Associates, Inc., and Selling Power – isn’t a surprise. The means and manners in which sales reps work have changed; however, the needed interpersonal and time management skills have not. According to survey results in that

report, B2B Prospecting Challenges from the Front Lines: • Fifty-three percent admit they are quick to quit cold calling

• Forty-eight percent confess they are afraid to even pick up the phone

• Sixty percent admit they lack organized or consistent prospect- ing efforts

• Forty-two percent have difficulty accessing decision makers

• Thirty-eight percent show weak social media skills

• Eighteen percent devote nine or more hours weekly to outbound prospecting

Fear and frustration appear as prime culprits among those who give up too quickly – and at a time when success depends on more persistence. That same report shows it now takes, on average, more than five touches before an intended recipient responds.

So, what can we do to empower those on our sales teams who are time- challenged as well as less confident?

ALLOW MORE TIME AND EFFORT TO LAND THAT INITIAL MEETING More and more, it’s harder to reach a prospective buyer to set up that initial meeting. And it likely won’t be in person. This is just reality, given the growing number of options we now have for outreach – phone, email, texts, social media, and face-to-face networking – which also create more “noise” for us to get through. The most common difficulties cited

by respondents include: • Getting the prospect to respond (59 percent)

• Access to the real decision maker (46 percent)

• Finding the correct contact per- SELLING POWER DECEMBER 2018 | 19 © 2018 SELLING POWER. CALL 1-800-752-7355 FOR REPRINT PERMISSION.

son in the company (32 percent)

• Getting a referral or introduction (25 percent)

These barriers indicate more time needs to be spent researching a company and its industry to determine the people within the organization with both access and actual power to purchase.

BETTER LEVERAGE OPTIONS FOR GAINING INTRODUCTIONS Sixty-three percent of respondents believe conducting research to locate target prospects capable of making purchases was key. Another 61 per- cent believe knowing how to garner introductions by way of references is a highly valued skill. Today’s sales professionals need to be adept at both gathering and giving information – and finding a balance between the two. Without es- tablishing that credibility, cold-call-shy sales reps can devote too much time scouring LinkedIn, trade publications, and Websites in the name of research. Conversely, overly eager reps can launch into a call or email message without adequate preparation.

SELLING TIP Call Objective: Flexibility

The sales professional can’t approach a prospect without having a flexible game plan. Although outlining and planning are necessary, the benefit of a flexible plan – instead of a stringent one – is that it allows you to meet your prospect’s stated objectives. Many salespeople fail to close on calls because their mental objective is simply to get in the door – but the customer was ready to buy right then and there. When setting sales call objectives, ask yourself these questions: • Does my sales plan fit the prospect’s stated objectives? • Have I left room for changes in my presentation should the prospect express needs different from the ones I already know?

• Have I prepared questions that will allow the prospect to tell me all his objectives?

• Have I prepared a number of different closes to use during the sales call in case the prospect is ready to buy today? By being flexible enough to respond to new information or customer needs when they are identified, the salesperson can adjust the sales plan ac- cordingly and may find a sale where before there was only a call objective. – SELLING POWER EDITORS

Sales leaders need to guide their teams to use their resources and avail- able technologies efficiently, so they have time in their week to expertly participate in online forums, make the calls, send the emails, and attend the events to grab someone’s attention.

DON’T GIVE UP TOO QUICKLY More than half of sales professionals (54 percent) say it now takes more than five touch points – such as phone calls, emails, and social media outreach – to book an initial meeting. In 10 percent of the cases, it took 11 or more touches. Sales managers may need to assist their reps in creating a sales cadence to better manage sales efforts. Otherwise, these reps can quickly become overwhelmed and abandon essential tasks. Organization is a critical skill, including setting up calendars and blocking out adequate time for prospecting.

BUILD CONFIDENCE BY IMPROVING COMPETENCE Of the 76 percent of companies that provide outside training, close to half (46 percent) do so only once a year.

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