“There’s a sales app for that”. With apologies to Apple, it feels like there’s a tool for every step in the sales cycle. From identifying prospects to nurturing them to finally closing the deal, you can now automate or track every movement along the funnel.
In some ways the job of the average sales person is now easier –– “let the machine do it”. But it can be daunting if you spend more time managing software than your prospects. In my role at Compile, I interact with a lot of sales reps. I have seen folks who are great at selling and others who I think would be better-off doing something else.
Here are the three things all sales rockstars have in common.
Great sales reps know that the secret to making the number is persistence. Laurie Beasley and Tom Judge estimate that it takes anywhere from 7 to 13+ touches to deliver a sales qualified led. Craig Rosenberg likens it to a campaign with 6-8 multi-channel touches over the course of 2 weeks. Dan McDade has a rather exact number of 9.82 touches to engage with a prospect.
Whatever the number, the point is, even the most interested prospect needs multiple emails and phone calls before they’re ready to talk. It’s much like what we face daily. There’s a bunch of emails to answer, meetings to attend and tasks to complete. Speaking to a vendor gets pushed lower in the priority. It’s your job to make the prospect understand the urgency.
To be clear, persistence doesn’t imply stalking. Good sales reps know the difference between a prospect who is interested, but just needs a nudge and one who is never going to come to the table.
It seems like a truism to state that you need to connect with your prospect. But you’d be surprised at how often I get a generic product pitch, which has no connection to my unique reality. It seems that the person at the other end of the line is more interested in getting through a canned script. That’s the surest way to turn off a potential customer.
Sales high-performers know how to structure the conversation such that it is more about the customer’s pain point and then weave in how their product can alleviate the pain. It’s less me, more you. The downside to this approach is that it takes time and effort to understand more about your prospect before reaching out.
Finally, sales is a numbers game. The odds are that you will lose more deals than you win. Some quarters will be great and some won’t. And prospects who you thought were very close to a sale, may suddenly go cold. You need to be able to separate out factors that you control from ones that you don’t.
The sales professionals I admire seem to have the ability to make this objective assessment. They are students of their field and are always looking at ways to improve, yet they also have confidence in their own abilities.
It may seem odd that despite the plethora of tools, success still depends on the fundamentals. But technology can only accentuate your abilities. A great sales app won’t turn a poor sales person into a good one. That transition still needs individual effort.
Sadly, there is no app for that.
We can make a difference to our customers by thinking through what matters to them, by putting ourselves in their shoes, and by focusing on how we can help create a better experience for them.