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Finding the Ideal Sale

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This is the full funnel freedom podcast, supporting sales leaders, and managers to improve their sales funnels from people to prospects. I'm Hamish Knox. In this show, you'll learn how you can improve your results. Lead a great team and hit more targets with full funnel freedom. Welcome to episode three of the full funnel freedom podcast.
I'm your host Hamish Knox in this episode. I'll be sharing with you ideas and insights around finding your ideal sale to keep your funnel consistently repeatably and reliably looking like a funnel. The first place to look to find your ideal sale is probably in your current client base. A key component of full funnel.

Freedom is proactive account management. That is proactive account, man. Unfortunately, a lot of account management roles tend to be filled with individuals who are more looking to make friends than represent their organization to the client. They oftentimes they end up advocating for the client to their organization by asking for lower prices or better deals, et cetera, et cetera.

And that's not their. The role of a salesperson is to advocate for their company, to their clients and prospects, customer care. After sales support delivery, their role is to advocate for the customer to their organization. So what exactly is proactive account management then? Well, it's not sitting around waiting for the phone to ring or.

Visiting the same three to nine clients over and over and over again, probably taking them out for lunch or an event or something that is really doing nothing more than increasing your organization's cost of sales for no real payoff being based in Calgary, Alberta. Very big Hockeytown and I had three separate conversations with three different CEOs, couple of years ago, who also sold into the oil and gas industry and their exact words were all of our contacts that we've known for 20, 30, 40 years have been replaced by 24 year old engineers who do not care that we have hockey tickets in section 1 0 9.

And our competitor has tickets in section one 10. As a prospect, I'm certainly happy to take free stuff all day long as my friend Mike Crandall at Oklahoma city says, stop buying your prospects. Food support, love your clients, but stop entertaining and growing your stop, trying to win business from your prospects by buying them stuff.

Cause it just frankly doesn't work. And all it does is again, increase the costs. Circling back to proactive account management first activity that you can coach your salespeople to do our regular check-in calls. This is a phone call because it can be much more personal and it may sound something like client reaching out to find out what's coming up in your world this week that we may be able to support you on as well as find out how do we do in supporting you and your organization last.

In a previous company before I joined Sandler, one of our biggest competitors use this strategy to essentially lock us out of some of our largest accounts. One of our competitors use this strategy to essentially lock us out of some of our biggest prospects, because these prospects felt so well cared for that.

Even though we might've offered them a smoking hot deal or what we considered to be better products for sure. They just felt so loved by their reps that they wouldn't even consider switching. Of course, in that business, much more transactional sale, high volume. If you're in a more enterprise type sale or a longer sales cycle may not be a weekly call, but it's probably at least biweekly semi-monthly or even month.

Now, if you're a more of an enterprise type sale or a longer sales cycle, it's at least twice a year. Maybe once a month at the outside, but really we want to be in touch with our clients on a regular. Another other way we can create full funnel freedom from our client base is asking for introductions.

Now, key thing here, stop asking for referrals, coach your sales team to get the word referral out of the vocabulary. Referral is a giant scary word. Kind of like the word relationship it's also. Uh, subtle implication and subtle pressure on the person you're asking to introduce you to someone who either has the means or the willingness, or ideally both.

Several years ago, I was having lunch with a friend of mine who does marketing for a very large organization in Calgary. I got to the restaurant first, as they're walking towards our table, it seems like they're upset just reading their body language. So they sit down and I'm a curious, or I said, Hey, great to see you.

But it kind of feels like something's a little wrong here. And my friend said, I just got out of a meeting with a sales person where we signed the contract for a piece of software. And they asked me for a referral before the ink was even. I looked at my friend. I said, you know, I'm a little confused. I actually teach my clients to do that.

And my friend gave me this look like this lunch is probably going to be over before it begins, but I like enough. I'm going to give you a chance. So they said, Well, what do you mean? And I said, well, let's role play this out, right? You be, you I'll be them. So, you know, sign the agreement. Congratulations.

Looking forward to working with you. Hey, out of curiosity, who are two or three marketing professionals in your network, who you would be comfortable introducing me to instantly all of my friends tension melted away. And they leaned back and said, oh, I can totally do that. All I'm saying is you're a human being.

You're a human being. I'm not endorsing you just go have a conversation. See if it works out. If not, I love both of you. So ask for introductions instead of referrals, we want to be as frictionless as possible as we can be with our prospects. And our clients does not mean that we're not following a process and a system, but it does mean that we don't want to unintentionally create friction in our sales cycle.

Our clients or prospects when we're looking for them to help us out. Another activity that our account management salespeople can do to create full funnel freedom in our organization is alumni reach out. Those are those individuals who used to work for current client companies moved on to other organizations or other departments in the same large company they aren't currently using.

Our products or services, but who knows, maybe they might want to do that. So reaching out to alumni, oftentimes we find this out via LinkedIn, great way to reach out, connect with somebody. Hey, congratulations. On the new role. Let's reconnect after you've had a chime to get. Not everyone's going to want to do that, but at the very least we can be proactive and reaching out.

And in fact, some of our clients who get the hand of the face when it comes to them and that alumni person connecting the alumni person will sometimes say, you know, I'm not the right person anymore, but I'd like to connect you to the person who is two more activities that we. Encourage our clients to do from an account management perspective, a proactive account management perspective to create full funnel freedom, our expansion calls and quarterly reviews.

You probably have your team doing this already in some form or fashion, but it may not be formalized and repeatable. It's more ad hoc or when they feel like it. Back when I started my career at Canada, Newswire in Vancouver, we were part of a global Newswire distribution system. And sometimes I'd be seeing press releases from our clients where they'd be announcing a opening of a new office in France or a new factory in Australia.

And I would go over to their salesperson and. Hey, you know, we can actually distribute this in Australia or in France. Might our client want to do that so they can raise their profile in the area that they are expanding to. That's when I got told, well, you know, what, if you want to do that, you give them a call.

So that was my introduction to the sales world was doing expansion calls. No benefit to me because I wasn't getting commissioned for it, but it taught me to keep my eyes and ears open for happenings in my client's business or in my client's industry. That would prompt me to circle back to them and say, I heard about this wondering how it's impacting your business.

Did you know that we do fill in the blank? Is that something you'd like to tell? And quarterly reviews is something that you probably have asked your salespeople to do. They probably do them on a semi-regular basis, but keep in mind that the minute we earn a client's business, we start to lose it. I read a story in marketing magazine many, many years ago, about a company called Wieden and Kennedy.

And some of you may not know Wieden and Kennedy, but you certainly know. The tagline that they came up with, which was just do it for a, at the time small shoe company in Portland called Nike. Well, 26 years after Nike engaged, Wieden and Kennedy, they ended up firing Wieden and Kennedy and moved their business to another firm.

Despite the fact that Wieden and Kennedy had created one of the most iconic advertising. Ever. So we want to have these quarterly reviews locked in the calendar. The day we close our client's business, because the fact of matter is the day we close. Our client's business is kind of like our wedding day.

It's the day. They love us the most because we haven't had a chance to screw up on what we've promised. We're going to deliver. So we coach our clients and I would encourage you to coach your salespeople. The day that the business gets closed is the day that the first quarterly review meeting gets an accounter.

It's a separate meeting with the decision maker to review how you're doing client of ours. Several years ago, software company lost one of their biggest client, even though they had a great relationship with the. User group of their software, but they had no relationship or connection to the decision maker.

Their competitor walked around. The user group, went to the decision maker, offered them a great deal. And my experience selling software or software service, 50 chance on that 50% of the time. Decision-maker we'll take the deal 50% of the time. They'll say, you know what, gotta go talk to my user group.

Unfortunately, for our client, it was the 50% of the time where the decision-maker just took the offer without consulting their user group. But it was because they didn't have a consistent cadence of these quarterly review meetings. So they could deal with potential issues with their client when they were at 10%, instead of when they were at 90%, by which time most people have already decided to move on, you may be thinking, well, that's all great.

Mining our current client base, but what about net new acquisition? Well, net new acquisition is absolutely important. There's some numbers out there about how many touches it takes to actually get to. A cold contact and get a first appointment. My friend mark Kalki on his podcast shared a number of 250 touches to get to one discovery appointment, which is a lot of touches.

But if we're not consistently reaching out to those net new organizations, eventually our funnel is going to start to drop. We coach our clients to have their salespeople do a minimum of four and a maximum of seven proactive prospecting activities. Every single month. The first four are probably things that they're very comfortable with bringing a lot of results.

And that's a key question to ask your salespeople, are you doing activities that are comfortable instead of effective? Some salespeople love to go to a lot of networking events and don't get a heck of a lot out of it. Aside from a lot of quote unquote great conversations. Don't end up going anywhere and numbers five, six, and seven.

Maybe they're not even once a month. Maybe they once a quarter because it's a trade show or a speaking engagement or something like that. The key thing with all of these proactive prospecting activities is to be better than zero, which for high achievers is a really hard concept because high achievers.

Let's just say, they're not exercising. They're going to say, well, I'm going to do 50 pushups a day, every single day from zero. Like, well, that's a quick way to burn out quickly and actually regress, but past where you were before instead let's build up. So if your salespeople right now are, let's say not asking for any introductions.

Well, have them start off by asking for one a week veteran zero, you can always build from there, coach them to have a cadence of touch points with their prospects. One of my mentors, actually the guy who introduced me to Sandler said to me once no one ever says, thank God you showed up. When you're in sales.

According to the north American sales association, most sales happen between the sixth and the 12th touch and typical sales person gives up after touch number three. So coach your team to have a cadence around their prospects, varying the type of touch, 12 straight touches of phone calls. Unlikely to get a prospect 12 straight touches of emails, unlikely to engage a prospect.

So they're either touches voicemails, emails, videos, connecting on LinkedIn, all four may successful prospecting cadence. And the other thing that our salespeople need to do. And our last tip for today when we're coaching, our salespeople is to hunt where their ideal prospects are. Friend of mine out in the U S east coast used to have a rule that.

The networking event was a hundred dollars or more per ticket to go. They didn't go because they discovered that if it was less than a hundred dollars a ticket with a little bit of wiggle room here and there, but if it wasn't something that you really had to make an investment into a 10, a lot of times, her ideal.

Just didn't show up to those. There's a lot of lead clubs and quote unquote networking groups that exist that for a certain type of person, their ideal prospects go to those groups and belong to those groups. But if we're selling higher dollar value services or more enterprise type. Sales lead clubs, unless they are very, very focused and very, very well curated are unlikely to create full funnel freedom for us.

So we're certainly going to have to stretch our comfort zones. I am not a big fan of networking. If any of you have ever heard me speak publicly, you've probably heard me say the first place I go after a networking event is to a fast food restaurant. Cause I need a hamburger cause I'm brain dead. I've also been told I'm good at networking.

It's one of those things that I realized I had to stretch my comfort zone on. So when you look at your salespeople's proactive activity plans, not only the types of activities they're going to do, but also the amount of them, you may need to make some adjustments or suggest some adjustments to your salespeople who are sticking in their comfort zones.

You may have a salesperson who absolutely loves making prospecting calls. And they've got no sort of public events in their prospecting plan, whether it's networking events or speaking engagements, whatever it might be well to stretch their comfort zone and support them in their growth. They're going to need one or two in there a month, at least.

By the same token. You may have someone who says that they're a real people person and they've got a whole bunch of networking events and other things in their prospecting plan that might make them feel good, but are not actually filling up their funnel. And so you may need to encourage them to add in some social selling activities, maybe a couple of prospecting calls or for them comfort zone adjacent might be.

Asking for more introductions. This has been episode three of the full funnel freedom podcast. I'm Hamish Knox signing off until we connect on the next episode. Go lead. Thank you for listening to full funnel freedom with Amish knocks. If you want to increase your sales with ease, go to full funnel,