In my training sessions and consultations, I find that many salespeople focus their attention on closing tactics. However, when you open your sales call correctly, execute your sales process in an above-board manner, and you wrap all of this in an effective sales presentation, the close happens effortlessly and naturally. Check out this example, showing when all of these items are aligned, the close happens naturally and organically. Continue reading
How Do I Get to the C-Suite Executives of a Company?
In an earlier post, I reviewed one of the most common questions I get from salespeople: how do you reach the C-suite executives of a company? It reminds me that the natural impulse for new salespeople is to look for the silver bullet that will solve all their problems quickly, effectively, and efficiently. Continue reading
The consumer’s engagement in the buying process is more intense than it has ever been. With all the information available to us, it’s no wonder selling has become more and more difficult. When buying a product online, 92 percent of consumers spend time reading online reviews ahead of time and 40 percent of those consumers form an opinion by reading just 1-3 reviews. They insert their own confirmation biases and make quick decisions based on how well that product is customized for their own pre-determined needs.
This kind of access to information is changing how customers buy across the board. And when you think about it—this new reality has made many activities accessible without the engagement of face-to-face interaction. From banking and dating to physical fitness and travel. Consumers feel empowered and want solutions tailored to them, or customizable.
What This Means for You
With this increased involvement from consumers, the sales process has changed and needs to be tailored in similar fashion. The buyer is going to be concerned about how much things cost, whether their opinion will be taken into account, and if they even have the time to listen. And the buyer is going to be armed with more information than they would have been in the past, which is going to make them a lot more confident than they once were.
As a result, sales professionals need a strategy—a sales process—that takes into account all of those pieces of the buyer’s mindset. It has to be flexible enough that they can tailor it to individual clients, but sturdy enough that it can be scalable and repeatable. There needs to be an element of predictability in the process despite the unpredictable consumer and their concerns.
Be Strategically Prepared
Once you are thinking strategically about the sales process, you can incorporate the tactics and skills you will need to use throughout the process. How? You’ll think in terms of if this, then that. If I get someone’s voicemail, what do I say? How do I deal with an objection about price? How do I give my impact statement? How do I present things in a logical fashion?
You’re also going to be developing skills that apply in any process: things like verbal brevity, resolving objections, being able to facilitate, selling over the phone versus selling in person. Remember, the sales process is simply the buying process in reverse.
In today’s marketplace, being a forceful, charismatic salesperson will not do the job. Consumers are different. They’re savvier, armed with more opinions based on the good and bad information. You need to have a repeatable system to address these and other complexities in today’s market. Learn more about what this proven and repeatable sales process is by visiting, the Tyson Group website or by purchasing your copy of, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business And Compete In A Complex World.
In the next couple of posts, I’ll be addressing how today’s information age has dramatically impacted the sales process. We all have more data at the tips of our fingers than we know what to do with. This most certainly plays a major role in any decision we make, from medical self-diagnosis to major IT investments for our company. Buyers have more information than they used to, which dramatically changes the dynamic between the consumer and sales professional. The identity, purpose, and involvement of a salesperson in the buying process is different than it’s been traditionally; they are no longer the primary information provider.
The challenge for sales professionals is the information available isn’t always good or accurate. It is estimated that 62-percent of organizations rely on marketing/prospect data that’s 20-40 percent inaccurate and 94-percent of businesses suspect that their customer and prospect data is inaccurate.” Data is the new major challenge for any sales individual.
Case in Point
People tend to believe just about anything they read on the internet, especially when it’s shared on a reputable site. Let me give you an example. My Inside Sales Manager once showed me a former Tyson Group employee’s LinkedIn profile, in which he claimed he won Rookie of the Year at my company. Trouble is, we don’t have a Rookie of the Year award. I sent him a note apologizing for missing the ceremony with a P.S. explaining that he might want to represent himself accurately.
It’s easy to accept what’s said just because someone said it in an opinion blog, an online resume, or a biased product/service/experience review. Inaccuracies, including the faulty information salespeople glean when they rely on the same online sources, ramp up the pressure on salespeople. They mean a salesperson has to be asking the right questions at the right time in live conversation or through thorough research. It’s critical throughout the sales process to take the temperature of prospects.
Buyers Are Requiring More
Not only has the role of sales professionals changed after meeting with a prospect, but the time and effort it takes to get to that meeting has also increased. Identifying an opportunity, pre-approach, and initial communication, are the most time-consuming parts of the sale process these days.
In B2B sales it takes six to eight touches to get someone interested enough to even talk with you and another six to eight touches get time on someone’s calendar. Those touches can come through LinkedIn, Twitter, even snail mail.
Making these critical milestones with potential buyers not only requires a steady, strategic sales process, but it also requires transparency. In a recent Inc. article, they cite a 2016 Label Insight Transparency ROI Study which confirms the need for more transparency from companies and their representatives because of the following reasons: consumers want to know everything about a product; consumers want to know about more than just your product; and if your company isn’t providing the transparent information, consumers will look elsewhere to get it.
Help your prospects make the best-informed decision they can make: be a source of accurate and transparent facts in an environment where they’re inundated with questionable information. Learn how to better integrate this into your sales process with the Tyson Group self-evaluation: https://tysongroup.com/evaluation/
Every team needs a winning strategy. Some of the top franchises in sports turn to Tyson Group to help their sales teams move to the next level. Fenway Sports Management (large naming rights and sponsorship sales), the Dallas Cowboys (sponsorship, premium new stadium), the New York Yankees (premium space), the Boston Red Sox (tickets) and the University of Notre Dame (gifting and donor) are just some of the organizations we work with.
Despite the varied sports, our approach is one they all understand and easily adapt: when they adapted our process with an offensive strategy approach, they are successful. Whether it’s selling suites to Fortune 500s, closing multi-million-dollar naming rights deals, or selling tickets to the masses, it really doesn’t matter because it is the exact same process.
That’s the crossover power of our process that makes Tyson Group so successful. Throughout the years, I’ve worked with many of the same individuals who move from franchise to franchise and the feedback is this, “What you did at the Browns I want you to do at the Padres. What you did at the Cavs I want you to do at the Vegas Golden Knights. What you did here in San Diego I want you to do at Tampa Bay.” Regardless of the sports franchise, the process has been proven time and time again through a series of six steps that can be customized in a thousand different ways. Simple is genius.
Running an Offense Strategy Regardless of Your Industry
Last time I was in Salt Lake, I was with insurance brokers working with them on sales. We plug the same offense and process into tech, insurance, or financial as we do for major sports organizations. What these sales professionals—across all industries—learn is the same offensive strategy each of our major sports organizations leverage – a strategy and approach built on solid sales management, sales leadership and what I’ve referred to previously as, “grit.”
Like a top football, basketball, or baseball team, you can coach skills and knowledge all day long; however, the most successful sports stars have an “it” factor of persistence and grit. We not only help our clients the necessary sales skills, we help them access the grit within themselves—the element needed for true success in an offensive sales strategy.
There’s an exercise I like to do with management teams and salespeople in which they list attributes that would make their replacements successful. “If you had to hire somebody for your job and would get a bonus of 20 percent of your salary, what are things you would hire on?” I ask.
They will make a list of twenty or thirty things. But it comes down to three broad categories forming a triangle. At least 60 percent of success is based on attitude—things like grit, endurance, and perseverance. Another 20 percent to 30 percent revolves around skills like goal-setting and communication.
No matter your industry, when you approach your sales process with a proven offensive strategy—built on effective sales management, skill, and grit—your sales professionals will be unstoppable. Learn more about applying our proven offense strategy to your sales organization in my book, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World.
Think about the steps you take when you buy something—a pair of sneakers, for instance. Something in your world gets your attention and you come to the conclusion: I need a new pair of sneakers. You start to go out and look, try a couple pairs on, go to the store, go to Amazon, etc. In that process, you remove doubt, because you’re actively looking. Then you start to consider it, lay it out and say, “Jeez, do I really need these? What pair do I need?” Ultimately, you buy a pair.
That’s a simple buying process.
In most sales, especially B2B sales, it’s more complex. In a previous blog, I’ve likened the process to a trip to the doctor’s office. Regardless of the product or service though, there’s a way to be successful: sell how people buy. Do this and you’ll be successful. Sound simple? It is and isn’t at the same time.
The Science and Art of Sales
As a sales professional, you take action to get somebody’s attention. You need to qualify them to see if they would fit business parameters. You have to engage the prospect in some kind of request for their time, ask them a series of questions that are really for their benefit, and get the buyer in a scenario where you can present them with an idea in order to start creating an opportunity where one did not exist before. Then you present something that removes their doubt and gets them saying, “This is a decent fit for me.” Finally, you get into dialogue with them to remove any objection and close.
There’s no shortcut to the process, no way to cheat the sales process—whether solicited or unsolicited. At the end of the day, sales is a science—a series of yeses. “Yes, I’ll talk to you. Yes, you can ask me questions. Yes, you can present to me an idea. Yes, you resolved my objection. Yes, I’ll buy.” It’s an algorithm of questions, each followed by five or six yeses.
But sales is also an art—one that requires a deep understanding of why someone is looking to buy and how to help them understand you’re the right solution. Practiced at a high level, the profession combines creativity with a process for predictable selling.
Success Ultimately Requires a Proven Process
I have been a sales professional, entrepreneur, and have trained other salespeople since the 1980s. Selling vacuums door-to-door in college; leading the largest franchise for Dale Carnegie Training outside Taiwan and Hong Kong; building Tyson Group as the go-to sales trainers of professional sports and entertainment as well as insurance organizations; training over one thousand sales executives and sales managers annually.
In all these years of selling and working with organizations of all sizes, the key to successful sales can be distilled down to a six-step process applicable to any product, service, industry, and solution. This process works. It’s a process that will benefit any high performer—from entrepreneur to sales professional to manager trying to boost team performance—and anyone for whom selling is a matter of life and death.
Learn more about what this proven and repeatable sales process is by visiting www.tysongroup.com, OR by purchasing your copy of, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business And Compete In A Complex World.
In my previous post I emphatically stated, prospecting is not dead! Many marketing automation companies may try to convince you otherwise, or you may have convinced yourself with all the information seemingly available at your fingertips, that you have all the data you need to make a sale.
The fact is, nothing can replace actual prospecting. It’s challenging but worth it.
Ultimately, connecting with someone involves gaining a prospect’s attention by communicating briefly about things that interest that individual. It’s in making that connection where research can help – trying to learn snippets that can help your conversation including education connections, places they’ve lived, companies they’ve worked for, etc. Just remember: don’t lose sight of the importance of back and forth communication in the connecting process.
The art of prospecting takes patience, persistence, and the understanding of prospect’s perspective. The following are critical tips for practicing successful prospecting:
- Takes ten to fifteen phone calls to get a contact.
- Takes three to six contacts to get an appointment.
- If you call to confirm an appointment, you risk losing it.
- Crucial to send a calendar invite immediately upon setting the appointment.
- Phone appointments are at least 50 percent more likely to cancel/no show as opposed to a face to face meeting.
- Getting the first appointment is the hardest part of the sales process.
- Data changes constantly—the most accurate list is one you’re actively calling into.
- Waste of time to spend much time researching a company online—pick up the phone and call! Ask the gatekeeper questions.
- You’re competing not just with other salespeople for the buyer’s attention—you’re competing with anything else they view as more important.
- When you get a Decision Maker (DM) on the phone, you have seven seconds to get their attention
- Don’t talk about the product, talk about how the product relates to the DM’s world
- If you can see the world from your prospect’s perspective, you will be in a better position to respond to their reactions when you interrupt their day.
Prospecting is difficult, takes time, requires a thick skin and an ability to be persistent. It’s no wonder there are companies looking to capitalize on this notion that with their product/service you won’t have to prospect anymore, because, who wants to experience all those things if you don’t have to? And yet, there is no replacement for prospecting done well. Your hard, persistent work will pay off. Read more about how to be an expert at prospecting by checking out Lance Tyson’s new book, Selling Is an Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World.
Lately, there’s been a surge of advertising saying that traditional selling is dead, that prospecting is dead.
I have two words for that: fake news.
But, I get it…there’s a multitude of reasons to believe prospecting is dead. At least, that’s what customer relation management (CRM) companies, or marketing automation companies, will have you believe because they want you to think that you don’t have to prospect anymore.
Even though social media avenues like LinkedIn make connections with C-level executives and decision-makers much more possible, every salesperson in the universe is using it, thereby making it difficult to stand out. Also, office staff has little time on hand, meaning that you only have a window of about seven seconds to get past the gatekeepers. Many salespeople end up as just another name in a missed call log or forever lost in a collection of junk emails.
Prospecting isn’t dead, but it’s certainly not easy.
Despite the plethora of information with which we feel inundated each day. In chapter three of my book, we found that 82 percent of sales reps feel challenged by the amount of data and time it takes to research a prospect just to make the initial cold call. What’s more, did you know that poor quality data is costing your sales team at least 30 percent of revenues? Clean, accurate data is the difference for professionals seeking to streamline and clarify the front end of the sales cycle. Our studies show that sales reps are spending at least 32 percent of their time searching for missing data, then manually entering it into their CRM. Quality data is all about working smarter, reserving your resources, and accelerating your team’s sales cycle. According to Salesforce.com, about 70 percent of CRM data “goes bad,” or becomes obsolete, annually.
Bad data is bad for business. But no data, by not prospecting, is worse.
You can gather quite a bit of information through LinkedIn, Google, your company’s CRM…but ultimately success comes from actually engaging with a prospect and gathering “data” from attempting to speak with individuals of interest.
Nothing will replace, or provide greater success than actually connecting with a sales prospect.
Prospecting is definitely not dead.
Learn more about how to effectively start that conversation by checking out Lance Tyson’s new book, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World.
In my previous post, I introduced the first three steps of my “Away-Game” selling process and how they directly mirror our experience at the doctor’s office. Each of these steps addresses some aspect of being in the buyer’s mind – which is why it is so successful for sales professionals. Previously we discussed the connect, evaluate, and diagnosis steps which are critical for moving toward a successful close.
As with the doctor, a diagnosis is just the beginning, and sometimes as a patient, we can be skeptical or unsure of the initial assessment. That’s where we start back up with the rest of the sales process and pick up with the prescribe step:
Once a doctor is sure of his or her diagnosis, they will prescribe something to address a health issue. They may say something along the lines of: “I’m going to give you Tylenol with codeine for that nasty sore throat. Stay away from beer and that John Deere while you’re taking it.” In sales, as with the doctor, you prescribe a solution that addresses the diagnosis you’ve made. You’re tailoring it as much as we can to the specific needs of the buyer. At this point, the buyer will want to know: What is it? How does it work? Who says so besides you? And can you prove it? You’re going to give the buyer precisely the right amount of information, and no more, about the solution, to convince them that they’re justified in buying from you.
The deal isn’t done once the prescription is given. Not in the doctor’s office and not in sales. In the doctor’s office, you don’t just accept the prescription and start taking it. You’re going to want to understand the implications, the cause/effect, what will happen if you don’t accept the prescription, and what will happen if you do. Somewhere inside you, you may feel resistance to the prescription. You may want to put off taking it. The doctor’s going to need to have a conversation, however brief, that addresses these issues. In Away Game selling, there has to be a scenario where you’re asking the right questions to make sure the buyer understands what you’re suggesting. You’re talking with them to help them see how our product or service may help them now and in the future, asking questions like: “What do you like about this? What don’t you like about this?” In dialogue, you’re helping them to clarify.
At this point, you’ve gone through connecting, diagnosis, prescription, and dialogue. Your objections have been addressed so that we won’t put off putting the prescription into practice. Now it’s time to close. The close is no more or less than an agreement to move forward with the prescription. In sales terms, it’s interchangeable with the commitment. This is what you’ve been working toward throughout the selling process and where you must overcome the last barrier in the buyer’s mind—indecision.
Like your experience at the doctor’s office, it’s a vetting process between both you as the patient and the doctor. Remember that your patients – potential buyers – want their concerns understood, they want to feel validated. At the same time, they want to feel confident in your product’s or service’s ability to address their concern – that’s your job as the “doctor” to do that. Learn more about how implementing these six steps can supercharge your sales team by taking the Tyson Group evaluation.
There are six steps in what I call the “Away-Game” selling process:
Each of these steps addresses some aspect of being in the mind of the buyer – which is why it is so successful. To understand how these steps play out, consider your experience at the doctor’s office – it likely mirrors these steps. In this blog post and the next, I’ll walk you through how each of these steps can be likened to the relationship a doctor has with their patient.
What’s the first thing that happens when you walk into a doctor’s office?
They ask you a series of questions before taking your insurance card and copay. In doing so, they’re deciding if you’re qualified to do business with them. At the same time, you’re checking out the surroundings, the manner in which they treat you, and deciding if you want to do business with them. In this step of the sales process, you’re trying to get the buyer’s attention by communicating things that are important to them, things that will engage and advance a conversation. This is a point where the buyer is deciding whether they want to talk with you further.
After you have spent a little time in the waiting room of your doctor’s office, you head back to another part of the office, where a nurse or nurse practitioner or doctor’s assistant asks you questions about your health, weighs you, takes your temperature and blood pressure, maybe reviews your history. They’re evaluating you. They’re gathering information about your health based on age, weight, history, and all those other questions and the measurements they take. All while you’re evaluating them, judging their thoroughness and bedside manner. In sales, the purpose of the connect step is to turn the disinterest in the buyer’s mind into an interest in you and the selling process.
The doctor’s manner, the questions he or she asks, the level to which they seem to be listening to a patient’s questions and concerns, will all play into how a patient reacts to the doctor’s diagnosis. As with other steps in this process, the diagnosis cuts both ways. In sales, as you’re going through the questioning process of evaluation, you’re also starting to form your diagnosis. In this step, you’re starting to firm up some of your suggestions and talking about your products or services. All of that is geared toward getting a read on the buyer’s situation.
These initial steps are critical to the successful implementation of the next three which I’ll cover in my next post. In these first three steps, you’re laying the groundwork for your selling process, establishing confidence, expectations, and rapport. You’re both figuring out if there’s a fit. Learn more about how to successfully move through these first three steps and help your sales team gain a competitive edge by taking the Tyson Group evaluation.