Too many businesses take a "sit and wait" approach to sales and according to Mike Weinberg, this is a complete waste of time.
In his book, New Sales. Simplified., Weinberg details his time-tested approach to sales that has brought him and hundreds of his clients great success in earning new business. Before reading this book, I was expecting the typical overly-aggressive “this is a numbers game” approach to sales, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Weinberg takes classic sales methods, such as cold calling, and adds a modern spin that makes them more effective and less abrasive. His methodology for identifying targets aligns perfectly with the Inbound Marketing approach to creating your buyer persona.
While you might not want to adopt all of his sales strategies in your company, there is certainly a lot you can learn from his experience and this book is a great read for any business professional.
"When charged with acquiring new business, the natural and essential first questions are: 'Where is the business going to come from?' and 'Who should I be pursuing?'. If we are putting together a prospecting and new business development sales attack, we need to know where to go and whom to target"
Time after time throughout New Sales. Simplified Weinberg stresses the value of having a target list for salespeople. The target list is what keeps sales teams on track and focused on the ideal persona for their company. The people on the target list are the most likely to convert and deserve the most attention.
Without a narrow target list, salespeople have a tendency to bounce around chasing the next “hot” account that changes on a regular basis. According to Weinberg, lack of focus is one of the most common problems that plagues sales teams today.
How to Select Targets
The process that Weinberg outlines for creating a target list is similar to how we recommend creating your buyer persona. You start by asking questions that provide insights about your ideal customer:
- Who are our best customers?
- What characteristics do they have in common?
- What does their business “look, smell, and feel” like?
- What problems are they currently facing?
- What would they like to accomplish in the near future?
Salespeople have a limited amount of time each week, so the more specific your target list is, the better. Having a narrow target list is more than just focusing your sales efforts on the people that are most likely to convert, it’s about genuinely understanding your ideal customer.
The people on your target list are all fairly similar to each other and as your sales team continues to interact with them they become more and more familiar with your ideal persona.
Developing a Solid Sales Story
"Our sales story is our most important and most frequently used weapon. When we have a great story, it changes everything."
Stories are powerful tools for sales because they engage people and help influence their purchasing decisions. However, Weinberg argues that the sales story is something most companies completely fail at.
A great sales story isn’t one that details the history of your company or necessarily aims for warm and fuzzy feelings. Instead, a great sales story is focused on your prospect, the problems they are facing, how you can solve those problems, and what sets you apart from other companies that provide a similar solution.
Weinberg breaks down the sales story into a three-step formula:
- Address client issues
- Present your offering
- Differentiate yourself from the competition
Weinberg says that biggest mistake your company can make is starting your sales story with what you do, for example: “We provide…” or “We make…”
The story should be focused on your prospect from the beginning to catch their attention and draw them in. Although they might be interested in what you offer, what they care most about is what your company can do for them.
Developing Connection Expertise
"Bar none, the phone is still the most deadly and accurate weapon to score a face-to-face meeting with a target prospect."
Weinberg is a big fan of the cold call. He argues that the low-effectiveness with cold calling that many companies face today is due to poor training and the wrong mindset on the part of the salespeople -- not due to changing attitudes from prospects.
Weinberg is quick to make the distinction between cold calling and telemarketing, which most people tend to categorize as one in the same. In fact, he points out that one of the biggest challenges for salespeople is overcoming their fear of cold calling because they are afraid of coming off as a telemarketer.
Cold calling is essentially contacting people without their permission, but Weinberg says that the mindset of the salesperson completely changes their approach to cold calling.
He says that a great salesperson understands that they are calling a prospect for a good reason because they could potentially bring immense value to that organization with what they’re offering.
The salesperson has every reason to feel confident because they have done their homework on their prospects and have a real understanding of the challenges their business is facing.
In addition, they have a great sales story to share that they know is focused on the prospect’s needs. From this deep level of knowledge about their prospects, the salesperson has several pain points to address if the first issue they bring up doesn’t resonate.
Weinberg also stresses the point of understanding your ideal prospects so you can make a real connection in face-to-face meetings. Although he clearly loves the cold call, there’s no replacement for having an in-person discussion.
Taking Control of Your Sales Business
“Salespeople do not operate in a vacuum; there are often cultural and environmental issues beyond their control that severely hamper the opportunity to acquire new pieces of business.”
Weinberg mentions that one of the biggest shifts he’s seen in sales that has negatively impacted performance is the lack of mentorship: “What we are missing are sales mentors, those wise old vets who take young pups and newbies under their tutelage and impart years of wisdom and experience to their protégé.”
Weinberg credits much of his success in sales to his own mentors that he had early in his career. Instead, the classic mentorship model of training has been replaced with a modern, automated training culture that educates salespeople on tactics, but fails to provide them with real-time feedback and insights into the intangibles of sales.
There’s no training program that can accompany a salesperson to meetings and provide feedback on the subtle shifts in body language and tone of voice that sales veterans know how to spot.
Another problem that Weinberg notes is the lack of autonomy for the sales division of modern companies. He argues that the CEO is responsible for deciding on the strategy of the company overall, not specific sales strategies.
Sales departments today don’t have the freedom that they once did, which Weinberg feels is a big mistake because no one understands sales better than the people on the frontlines.