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Why I Prospect at Night – The Death of Prime Selling Time (PST)

Why I Prospect at Night – The Death of Prime Selling Time (PST)

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

When I first started selling I was given a computer printer out, elephant toilet paper, it was called in those days. “Here you go” Renata, the Marketing person said, “call this”.

I was talking to one of our customers today, who are in the process of implementing a social selling program, he is a sales leader and he started prospecting in his career the same way. Of course in those days Linkedin didn’t exist, neither did the internet or email. Your only tool was the telephone and you used this to move around a company.

There was a whole industry built up on hints and tips on how to manipulate your way to the decision maker. Call at 08:00 AM as the gatekeepers won’t have arrived in work yet. Call the sales department and then get one of the salespeople to put you through as an internal call. Etc etc. The thing was you had to do this all within prime selling time (PST). Even Jeb Blount the author of “Fanatical Prospecting” talks about blocking out time in your day for prospecting.

While talking to another one of our clients recently, he said to me “I do all my prospecting at night”.

The world has changed since Jeb’s book, so while blocking out time for prospecting and a prosecuting culture is great counsel, in the world of social, you can do prospecting 24 hours a day. And for global companies like ours, in fact every minutes of the day clients are awake and asleep.

The World Has Changed and PST is 24 Hours a day

I’m not saying you need to work 24 hours a day, it’s just that the use for social media means we are able to manage our time and manage the time we spend prospecting. And of course there are no gate keepers on social, so you are able to get straight through to people. Here are some tips before you start being chief spammer.

  1. Buyer Centric Profile – You need to update your Linkedin profile, don’t forget while you may be the nicest person in the world if you approach me and you look like a spammer, then you will be treated like one. Think about who your buyer is, what are their needs, wants and how they think. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says “first thing I want to do today is talk to a quota crushing salesperson”. Buyers are looking for an expert, somebody can help and guide them. Somebody they can trust, somebody that has an opinion about the things that matter to that buyer. Not a corporate robot. Make sure your LinkedIn profile appeals to buyers and as well as getting a response when you approach them, you will start to get inbound.
  2. Share Relevant Content – Buyers are looking for an expert that can help them. Share relevant content, about your sector, things that will interest your buyers. Be interesting and be insightful. Don’t just post an article or a video, post some context that will guide the reader.
  3. Inmails are the equivalent of a cold call on a social network, don’t use them. Inmail are just another form of outbound, if you want to connect with somebody then send them a connection request. Always write a reason why you want to connect.
  4. Do Not Pitch – When you connect with somebody do not immediately pitch to them. That’s exactly what a cold call is. People are happy to connect, but you need to build up trust and gain rapport first. As Gary Vee says “give more than you get”. In Gary Vee’s book “Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook” he explains that everybody expects people to pitch immediately there is a connect on social media, the right hook and so everybody ducks. People buy from people they like, so you need to get people to like you first.

Having the ability to meet customers during the day without the need to block out time to prospect during the day is a massive leap forward in terms of effectiveness and productivity. In other words prime selling time (PST) is now customer facing time and prospecting can now be blocked out and planned in outside of PST.

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How Legislation, Technology and Desperation Killed Cold Calling

How Legislation, Technology and Desperation Killed Cold Calling

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

We’ve all been there, your phone rings and somebody starts pitching to you, something you don’t need and something you don’t want. We all sign when we have been hit by the cold caller. I’m not sure about about you, but the instances of this is getting less and less. We certainly think it’s because of the following 5 reasons:-

  1.  Legislation – Because of GDPR first you need to have a legitimate reason to hold my data. Let’s not forget that holding my data means you are responsible and accountable for that data and you are liable for fines of 4% of turnover. That salesman lost laptop could cost you dearly.
  2. Sales is Pull not Push – In the past you could call me and call me and call me. GDPR stops you doing this as I can ask for the right to remain forgotten and back to those 4% fines. You can no longer push somebody down the sales funnel. Exactly the same with email. This has required sales teams to have to rethink the way they sell. Selling has therefore had to flip from push to pull.
  3. Technology – Anybody who cold calls me I block using standard iPhone functionality. The same with unsolicited emails. Back to GDPR and those 4% of turnover fines.
  4. Desperation – I know why you are cold calling, you know why you are cold calling, the person you are calling knows why you are cold calling. Because you don’t have enough leads and meetings. It’s like hanging a large sign outside your company stating “we are crap at sales and marketing”. You are actually announcing to the world you are crap at sales and your marketing department has no ideas. Amazing thing to continually want to admit to the outside world.
  5. Common Sense – Receptionists and gate keepers are there to stop you getting through. I’m not saying that cold calling isn’t a prospecting method, I’m aware of people that use it to sell low value products, low down in the organisation. Which is fine, while many of this transaction selling will move to self service, there is still a new for transactional based selling. The 5. realities of cold calling above still apply.

In the world that I live which is B2B (Business to Business) Enterprise sales, cold calling died over two years ago, which is why there has been such a success with social selling across so many verticals.

People like us are social selling, maybe it’s time to investigate this further?

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Why Leaving Sales Voice Mails is a Waste of Time

Why Leaving Sales Voice Mails is a Waste of Time

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

I was reading the other day an article on LinkedIn about how if you hire this guy, he will craft you an amazing voice mail, that will not only allow you to articulate your value proposition, but will get people to return your calls. (NB: I write calls in the plural as he wrote calls in the plural, versus, a call in the single.)

So let me get this straight there are people that actually return cold call voice mails? For real?

So let’s set the record straight, I don’t return voice mails. I’ll be honest, that I get very few cold calls nowadays, partly because I block everybody that calls me and partly as GDPR legislation means you cannot hold my details in the first place. Making cold calling pretty irrelevant.

But for the sakes of argument, (and this blog) I do get a cold call, would I return a voice mail? No, of course not. Nobody gets up in the morning and says “today I want to talk to an aggressive sales person, who will take me through a manipulative script so I am tricked into buying something I don’t want”. After all, isn’t the internet there to enable you to search for products and services in “sales avoidance” mode?

Why would I want to talk with a manipulative salesperson who will try and sell me something I don’t want and don’t need? But then I got thinking.

I get emails from people in Africa that have a fortune they need to smuggle out of the country and people obviously reply to them, otherwise they would stop. So there must be gullible people that thinking returning voice mails must be some sort of civic duty or something.

Or maybe it’s just people within the “bubble” of sales and marketing. I was in a meeting with a Marketing Director today and she said she clicked on banner ads. But then she only admitted, she did this for professional reasons. She followed up the statement by saying, of course, nobody clicks on banner ads anymore.

I wonder, therefore, that maybe it’s just sales people who have a professional interest that return these calls. Or vested interests who have (as this “sales guru” did) a reason to make you want to think that leaving voice mails generate you business, in fact cold calling has some amazing output in today’s internet, social media and mobile powered world.

Here are 5 reasons why leaving voice mails are a waste of time:-

  1. I’m not interested in your products and services, if I was I would look them up on social.
  2. Interrupting me, in fact interrupting anymore in today’s hyper fast world will only lead you to piss them off. We are all busy and interrupting me and then broadcasting me your message does just that, pisses me off.
  3. Leaving me a voice mail as part of your cold calling allows me to realise our desperate your company has become. We all know why you are cold calling, it’s because you have no leads and meetings. And you decide to broadcast that your company is a loser to everybody. Totally bizarre.
  4. Legislation such as GDPR means that you are no longer able to hold by data to call me unless you have good reason to do this. I can then ask (and i will) for my right to remain forgotten. If you call me again I will report you to the ICO and expect them to enforce 4% of turnover fines. This is the same wherever you are in the world. GDPR is enforceable (if you call me as I reside in Europe) globally.
  5. Technology is such that standard iPhone functionality means I can and will block you.

I get that a sales guru that teaches you how to leave great voice mails won’t make a living, but maybe, just maybe, their time in sales is up?

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Why We Don’t Believe in a Mash-Up of Sales Strategies

Why We Don’t Believe in a Mash-Up of Sales Strategies

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

On a recent post of a video I recorded when I was in Sydney, Australia, there were a number of comments, reading through them, I wrote this blog.

Thank you for all those who offered support and I was amazed that the connection requests telling me how much they supported me.

The video was about how you can get higher, quicker with social selling, than cold calling. Something we have been saying here at Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) www.social-experts.netfor 12 months now.  This blog isn’t about getting higher, quicker with social selling rather than cold calling, it’s about the comments.

There were a number of comments saying they supported a multiple sales strategies or in one case a “mash-up” of sales strategies.  We don’t support this here at DLA for two reasons:

  1. It does not work.
  2. It does not work.

Let’s look at the first reason.

First of all, I’m not saying that cold calling is dead.  I know people who make a good living cold calling.  When you push them further, you find they are selling low value products or service, low down in the company.  For example, I know somebody who sells advertising for a magazine which retails at £5K ($6.5K) a time.  This is low enough to be signed off at Manager, rather than Director (C-Suite in the US) level.  My clients are high end B2B companies, people that are selling 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 figure deals. Doesn’t matter if that is £ or $, it requires a Board (C-Suite) sign off and a Business Case, not a quick decision on the telephone.  If you sell low value products, low down in an organisation this article isn’t for you.

In addition to that, talking to a sales guy from one of our clients, a large software company. He said “If I cold called the Finance Director of one of my clients, the switch board would just laugh at me”.  I agree, it’s a total fallacy to think that the Finance Director (CFO) of Oracle, Microsoft, GSK, GE or any large company is sitting there waiting for your call and will give you “30 minutes” for you to pitch your product.

Of course, there was a comment on this article from a vested interest, the telesales agency. Sorry guys, but you know it’s true!

The next facility people seem to fall for is that social selling, means you do everything on social.  Social is just the mechanism to get you the face-to-face.  I’m not sure which joker social selling Guru said it all has to be on social.  Anyway, I needed to clear that up.

Why Social Selling is Now The Only Way To Sell in Large Scale B2B

While most people in the social selling field will talk to you about the “57%” and while that argument is relevant, there is an efficiency and effectiveness here.

We have discussed before about the blatant inefficiency of cold calling.  In most discussions I have with cold callers, you have to phone 100 people and you might get 10 conversations.  Where as with social, you can find those 10 people straight away. It’s then down to you (and your personal brand) on how successful you are at contacting those 10 people.  If we assume you can contact 10 sets of 10 people in the time it takes to call 100 people then that makes social selling 10 times for efficient than cold calling.  Let’s assume you can only contact 20 people on social in the time it tales to call 100 people,  that makes social selling twice as efficient.  Not bad ROI.

If you cold call somebody you will get 4 responses; –

  1. Sod off
  2. They listen to you
  3. They say call back in 3 months
  4. They say they purchased the product before.

Social selling, helps you with 3. and 4. so much so you can steal deals from under the noses of your competition.

As you can see the maths adds up, social is by far the most efficient and effective way of selling.

The Second Reason

A mixed sales strategy is the worse of all words.  It reminds me of the social selling training company that cold called me and the social selling company that uses advertising.  So what you are saying to me is, you actually don’t believe in what you do, so much so you are not prepared to “eat your own dog food”.

Let’s look at the state of Marketing right now:-

  1. Email – In the 1990s everybody read all their email, now in the attention economy we are trying to get people’s attention and nobody reads spam emails anymore.  With the introduction of GDPR nobody send unsolicited emails anymore.
  2. Advertising – While Billions seem to be spent on advertising, nobody looks at ads and especially if you are in the B2B Enterprise space, you are not going to sell products by paid media. Whatever your paid media agency tells you.
  3. Cold calling – We looked at that legacy option above.

So here’s a thing.  If nobody reads your email’s, nobody reads or adverts and nobody takes your calls. Where you going to go?

The Good News

As a number of Marketers have said to us recently “nothing works anymore” and while there will be some throwers and vest interest comments, most people know that the game is over.

There are two ways you can take this:-

  1. Search for a silver bullet.
  2. Put in the hard work that social requires and you will get the results, as Gary Vee says “95% of marketers won’t take this route”.

Please Note

  1. Yes your clients are on social, 30 mins with Alex Low https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlow/the world’s number one Sales Navigator expert will prove it.
  2. Yes I do include referrals as part of this process, referrals are a way that you get get higher, faster with social than you can with cold calling.Social is an excellent, platform for which you can get and be given referrals.
  3. Public Sector – In our experience, Public Sector (Federal in the US) is a little slower to adopt social media. In our experience, about two thirds of the people are on social.  That said, rolling over and saying people “are not on social” isn’t sales “leadership”.  In my last role we proved that with a little pro-active work and excellent content, you can drive people to social and give them a reason to be there. Critical for suppliers is that you can then influence public tenders, a subject of a previous blog.

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Hiring a new Sales VP or Director? Here’s what you need to know.

Hiring a new Sales VP or Director? Here’s what you need to know.

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 LinkedIn

Finding the right person for your VP Sales, Sales Director vacancy, is never an easy task. There’s a balance between having an outstanding track record, experience within your industry or with a competitor, and a network full of potential client contacts.

If you use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to prospect, then you will know that if you typed in (“Sales Director” OR “VP Sales”) you would get a huge number of search results – mine is 870k. Once you use the filters, to sort out those that are relevant by location, industry etc – that can get the number tumbling down and sometimes, depending on how much you filter, it can end in a big fat ZERO.

Looking for someone to head up your sales division, if you have a long list of ‘filters’ can leave you with either very little to choose from, or having to relax your search criteria, ending up with too many.

You can use executive search or head hunter services, but they tend to do what I just did – run a search on LinkedIn and charge a tidy fee for the pleasure. I’m not knocking the recruitment industry – they play a valuable role, doing all the leg work for you and producing a potential short list. But you can see where I’m coming from.

I could now bang on about why, to people in the market for a new role, it’s important to have a killer LinkedIn profile. And I’m not talking about making it a ‘look at me’ page – but that’s for another time.

What I want to talk about is how businesses need to take a step back and reassess what their goal is with a new Sales VP or Director. Sometimes a fire fighter is needed to come in and sorts thing out, shake the tree a bit, other times maybe it’s to take the baton and run with a ‘business as usual’ approach. There can be numerous reasons.

I feel very strongly about what I’m going to share with you – so much so, I could reduce this blog to one sentence. Let me elaborate (this isn’t a sales pitch):

  • Do you want a stronger pipeline?
  • Do you want more new business?
  • Do you want to increase the revenue from your clients?
  • Do you have a competitor?
  • Do you want to make more money?

Answer yes to any of the above and you need to change your selection criteria and filters – here’s why:

  • 3.397 billion people are on social media  
  • 575 million people are on LinkedIn
  • CEB tell us: 57% of the buying process has been completed before a customer engages with a supplier
  • The average the number of stakeholders involved in a purchase decision is 6.8

Forrester says: As sellers struggle to gain and sustain their buyers’ attention, it is essential to meet customers and prospects where they digitally reside

The majority of ‘behind the scenes’ work in a purchasing decision is carried out online, via social media

Which is why you need to remember this sentence:

‘Next time you look for a new VP Sales / Sales Director, make sure they fully understand social selling.’

And yet, in spite of all the facts, the majority of sales VPs and directors have no idea what social selling is, or how it can boost sales. Many will come to you with out of date strategies that worked for them once and they have counted on ever since. Unfortunately, many times they will only interested in your opportunity because a) you are paying more b) they are bored in their current role, or, c) they can sense failure on the horizon.

Don’t let that failure occur on your watch – any new (or for that matter, incumbent) Sales VP or Director should be pitching social selling to the CEO. They should be telling the CFO that social selling can divert funds wasted on other sales and marketing activities, and insisting – should they decide to come and work for you – they want social selling to be the default behaviour for your business.

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Have you been social selling for longer than you thought?

Have you been social selling for longer than you thought?

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 | LinkedIn

I recently watched a ‘conversation’ on LinkedIn rumble on because, to the dismay of many, someone had said ‘I’ve been social selling since the 80’s’. From the responses it became clear that some people thought social selling didn’t exist before social media. Of course, it did!

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at why.

SOCIAL has been around since year dot and the Oxford Dictionary states:

Adjective:

  • Relating to society or its organization.
  • Relating to rank and status in society.
  • Needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities.
  • Relating to or designed for activities in which people meet each other for pleasure.

Noun:

  • An informal social gathering, especially one organized by the members of a particular club or group.

MEDIA

Noun:

  • The media treated as singular or plural the main means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the Internet) regarded collectively.

SELL

Verb:

  • Give or hand over (something) in exchange for money.
  • Have a stock of (something) available for sale.

SALE

Noun

  • The exchange of a commodity for money; the action of selling something.
  • Sales      
    • A quantity or amount sold.
    • The activity or business of selling products.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Noun:

  • Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

So, social and selling were around before social media and media was around before social media. Selling by default is a ‘social’ act and social selling can also be referred to as social sales. They are all interlinked.

If you still believe social selling didn’t exist before social media than you probabaly also think social selling is ‘online only’ and negates the need to have face to face meetings. It also means you are probably following and listening to self-proclaimed sales trainers, gurus and proverbial bores that don’t actually understand what social selling is.

If you aren’t social selling – then you’ll be finding it harder to build a decent pipeline, harder to close new business, harder to get inbound enquires and wasting money on outbound, digital marketing and events. And you’ll be selling on hope and luck.

I’ve also been social selling since the 80’s and today social media makes selling so much easier.

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