More Appointments With Decision Makers Is Not the Answer

“Meetings. Meetings. We need to get more appointments with decision makers!” cry owners, managers and boards of directors. But inside and digital sales organizations need better meetings, not just more. Sounds obvious, but are you doing everything possible to get better meetings and demos with decision makers?

“Meetings. Meetings. We need to get more appointments with decision makers!” cry owners, managers and boards of directors. But inside and digital sales organizations need better meetings, not just more.

Sounds obvious, but are you doing everything possible to get better meetings and demos with decision makers? I’ll bet you’re not.

Rushing into meetings gives your team:

  • Less motivation to hunt
  • Pipeline filled with unclose-able deals
  • More “no decisions” by clients

What it costs to generate a sale matters just as much as revenue. From a business perspective, wasting time on bad leads drives profit down — by driving cost up, profit decreases.

When salespeople rush meetings it decreases productivity. Under-qualified meetings waste reps’ most valuable time — speaking in real-time with prospects.

Because qualification happens purely in meetings. Objections are increased.

Instead, a qualification (screening) system ensures reps spend time on phone/in demos/appointments only with close-able customers.

Qualification is faster.

You Don’t Need More Appointments With Decision Makers

Here’s the rub: Courting un-closeable leads decreases what you want more of — time and money. Instead, field sellers (your closers) need pre-qualified discussions with decision makers most likely to close.

Before you say, “Obviously, Jeff, that’s why we have inside sales/marketing/demand generation people,” think about what you’re doing, right now, to earn more meetings. You’ve probably got a system in place, or are pursuing a systematic way to get more meetings.

Are you also giving reps ways to effectively qualify — to ensure better meetings and demos?

Too often, our “prospecting mindset” is bent on chasing quantity of conversations — at the exclusion of quality.

The lure: More activities put into the system, more sales come out. Naturally, without question. It’s a fact.

That’s what makes systems great, according to “experts.” Systems are controllable. Want more sales? Increase prospecting outreach. Bada-bing, bada-boom.

But is it really that simple? Is more appointments with decision makers the answer?

No and no. Spinning wheels on bad leads costs you. It drives profit down. Perhaps worse, sales people are demotivated.

Because your sales reps’ profit comes in two pieces: Commissions and time spent doing what they enjoy, working less. Or you might say there is a third component — enjoying their work.

Qualifying leads — before investing quality time with them — is vital to success.

The Truth About Systems

There’s a quality component to every system. It what makes one system better than another. Look at motor vehicles. Cars, motorcycles, aircraft engines.

Quality of systems drives quality of output: performance.

Purely? Of course not. Input matters. Quantity of fuel, air … inputs demand proper amount. When quantity and quality are in harmony resulting output is effective and efficient.

It’s the same in sales.

We don’t want more appointments. We want better quality pipeline. More meetings and more close-able opportunities.

Effectiveness Versus Efficiency

The happy marriage I’m describing conflicts with culture and philosophy of sales managers… even boards of directors … who want more, more, more! (promoting effectiveness, demoting efficiency)

Many are calling this model Activity Based Selling (ABS). This strategy (and philosophy) mandates quantity. Minimum number of activities.

ABS requires sellers to make X number of calls, push Y number of emails, share Z numbers of articles on LinkedIn. All good, so long the difference between effectiveness and efficiency is appreciated.

Time for Dictionary.com:

Effective: Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.

Efficient: Functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.

In many cases, activities-focused selling is damaging inside/digital and field sellers’ ability to efficiently generate more and better conversations with potential customers.

Don’t care about efficiency? Not a priority? Then you don’t value money nor your time enough.

Scott Channel, a B2B cold calling expert, says “every call not made to the worthless is a call that could be made to the worthy … or lead to finding a prospect that is worthy.”

Don’t waste time. Efficient use of prospecting time drives what you want — and don’t want!

Why Efficiency Is Worth It

Being effective is simple compared to being efficient. Setting more meetings isn’t difficult when you take a meeting with practically anyone. Effectiveness takes less time, effort and communications skills than efficiency. But it’s not worth the trade-off.

People choose getting more meetings over better meetings because they’re too lazy to get the better ones. There, I said it! But this is slowly killing you/your business.

Cold calling expert, Wendy Weiss, recently profiled financial advisor, Jerry Iancangelo. Jerry invested in a quality-driven way to screen out decision makers with lower chances of closing.

Iancangelo says he learned, “How to pre-screen people better so I could stop driving everywhere and meeting just anybody.”

As a result he’s built a $200,000 recurring annual income while doubling his time off.

“With the extra money and time, I can now vacation in Hawaii every year … take better care of myself and have a happier, healthier lifestyle with good food and proper exercise,” says Iancangelo.

Being effective is simple compared to being efficient, but pays benefits.

Better Appointments at Scale Is Possible

Constant over-valuation of more meetings is diminishing the value of better meetings. Don’t let this culture poison your prospecting strategy. Invest in scale-able ways to drive more and better appointments with decision makers.

Beware of over-focusing on reps hitting activity quotas — neglecting the qualitative communication skills needed to approach C-level decision-makers

We live in a world where sales managers struggle to differentiate between marketing automation and effective sales follow-up. Lines are blurred by the tech tools.

But are they? The best sales and marketing email solutions are working overtime to help sales reps understand—sales qualifies the leads marketing warmed up. I think I know why.

Because buyers of such tools prefer effectiveness (more meetings) over efficiency (better meetings).

More meetings, they believe, requires more activities. Not getting enough deals closed? Simply pull a lever and force reps to make more outbound dials, emails or LinkedIn connections.

But it doesn’t work that way. There is no room for mass emailing messages in sales environments.

Sales is (and always will be) a numbers game. But business growth, profitability and earning more free time is not driven purely by quantity of outbound activities. Excluding quality of conversation from sellers’ strategies is a mistake.

Make sure you and your organization are not over-focusing on hitting activity quotas — neglecting the qualitative communication skills needed to engage C-level decision makers.

What has your experience been?

 

3 Marketing Resolutions for 2017

Happy New Year, marketers! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break, and are ready to jump into 2017 full of creative ideas and new initiatives. But unlike those of us who are vowing to hit the gym five times a week and really start eating healthy (cough, cough), I hope you’re prepared to not fall off the marketing resolution band wagon. Or at least avoid tumbling off if you’re realistic.

Happy New Year, marketers! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break, and are ready to jump into 2017 full of creative ideas and new initiatives.

Parks & Rec ResolutionsBut unlike those of us who are vowing to hit the gym five times a week and really start eating healthy (cough, cough), I hope you’re prepared to not fall off the marketing resolution band wagon. Or at least avoid tumbling off if you’re realistic.

To help you out, here are three marketing resolutions I think every marketer can benefit from in 2017.

1. Stop Saying ‘That’s Not Possible’

Now, this isn’t saying “yes” to more things (though that’s not a bad thing to practice on a personal level). Marketing departments are regularly told to do more with less, to be creative but mind the budget, blah blah blah. So much so, that sometimes it’s easier to just say “That’s not possible,” than to spend some time brainstorming how to make a good idea a reality.

Well knock it off.

Instead, if an idea seems like it could have legs, give it a little time and attention. Map out what it would truly cost, monetarily and resource-wise, ask if your team has the skills to pull it off, and then look at ways to tweak it so that it could work with your budget and staff. If at that point it still seems out of reach, THEN set it aside, but don’t trash it for good. You never know what could happen down the road that could allow that “impossible” idea to become something of genius.

2. Think Before You Tweet, Post, Snap

I have waaaaaaaay more to say on this topic in this week’s upcoming “What Were They Thinking?” episode, but until then, let me recommend a simple resolution: Just because your brand has a presence on social media does not mean your brand needs to comment on all current events. 2016 saw way too many social media fails when it came to brands sharing tributes to celebrities who had died, and I’d love it if 2017 could avoid that faux pas.

If you’re a social media manager for a brand and have something to share that maybe isn’t relevant coming from your brand, then don’t. Instead, share it from your personal account, unrelated to who you work for.

3. Get Better at Meetings

This resolution is near and dear to my soul … just ask any of my colleagues. When I come in Monday morning and review my weekly calendar and see an endless string of meetings throughout the week, well, needless to say there’s some grumbling and sometimes some salty language, depending on what my to-do list looks like.

Don’t get me wrong: Meetings are often extremely useful and can get a project moving in the right direction straight out of the starting gate. But they can also be annoying time-sucks that leave you wondering what the heck just happened.

So what can you do? Well, think twice before scheduling a meeting with multiple people. Is it something that could be discussed casually first, before bringing together a larger group? Or maybe you just need 10 minutes to bounce some ideas off someone before taking your idea to the next level? Then you don’t need to schedule a meeting, especially one that might just be a “kickoff” to a series of longer, more in-depth gatherings.

Respect your time, and respect the time of your colleagues by doing the prep in advance. Trust me, they’ll love you for it.

Liz Lemon Let's Do ThisWell, those are my three suggested resolutions for you marketers … what do you think? Leave me a comment below with some of your own professional resolutions!

 

An Email Sales Sequence That Works

Today’s most productive digital (inside) sales professionals are using email to uncover new customer leads. When combined with phone prospecting, direct mail, LinkedIn and social listening, email can earn more meetings — faster — with qualified prospects.

The Truths and Myths of Email DeliverabilityToday’s most productive digital (inside) sales professionals are using email to uncover new customer leads. When combined with phone prospecting, direct mail, LinkedIn and social listening, email can earn more meetings — faster — with qualified prospects.

Whether you’re using LinkedIn’s InMail and/or standard email the process is one of provoking curiosity.

It’s a three-step methodology:

  • break the ice (grab attention)
  • earn a conversation (spark curiosity)
  • provoke a response (earn an invitation to converse)

It’s a repeatable methodology that works consistently as a “first touch” email tactic. But what about beyond the first touch?

The best sequence of email messages to send after the prospect says, “I’m interested” is a sequence of questions that further qualifies your eventual meeting.

Success Is NOT About More Meetings, Faster

Before we discuss effective email sales sequences, you need to know the truth: Your objective as an inside or field sales rep should not be more meetings faster. It must be more qualified meetings faster. There’s a difference. Don’t miss it.

Yes, I realize most inside sales professionals are measured on dials, emails sent, responses gained and appointments set. I also realize most sales reps aren’t worth their keep. Same goes for sales managers. Most don’t get the job done.

Those who do … the top performers … they know the goal: Use digital tools to get more meetings, faster, with leads they have a better chance at closing.

It’s last part that separates the top 5 percent of earners from the rest of the pack. Consider upgrading your goal. Push yourself. Don’t just gun for more meetings.

Aim for more meetings with better prospects.

They’re Interested, Now What?!

What sequence of email messages works, once a prospect invites you to discuss their pain or goal? What’s the best cadence and message strategy to use? The answer may surprise you.

Less is more.

It sounds trite so let me explain. The most common mistake sellers are making with email (when prospecting) is sharing too much information, too fast. I’ve discussed this before in context of the first touch email message when trying to break-the-ice with buyers. But the problem is more common in the follow-up email sequences sellers are using.

Said bluntly, when invited to talk about our solutions, most sellers fire away.

We send information about what we’re selling — rather than further qualifying the prospect to explore if there’s a fit.

When potential clients reply, we are often quick to celebrate. Success! Because we are thrilled at the chance to converse with the buyer.

Too thrilled.

We tend to fire off emails with a list of benefits, customer lists and a few dates to meet for a demo, etc.