Dear Professional Salesperson:
Can we speak candidly for a moment?
You are awesome. You’re a Rockstar. You are kicking it DAILY. Beating quotas. Taking down your competition. Running your race with honor, medals, and awards. Confetti flying in the air. You are moving your product and/or services forward in the market. You are getting it done.
You’re a salesperson. It’s your job. Your passion. Your life. I get it. I am cut from the same cloth. I love to sell. I love to lead sales teams. I love to crush quotas and win awards. I love it when we win against our biggest competitor.
Yet, I don’t (and frankly, can’t) do it alone. I need help. We all do. As I ponder that, it brings to mind some questions that I want to run by you, my partner in sales. As I consider how I am going to take down my next quota and exceed my sales plan for 2017, here are questions I ask us all:
What are your lead sources? How do you know they are your lead sources?
Basically, who is feeding you leads to make your job more strategic and less reactive? Trade shows? Cocktail events? Referrals? Purchased lists? Those are all really good places to meet people and obtain leads, but how do you know if they are worth anything? Have they been truly vetted to see if they meet your criteria of an “ideal client”? Or, are you trying to figure out how to make the business cards you collected or the lead lists you inherited produce fruit that may not exist?
Who is your ideal client? How do you know they are your ideal client?
It is easy to go after all different types of clients in a marketplace. You are assigned a territory. You are given a quota. You do what it takes to meet the quota. The question is—who is your ideal client? Have you had someone help you figure that out to know exactly to whom you should be selling, and why? What would your funnel look like if you had your ideal client truly mapped out so you were only spending time on valuable relationships, and were turning away the ones that did not make sense for your business?
How fresh is your funnel, and how do you manage your activity pipeline?
Your funnel can be your greatest asset or your weakest link. How well you populate that with strong, fully vetted leads that you manage through to the point of a proposal and close will be the key to a very lucrative and successful sales endeavor. How well are you managing your pipeline?
Let’s say your funnel is strong, with healthy leads that you believe will enable you to generate your sales quota with ease for the next six months. What plans are in place to ensure your leads are seeing your brand, your product, your service, or you on a regular basis so that your company comes to mind the minute they realize a need for the service/product you provide? Do you have a strategy ready to go to meet those prospects at their greatest pain points?
Keeping a healthy funnel with strong pipeline activities is critical to ensuring you move your prospects through to strong closes.
How do you do it? Alone? Or with help? I encourage you to consider the next two questions as you finalize your Q4 sales strategy:
What role is your marketing team playing to support your sales efforts?
Yikes!! I used the “M” word in a sales article, but hear me out. Any professional salesperson who is fully invested in their career knows that they need to depend on their marketing team to support their sales efforts and educate the marketplace.
Marketing is the key to a number of things designed to help not only your company tell their story, but support you by educating the marketplace on what your company has to offer. The beauty of a well-done marketing campaign is that the stage is set before you ever pick up the phone or set foot in the door. Marketing is much more than the creative and the content.
Think of Marketing as your partner in crime. They deliver strongly vetted leads, identify new markets, lead the way into untapped markets through messaging and social media, and provide ongoing education to your potential buyers as to why they should choose your product or service over any other that is available to them.
Marketing helps ensure your unique message is heard by those who most need to hear it. Marketing understands your company’s competitive strengths and weaknesses, and can help you play to your personal strengths with tools and information they gather on your behalf. They can and will educate the market on who your company is, what they do, and why. They can equip you with awesome collateral and information that help your leads feel secure in the conversations you are having with them.
Marketing is the key to your sales success.
How can you leverage your marketing team to help you capture more leads?
If you have not yet thought about your marketing team in a positive light, then consider checking in with them. Let them know where you are struggling. See what they have in their arsenal to support you in your endeavor to close deals. Become their ally. Give them permission to become yours. Make them the strongest tool in your toolbelt, and keep them sharpened and focused on what you need to do.
Marketing wants you to be successful. They are eager to create programs and ideas that will help drive sales excellence. Utilizing Marketing is not just wise, it is critical to capturing well-researched leads and driving them to closing. They will create campaigns for you. They will develop special promotional pieces for you. They will educate the market through webinars, seminars, and e-marketing. They will do whatever it takes to help you be successful, because in your success lies their success.
So, dear sales professional, when you consider all that you need to do to nail Q4, take a walk down the hall and buy your marketing team coffee. And donuts. Take them to lunch. Get to know them, and what they can do to help you grow. In the end, the partnership you develop between your two teams will be the power behind your words, and an invaluable resource as you cross the finish line together.
Stay strong, and finish well!