The better you refine your target prospect list, the stronger the revenue outcome.
When I coach reps and consult companies, other than sheer lack of smart selling activity, aka flabby back arms because no one is lifting a phone, the thing I notice most is that reps always struggle with “finding the right people.” This is a pandemic despite the incredible super-power of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator’s platform. Even with sophisticated business intelligence software to find the appropriate prospects and trigger events, they simply haven’t thought it through. Even applying COMBO Prospecting at 10X Levels are firing blanks by spraying and praying.
You can take wings in life by going 10X or wing it without preparation and base jump with no parachute. The choice is yours my friends.
You’ve gotta get crystal clear about exactly who you sell to. How? Hat tip to Craig Elias: Won Sales Analysis. Stop looking at why you’re failing in the market with lost sales reviews. Go interview your best and brightest existing clients that win (print money) with your software and start to understand the roles, responsibility, and psychology of your ideal buyer. WHY do they buy from you or anyone in your space for that matter? What starts them down the path that leads to you? That’s probably the CEO of the problem and comes in 3 to 5 flavors of title.
Start to seek out these titles whilst conducting Boolean Searches from Lead Builder in Sales Navigator on your key target accounts. When you’re working your book of 50 targets in the quarter each day, never go deeper than 3 per target. If you’re going to hit 30 triples (call, vmail, email – under 2 minutes flat), you’re better off canvassing 10 companies at 3 a piece – 3 of the most relevant targets (one must be C-Level) than going after 10 stakeholders in 3 companies.
You must go wide and deep enough. You must think quality and quantity. You must think 80/20.
You must also be daunted by the fact that if you don’t target appropriately, 80% of any system is waste and 20% is power. If you don’t want to waste 80% of your selling day, heed this article!
This is very similar to terminator folks; you need to flush out the stakeholders who matter. Box of roses, shotgun inside. Wolf in sheep’s clothing. The key revelation in Challenger is that the Mobilizer target profile that can actually buy and has the available budget or the ability to create it, is elusive. They’re not lonely and bored looking for new business friends. They make $1M a year; they don’t need to put on a lobster bib with vendors like us – they want to see their families more or get themselves to Cannes for some R&R on the yacht.
This is why the Predictable Revenue model (by the equally brilliant Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler) can struggle today. Sending 500+ emails per week and setting meetings with those that respond doesn’t work very well anymore. The problem is that only ‘talkers’ respond to bulk ‘mail merge’ email drip automations on the whole.
INBOUND MARKETING CAUTION: You’re almost never going to get in at VITO (Very Important Top Officer) – hat tip Tony Parinello – because you’re not in high enough at the C-Level.
The phone is the gateway drug to VITO. The phone is the C-Level sniper.
Powerful stakeholders who make the decision will “delegate you down to whom you sound like.” By reading their LinkedIn profile, or using advanced searches in Navigator to pull out keywords, you can identify with the accuracy of a heat-seeking drone, exactly who owns the problem and can pay to fix it. Why fire on accounts, “not in the buying window,” “status quo,” “no budget,” “locked into another vendor,” “overconfident”?
When top reps work a prospect list, they put the effort into defining a finite set of true targets they found the night before who can actually buy. These targets are scary. They can reject you permanently on the first fire. They can complain to your CEO to, “Call off your dogs!” They can ask for Do Not Call list and permanent company removal.
Yes, it’s high risk. Yes, you can fail. Yes, your pulse is quickening reading this. Are you excited about your life, job, and new sales yet? Get jacked and get psyched – this is not a job for pansies. Be prepared with the right value narrative and do your research beforehand!
Elite sales performers relish the thrill and adrenaline rush of going right at the C-LEVEL – The CMO, The CXO of the Problem. Junior reps fire in low and go for that groundswell and consensus which is okay in parallel because it injects less risk. Junior people tend to divulge information more easily but there’s also stratospherically lower reward potential. If you are afraid to get hard rejected upfront and let your direct manager’s know you failed to penetrate the account, leave sales. As a manager, I want my reps to fail forward. Go out and fail. Get ‘intelligent’ hard no’s all day. I guarantee you, you’ll get a yes in there if you keep pressure testing every key target account.
Confident elite reps will go right to the CEO, get delegated or shot down and then still multi-thread. Imagine calling this Alpha Gorilla’s cell while he’s in this pressure cooker meeting unloading on the troops: I WOULD still call – double underscore. LMFAO ~ “There’s never been a better time to interrupt someone than right now.”
99.999% of the people looking at this picture would think, “Bad time to interrupt!” I’d just love to buzz his smartphone in a pocket with value right now. What is he trying to solve with the team in this meeting? I bet my solution helps solve it. I’d love for him to hang up on me angrily. Then I’d triple him and that whole team. Then I’d still get the meeting with the confidence in the value I’d bring.
People are people. 50% of nice, 50% suck to deal with. It’s sales. We don’t get to just sell to nice people.
A-Players in sales will purposely interrupt. They will call the CXO’s cell phone right out of DiscoverOrg or ZoomInfo unabashedly and ask them to confirm “if they own the problem.” Give the CEO permission to delegate and then let them know, “Thanks Mr. Prospect, I’ll talk with X, Y, Z division and report back.” This rule of VITO still holds true more than ever. Since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), enterprises are under enormous pressure to consolidate vendors. Power has concentrated into the hands of the few even if they tap consensus to shortlist vendors.
Go in high. Interrupt but with context. Allow yourself to be sponsored down with a feedback loop back to power. Target only Decision-Makers who are elusive which means they’re mobilizers. Positively and intelligently challenge them in your voicemails, emails and live – human to human – with your mellifluous voice laced with key insight.
It doesn’t matter how fierce the shark and how hard the hustle if you don’t have the right approach.
This picture says it all about the futility of getting more aggressive vs. relying on insight-driven cunning and wiles:
Mike Weinberg has this great line in his book ‘New Sales. Simplified’ for when you get a shutdown or Jeb Blount ‘brush off.’ “I understand, why don’t you visit with me anyway. I promise to add value and share trends, best practices and ideas.” Senior leaders have a hair trigger response to reject you, make up a seemingly logical excuse of “why they’re not interested,” feign going into another meeting, or immediately dismantling you pretending they have another vendor or aren’t looking. Expect that and always ask again.
I need to hear ‘no’ at least twice from ~7 people to give up on prospecting an account.
Jeb Blount said it best: The number one determinant of success in a prospecting block “hour of power” is the quality of the list. Fix your targeting folks! Take time outside of working hours to build the right lists. Research the top 30 people you could call tomorrow tonight after everyone’s gone home. A massive growth hack here is calling speakers at industry conferences – they stick there neck out there to go on stage so they probably care deeply about solving the problem you do and would love to keep abreast of all vendors.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a seemingly definitive “we’re not interested” response in an email or InMail by a C-Level executive only to have that same executive unlock into a qualified meeting, on-site or opportunity even in the same week by a warm referral of a colleague [TeamLink] or by parallel processing her power base with outreach at the same time. Their own people resurfaced FTW – for the win!
“You need to work accounts top down, bottom up and middle out,” says Mike Scher from Frontline Selling. Leverage an almost identical value message slightly tailored so they all talk about it at the water cooler and out of confusion your name and brand is suddenly buzzing everywhere behind the castle walls. Brian Kreuzberger calls this, “The Art of Confusion.”
In closing, heed only this doctrine but spike it with one word: Honey Badger will take on any deal with a “qualified prospect.” Don’t spray and pray.
Qualify your list. So now it’s your turn, how are you exercising superior targeting in your workday? How do you unlock an account even after they say no? How do you get past the gatekeeper?
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons.
We invite you to subscribe to this blog which is free and provides access to all our ‘subscriber only’ content and a periodic newsletter.
Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published on LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony’s award-winning blog. Also, visit Tony’s keynote speaker website at www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.