Every year, sales reps quotas continue to climb and simultaneously get harder to hit – an unfortunate fact straight from the horse’s mouth. According to a recent industry survey, 40 percent of salespeople say it’s getting increasingly tough to elicit response from prospects, and 34 percent say closing deals is harder now than two or three years ago. Continuing with the trend, 2018 is forecasted to be no different, with research revealing 42 percent of today’s buyers are less likely to spend time with sales reps.
While the landscape is toughening, it’s not impenetrable. To help you stay on track with your 2018 goals and set your sales team up for success, here are four areas of improvement made possible through a few simple tips.
Email Is Not Dead: Here’s How to Get Clicks
Ninety-four percent of people report email as the best way to reach them, yet most prospects’ inboxes have a tendency to be flooded. To break through the noise, keep these email best practices in mind:
- Your subject lines should be short (65 characters), personal (but don’t use the prospect’s first name), and relevant (clarity trumps creativity); tactics which when combined register replies 42 percent of the time.
- Stop diminishing the importance of your requests with weak apprehensive phrases like “just,” “quick,” and “short”– be confident in your ask. If you begin the email with the impression you’re taking up too much of their time, or alluding that the context of your outreach is frivolous, you’ll lose their attention with the opening line.
Captivate with Cold Calls
In the digital age, there’s still something to be said about the element of human touch. A channel that gets an unfair rap is the traditional cold call, especially considering its effectiveness when combined with email and social channels. To set you and your team up for success when dialing, follow these tips of the trade:
- Have a script. Sellers need a proven way to start the call that avoids the “hang up reflex.” They need strong language to overcome objections they’ll continuously receive (e.g. “I don’t have time to discuss this now,” “I’m not the right person to talk to,” “Not interested,” etc.). Most sales people don’t want scripts because they don’t work, not because they don’t like being told what to say.
- Don’t give up if your prospect is interested in features you can’t provide. Dig deeper into why those features are important to them and explain how you can fulfill those needs with an alternative feature.
- Practice. Mock, recorded calls are a great way for you to hear yourself. If the entire team is doing it, it’s also a great way to bubble up successful examples for everyone to model. After a few rounds of practice, you’ll find scripts sound more conversational and bad habits are identified (and corrected)
The Missing Link: Engage on Social
LinkedIn isn’t just for job postings and sharing industry news – it’s a great place for social selling too. With these three tips, you can get the most out of the social channel and increase your InMail responses by 50 percent:
- Since LinkedIn is significantly more personal than someone’s corporate email address, it’s necessary to respect that difference to earn a prospect’s trust. Using canned messages, the default connection request template, or a generic value prop, is even more ineffective than bad emails.
- Social media is almost exclusively accessed via mobile. In order to keep a prospect’s attention, make sure you get your point across in less than two vertical swipes –or better yet, all on one screen. Send yourself or a colleague a test message first to see how long it displays on their device.
- Just because it’s social selling, doesn’t mean you can’t be persistent. You should always follow up on InMails. Great tip: Replying to your own InMail thread does not count against your monthly InMail message allotment.
Don’t Forgo the Art of the Follow-up
While new channels of outreach may be available to sales teams today, the basic selling principles are timeless. This means following up with prospects is still a top priority. Follow-up on touch points and meetings to ensure your prospect moves successfully from a “potential”, to a sealed deal. Here are three tips to keep in mind:
- Save five minutes at the end of each meeting to discuss next steps. Use this time to create clear action items so your prospect knows what to expect next.
- Send clear, detailed notes to your prospect after each meeting. This simple, yet often overlooked step, shows your prospects that you’re professional and customer-focused enough for them to trust you with their time and the investment they’re about to make in your solution.
Providing value at every touchpoint is extremely important. Here are some examples of great additions to a follow-up email that add value:
- A recent post from your company’s blog about the specific challenge your prospect is experiencing.
- A suggestion of a great person to follow on LinkedIn.
- An article about the prospect’s industry that has a trend that ties back to your value prop.
- A summary of the buying criteria or key decisions that have been met/made and the next one needing to be figured out.
With a positive mindset and clear goals laid out ahead of you, 2018 can be the year you crush your sales goals. Take these four areas of improvement to help you build a pipeline that can help you rise to the opportunity new sales numbers present.
Mark Kosoglow is VP of Sales for Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform that empowers sales teams with intelligent marketing tools to engage customers and close more business. You can find him on both LinkedIn and Twitter.