February 19, 2019

I Wish What They Were Saying Was True

I do. I wish all the wonderful sounding things we read from supposed “experts” online were true. 

Wouldn’t it be great if the perfect new sales tool they were pitching to us cured all that ails our sales? And how much easier would it be to fill a pipeline with legitimate sales opportunities if all we had to do was put out great content so qualified prospects came running to us (after getting on average, 57% through their buying process). Or if we didn’t need to create sales opportunities using old, supposedly outdated methods that dared to interrupt or annoy prospective clients because playing for hours commenting on LinkedIn posts generated so many initial discovery meetings with warm prospects that we didn’t need to bother people with phone calls, voicemails, and emails?

I’d love it if any or all of the above were true because it all sounds so good, but unfortunately, what I observe with my own eyes in a myriad of companies, large and small, across a wide variety of industries and sales roles proves otherwise. Most sellers have peak pipelines. There are not enough opportunities in their sales funnels because they don’t spend enough time working the top of the funnel to create new opportunities. And what angers and frustrates me is part of the cause for these weak pipelines and underperforming salespeople is that many believe the nonsense and false promises proffered by those online posting ridiculous things and making fun of sellers who deploy traditional sales methodologies. 

Last year, an online sales “expert” had the audacity to go as far as quoting legendary marketing guru and author Seth Godin as part of an attack on salespeople who dared to interrupt and annoy prospects by phoning them. In a lame attempt to justify his position, he deployed this popular Godin say: “Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is better than interrupting strangers who don’t.”

Here is my response (excerpted from my upcoming book, #SalesTruth: Debunk the Myths. Apply Powerful Principles. Win More New Sales. that will be released by HarperCollins Leadership later this Spring):

“Duh! Who’s going to argue with that? Of course, it is always better to have a “tribe,” warm leads, and referrals to pursue. But it is disingenuous to quote a legend like Seth Godin in this context. And this is the giant hole in the social and inbound-only argument these “experts” never address: What is the salesperson who doesn’t have warm leads and enough opportunities to work supposed to do? Yes, it would be truly wonderful to have a tribe of loyal followers chasing you for information and help. But if your job is to sell (which I am pretty sure is every salesperson’s job), and there is no one raising a hand asking you to sell to them, then what? Tweet more? Blog more?”

…The harsh reality is that high-performing sales hunters maintain an absolute commitment to earn early-stage discovery conversation/meetings with their target prospects. And if earning that all-important meeting includes risking that they may potentially annoy the buyer, so be it. That’s life. Frankly, that is part of being in sales unless you live in a utopian fantasy world where you’re continually handed more appointments and highly qualified hot leads than you could possibly pursue.”

I’ll be writing more about the importance of maintaining a laser-focus on continually creating new sales opportunities and the rewards that accrue to the salesperson who masters creating (versus simply chasing) opportunities. Let me leave you with a few questions to help you examine if what’s in your calendar and in your mind are helping (or hurting) your ability to fill your pipeline and win more New Sales: 

  • Are you investing time to work opportunities and accounts in all stages of your sales funnel, and specifically, are you spending enough time proactively working targeted accounts to create new opportunities?
  • Are you using ALL ethical means necessary to secure early stage meetings with target prospects, or are you neglecting traditional methods (like the good ole’ fashioned telephone) in favor or trendier or easier approaches?
  • Do you have an appropriate mindset about prospecting for new business and the confidence that proactively pursuing prospects works when done well?