it?” she asked.  “I already have one here, and we’re happy with the way it works.  Really, it would waste your time to come by.”

“I understand Maria, but I’ll be in the area next Thursday at an account two blocks over.  Just give me a half hour.  That’s all I’m asking.  You don’t even have to buy it.  I’ll just show it to you.  A short 30 minutes.”

Maria and Tim went back and forth for another five minutes, and finally Maria gave up.

“Okay, you win.  Next Thursday at one o’clock.”

“Great.  See you then.”

As she put the phone down, she wondered if it would be worth taking a long lunch next Thursday.  Then she remembered the last time she had done that with one of them-the guy had hung around until she came back.

The following Thursday, right on the dot of one o’clock, in came Tim, trundling his product on a four-wheel cart.

“Hi,” he said, “you must be Maria.  You’re in charge, right?”

Maria didn’t even try to hide the fact that her eyes rolled.  “No, I’m not.  Show me what you have.  You’ve got 30 minutes.”

“In 30 minutes you’ll see why you can’t function without this little gem.  Trust me.”

Sure, thought Maria, just like they all say.

And 30 minutes later she said, “Thanks for stopping by Tim; if we ever need these really impressive features, I’ll call this number on your card.  Right?”

Well, thought Tim as he carefully backed his cart down the stairs, she did promise to call me when they want to move up.  This is better than sitting in the office making phone calls.

The RESULT:

The first result is no sale.  The second result is that you wasted your time and the prospect’s time.  The third result is that you now have a prospect whose memory of you is that you wasted her time.  The last result is probably the worst since you will have little to no chance of ever getting back in front of that prospect with any product.  Is this a way to sell?

DISCUSSION:

Badgering a prospect for an appointment only reinforces in the prospect’s mind that you are just another one of those “pain-in-the-butt” salespeople.  This will happen even if you get the appointment.

Now consider this situation from the prospect’s point of view.  She was forced into a situation where she had to give up.  No one likes to lose.  Second, her commitment to keeping the appointment with you was shaky at best.  Any excuse to cancel the appointment will be happily used.  Perhaps you won’t find out it has been cancelled until you show up for it.  Suddenly she is “unavailable” and has asked you call her later in the week.

But let’s assume she keeps the appointment.  Her attitude during the half-hour will be one of “let’s get this over with” and/or “I’ve got nothing better to do.”  In other words, she certainly does not perceive your meeting as a time to conduct business.

Will you make the sale?  Perhaps out of a hundred forced appointments, you will make one or two sales.  Is it worth it in time and commissions to operate like this?

APPROACH:

Never beg for an appointment.  Never force someone to make an appointment.  Rather it would have been so much simpler for Tim to have asked, “Doesn’t sound like we will ever do business regarding (fill-in the product/service).  Is that fair to say?”  If the answer were “yes,” he would now be in the position to ask two things.  “Should I ever have another (fill-in product/service), may I call to see if you have any interest in that?”  He would be leaving the door open with the prospect to do future business.  If the answer were “no,” then he could accept it and move on.

The second thing he would ask, regardless of the answer to the previous question, is, “Who else do you know that might have an interest in (fill-in product/service)?”  He might be told no one, but possibly he would be given a warm referral.  Now he could call someone with a reference.  It may not be much, but it would be infinitely better than cold calling.

THOUGHT:

Begging a prospect for an appointment, when you both know it won’t go anywhere, not only wastes both your time and hers, but also leaves the prospect, should you ever call again, remembering that you wasted her time once before.

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website and sign up to receive the free sales tip of the week. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development.