How to Set That Meeting Sooner

Selling – it’s about the speed. Many aspects you can’t control, but the parts you can, take charge, lead the process, wait for nothing you don’t have to.

I’ve witnessed many sales professionals, be it the employee or the CEO (if they are the salesforce), be passive in getting that call or meeting with the prospect. That email looks like this:

Hi Mrs/Mr. CEO,

Last we spoke, you indicated you’d be interested in talking further with us about how we may be able to help you solve problem X.

When is a good time to connect?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Passive Peter

It should look like this. :

Hi Mrs/Mr. CEO,

Last we spoke, you indicated you’d be interested in talking further with us about how we may be able to help you solve problem X.

We have availability next Tuesday between 2-6ET, or Friday AM before noon.
Will any of these time slots work for you?
If not, please suggest a few and we can make something work on our end.

We look forward to talking next week.

Assertive Anne

You drive, not the prospect. If you sell to executives, they are accustomed to driving. If you want opportunities to get to the next stage faster, this is what that email should look like. (And mind you, that email should follow that phone call in which a voice mail probably picked up.)

About Lilly Ferrick
Lilly Ferrick LLC offers services in part-time or fractional sales management, contract sales, sales process consulting, and one-on-one sales coaching. We help companies win larger, more profitable engagements, decrease length of sales cycle, manage pipeline, and improve closing rates. Please contact us to learn more, or to schedule a complimentary session.

How Much Money Is In Your Pipeline?

Do you know? Can you quantify what’s in there? Can you reasonably estimate the likelihood of close and the time it will take to get there?

A client had with a tall order to nearly double revenue during a specified period of time. My question: “What’s in the pipeline?” Their answer, “I don’t know”.

How much is in your pipeline? To look, to count, to quantify can be unnerving. It’s what we beat ourselves up over as business owners, not knowing important stuff. Last week I HAD to do some clean-up bookkeeping. I had paid invoices I’d not marked as “paid” in nearly a year. So, my accounts receivable was deceiving me and I was nervous. Alas, I got help. “Bookkeeper, hold my hand please as we get to the real number. “ I was pleasantly surprised. I had more coming in than I expected. I’d beat myself up more than necessary. Avoidance causes me (and you) more stress, less good. We need good, pleasant surprises.

Back to that pipeline.

Put a dollar figure to every prospect you’ve connected with in the last three months that has indicated they need a solution. (They can go back in queue to be called on if it has been longer than three months. They can’t be counted as a likely buyer, even if you had the warm fuzzies when you talked.)

Did you talk about money? Hopefully so. Name that number. The next questions to answer: When did you speak with them? Where do your services/products stand as a solution for them? Was there confirmation that they would buy from someone? Was your company on the short list, i.e., are you a top three pick? If so, you can call that a 33% shot at winning the business.

If money was not discussed, you have no number unless you have a general amount of money you typically charge. If that’s the case, estimate low on both money and probability of close. I’m not skeptical. I am realistic about likelihood of purchase if money’s not been discussed and you don’t know where you stack up against other options.

For those in the pipeline in which timing and money have not been discussed, go back to the prospect and find out their intentions.Their intent determines your next actions and if the next steps involves the prospect, be sure to secure a commitment from them so your selling process has no loose ends.

Can a Communal Mindset Help You Close a Sale?

I had an insightful conversation with a missionary to Haiti, where two of my children are from. She spoke of a communal mindset where people are not inclined to “get ahead” of the pack. For those that do advance, what is gained belongs to the community. This philosophy is opposite of our American concept of climbing the ladder and living our own American dream. We are encouraged to be aggressive in our career goals, put our success first, and move on from companies/organizations when our season is over, our feathers have been ruffled too often, or our talents have outgrown the place.

Underdeveloped countries and communities may have less cash flow in their economic system but their communities are rich with regard for the whole and their dependence on one another. The whole comes first, individual desires are secondary.

How can we incorporate community minded actions into a mature business culture that focuses on driving the sale, filling the pipeline, innovating, thinking out of the box, and winning deals?

What our team commits to is to keep everyone informed, every team member is up to speed on issues, goals, and expected outcomes of a project. This communication helps us work as a cohesive team toward the same goal, one that wins for us and our client. As a project progresses, there will be fewer surprises that occur from lack of communication. The old adage rings true – “Many hands make light work.”

How Yoga Improved the Sales Process

An a-ha moment from an interesting place.

In yoga class the other morning, the teacher said, “Rather than criticize your body for what you can’t do, just make an observation.” That comment redirected my thinking through a frustrating work situation.

Our principles and methods for lead generation, managing the sales cycle, and closing deals rely heavily on process and the absence of one upsets the apple cart (mine). I first lean towards criticism, rather than observation-the application of wrong energy in places that need positivity and improvement, not criticism.

As a sales consultant I better serve our clients by assessing how to improve their sales process with the human resources they do have. The perspective, criticism and frustration removed, allowed us to optimize our client’s situation and focus on positioning them to win.

Getting A Response To Your Email

Scenario: Someone gave you a good lead or you’ve developed a lead yourself over time. These leads warrant pursuit. In either case, they’re at the top of your list to contact – whether they’re a new prospect or someone in your pipeline.

The secret to getting a response from someone is to not just use email as a standalone communication effort. Apart from making birthday wishes and blowing out candles in hopes of a response, it’s the weakest formula to use if you’re trying to make contact.

Business owners receive over 100 emails daily. I was speaking with a CEO interested in working with us. He said, “Lilly, I’m sorry I’ve not gotten back to you. I get over 100 emails a day, so thanks for your persistence.” I called, emailed, and texted multiple times over the course of three weeks. Persistence indicates your hunger. You won’t go away unless they tell you to do so. Your perseverance tells them you’re serious about making contact.

In another interaction, a VP said to me, “We’re looking forward to reconnecting on this in Q1 of 2014. We’re not ready to do this work just yet, but I know how you are Lilly. You’ll call early January and won’t let me off the hook until we do something. We want to work with you.” Here’s how I pursue this VP (Mark), and his manager (Ron):

Monday
1.Leave a voicemail for Mark: “Hi Mark, this is Lilly. I’m checking in so we can determine what happens next. Last we spoke, you indicated you would know more after budget meetings this month. I’ll send a follow-up email to this same effect. Feel free to respond electronically, if that’s easier for you.”

2.Send an email right after the voice message: “Hi Mark. We’re checking in to discuss next steps. Last we connected, you indicated that working together was probable. So, I’m reaching out to move this along. We’re available for a call {date} or {date}.” Give specific dates and times and end the email with: “Will either of these times work for you? If not, please suggest a couple of times that work for your team and we’ll make it happen.”

3.Leave a voicemail for Ron, Mark’s subordinate manager and influencer: “Hi Ron. I just left a message for Mark and am leaving one for you too. We’re working to get a call on the books to discuss what happens next. I’ll send you a follow-up email and you can respond that way, if that suits you better.”

4.Send an email to Ron, echoing what you said on the voice message and with the same content as Mark’s email.

Thursday

If you’ve not heard back, repeat what you did on Monday.

Monday
If you’ve not heard back, repeat what you did on Thursday.

The point at which you stop pursuing is blog post topic for another day. If the prospect is genuinely interested, they should respond after a couple of your efforts. If they’ve not responded, then something may have changed. How you find out that information is another set of steps we will discuss in the future.

Where Work Ends and Life Begins

On a note that has nothing to do with business and everything to do with living, I’m compelled to get personal sometimes.

I’m an adoptive mother of two Haitian-American beauties – a role more complicated and unpredictable than selling, lead generating, or closing business. In 2009, my husband and I brought home two sisters, ages 10 and 16. In my future is a book about adoption and how everyone can play a part in the global solution, without actually adopting.

Adoption touches everyone’s heart. The thought of any child being parentless, homeless, or nameless brings pain to the surface. There is a global orphan crisis. Are you open to ideas that lend yourself to solving this problem? Orphans matter and so do you. I have ideas for you, lots of them.

Although we’ve been approached on two occasions (both scenarios we turned down because they involved teenage boys), it’s unlikely we will adopt more children.. We have teen girls and a small upstairs – not a wise combination for non-birth siblings. While we’ve decided that two adopted children complete our family, we are forever committed to adoption. I am certain I’ll have grandkids from many continents. I hope reading this post will spark interest and generate ideas.

Here are a few of my ideas:
1. A dear friend is a single parent of an adoptive boy from Ethiopia. We keep him for the weekend about every six weeks so Mom gets a break.

2. A family brings home several adopted sibling girls at once. This family is not financially wealthy, only rich in heart. How about taking the girls out at the beginning of Spring to buy flip flops? $15-$20 buys a fashionable pair at Target. For less than $100, you’ve blessed the socks off an adoptive family.

3. All kids love getting new backpacks at the beginning of the school year, even if last year’s backpack is in good condition. Make a purchase of new backpacks for several adopted children.

4. Offer respite care. Adopted kids may have hurtful pasts. When they are planted in new families, this pain may surface and everyone can benefit from a break. Some behaviors are extreme or isolating and traditional parenting techniques are ineffective. Spare the advice and offer everyone a breather – a movie outing, a weekend, or offer to pay for a week of summer camp.

What do you think of these ideas? Do you have any to share?

Originally posted by Lilly Ferrick at Lilly’s Blog.

What’s Your Line? Sales Communication vs. Marketing Communication

Marketing communications seeks to persuade, provoke thought, or change someone’s stance or opinion. It has more fluff, padding, and color. Nike’s tagline “Just Do It” makes me think about discipline and implies intensity. It does not lead me to buy Nike. (I’m brand loyal to Adidas’ wide-width running shoes, but Nike’s famous words do make me think.)

Sales communication is purposed to provoke decision. It is supported by persuasive marketing that lives in marketing channels like websites, newsletters, direct mail pieces, banner ads, email campaigns, etc.

There’s a concrete sense to sales communication:
-“Our company offers services that help you assess and improve your __________ to __________ ratios”.
-“We call on companies that employ upwards of 10,000 people.”
-“Our company services businesses that typically employ more than 100 people.”
-“Our company targets growth companies between $5M – $10M in annual revenues.”

Here are a few tips for developing sales communication:
-Purpose to move your prospect to act.
-Be direct, succinct, and honest.
-Scale back extra words or phrases that do not lend themselves to your effort. Omit descriptor words.
-Is it light, easy to digest, something that won’t info-overload your prospect?

If your content is easy and fast to hear/read, it’s easy and fast for your prospect to respond.

Originally posted by Lilly Ferrick at Lilly’s Blog.

From Short List to Top Pick

What do you do when your company is on “The Short List”? When this situation presents itself, it’s the business developer’s role to do the due diligence of follow up. The Short List is the top 2-4 choices a company has for a service provider. By the time you’ve made The Short List, the criteria a company is using to make their choice should be well known by you.

I’ve received information on that follow-up call that has left me stumped, not knowing where to go next with the conversation – especially if things are not leaning in our favor. My strategy is to prep myself with at least three questions before I pick up the phone. And BTW, being on the short list deserves a phone call to your contact, not an email.

Here’s a short list of questions I use in the follow-up process:

1. Where are you in the decision process?
2. Has anything changed since we last spoke?
3. What type of feedback have you received from your colleagues?
4. How are we faring against our competition?
5. Is there anything left for us to do to win this business?

Happy Selling!

Top 3 Influencers for Motivation, Inspiration and the Pursuit of Excellence

Out of everything I’ve listened to or read in the last two weeks, these are my top three (3) picks for motivation and excellence:

David Allen, Author of Getting Things Done for helping me get and stay organized so that I can be in charge of what’s in front of me and not the other way around. Last week I did what David Allen refers to as Inbox To Zero every day, if not twice. Yes, I processed everything in my inbox down to zero so I could see clearly and make mindful, strategic work and personal decisions. It also made the weekend much more fun, knowing that I knew what all was ahead of me in the upcoming work week.

Craig Groeeschel of LifeChurch for inspiring me to lead through the fear of failure. In this sermon he elevates failure as one of our best teachers and something not to be circumnavigated if we are going to succeed.

Michael Pedone of SalesBuzz  for being the sales guru who articulates so many of my own hunches and insights as a business developer. I read his material weekly and often make tweaks to what I’m doing, refining our own process to better serve our clients.  Michael’s material is outstanding.

 

 

 

 

Who’s In Charge? (Driving Action in the Absence of Order)

We live and work in a world of living, breathing people, full of emotion, multi-generational and each of us having varied life experiences.  Scenarios might include a CEO 10 years your junior, arriving to work at 10am after their Crossfit workout. You are surrounded by workers with high emotional needs, many seeking to get them fulfilled at work. Or a sales manager in the wrong role and everyone knows it but won’t say it. Add to this, that few are clear where their roles start and stop.

Place the above circumstances in a culture that sees hierarchy and order as the archenemy and we have a recipe for great confusion with unknown outcomes and allegiances. I am not dissing organizational models that lean towards the flat, but am making a point that lack of hierarchy leads to confusion, which leads to uncertainty. And uncertainty is the road to nowhere.

One way to handle confusion in the chain of command is to simply ask; apply the principle of good communication, keeping things out in the open for all interested parties to see and act upon, if need be: “Is it best that I run with this, or do you want me to check in periodically?” In other words, do you want me to ask for your help or guidance, or am I free to take this and run with it? Even well developed, mature leaders change their minds on how/why they want things done in particular ways. Environmental changes, circumstances or even a bad day can cause your sales manager to have a need for more information than usual. There’s a maturity required to create order when it feels absent.

The other way, is to just run with things, and say, “I’m goin’. Stop me if and when necessary.” In this way, you’ve still created order, offered respect and instilled the certainty that, regardless of confusion, you are headed towards accomplishing the work mission at hand.