Recently, my friend Carol Luong from Leadfeeder reached out to get some of my top tips on how to improve your business networking, lead generation, and sales skills. It was an excellent interview, and Carol wrote a fantastic article about it that includes great tips sales managers can use when coaching their sales teams.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the article that you can share with your sales team to help them find leads and develop new contacts into lasting relationships and business.
Reach out to your entire network for leads
Prospecting is essential to any sales team. If your reps are struggling to find leads, suggest they try tapping into these sources:
Friends and family: Often overlooked, these people can make introductions to people who can buy from your company.
Referrals from happy clients: Leverage your existing customers to meet prospects. Ask your team to reach out to their trusted clients, ask who they know, and if they can make an introduction. Or be more specific and share some company names with these clients to see if they have connections they would be willing to share. LinkedIn is another great resource to find out to whom your clients are connected.
Referral partners: Who else knows your target prospects as well as you do? Find referral partners that sell to the same crowd—but do not compete. Develop a plan to make introductions. Be very intentional about it and don’t leave it to chance.
Multi-platform, Multi-touch campaigns: Make a list or buy a list of ideal customers and plan a multi-faceted approach. Develop 8 to 12 touches with great customer-focused messaging and use many channels to deliver it. I like a combination of email, voicemail, phone, and social media—especially LinkedIn. Do this in a very account-focused way. Find several potential influencers at each company you target. Some people call this Account-Based Marketing or Prospecting.
Events: You can either hold events and draw your ideal prospects to you or attend events where your prospects will be. Bonus points if you can be a speaker! If you’re planning to attend a tradeshow or conference and maybe exhibit, make sure to have a great plan for before, during, and after. For more tips on that, check out my free guide “Exhibitors Guide to Trade Show Success.”
Once you have these leads, do your research
Coach your team on how approaching someone to whom you have been introduced can be similar to approaching someone out of the blue, but with one primary difference. In the first case, your reps have been transferred some credibility, while the second scenario requires them to establish credibility quickly—this can be difficult, especially over the phone.
The best approach is always to come informed and with ideas to share. Your team should do their homework and learn everything they can about the business and the people they will be calling. If they weren’t introduced, use the internet to research. If they were introduced, ask the person who made the introduction for more information. It’s important to know the industry, the business, the challenges, and the people.
While on the call, your reps should ask questions and make statements that show they understand the prospect’s business. But, be careful not to assume. When your reps make a statement about what they learned about the prospect’s business or industry, they should check to see if the contact agrees. Coach your team to approach each person as if they were making a new business friend for life. Your account managers should care more about helping these new contacts reach their goals than making the sale.
Instead of presenting, make sure to tell a story
Presenting always needs to be in the context of the learner. Your team should always begin a meeting or pitch with the audience in mind. Who are they? What do they need? Why will they listen? What will get them excited? No one wants to hear about your business or your products—until they ask. Your rep’s job is to get prospects curious by telling their story. If your team builds presentations with that in mind, they will win.
Expect objections and be prepared to handle them
Price objections come up when the buyer doesn’t see the value or they want what you’re offering but can’t afford it. Don’t discount! When a price objection arises, coach your team to confirm the concern and ask some questions to learn more before offering a solution. Some prospects can’t afford what your business sells. That’s OK. Don’t spend any more time. Acknowledge that it’s not a good fit because the price doesn’t work with their budget or help them figure out how to get the budget.