Archive for May, 2014

Smart Activity for New Business

Friday, May 30th, 2014

by Susan Novicki

I know that we talk about it all the time but sales success is all about activity.And developing new business is all about smart activity.We need to make sure we are working prospects that are going to develop into solid leads and eventually to closed business.But even when we landscape and do a need analysis with the CEO, it can still end up dead.This happened just this week with a fairly new start-up in the electronic cigarette category.  We got the buying signals, we were able to engage their target consumer in a way that legally they could interact, and worked within the budget range that we were given and still it did not close.  This prospect was probably too small of a lead to create a substantial close.  And because this happens all the time, we need to make sure that we are always working enough leads so that we are presenting proposals for new business each week.Knowing that, at best, one out of five will close, we need to keep solid pending streaming into the pipeline and that starts with smart activity at the prospecting stage.

We don’t have to look far to find new business – and many times we overlook the obvious.One of our clients has an account that is national in scope but regional in focus.They get a substantial amount of spot business from their internal agency.Thinking that everything is great because the rep has increased the spot business over last year, there was no thought that this account could actually also develop new business.But the rep decided to take her business development manager with her on a call to the account.

The conversation developed into a full-blown need analysis it was determined that there are extra dollars available for events and activation points on events or on-site sponsorships that the company has committed to for this year. The bottom line is that they are not hitting their established goals and are looking for opportunities to accelerate their sales and attempt to meet those goals.In the meeting they discussed a number of non-spot opportunities to engage consumers and interact with the brand and the decision-maker was excited.The buying signs are there to close on a number of activation and sponsorship opportunities from now until the end of the year.

Sometimes new business is right under our noses – we just have to consistently be aware of trends with companies and categories of business and jump aggressively on new opportunities – both with existing accounts and brand new accounts.

We must be prepared for the meetings so that we have a great need analysis and walk away with a homework assignment.And we must work at least ten leads for new business at any given time to effectively hit the established goals.

Turn Cold Calls into Warm Calls

Monday, May 19th, 2014

by Ginny Speaks

I started my sales career at an early age of 17 selling books door to door during the summer months.  Talk about a tough job and a hot one to boot, yet such a great education into the selling process.   The selling skills I learned then are still prevalent today; selling is about asking questions and listening.  It is shifting our mindset from persuading prospects to buy to fully understanding our prospect’s needs.  To shift from being product focused to buyer focused.

So ask yourself this question.  Over the past few weeks, when I made cold calls to new prospects what did I do?  Did I try to persuade and sell or did I ask questions and listen?

Whether you have been in sales a long time or a short time, we all should be making cold calls to new prospects weekly and the answer to this question should give you some insight into how you approach new prospects.

Let’s review what information we should be gathering on our initial cold call to a new prospect:

Clarify the role and responsibility of the key decision makers

Ask probing questions to learn about the landscape of the organization

Uncover all the buckets of money across multiple channels

Gather information about the companies’ marketing

initiatives and their challenges

Discern what is the top priority for the marketing and

sales decision makers

Understand how budgets are spent and how the organization makes those decisions

Uncover who controls the marketing budget and the sales budget

Probe to see if there are market development funds

This is the short list, but you should get the point.  The first call is about having a conversation to discover the lay of land and to determine who the key decision makers are that can make a yes or no decision on a program.   It is like being a detective.

When you look at the initial call this way, it should take the pressure off not only you but your prospect too.  Cold calling is an essential part of our business, yet we can turn them into warm calls when we practice this approach.  Put on your detective hat and get those fingers dialing.  Your next big close is just around the corner.

The Magic Hour

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

by Susan Novicki

I was in New York a few weeks ago, in a sales meeting with a client. As we often do during a sales meeting, we talked about closes that were occurring within our network and great sales calls that we’ve been on in recent weeks.

One call that came up was with an automotive manufacturer. We discussed the fact that this was a perfect lead for the station to call, based on what I had learned in other markets. So, after showing some of the research and our company profile on the company, we landscaped, got on the phone and made a call to initiate a discussion with a decision-maker.

Amazingly, we did get someone on the phone. Even though it was the admin to the director of the region, we left a message and confirmed his email address then told her why we were calling. So, in addition to leaving the message for the director, she directed us to their account director for the experiential arm within their agency and we called and – amazingly – got her on the phone.

During the sales meeting, we had a great conversation with her about what she was trying to accomplish and we got a homework assignment and a future appointment to present ideas. We recapped the conversation after the call, realizing that she was not forthcoming at the beginning of the conversation but opened up as we continued to show her we had done our homework and we could help her with what she was trying to do – it was about her initiatives, the cars that she wanted to get in front of consumers in the New York metro market, and the opportunity for her to bring qualified leads to her dealers.

Afterwards the sales manager joked that I had set up the call, but, truly, this was a cold call. It does not always work out as well. Many times we are leaving voicemails – In fact, most of the time we are leaving voicemails. But it is important that you are prepared to get someone on the phone when they do pick up the phone. And that’s the key, to get the person to answer the call.

In the middle of the day, getting an answer really can be luck. But, how do we insure better odds at getting the person to answer your call?

Try calling when you have a better chance of getting the decision maker to answer the phone. We call it the “magic hour”. Think about preparing for your calls and plan on coming into the office an hour earlier than normal – say 7:30 instead of 8:30, consistently, one day a week. This hour is devoted entirely to making calls to new prospects.

Calling during the “magic hour,” it is more likely the gatekeepers have not come into the office yet, but the decision makers are there; thus, they will pick up their phone. If you do this each week, working 2 leads a week for 50 weeks, that is 100 new prospects. If we conservatively look at having a 10% close and an average sale of $40,000, these “magic hour” calls could represent $400,000 in new revenue. And who doesn’t want to generate $400,000 in new business in 2014?