Hunting For Leads Is A Lot Less Scary When You Know The Facts
Cold calling. Prospecting. Gathering leads. You’ve seen me talk about these subjects in videos, blogs, and in my books. So why do I keep harping on it? Because it’s the biggest elephant on the sales floor. Sales people cringe at the thought of it, and sales managers’ brows furrow at having to strong arm their team to do it more. The reason for frustration on both sides of the fence is valid: If you don’t have a plan, you’ll be out of your comfort zone and more likely to retreat into what you know.
We’ve found a cure to foster a positive prospecting culture within your organization. Sales professionals and sales managers, you’ll both find this helpful.
Formula for The Cure
1. Measure it
If you don’t measure where you are now, how will you know how far you’ve come? Establishing a base line will take off some of the initial anxiety around being measured because it’s giving you the lay of the land. Wouldn’t you rather create change in a positive way instead of just handing the sales people a hard number that they have to reach?
We’ve found that sales managers who measure are 20-30% more effective on average. That’s a number that’s hard to ignore. Here are some ways to establish the base line:
- Number of calls / qualified leads a week
- Number of prospecting attempts per week
- Number of new deals per week
- Number of new deals above $X (pick your price point) per quarter
2. Reward it
Sure, you can tie a financial reward around meeting a goal. On the outside, that looks like the most obvious reward. Who doesn’t want more money? The truth is, it’s the praise and accolades that come with the reward that will mean the most. At the end of the day, we want to make an impact and we want to know we’re making a difference. That can be challenging to see when we are just one of 2,000 at ABC Company. Keep the motivation high with rewards that can happen immediately and every day:
- Ring a bell or send out a gong e-mail as soon as a sale closes
- Have your president personally acknowledge every deal (Yes, this is awesome and worth their time)
- Have your president call the new client’s president to thank that person for their business
- Celebrate the wins by holding a quick weekly New Business Report meeting
- Do you have a particularly competitive team? How about a Thermometer for New Business. Put it up in a highly visible area with photos of the sales team and where they are with new sales – more sales equal a hotter temperature
3. Assign It
A sales manager’s goal is to help sales reps be successful. This does not mean being their friend, or allowing a professional to lean more towards what they are comfortable with and less on what they would like to avoid.
Once your baseline is established, the next thing to do is assign measurable objectives:
- (X) number of new name accounts per week
- (X) sales presentations
- (X) proposals
- (X) meetings with Vice Presidents and above at new prospects per week
Assignments like these foster a culture where prospecting is now a normal weekly behavior. It sets the standard for new sales executives coming in, and by establishing the base line we know where our new goals should be each week, which will calm down the current sales team – and quickly weed out those that need to find a new career.
Surprisingly, less than 10 percent of sales organizations assign prospecting goals. However, every organization has revenue goals. If you want to win the game, you do it by being different, and measuring each play one at a time.
We have a great tool to help you called the Skill Improvement New Skills chart (SINS). SINS tracks assigned tasks for six weeks until the sales person feels that the tasks are routine and part of their expected behavior. Then you can track other activities with this tool – it’s not like a Personnel Improvement Program that will disappear after a month.
Bottom line: For the organization to be successful, sales managers may have to do things that are unpopular, and sales executives will have to prospect. It doesn’t have to be dramatically painful. Using a formula and being transparent creates a shift in culture that’s infectious in a good way. There are two other elements to The Cure. You can find them in Chapter 1 of the book “More ProActive Sales Management” by Skip Miller.