Hunting Big Sales with Tom Searcy

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Insights for Finding, Landing and Harvesting Whale-Size Accounts

Latest "Sales Skills" Posts

Weekly Tip: The Elephant in the Room

I was in a great business meeting the other day with a potential business partner and at one point he said, “I think there is an elephant in the room. Tom, why are you in this conversation, I don’t see the fit. Tell me what you are thinking.” Great approach – straight honesty.

Sometimes it feels like we are all playing pretend. We pretend:

  • Competitor is not trying to steal our business when we meet with our customers
  • Price increase won’t affect the business relationship
  • Last month’s short-shipment isn’t making them mad

I like to get the elephant out on the table and open him up. Everyone knows he’s there, so let’s deal with it. I know, it can be risky. However, if I don’t know what the customer is thinking, it’s like flying blind at night without instruments – VERY RISKY.

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A couple simple rules:

1)   Open like my friend did and declare the elephant

2)   Acknowledge what can and cannot be done about it

3)   Ask, “What is the best way for us to proceed in this conversation and what do you want us to know so we can better serve you?”

It’s not easy, but it’s better than playing pretend.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Sales Skills, Sales Strategy, Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: Are You Overthinking Things?

Often times highly analytical people and companies over think data and decisions when what is needed is less speculation and more action. In the world of big sales, I am surprised at the frequency a hunt team will debate the meaning of a call or email instead of calling and asking. You are at risk if:

  • You have had two or more internal meetings on a stuck prospect and still don’t have a course of action
  • Sales leader has sent team members back more than once for key information
  • You are in an “if-then” conditional scenario discussion trying to plan your next move
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1.   If it walks like a duck… – My biggest troubles have come when I did not listen to my intuition. Listen to your gut.

2.   Information is the coin of the realm – Figure out the single thing you need to know to move one step forward. You are not getting everything you need for a final decision, so get one thing more to at least make progress.

3.   Connect with someoneor someone else – Chances are you have tapped your Executive Sponsor. Have you tapped anyone else? If you don’t get new information, you will re-chew old data and make no progress.

Strategy can only take you so far…eventually you have to act.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Sales Skills, Sales Strategy, Weekly Tips.

Weekly Insider Tip: 5 Sales Clichés That Are Dead

INSIDER TIP OF THE WEEK

As sales people, the following ideas have been fed to us as truths all of our lives. Maybe they were, but even truths can evolve and these definitely have:

  1. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. People don’t care how much you care if you don’t know what you are talking about. Relevance is the sign of real value. You have to care enough to know their business, market, industry, competitors and customer. Skip the part about their kids, sports and next vacation. Be relevant and valuable.
  2. Always be closing. People quote this line from the movie “Glengarry, Glenn Ross” as a sales maxim. They forget the character who said it was a quintessential jerk. “Always be solving, always be valuable” is the replacement. Closing is an outcome of a process that solves the customer’s problem so clearly that they move at your speed or faster for purchase.
  3. Focus on the person in the room who controls the biggest budget. In the new world it is not the person with the biggest budget who makes things happen. Often times it is the person with the power to block. Focus on the “no” person and you will get further.
  1. Activity equals productivity. Just because inactivity equals stagnation does not mean the opposite is true. Activity just means activity. Productivity is a result of the right things being done at the right speed with the right people. Focus on that first and volume second.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Sales Skills, Sales Strategy, Weekly Tips.

Weekly Insider Tip: It’s Always About Relationships, Just Never Only About Relationships

INSIDER TIP OF THE WEEK

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently with a certain generation of sales people, my generation of sales people. The ages vary from 45-65+ and there are a few things in common. One of the hallmarks of this generation of sales people is their ability to develop good relationships with buyers. Those relationships were based upon similar interests, shared experiences and a history of integrity – doing what you say you are going to do.  The problem is that these are not valued in the same way in the new generation of buyer.  For the new generation of buyer, it is less about kids, sports, vacations and jokes. They have less time, are more data-driven and are discouraged or forbidden from entertainment with vendors.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION
  1. Relevance – You need to be insightful for them about their market, industry, competitors and customers. They want to know what you know about their world rather than your product or service.
  2. Language – Your language needs to be sharper. Specific, numeric claims and metrics for performance are critical over generalizations of “better, more, faster.”
  3. Value – They want to know how to explain, and more importantly to show others in their company, your comparative value with metrics.
  4. Integrity – You have to do what you say you will do when you say you will do it, every time. Fortunately, this hasn’t changed.
New buyers are not looking for new friends. They are looking for new trusted sources of solutions.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Sales Skills, Weekly Tips.

Weekly Insider Tip: Add SALT to Tough Pitches

INSIDER TIP OF THE WEEK

A client of mine was looking for a pep-talk for a series of upcoming Hollywood pitches. These are the TV/Movie style pitches to ego-driven, sometimes eccentric, studio and production company executives who hear 30 idea-pitches a week. They are jaded, impatient and can be intimidating. Come to think of it, they are a lot like buyers in many industries. He asked, “What should I focus on in my preparation?” Here’s what I said – Think S.A.L.T.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION
  • Slow down – When we are nervous, we talk fast. It comes off as low confidence and you will start to overcompensate by talking even faster.
  • Ask – When you are told to pitch, don’t. All of the power shifts to the buyer like an audience at open-mic night with arms crossed and challenging you, “Ok, kid, impress me…” By taking that first chess move away and asking a key framing question or two up front, you re-set the power and energy of the meeting into a conversation, not a pitch.
  • Laugh – Not a nervous giggle, but rather, look for something that they say that is funny and laugh. Hyper-professionalism and stiff style does not create confidence in you or relax them. Most everyone wants to be entertaining, engaging…funny.
  • Talk Less – Cannot stress this enough. The buyer needs to do the talking. There are certain requirements around your credentials and your value that you need to say. Cover those clearly and quickly – then drive the conversation to their issues and challenges.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Sales Skills, Weekly Tips.

Weekly Insider Tip: The Elevator Speech is Dead

INSIDER TIP OF THE WEEK

There are entire books and seminars devoted to writing an effective elevator speech. This is the mythical compelling summary of your company’s value articulated in the period of time it takes to ride an elevator with a prospect from some high floor to the ground floor. The outcome of the elevator ride is a deeply interested prospect who is begging for an appointment and handing you his or her business card.

I like short and compelling – but instead of focusing on what you do, market you serve or service you provide, start with what problem you solve.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION

What is the unique problem that you solve in the marketplace and for whom do you solve it? I know “it depends” – but do the work and answer this question, it’s important. What is the problem that you solveGood answers include:

  • “We help companies double the speed that they double their revenues.”
  • “Multi-generation businesses hire us to facilitate profitable and sustainable transition from the current generation to the next generation.”
  • “Companies who need to trim at least 5 business days out of their delivery cycle hire us.”
  • “Top 50 chemical producers hire us to fix and manage distribution, formulation and application development to their end customers.”

The point is the focus – you are focusing on the problem you solve, not the service you offer.

For an even deeper dive on your company’s messaging and the problem you solve, check out one of my blogs on incorporating the “why.”

Posted by Tom Searcy in Sales Skills, Weekly Tips.

3 Ways to Improve Your Odds of a Sale

The way that companies make purchasing decisions has changed. Here are three ways to keep selling even after your buyers have tightened the purse strings.

There was a time not too long ago when buying authority used to be proportioned throughout an organization based upon that company’s organizational chart. Managers were authorized to make small purchase decisions and vendor selections. Directors made slightly larger decisions, and so on up the hierarchy. All this changed when companies everywhere were hit with the zombie virus outbreak known as Procurement. (At least that’s how I describe it.)

The virus has many strains-;procurement, purchasing, reverse-auction, RFPs and so on. Unfortunately it has removed the authority of middle level managers to make any individual purchase decision or vendor selections.

So, what do you do when you’re trying to sell to one of these powerless middle managers? Whenever possible, avoid them as a point of initial contact. After all, they are zombies. If that doesn’t work, try one of these strategies:

1. Become efficient at handling lots of small transactions. Amazon is a great representation of this model. By becoming the most effective processor of many small orders, you will be able to grow through the sheer volume of purchases made by the lower level managers who are still able to make these decisions.

2. Become an expert at the competitive bidding process. Whether you are dealing with RFPs or reverse auctions, companies who become great at completing forms and operating in tightly defined parameters are in a good position to make money.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com, Sales Skills.

7 Ways to Ensure Your Emails Get Read

 

Tired of sending out emails and getting no responses back? An email expert shares seven tips to help make sure that your emails get read.

Recently I connected with Jonathan Borge, an email expert who has mastered the art of getting emails answered. Through an email conversation, (how else would you communicate with an email expert, right?), he shared with me seven great tips on how you can ensure that your emails will get noticed.

1. Subject lines: Remember that only 20 percent to 40 percent of your emails will actually get opened, though most of your subject lines will be seen. To boost your open rates, think of short, catchy, and informative subject lines. You should try to dangle compelling information (“The future of sales emails”), and you can even try adding some mystery (“Strange question”). We also recommend personalized subject lines, if possible (“Hunter Sullivan suggested I contact you”).]

2. Your tone: Portray yourself as someone that other people can connect to. You’ll want to show your recipients that you care about hearing back from them… so you can’t simply sound like you’re just sending another mass email. Never use “Dear sir or Madam,” and stay away from overly formal language.

3. Email content: Make your emails short, simple, and easy to quickly digest. Your leads are busy people with jobs, too, so you need to maintain their interest. Do your research and find out what resonates for your prospects. Try to get an introduction to them or, if that’s not possible, figure out in more detail what they or their company do.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com, Sales Skills.

A Sales Technique that Leaves Everyone Happy

 

Here’s how asking the right questions can help you close big deals while leaving your clients confident they made the right decision. It’s a win-win.

A good place to start with any potential sales prospect is to assume that he or she is a smart person.

If they have the right information in the right context, you should assume that they will make a good decision. Unfortunately, getting them the right information in the right context is where most sales efforts fall apart.

Think about it from the potential sales prospect’s point of view. Throughout their day, they are overwhelmed with so much information to sort through and so many conflicting opinions to consider. As they try to figure out the best choice to make, there is the very real likelihood that some of the information they received is inaccurate, outdated, or just plain sketchy.

As a salesperson, the most important thing you can do is to help your prospective client determine his or her specific needs. With that in mind, here are a few conversation starters you can use to help the prospect figure out exactly what they are looking for.

1. Open-ended questions: Having a series of five-to-ten open-ended questions ready to go is a great way to help the prospect make their own discoveries. Examples include:

  • “How would you know in 30 days that you had made the right selection?”
  • “What are the issues you are trying to resolve in your current operation or with your current provider?”
  • “How has your business changed in the last 6 months that is impacting your needs in this area?

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com, Sales Skills, Sales Strategy.

How to Break Bad Sales Habits

 

The new year is the perfect opportunity to get rid of bad habits, especially when those bad habits are hurting your sales. Here are some tips to create good sales habits.

New year…new exercise plan…new diet…new opportunity to break bad habits. I was recently reading Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit” and I realized that so much of our behaviors are related to habits—the body’s natural and unconscious responses to triggers. Regardless of whether it is eating, biting our nails, or sales mistakes, there are patterns that explain a lot of our harmful behaviors. Duhigg explains that habits form in the following cycle: Trigger–Routine–Reward. That same cycle can be seen with bad sales habits.

What are the triggers that lead to bad sales habits?—One of the biggest triggers is that of “needing a sale.” Sometimes the need comes from being short of quota or behind in projections. Sometimes it’s the need for a win because you feel like you have not had one in a while and you want that feeling of accomplishment. Another trigger could be a bragging co-worker who has just landed a sale and you want the attention back on you. The point is that the trigger causes you to become immediately hungry for a sale.

How do bad sales habits lead to bad routines?—When we “need” a sale, our intellect, training and skills become subverted by our animal instincts. These routines can really damage all of the good learning we have achieved over time.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com, Sales Skills.