The 4 Principles Sales Lead Generation for Sales People

Sales prospecting is much more than cold calling. An effective sales lead generation process is built around four principle: Value, Relationships, Actvities and Technology.

The 4 Principles of Sales Lead Generation

What you sell must have Value for your customers. It must be something they want.

Not everyone wants a particular solution or product. You have to be very clear about who needs your offering and then how you will develop Relationships with your target audience.

Once you’ve identified the what (value) and the who (Relationships) you have to contact the people most likely to buy. Once isn’t enough, nor is using a single method. Activities are how you message the right people at the right time to develop interest in your products and services.

Lastly, you must use Technology to follow-up with your leads, nurture them, and build your relationship with prospects. Simple technology aids, like Outlook, can leverage your time and efforts. Otherwise, you’ll not be able to consistently prospect .

This is just the introduction to the topic of Sales Lead Generation

This is just the introduction to B2B Lead Generation and you can read more at the following links:

Click Here to See Part 1 of Sales Lead Generation – An Overview
Click Here to See Part 2 – Getting in the Door
Click Here to See Part 3 – The 4 Principles of Sales Lead Generation
Click Here to See Part 4 of Sales Lead Generation – The Right People with the Right Message

If you’d like to get the full video training on Sales Lead Generation, including the book that comes with it, simply enter your contact information below and tell me where you want me to email the free sales training materials.

Getting in the Door

In consulting and working with hundreds of sales reps and their companies, we’ve found the number one problem shared by all is getting in to see customers. In almost every meeting and conversation I have with salespeople they tell me “I know I could sell more if I could just get in-front of people. That is why effective Sales Lead Generation is so important.

In the past, buyers used salespeople to help define their purchase requirements. Today, buyers do much of their research online. Frankly they don’t want sales people reaching them until they need a price or a quote.sales lead generation

Getting in the door is a good measure of lead quality – are the leads you are getting ready to enter into a buying process or are they just trade-show raffles looking for a free gift? Sales Lead Generation that produces results does three things:

  • It produces sales ready leads
  • It attacks leads to you instead of you finding them
  • It automatically develops the leads not sales ready

Not all leads are created equal. Some leads will never buy, others are ready now. The vast majority – 80% or more – will buy but not today. In fact, lead statistics reported by the largest research firms say that only 8% of leads are sales ready when salespeople get them. However another 26% will buy within 12 months and another 33% in the following year.

That means with the right follow up your results go from 8% to over 67% – an ASTONISHING 800% increase in the number of opportunities you have to sell into.

This is just the introduction to the topic of Sales Lead Generation

This is just the introduction to B2B Lead Generation and you can read more at the following links:

Click Here to See Part 1 of Sales Lead Generation – An Overview
Click Here to See Part 2 – Getting in the Door
Click Here to See Part 3 – The 4 Principles of Sales Lead Generation
Click Here to See Part 4 of Sales Lead Generation – The Right People with the Right Message

If you’d like to get the full video training on Sales Lead Generation, including the book that comes with it, simply enter your contact information below and tell me where you want me to email the free sales training materials.

sales lead generation

sales lead generation

sales lead generation

Sales Lead Generation for Sales People – An Overview

Let’s be honest – the entire business world has changed except for sales . Pick up any book on selling and you’ll see the same advice and tactics taught at the turn of the century – the 19th Century. Companies like National Cash Register, IBM, and Hartford Insurance implemented selling systems for prospecting, cold calling, presentations and closing that are used to this day.

Of course, there have been changes over the years. We became ‘Strategic Sellers” and then “Solution Sellers”. We learned “Spin Selling” and “Value Based Selling”. While all these models worked for their time they were still based in an analog world and for selling in a robust economy.

It’s a New World for Sales Lead Generation

The world has gone digital and the economy certainty isn’t robust or prosperous. People use smart phones, voice mail and  email to communicate. Customers no longer call sales people to find out about the product and service they need – or the venders who can provide them  – they use Google.

Add to that the perfect storm of hyper-competition, over supply and reduced demand and you’ve described the exact environment  salespeople must sell into today. That is the New Economy and we must learn how to effectively sell into it. Otherwise our companies will go broke and we’ll have skinny kids. Fortunately there are some answers.

The key is to understand that buyers no longer need sales people for information. They have the Internet and more importantly they have each other. The Internet is not only where customers have found our whitepapers, brochures, and product information but also found each other. Through forums, review sites and trade organizations customers decide what they need,  establish their own  requirements and typically only call salespeople when they need a quote or a price. Social Networking on the Internet using sites liked Facebook and LinkedIn has become the prevalent way prospects find out about and select their venders.

Which is why traditional prospecting no longer works.

Very often customers have little reason to see salespeople. We no longer have the excuse of giving them product updates. Buyers can do so much of their investigation online, they no longer see the need for interacting with salespeople. Business people, especially those with buying authority are overworked, over scheduled and overloaded. Getting in to see a customer has become the single biggest obstacle in making a sale . Every day a salesperson tells me “I know I can sell if I just had someone to sell too”.

So is there an answer?

While the challenge of getting into see customers has become more difficult it is not impossible. Even in a down economy, Apple has sold 100 million dollars worth of iPads this year alone. So someone is always buying. The secret to Selling in the New Economy is also driven by the Internet. We’ll learn about the tools and strategies that we can use as professional salespeople to get prospects to open their doors and hear our proposals.

Sales Lead Generation must become you number one priority. If it is done properly, lead generation is the key to selling more on a consistent basis.

Sales Lead Generation is Job 1

The symptoms of weak sales funnels are easy to see.

  • Opportunities left in our pipeline long after we know that the sale was lost
  • Pumped up forecasts for our bosses instead of accurate sales funnels
  • Accepting deals on any terms just to get the business, even unprofitable ones
  • More hours worked with diminishing results and increased stress

Successfully growing your sales funnel and the number of qualified opportunities you’re selling into solves each of those issues. It makes selling fun again! Meeting with people, interacting with them and actually selling are the fun parts of the job. Sales Lead Generation doesn’t have to be difficult or based on cold calling, especially B2B Lead Generation.

Companies do not typically provide enough qualified sales leads for their salesforce. So, if you need the job done you’re going to have to do it yourself.  Unfortunately, many of the ideas taught as lead generation for salespeople are really management and marketing ideas – impossible for an on the street customer facing salesperson to use.

This is just the introduction to the topic of Sales Lead Generation

This is just the introduction to B2B Lead Generation and you can read more at the following links:
Click Here to See Part 1 of Sales Lead Generation – An Overview
Click Here to See Part 2 – Getting in the Door
Click Here to See Part 3 – The 4 Principles of Sales Lead Generation
Click Here to See Part 4 of Sales Lead Generation – The Right People with the Right Message

If you’d like to get the full video training on Sales Lead Generation, including the book that comes with it, simply enter your contact information below and tell me where you want me to email the free sales training materials.

Sales Prospecting Methods

You can’t sell without having someone to sell to. In a down economy this is especially true. Demand is down, I get it.  However Apple just sold $100 MILLION in iPads. So someone is always buying. You just have to find them using effective and intelligent sales prospecting methods.

Sales Lead Generation and Sales Prospecting is job one.

Of course, when business slows down, what do most sales managers want you to do? M ake more cold calls! However, while cold calling can produce results it is not only ineffective it also drains the energy and life out of most salespeople. I’ve found that cold calling is actually can does more harm than good. Unless you have no other choice never cold call again.

Rather than go into all the reasons cold calling doesn’t work – or at least isn’t a very good use of your time. Let’s talk about what does work today. Recent surveys of executives with purchasing authority reveals that 80% of buyer find their vendors by referrals, word of mouth or by reputation. This means that you need to get the word out about yourself and your company. You need to establish yourself as an expert.

There are many ways of doing this. Write articles, give seminars, become an expert on the problems and the solutions your customers and prospects need. Become the go to salesperson for your area and industry. When you’re knowledgeable and known people will seek you out and take your calls.

Connections are your Big Bang for Sales Prospecting

One major area of lead generation that is given far more lip service than action is using referrals and networking. This doesn’t mean simply hitting your customers up for leads or having coffee at the next Chamber brunch. What this means is getting your customers and prospects talking about you. Contact thought leaders in your market and industry. Start a dialogue with them. Demonstrate how you can be an asset to them. Send them information – not brochures or marketing hype. Keep them up to date on regulatory changes, innovations and topical industry news. Go to the meetings, conferences and trade-shows they attend – not just the ones your competitors go to.

It takes work and effort to become recognized as a resource for prospects and experts in your industry. It also takes having something of value to offer. However the payoff is tremendous and not only for lead generation. Becoming the big fish in a little pond opens doors, gives you credibility and makes the entire selling process easier. While your competitors will be pushing bells and whistles or selling on price, you’ll be the solution expert – a trusted colleague and welcome guest instead of an unwanted pest.

This is intelligent sales prospecting.

However, since most companies still don’t get this concept you are going to have to do the work. Get testimonials from your existing customers. Write case studies – what business was like before buying from you and then after. There are many things a salesperson can’t do – create better company lead generation websites, become experts in social media, and so on. However you can become an expert. Chances are you already are. Now you just have to get the word out.

Create a newsletter and include that with your emails. Instead of the boring Voice Mail messages that never get returned, offer a compelling piece of information about how a similar business has improved their bottom line. Offer industry or product insights that makes the person want to call you back to find out more.

There are many sales prospecting methods that do work with today’s overworked, frazzled and information overloaded buyers. The first step is to remove any hype from your messages, word like best, robust, industry leader and other marketing expressions that everyone uses. These meaningless expressions set off the BS detectors of your prospects. Then establish clear, compelling and powerful value propositions. Tell people what in your solution benefits them. Get that message out in every way you can think of, from phone calls to emails to articles and white papers.

Most companies are simply not going to provide you with enough qualified leads and so it’s up to you to generate them. Intelligent sales prospecting in the new economy means using well thought out efforts of your own to get hot, qualified, ready-to-buy prospects to call you. And if you run your sales prospecting efforts properly you’ll get those leads before your competitors do.

Remember it’s not about being busy, it’s about being effective. Saying “I’ll never cold call again” isn’t enough. You need to replace the less effective techniques that no longer work in today’s new sales environment with strategies and tactics that work. Since 80% of your prospects find out about you from their peers and by reputation you need to start there. Every day take some action that builds your network of contacts and gets them talking about your and your offerings. That is an effective and winning prospecting system.

Would You Like to Double Your Leads and Opportunities in 26 Days?

  • Is your pipeline full or are you being hammered to find more opportunities?
  • Do you chase after every deal working with people that you can’t stand because you need the business?
  • Are your manager’s phone calls pleasant or full of haranguing to do more cold calling and prospecting?
  • Are you satisfied with your income and sales results?
  • Are you happy as a professional salesperson or burning out from overwork and stress?

If not having enough people to sell too I have a very limited time offer that will get you more leads and opportunities in only 26 days. Just click the button below to find out more.

Sales Coaching Newsletter & Tips

If you’ve spent time here you know the quality of information available and the many salespeople, entrepreneurs and businesses that have been helped by Breakout Selling. However only a small part of the availible videos, newsletters and selling tips are available to the public.

Want more? Want to find out the strategies and tactics that are helping salespeople bust quota and sell in these tough times? Want effective and stress free selling ideas to get buyers at a time when no-one seems to be buying?

On your right is the subscription box to Breakout Selling’s Newsletter and email coaching tips. Sign up today and start achieving your goals and fattening your commission checks.

PS: Breakout Selling is having a sales contest right now for the best sales story. If you click here you could win a free Flip Camera. The complete details of this sales contest can be found at Win a Flip Camera Sales Contest

PSS: Breakout Selling is also offering lead generation coaching and sales prospecting information absolutely free (but for a limited time). You can find out more by Clicking Here.

How to Become Successful in Sales Training Coaching

So you want to start up your own sales training coaching program?

Before you answer that question you would do very well to acquaint yourself with everything that is involved with becoming a sales training coach.

How to Become Successful in Sales Training Coaching

How to Become Successful in Sales Training Coaching

For starters, sales training coaching is all about helping business owners establish their businesses and make their sales skyrocket. It involves a lot of consultations, sales management training sessions and product analysis to name but a few. Some small scale companies who are newly established find the services of a sales coach very useful as some of them don’t have sufficient knowledge about the trends in the economy or on proper closing techniques.

However, you cannot just become a sales coach if you don’t even have any experience in this area. You have to have a tremendous amount of knowledge in the field to succeed. Perhaps the hardest part of this type of work is establishing yourself as a reliable and reputable sales training coach. You can start small and offer your services to people you know or to friends who have their own companies. If they see that you are doing a good job and they like your input, they are bound to refer you to other people they know and as well as to other companies. This is the best strategy to expand your clientele.  At least it’s what worked for us.

Once you have established yourself as a reputable sales training coach, it won’t be hard to get clients. If you are good at what you’re doing then a lot of people will begin referring you to other people in the business sector.

Remember to always be accommodating and be reasonable with your terms. You need patience for this kind of job as it is not always easy to train first-time salespersons. Make sure you charge reasonably as well. If you charge by the hour, don’t try to lengthen the conversation by diverting to other topics, stick to their questions and stick with what you know.

We didn’t get to where we are overnight and neither will you.  Just be patient and willing to work very hard learning your craft and everything after that will work itself out.

For ideas on how to start your own sales training coaching you can always check out our program and go from there.

Membership in Breakout Selling

Having a coach and a mentor is what successful people have in all walks of life – athletes, entrepreneurs, and sales people. Coaching helps people get unstuck and moving forward.

Imagine having a coach 24×7 online all the time ready to help. How would that impact your business?

Coaching helps people get unstuck, stay motivated and achieve better results. What is the common element among the most successful people – whether they are salespeople, entrepreneurs or athletes? Having a coach. Now imagine having support and mentoring 24×7 online when you need it the most. That is why Breakout Selling created its coaching program.

Breakout Selling only coaches a limited number of people. If there is an opening you can click the membership card below to find out more information.

We’re Sorry

At this time our Coaching Membership is full.

Sorry…our coaching program does fill up fast.

However the biggest need of most salespeople today is having enough people to sell to. So I’ve created a very special offer that you can read about below.

Would You Like to Double Your Leads and Opportunities in 26 Days?

  • Is your pipeline full or are you being hammered to find more opportunities?
  • Do you chase after every deal working with people that you can’t stand because you need the business?
  • Are your manager’s phone calls pleasant or full of haranguing to do more cold calling and prospecting?
  • Are you satisfied with your income and sales results?
  • Are you happy as a professional salesperson or burning out from overwork and stress?

If not having enough people to sell too I have a very limited time offer that will get you more leads and opportunities in only 26 days. Just click the button below to find out more.

Websites are Still About Relationships

Every business owner asks me “how do I can get new business” and the answer is always the same “become more effective with sales prospecting and B2B lead generation (Business to business). If you’re a successful business owner, you already know that the success of your business depends on the relationships built with customers. This is twice as true when doing business online. Business-to-Business selling (B2B) is much more successful as you build trust and establish relationships.

Websites are for B2B Lead Generation

Yet there are millions of websites out there that do nothing to cultivate customer relationships or generate sales leads and opportunities. Time after time, this is what you’ll find:

  • Ego – All about the company: We have this, we did that, we said, we, we, we… The truth is that nobody cares. If a visitor doesn’t see something that’ they value they’ll be reaching for the back button.
  • Brochure – A replica of the company brochure, with product and service information, photos, driving directions, and contact information. Just like millions of other websites.
  • Buy Me! – There’s no shortage of websites selling products and services. The problem is most of them don’t offer anything else – no useful information, no free trial, no coupons, nothing. Just an opportunity to separate the visitor from their cash.

Just as in real-life, online relationships take time to develop. The constant barrage of sales pitches and hype has made many web surfers hold on tightly to their wallets. Until they get to know the person behind the website, you are tarred with the same brush as every other greedy marketer trying to pick their pocket.

So how do you begin to develop customer relationships? Two words: relationship marketing. But what is “Relationship Marketing”?

As an independent professional, a freelancer or a small business owner one of the most challenging tasks is marketing. Michael Gerber’s book “the e-Myth” points out that most individuals know their trade or profession well. They know what their customers value and what to offer them. However they just don’t know how to locate people (prospects) and convince them to use their services or products (become customers).

One of the most powerful techniques in marketing is to step into the shoes of your ideal client and brainstorm how they would find your business. Sales Prospecting and B2B Lead Generation starts by thinking how your customer could find you, the places they’ll look and the kind of information they’ll need to get their attention only YOU. This helps to refine the exact target market looking for your product or service. It also helps figure out what would be the best marketing methods and the messages to communicate your message to them.

Relationship marketing (B2B Lead Generation) is about having a dialog with your customers over a period of time. It can also include gathering customer information and analyzing their behavior. You may not have the financial resources of Best Buy or WalMart, but as a local business owner you can do something they can’t – have real person-to-person relationship with your customers.

You do that by providing value to your customers, usually good information and value packed offers. Remember, people don’t go online looking for something to buy. They’re usually seeking information. So your strategy should be to use the information your customers need to build and maintain relationships with them.

There are 2 critical components to making this strategy work: a value-packed website and the consistent use of email to stay in touch.

Value-Packed Website

The relationship marketing process starts when a visitor arrives on the website. Make sure it’s a wonderful experience. Offer value – articles, content and interesting visuals – reasons to stay around and read more and click to other pages on the site. This is called “stickiness.”

Your main goal is to get the visitor’s email information. Only by having their email can you initiate a dialog. The number of people who visit the site compared to the number that sign-in (also referred to as an opt-in) is called the conversion rate. This is an important metric. It indicates if the website is interesting. If the website fails to motivate a visitor to opt-in it isn’t very likely to produce any business either. Don’t confuse the opt-in conversion factor with another important conversion factor: the conversion of leads to sales. Both should be watched and improved.

Remember it doesn’t matter how many website visitors you get. If they leave your site without giving you a way of keeping in touch with them then your B2B lead generation tactics have failed. You cannot build a relationship with someone you don’t know about and who spends very little time on your website.

There are many techniques to get opt-ins. Some sites use what is called squeeze pages. Squeeze pages don’t allow the visitor to get any more information until the visitor opts in. However I find this irritating and leave the site. Many people put in false email information. The best strategy is to incentivize the visitor by offering something that they will value – a free report, a discount coupon, or a membership to an exclusive service. Be creative. Whatever you do this step is crucial to success. Get it done on the first visit because there may not be another.

What else characterizes a value-packed website for successful B2B lead generation?

Free Information or Service – Give before you get marketing. Some examples are:

  • FAQs – Make it easy for people to find the information they need by providing online help files. Make a note of questions you’re asked repeatedly and compile them into a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
  • Put service and operational manuals on the website. Customers often loose the documents that came with their purchase. This is a constant source of frustration. Remove that frustration.
  • Put ‘how to’ guides on the web. A landscaper could put instructions on how to layout a yard. When I bought paving stones for my driveway I had to drive to the rock yard to learn how to figure out to compute the materials I would need. A good website would have made the purchase much easier.
  • A hardware store could offer project ideas and instructions on a website. Anyone wanting to do the project would have to buy the materials to complete it.

Another important component of a website that you want to use for B2B lead generation is allowing customers to help themselves. Can a product be purchased in different colors? What would the product look like? Can they order online? See a menu? Initiate a service call? Comment on purchases and the company? Can they set their own appointments? Allow these kinds of actions on a website and the interaction becomes a two way relationship. What can a customer do to prepare them for a sale?

Other important factors in providing a value-packed B2B lead generating website include:

  • Two-way Dialogue – You want a two-way dialogue between you and your customer, so make it easy for customers to contact you and encourage them to do so.
  • Personalize the site. Allow your personality to come through. Be human – life is in the details, share some.
  • Timely Response – When your customer does “raise their hand”, respond quickly! There’s nothing more de-motivating than an unanswered email to someone who claims to want my business. Use an autoresponder (if you’re unfamiliar with autoresponders check out the articles about them at <
  • Community People want to feel a sense of community, which is why discussions boards are so popular. Give people a place to gather, swap tales, and build a community. Message boards, mailing lists, polls – the more chances you give your customers to express their likes and dislikes, the better. Give them their voice and they’ll tell you exactly what they want (and will pay for).
  • Ask Questions – Ask customers what they want. They’ll tell you. If you find out what your customer wants and become a friend, you will beat most of the competition hands down.
  • Community Related Announcements or a calendar. Don’t do it if you’re not willing to keep it current.
  • Frequent Updates – If you want people to visit frequently, you must give them a reason – new content, a fresh look every how and then, information updates. A website is never finished. This is why Blogs are so popular. People (as well as search engines, directories, and other websites willing to link to a business’ website) want fresh and original information. Provide it.
  • Free Tools or Services – Another way to draw people back to your site is to offer free tools such as a mortgage calculator, or free services such as email. You could offer free advice about your industry, for example an “Ask Andy” column.
  • Money-back Guarantee – If you’re selling something online, you must offer an ironclad “no questions asked” money-back guarantee! Then honor it.

Above all, show your customers that you’re in it for the long haul, not the quick score. No flashing banners screaming “Buy Me!” Tone down the hype. People have become very cynical because of the over inflated claims being made by businesses – online and offline. Solid content backed by a solid company builds trust and gets more sales than does carnival barking. B2B Lead Generation is based upon providing value and building a customer’s trust and relationship with you over time.

Under promise and over deliver. Remember the goal isn’t to get a single sale but to develop a long-term customer relationship. The goal is to increase the lifetime value of new and existing customers because they purchase more from our business. The only way to accomplish that goal is to have satisfied customers. Don’t disappoint by promising what can’t be delivered.

Keep your word. Do what you say. Don’t make false or misleading offers – like deadlines that never really expire. No pressure to hurry up and buy before midnight – unless the offer really does go away at 12:01. Don’t have a clock that resets every time a customer comes back. Credibility will suffer when those kind of tactics are employed.

In addition to a value-packed website the consistent use of email is required. There are many good articles in the directory about emailing – from content generation to tips on building an email address list. However lets touch upon some important points here.

If you are emailing your local customers, sending offers, coupons, and useful information about the business, you are more likely to get their business than a stranger. If you’re sending out a newsletter, you’ll be light years ahead of all of your competition, local or not!

Here are a few ways to use email to create ‘brand’ awareness within your local community.

  • Email your customers and prospects on a regular basis, at least twice a month. Any less than that and they may forget you. Again, use an autoresponder to automate this process. Write one email – get it distributed to everyone. Create separate categories based on the buying habits or preferences of the business’ customers. Use specific emails to target their specific needs.
  • Send an electronic newsletter to customers and prospects with useful information, news about the company, related articles, notice of new content on the website, new product announcements, etc.

The goal is to keep in touch so that when they need your products or services you’ll be the one they call. The more they identify you as someone who wants to help them the more likely they are to contact you when the need arises.

When customers purchase a product or service, use email to help them get the most out of it. For a book or publication, it could be an email ‘walkthrough’ series highlighting important topics. Put audio or video excerpts on the website and let buyers know about them. This could motivate someone to actually read the book they’ve bought – and buy another.

Here are some B2B Lead Generation Ideas

Send a personal email note to select local customers without a strong sales pitch. Keep it simple and friendly. It could be a Happy Anniversary note or card if the customer has been with you for a year. If you have birthrate info, you can send an electronic birthday card.

Become a frequent contributor on local message boards with helpful information. Let the community get to know you. There are many directories that will list local businesses on them. Most local governments have a website as do most chapters of the Chamber of Commerce. Get free listings on their sites. Send out Press Releases, announcements, even special events that your business is doing. There are many free promotion and advertising opportunities on the Internet. These community sites need local information to keep themselves relevant and people visiting. They want your information.

If possible, you should do joint ventures with neighboring businesses. If you do this, make sure you control the mailings, and that your company “introduces” the other business. Never give out anyone’s email without their permission or if you haven’t disclosed the intention to do so in the company’s privacy statement.

Another joint venture idea is a coupon exchange. Band together with other non-competing businesses and regularly exchange coupon offers with each others email lists. The email could have an ‘electronic coupon inside or links to a webpage where the offer can be found. You send out your partner’s coupons and they send out yours. That way email privacy is maintained and you get the credit for providing savings and more value to your customers.


Having a B2B Lead Generation website and the consistent use of email you can build lasting relationships with your customers. The Internet offers many ways to build the trust of customers and build a local brand. Great websites and consistent email campaigns will become the backbone of a business’ marketing program. Motivating customers to find you and search out your business is far easier and far more profitable than traditional prospecting and off-line growth methods.

How to Find Buyers and Build Your Funnel

No question about it: sales are down. The economy has reduced the amount of new business in the marketplace. This has reduced our incomes, thinned our sales funnels and in general made selling much harder than ever before. However we still have a job to do – “get the name on the line which is dotted” to borrow a famous movie line.

Weak demand by customers is the one of the largest challenges we face. Demand creation is complex. The reply from many Sales Managers is simply “cold call more.” If only that were true. Demand creation starts with having genuine solutions and valuable offerings.  Many of our value propositions are weak. Author and innovation expert  Clayton Christenen speaks the reality when he says,

Most solutions are really simply cobbled together elements that a company can offer instead of real offerings that customers want.

Jack Welch and other business luminaries say that in the 21st Century Demand Creation will become more important than anything else in business. That isn’t going to happen using the same tired marketing hype or over-priced and mediocre offerings. However as salespeople we can’t usually impact that part of our jobs. So how do we create demand in markets where supply and competitors far exceed demand?

Today Demand Creation is Job One

One unfortunate truth that we face as “on the street” salespeople is that our companies are not going to do find opportunities for us. Sure we get weak leads from trade-show raffles or web leads from loads of tire kickers, but real leads? They come few and far between – at least from most companies I’ve worked with.

The job of finding opportunities falls to us. Better yet we need to create opportunities – we need to create demand! Now this is a huge topic so I’ll be painting in broad strokes. However if you commit to dedicating time to a plan that creates demand for your product and services you’ll be rewarded by fantastic sales results. I’ll tell you why…

  • Creating demand fills your pipeline
  • Creating demand allows you to pick the cherry’s and throw away the pits
  • Creating demand gets you closable deals that increases your income
  • Creating demand makes your boss and company happy
  • Creating demand restores the joy and pleasure to selling

How many deals are you working on right now that you know deep down you’re not going to win? How much fat is in your funnel? How much hot air? Are you working with people that you can’t stand because you need the business? Are you constantly dealing with unreasonable demands that forces you to jump through hoops? How many times to you go back to the well for additional discounts for a prospect who promises to buy only if the price was better? These are all symptoms of  having a weak funnel – or a thin pipeline, whatever you want to call it.

I used to dread my monthly pipeline forecasts. It was a gauntlet of abuse on why deals weren’t coming in, why I didn’t have more deals on the table and why I wasn’t selling more. My bosses always told me to cold call more. Marketing braved one call and told the sales team they “weren’t selling on the company’s value.” Of course when asked exactly what that value was, Mr. “I’ve Never Sold a Thing In My Life” said, “well this isn’t the call do discuss that.” We all moaned. The company was clueless. However that didn’t change our commission check we had to figure out a way.

Finding Opportunities

The low hanging fruit of Demand Creation is Owning Your Territory. You need to know who the most likely prospects are and where they are located in your territory. You need to know what deals are happening or will happen. You need to be connected and have your fingers in every pie out there. It’s a big job but absolutely essential. It is so important you can find an entire report dedicated to Owning Your Territory on this site.

Getting your share of the available business in your territory is only a start. At anyone time less than 5 percent of prospects are actively looking for a new solution for their business. Worse yet – everyone is going after that business. The ocean is full of hungry sharks and where there is food the ocean is already bloodied. You can jump in that red ocean hoping to get a piece or you can create opportunities where others aren’t looking. Let’s talk about how.

Your Customers Hold the Key

Most of us have had product training until it comes out of our ears. We know every bell and whistle, every great feature and every reason the company believes our widget should sell like hotcakes. We’ve drunk the cool-aide as well. Most of us have been around awhile. We know our industry and our solutions. We know what customers really want. Better yet we KNOW what they need. In a world of business pain we are left baffled why customers aren’t lining up to buy our stuff – right?

Well as Mark Twain famously said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” In large measure we really don’t know what drives our customers or prospects. Customers have their own specific reasons for buying our products. Customers know what they need to accomplish far better than us. Find out why customers have bought from your company in the past. Find out what they like and what they want to do better. Not only will you learn how to sell your products better but you might even find new opportunities right in your own backyard. You may also keep unhappy customers with your company by solving their issues instead of finding a new solution and a new supplier.

However those are not the biggest benefits of talking with your customers. Customers are fertile incubators for new ideas. They take our products and solutions and innovate with them. They find uses, work-arounds and applications that have never even crossed our minds. The power of customers cannot be overstated, they know

  • Other applications your solutions can be used for
  • Other businesses that need your solution
  • Options and upsells that they desperately want
  • Other industries, markets and niches that you can sell into

Please don’t gloss over this step. I know that it sounds simple. Most salespeople are connected to their customers. Most street smart salespeople are very familiar with what is going on in their accounts and their industry. However looking outside the box and finding out detailed information on how customers are using your solution will produce new ideas that you can use in finding those “blue oceans” of opportunity. Blue Oceans are where there aren’t any other sharks but you looking for business.

Perfect Pitches

Once you’re armed with case studies, customer information and great testimonials you’re prepared to sell outside of the company box. You know the drivers that create demand in new prospects minds and you know the buttons to push. Now you have to adapt your scripts, tools, and approaches with these new messages and ideas.

In just a minute we’re going to talk about the specific strategies to find new buyers. However before you are ready to contact those prospects you need to have sharp value propositions clearly crafted that will create demand. Your messages cannot be the technical jargon or over used hyperbole of your marketing department. You need to craft results based messages that are outcome focused and they need to be in the language of your buyers.

Accountants talk differently than lawyers. CEOs talk differently than managers. Every market and every solution will have a different mix of decision makers involved. Make sure that you now what butters their bread and that you’ve crafted your messages in the language they speak. If you’re not sure, go back and talk to your customers.

  • Jill Konrath, author of “Selling to Big Companies” made a statement that is true of all sales, not just for salespeople selling to large accounts, “if your failing to get in is the most likely reason is that you have a weak value proposition.” I would add to that that a good solution isn’t enough. McDonald’s doesn’t sell the best hamburgers. Microsoft (and I hear the screams now) doesn’t sell the best operating system. Yet those are just two examples of companies that succeed because they’ve added the secret sauce of what I’m telling you here, namely
  • Have the right message
  • For the right audience
  • Communicated in a powerful and persuasive manner

That will get you into doors that have previously been locked. Once you’ve done that you’re ready to create some demand and fill that pipeline with robust closable deals,.

Divide and Conquer

Now that you’re prepared by knowing where to look and what to say you need to actually find prospects – that 95 percent of people who aren’t buying now but could be. It’s a big elephant to eat. The only solution is to eat it one slice at a time. There are only a couple of steps to do that

  • Segment your territory into targeted markets
  • Identify accounts that you suspect will need your offering
  • Find partners that can help you get into those accounts
  • Die-hard execution

Lets examine those steps more closely.

Segment your territory into targeted markets

Figure out 5 to 10 specific markets that you can go after. You could divide up your universe of prospects by demographic, by industry or by niche. If you sell to doctors what kind of doctors? What specialty needs you the most? What size practice? Older physicians or younger. Identify your existing markets and new ones. For example if you sell instruments to surgeons do orthopods need them as well? If you sell services to car dealers can parts dealers use you? Where are the results you deliver needed? What pain points do you fix?

Make a list of those targeted markets that you can sell into and then rank them. Start with the top 3 and then move onto Step 2.

Identify accounts that you suspect will need your offering

In each of your 3 top markets identify at least 10 companies that need your product or service. Use what you know about the industry, business, your customers and your solutions to determine the best fit. Is your product a high ticket item? If so a very small business won’t be able to buy it no matter how much they need it. What is your ideal customer profile? Who in your targeted market fits that?

Today there is no shortage of where to find suspects that may need your product. Use the Internet, Hoovers, Linked-In or the thousands of other business sources to find likely suspects for your products and solutions.You can use the newspaper, the Yellow Pages, trade magazines and even associations to find candidates to sell to. The only requirement is that they fit your market and your profile. Research and learn about these companies because that information will become your blue-print for getting access to them later.

Make a list of the most likely buyers for each of your three markets. Now, name those accounts because soon you’ll be working a plan on getting into them. Right now they are just suspects, you don’t really know what their needs are or if you can solve them. However this gives you a great starting place. You now have thirty named accounts to prospect – thirty more than you had yesterday.

Find partners that can help you get into those accounts

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is re-inventing the wheel. What I mean by that is doing everything on your own and not looking for assets and people to help. Every account you want to sell into already has vendors they work with, networks of contacts and a space within their community. Find and use partners that can help you not only get into your named accounts but can help you get a deal done.

It is far easier to create demand in a group or market than create that market. I like to think of it as being easier to get hit by the bus instead of having to fill the bus up. Who do your named accounts work with? Who do they associate with? Those are the people you need to know and places you need to go. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Use the relationships other suppliers have to get you into accounts. That is by far the best way to speed up your demand creation and get new opportunities into your funnel.

Who sells to your accounts that you can partner with? Here is an example to illustrate the point.

I recently worked with a Furniture Company whose sales had declined over 27 percent last year. They were spending frighting amounts of money on advertising, direct mail, cold calling and bush beating trying to drum up business. I had them stop all of it. Every salesperson was assigned one category of partner that could help them sell furniture. One guy took Carpet Stores, another Interior Decorators. An especially spunky young saleswoman went after Real Estate agents. The pitch was simple: we each have customers that need more than what we sell. Lets collaborate together and get a larger share of the customer’s wallet.

Some partners only wanted to bird dog opportunities – that is get some money for a lead and then a commission on the sale. Other partners were more creative, bundling their solutions with the Furniture Store. Amy, the saleswoman working with Real-Estate agents had the most success. People buying new homes want new furniture to match. Sellers often struck out because of their house didn’t show well with outdated ugly furniture. In 6 months sales were up over 32 percent and marketing costs were down over 56 percent. Biggest payoff – every salesperson made their quota and got a fat bonus.

Carefully monitor your partners. Are they delivering results? If not, why? Is it a one way street with you giving more leads away than you’re getting? Perhaps your partner isn’t as connected as you thought or motivated enough? If you can’t fix the problem find a different partner.

What bus can you get hit by? Who sells complimentary products to yours. Who is working with the accounts and markets you want to sell into. They can rocket your sales performance through the roof.

Die-hard execution

Today you hear a lot about working smarter and not harder. I’ve got news for you: today you need to work both harder and smarter. The key there is work. You must execute relentlessly, working your plan consistently and constantly. Demand creation requires that you identify your markets, select the most likely prospects, finding partners to help you gain access and trust to get into those accounts and a plan that you work on every day.

What is your selling process? Do you cold call and then follow up by email? Have you identified the key objectives that must be done that moves each sale from opening to signature? Do you know the key decision makers for each opportunity and have a plan for getting in-front of them?

Every sale has key milestones that must be accomplished for the sale to close. Map out your plan step by step. What do you do to gain access? Then what do you do to generate interest? How do you follow up? Does your prospect need to do a site visit? Do they need engineering specs or technical assistance. Know clearly the path you have to walk with the customer. Establish a plan and then work that plan – relentlessly.

Rinse and Repeat is needed for all of your prospecting activities

This 4 step plan isn’t a do once and stop system. Once you’ve worked your thirty accounts it is time to work your next thirty. The good news is that you’ve learned a lot. Each time you repeat the process you will get better at it and more effective.

Keep good records. One of your markets may not pan out. Replace it with a different target from your list. You may have to find different partners. Your message to market might not be powerful enough – or aligned closely with their needs and your solutions. Know what is working and what isn’t. In sales keeping score is easy: how much business did you close in the week, month and quarter. Keep score – your income depends upon it.

Selling is one of the professions that is only improved by doing. The more you do, the better and more effective you’ll become at it. Work these 4 steps of demand creation and you’ll be much closer to success than others cold calling or worse, sitting by the phone waiting for a prospect to call. Remember, hope is never a strategy.

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The Truth About Voice Mail

“It ain’t what you know about telephone sales training that causes failure, it’s what you know that just ain’t so” to borrow and edit Mark Twain’s famous quote. Open almost any sales book today and you’ll find clever strategies and advice about voice mail and using the telephone for prospecting and lead generation. If these ideas worked why is it so hard to get prospects and even customers to call us back?  Here you’re going to learn the ugly truth about voice mail and how to use it successfully.

Before the average person is even fully awake they jump on their email. Then by the time they get to work they have 8 voice mails to return, a meeting that they’re late for, and 100 other things on their mind. The average person’s day is insanely busy – especially decision makers and buyers. They simply don’t have the time or the desire to return calls from strangers. Many people won’t return a call from someone they know unless there is a pressing problem or something that they need.

The delete button on emails and voice mails are people’s best friend. No clever strategy is going to solve that.

So let’s face the ugly truth: unless you’re the IRS people aren’t going to call you back. So what are salespeople going to do? Give up calling?

No way. Despite the difficulty of phone work the reality is that there isn’t a faster or more effective way of finding prospects and filling your pipeline. Paul DiModica, author and sales trainer, says,

Cold Calling is the fastest way to increase your sales pipeline, your company’s revenue, and your personal income…If you were to analyze the top income sales positions in the U.S. you would find that they all cold call.

Of course not getting calls returned isn’t only a problem in cold calling. Voice Mail is the universal call screener, replacing gatekeepers and assistants. Sometimes just navigating the Voice Mail system is a challenge.  However it doesn’t matter. Getting through on the phone is one of the critical selling skills that must be mastered. Another sales trainer, Bob Etherington tells us why,

Fact: in any market 85 percent of the available new business goes to the 5 percent of sales people who know the secret of successful cold calling.

Take out the words cold calling and I agree 100%. Replace that idea with phone communication and usage and you will be part of that 5 percent of people finding and winning new business.

If the truth is that people won’t return your calls how do you use Voice Mail Successfully?

Effective Telephone Sales Training Starts Below

First, change your goal. The purpose of leaving a Voice Mail isn’t about getting called back. If that happens you’ve won the day’s lottery. Most often it won’t happen. The purpose of leaving a message is to get remembered. A succinct powerfully worded voice mail puts you top of mind. It anchors your name and message in the prospects thinking. That way when you do get through a conversation is already in progress. You simply have to continue it.

Do not expect your Voice Mails to be returned.

Now that you have that clearly established for yourself you are ready to create effective Voice Mails that position you for follow up activities that will get your messages heard and allow you to get an audiance with your prospect, customer or buyer.

Here is a key idea: the first decision that a prospect makes is “should I work with this person.” Selling that decision is the first and most critical step in getting into any account. Leaving Voice Mails is only a part of process that gets that prospect sold on letting you into their world.

Telephone Sales Training Step 1: Preparation

Do you know what you are going to say if the person answers or if they don’t? Can you leave a message clearly without rambling on or having all kinds of “huhh” or “ahhs”? Will your message sound professional or will it be rushed? Knowing what you need to say and being prepared is your first task. As obvious as that sounds judging from the many Voice Mails I get every day this is not being done.

Telephone Sales Training Step 2: Cut out most of what you’ve been taught to say

By the time you’ve said “hello, this is…sorry I missed you” and all of the other preambles most callers leave on Voice Mail most people have hit the delete button. Remember people’s thoughts have only one radio station – WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. Start with a message that plays on that station. Here is an example of what not to do”

Hi, Steve, this is Jack Bower with Management Partners. I hope you enjoyed your vacation and I know you’re probably buried in tons of stuff right now. In talking with your assistant, Janice I understand that you’re in the process of realigning several corporate initiatives to find cost saving measures and improve productivity. Management Partners has successful been helping corporate clients since 2001 meet re-craft their priorities and overcome obstacles to profitable growth. I’d like to ask you a few questions and see if there is a fit between our two companies. I can be reached at 555-555-5555 at your convenience. Thanks and have a great day.”

When did you tune out? Did you get to the second line? Believe it or not that quote is eerily similar to many of the calls I get every day and is taught by several famous (and respected)  sales consultants. Problem is: it bores people to tears and gets deleted – not heard.

Telephone Sales Training Step 3: Create a “stop what you’re doing and listen up” message

What is your value proposition? What does the prospect or their business need? What keeps that person up at night? If you can’t answer that don’t call. Stop now and find out. Call your existing customers and contacts. Ask them. Ask them what message you would have to deliver in order to get their attention. Then make the call. More on this later.

Telephone Sales Training Step 4: Listen to the Voice Mail – completely

The old saying about having two ears and only one mouth can yield you powerful results if you listen before leaving a Voice Mail. Are they on vacation? Do they leave you a cell number? What is the tone of their voice? Do they leave an alternate contact or instructions for email? You can glean all kinds of great information if you’ll take the time to listen.

  • A cell phone number
  • Other Contacts with their extensions
  • Pronunciation of their name
  • When the best time to call is
  • The reason they are  not in the office

Instead of hanging up as soon as you get Voice Mail or thinking about what you are going to say, listen. You should already know what you’re going to say anyway. Listen carefully. Take notes. If you have to hang up and think about the message do that. Then call back and leave a more targeted and interesting Voice Mail.

Telephone Sales Training Step 5: Leave your message

Leave your attention grabbing message clearly in as few words as possible. Leave your contact information and a time that you will be calling them back. If the Voice Mail system allows you to replay your message do that. Don’t count on being able to change a poorly communicated message however.

Telephone Sales Training Step 6: Follow up

This is the step that most people simply don’t do – or at least seriously enough to get the job done. But let me be clear: follow up doesn’t mean stalking them on the phone. It means Multiple contacts through various methods that gets your name in front of them until the two of you connect. You do this by

  • Following up with emails
  • Sending them information that might interest them – white-papers, news clippings – not self serving brochures
  • Calling them back at different times of the day
  • Talking to their assistant and getting coached on how to reach your prospect
  • Changing your message keeping your voice mails fresh and interesting

The Power of The Message

According to Jill Konrath (and you’ll hear me preach this many times) in “Selling to Big Companies” the number one reason we don’t get access to new businesses is that we simply have weak value propositions. I can’t solve that for you. If you don’t have anything of value to sell or talk about no technique will get your Voice Mails returned or listened to. No amount of follow up will result in a genuine selling opportunity. However this is usually not the case. If someone else in your company is successfully selling your product or even someone in your industry is closing business, you can too!

The messages you leave on Voice Mail must have a compelling reason that is self-serving for the person to call you back  or want to take your call the next time you dial in. Is their competitor doing something that they need to know about? Is there an important issue that will impact their wallets or how they look to their boss? Getting your message right is the single most important element to Voice Mail success.

Don’t wing it. Don’t assume what motivates you will get their juices flowing. Most salespeople and the companies they represent are far more jazzed on their offerings than customers. Get yourself into the customer’s mindset, use their language. Craft a different message for an accountant than you would the purchasing manager. Remember their radio station – they are all tuned into  WIIFM but the music playing is all different. Play their tune and you’ll get a dance. I promise.

Proper telephone use is one of the most important skills you can develop. Breakout Selling is going to develop an entire section just on this skill. You can Click Here for all of the Telephone Sales Training Articles available.