I know that it takes a year to get someone started in sales without a pipeline. We can’t afford to take that much of a hit on getting a salesperson starting up from scratch. We could pay more for the salesperson the first year than what they can bring in if they don’t come in with a book of business. And frankly, the folks who say they have a book of business are really expensive and even more risky.
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Define exactly who you do, and don’t, want to connect with. Use social media, email and events to connect, engage and build up relationships with the right opportunities for new salespeople to mine. Plan out trade shows that draw in a target-rich pool of attendees that match your ideal clients. Assign new salespeople to existing clients to shadow. Line up networking events to attend where your clients and prospects are likely to be present. Keep an eye on activity levels.
Focus on buyers. Go for decision-makers. In the beginning, de-emphasize the indirect contacts through people who might know people who know people. Those can come later, but the first job is to fill up the pipeline with people who buy.
Connect, connect, connect. Use social media to spread the word about who is on your team. Build familiarity with your company, your company’s products or services and the people who will be calling. It’s so much easier to break through to people who already have a connection with the person who is reaching out. Targeting specific hot prospect groups is a great way to plow and seed the field for incoming salespeople.
Get new salespeople on LinkedIn right away and link them into any discussion groups that help them to get visibility. Give them support in creating blogs that prospective accounts might be interested in reading.
Trade shows are a great opportunity to introduce salespeople to clients and prospects. It is also a good way to watch how salespeople perform. Look for energy, focus on gathering lots of contacts, good note taking and quick follow-up. Match trade shows to their areas of expertise and interest to get the most out of connections.
Ask current clients to speak up about what you’ve done for them. Have a list of existing clients that salespeople must get to know. Assign salespeople customer support duties and let them take credit for being heroes and heroines when customers’ problems get solved. Those connections will be invaluable when the salesperson circles back to ask for referrals to other prospects. And you can find out how well the salesperson is doing by connecting with your customers to follow-up.
Line up a list of functions where your prospects gather. That might be Rotary, Chamber meetings, international clubs. Find out where your customers hang out and that’s probably where prospects are as well. Tell salespeople to attend regularly. Set up routine follow-up tools, including emails, call scripts to request appointments and methods to document opportunities and progress.
Build a way to oversee activity. Watch that your salespeople don’t get bogged down with a few key prospects and ignore the potential to build depth into their pipeline as they start to make contacts. Set goals for daily, weekly and monthly connections. One thing to add to the mix is two phone calls per day — anyone on a suspect list. Just make the calls and leave a message. Have a script to use and test for results.
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide for Starting Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, E-Mail, and Cold Calling” by Jeb Blount and Jeremy Arthur.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics at 877-238-3535 or AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles at AskAndi.com.