Conversation Starters for Inbound Leads

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!

At Connect 5000, we’re huge advocates and fans of proactive outbound prospecting, cold/warm calling, hunting for new logos, new business development, etc. (Or whatever term you prefer.)

We believe it’s better to be proactive and hunt for new business, rather than being reactive and waiting for the phone to ring.

But, we’re even bigger fans of something else: inbound leads!

Inbound leads are great in that a prospect had a pain or problem, did some online research or hunting, came across your website, filled out the form and requested a conversation.

We refer to them fondly as “Sales Gravy”.

I received one recently and followed up with the prospect in a timely manner.

(Multiple research shows you should connect with prospects within 30-60 minutes, or statistically, they grow cold and the chances to convert them into a client drops greatly.)

How should you start a conversation with an inbound lead?

Here are my two suggestions:

1. Ask them how they heard about your company.

Mr./Ms. Prospect, if I may ask, how did you hear about us?

(It’s a simple, non-threatening question to get the conversation going, plus it helps you figure out how your prospects are finding you for lead source purposes.)

2. Ask them: what prompted them to reach out to you.

Mr./Ms. Prospect, what prompted you to reach out to us? What’s your driving your interest currently?

(Then shut up and don’t say anything and let the prospect respond. Don’t spray and pray! Don’t have diarrhea of the mouth! Don’t spill the beans and talk about how wonderful you are.)

Listen to your prospect, ask open-ended questions, assess their situation, and then diagnose their problems.

Don’t drink too many margaritas tonight! Hope these two questions help close more business!

Short Story On Why Never To Burn Bridges

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you had a great holiday.

I keep in touch with people I work with, both clients Connect 5000 has partnered with as well as people I’ve hired to work for Connect 5000.

A few years ago, I was the acting director of sales for a software company in California. We parted ways in 2014 and I kept in touch with a few of their staff after working together for about 9 months.

One gal, who was a solid inside sales rep, left the company and we kept in touch from time to time.

This past February, the timing was perfect and I hired her to work for me at Connect 5000. She accepted the offer, signed the offer letter and she was to start the following Monday. Long story short, she called me a few hours later and said that another company she had interviewed with, finally called her back and that she wouldn’t be working for me after all because it was a better fit for her.

I was mildly disappointed, to say the least, and we talked by phone and she explained her reasoning. I understood and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I wasn’t irritated after our conversation ended.

A few hours later after I had time to think about things, I texted and emailed her and wished her the best of success. I wasn’t sure if I’d hear from her anytime soon.

A few months later, she reached out to me. She was with another start up and they needed some sales consulting and advice. She introduced me to her CEO. After a few conversations between the 3 of us, the company hired me to consult with them and I’m working with my old associate, but in a different way I didn’t expect.

I know I’m stating the obvious but if you make an offer to someone you’ve interviewed and they turn it down for whatever reason, it’s okay to be hurt, disappointed or even angry. Just don’t stay there. Wish them well and move on. You never know where they are going to land and if you end things on a positive note, it could provide additional revenue opportunities for you and your company.

Creative Lead Generation Idea (On the High End Price Range)

Happy March everyone!

March Madness has begun! I’m hoping my KU Jayhawks go far in the tournament. Final 4 or bust!

I recently read John Ruhlin’s book “Giftology”.

This short book was on the art and science of using gifts to cut through the noise and clutter of life to open conversations, generate referrals and boost sales revenue.

One idea that I liked and plan to experiment in is this:

Send a prospect an embroidered knife or knife set with their name on it in gift wrapping and ask them this simple question: “Can we carve out some time to talk?”

For you skeptics and cynics out there, when was the last time you received a knife from a prospect?

Well then, I rest my case.

You can get a classy knife from Cutco, embroidered and gift wrapped for around $100 or so.

Is this idea for everyone? Of course not.

BUT, if you have a high average sale price, send out a few to some hard to reach prospects, and follow up later on by phone or email.

Just one new client will probably pay for this investment.

Is this guaranteed to work? Is anything? Of course not.

Try this different way to get into the door of hard to reach executives and let me know how your results are.

I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000.

Turnover: Another reason to keep your sales pipeline full!

Hey everyone!

In December 2016, I had a conversation with a VP of Marketing of a $3.7B software company in the Kansas City metro as well as a referral lead for a Sales Director in California by an existing client of mine.

We had solid conversations, both prospects had pain and need and I could see a potential fit.

The next action item step was to continue our conversations in January 2017.

Both of my follow-up calls were this past week and neither person showed. Not unusual, things and life come up.

I left a message with both prospects and sent a follow-up email.

Immediately, I received an auto responder back from the VP of Marketing that she was no longer there.

Later in the evening, I received an email from the company of the Sales Director informing me that my contact was no longer with the company, etc.

I know I’m stating the obvious but people quit, retire, get terminated or change positions.

This is another reason we as sales professionals and small business owners should keep our pipeline full.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, made this famous quote: “Change is the only constant in life.”

How true and a timely reminder this week for me following up with sales prospects!

 

 

 

Sales lesson learned from my 7-yr old daughter selling Girl Scout cookies

(This blog post is geared towards companies who sell B2C or sell multiple products or services at a low to middle price point in the B2B space.)

My daughter, who is in 1st grade, joined Brownies this year and started selling Girl Scout Cookies for her troop.

We had a late start on sales so I gave her some suggestions on whom to call.

I texted several friends of mine in advance and asked them if it was okay if she called them and that they were fully free to say no and tell her no as well if they weren’t interested in purchasing cookies.

Several friends gave the go ahead for my daughter to call them. I want my daughter to learn how to communicate with adults, especially by phone, which I think is crucial. I also wanted her to experience rejection at a young age. Getting told “No” is okay and better to learn rejection now, than for the first time at 18 years old. Finally, I wanted her to get good at asking people for orders and be direct, rather than prance around the issue.

So my daughter made sales calls while I sat there and listened and critiqued her. She ended up selling 44 boxes or so in less than 2 hours.

One thing I did NOT coach her on was this: After she wrote down the order, she asked on her own as she was getting to hang up: “Do you want anything else?”

Funny thing is, several people made additional requests for more boxes.

I was one proud Dad! I didn’t teach or coach her on this phrase at all. I don’t think my daughter realized she was upselling.

If you sell multiple products or services, this is a perfect question to ask, assuming you’ve built trust and credibility. Plus, it’s better than asking, “Hey, do you want fries with that?”

“Do you want anything else?” is a great ending question for salespeople to ask once they receive an initial order. Happy selling folks!

2 Book Recommendations for 2017

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope that your 2017 started off in the right direction.

I’m an avid reader. I have roughly 156 books on my Barnes and Noble Nook and 27 books on my Amazon Kindle App.

I enjoy reading about sales, marketing, management, small business success stories and entrepreneurship.

If you were to visit your family doctor and found out later that your health care provider wasn’t keeping up on the latest news and research and hadn’t cracked a book in 2 years, would you be slightly disturbed?

Of course you would!

It’s no different than us sales professionals or small business owners. I’m now stepping off my soapbox.

One common theme I hear from other companies is a lack of sales. How do I get more sales?

The other is that companies don’t have a system in place on how to prospect effectively to identify and qualify potential buyers.

Well, I have 2 book recommendations for you. (Don’t you worry, I receive no commission if you purchase either book.)

Mark Hunter recently wrote “High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results” and the link is https://www.amazon.com/High-Profit-Prospecting-Powerful-Strategies-Breakthrough/dp/0814437761/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484001108&sr=8-1&keywords=mark+hunter

Jill Konrath came out with another solid book titled “More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today’s Crazy-Busy Sellers” and the link is https://www.amazon.com/More-Sales-Less-Time-Surprisingly/dp/1591847265/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484001177&sr=8-1&keywords=jill+konrath+more+sales+less+time

Both authors are very easy to understand give relatable illustrations rather than just pie in the sky.

Take time to read this year and keep your sales skills sharp!

Ray Ruecker

A Creative Way to Get a Sales Meeting

Happy December everyone!

There’s a Sales VP in town who I wanted to secure a meeting with. As with other prospects, he was very elusive and busy. I looked at his LinkedIn profile and noticed he was on the board of a non-profit organization here in town.

I checked out the non-profit and decided to make a donation for $100 in honor of the Sales VP.

After I received my email receipt from the non-profit, I forwarded it to him and asked if he was open to a conversation. He said yes and I got the ball rolling.

Two things this showed:

  1. The executive knew I did some research on him and I took the initiative to be creative and stand out from other companies trying to grab his attention.
  2. The money went towards a great cause.

Does it need to be $100? Absolutely not. Maybe the amount needs to be only $25.

Because Sales VP’s like him are constantly bombarded, here’s another creative example on how to get in the door of a targeted prospect.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Voicemails and Cleavage: What should they have in common?

Answer: They both should arouse curiosity if they are done properly.

Crude analogy? Perhaps!

Is the desired end result the same? I say yes! Read more

2.7 Seconds To Capture Someone’s Attention?

“According to email provider ExactTarget, people take 2.7 seconds to decide if they will read, forward, or delete a message. These busy people sit with their finger on the delete button…” confirms Jill Konrath in The Ultimate Guide to Email Prospecting.

Yikes!

2.7 seconds! That’s it?

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I did some Internet research and experts guessed that we see an average of 3,000 ads per day. What if they are only half or a third right? 2,000 ads a day? 1,000 ads a day? Regardless, it’s a large number. Read more

Ask and You May Receive: A Short Story On Price Discounting

A few years ago I bought a brand new Toyota RAV4 which came up with an optional subscription for satellite radio. I won’t say who the company was but it rhymes with “curious”.

I tend to keep the radio off in my car to think and clear my head but do like commercial free radio as well. Especially the 80’s music since that’s when I grew up.

Every September is renewal time. Like many other companies out there, if I wait long enough and ignore multiple calls and emails to renew, I know the price will come down.

The yearly subscription fee was $231.05. Would I probably renew at that price? Yes.

So the company left me message and I finally called them back. I told the customer service rep the price was too high. She immediately dropped the price to $131.05.

I hesitated and said simply, “That still sounds too high.”

She responded and said that she’d like to put me on hold and talk to a manager. I said that was fine. She got back on the phone a few minutes later and said they could do it for $104 and change. I agreed and renewed for another year.

I’m in sales and typically have some sympathy for other sales reps. Again I probably would have renewed for the full price.

People are conditioned to ask for discounts. Nothing wrong with it.

BUT, you don’t have to say yes. The prospective client may feel they have nothing to lose by asking for a discount. Or they want to make sure they’re getting your best pricing. So they ask for a discount but will invest or purchase what you have regardless.

Maybe the customer service rep should have asked me, “What did you have in mind?” and put the ball back in my court. She handled the call well by the way.

Moral of the story: Ask and you may receive. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.