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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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Communication and Collaboration for Sales Success

Today's Sales Prospecting Perspectives post is from Chris Lang, AG's Sales Director.   

File:Kids-say-darndest-things.jpgRemember the show "Kids say the Darndest Things"? Man I loved that show. I wasn't around during the Art Linkletter years to see the original version, but I used to watch the re-runs on Nick at Night with my parents and then the Bill Cosby version in the late 90's. The kids would say a couple of off colored, hilarious statements and often times by the end of the segment the adults would be thinking, "Wow we could really learn a lot from that child." The kids, without knowing any better, would teach us all a lesson with simple observations about life. For example an 8 year old named Manuel said you should do this for the person you are in love with, "Yell out that you love them at the top of your lungs...and don't worry if their parents are right there." Manuel is a genius! Here people are reading advice columns, watching awful romantic comedies (usually with Hugh Grant in them) and doing everything else under the sun to be a better spouse and Manuel broke it down to one statement: Love the person no matter what and don't be afraid to show them that.

I'm used to calling into my network and being set up with very warm leads from my inside team. I sometimes forget the nuances of how to get past gate keepers and deal with administrative assistants. I asked one of my fellow sales reps for some help on my emails a while ago. I hadn't been getting a good return rate, which used to be a strong point for me, and I was completely baffled. I tried every approach I knew, straightforward, information seeking, just trying to help, your boss told me to write you, I have your dog in my trunk, etc... Nothing was getting through. My co-worker Ed, O'Neil (there Ed I said your name in the blog, please stop asking me) gave me a great format which I tried over the course of the next week. The basic principle was to keep it simple, deliver the information needed and tell them what you want to do. The way he worded it made the prospect really want to get back to him. The return rate on my emails doubled in one week.

I asked Ed if he had anything else for me. It turns out Ed got that advice from someone else. Surely Ed had a friend that has written books on "email effectiveness", a colleague that ran a sales consultancy or at least that crazy cousin that was super smart until he got "caught up in the 70's". Turns out Ed was talking to one of our junior inside reps at AG that had only been here for about 6 months and this was the rep's first job right out of college. I started sharing information with all of our inside reps for tips on how to write emails, what scripting should be used on certain titles and what to say to the nasty admin that always answers the phone. (Call the executive at 8am, the admins don't get in the office until 8:30 - 9am so the contact will answer) Turns out the reps here are all geniuses! There was a huge amount of knowledge floating around the building and I wasn't tapping into it because I limited myself to asking superiors for advice. The inside reps have information sharing sessions every week to make each other better. This wasn't management mandated, they just knew that the better they did the more money they would make and if they shared a secret or two someone may share a few with them and both people would win. Everyone has their strong points and often times your strong point could be an area of weakness for someone else so why wouldn't we critique and give feedback on everyone's styles?

We meet on a weekly basis to go over what is working, share ideas and how to continually improve. Everyone goes to these meetings from the president of the company to the new person that started a week ago. Every person is encouraged to speak and bring a couple of good ideas to the table. Titles are left at the door and anyone can help someone else.  A lot of times, as people get promoted into management they don't ask non-management for opinions and advice. Conversely, someone in an entry level role probably won't stroll up to senior management and tell them they have an idea that could help. It's silly really. If there is a more effective way to get something done you should want to know about it. Provide your team with a forum to openly share ideas with each other. You could even do it through an anonymous chat board if think it will encourage more discussion.

So don't limit yourself, everyone in your company has great ideas, leverage everyone's knowledge. It is the role of great leaders to find and use those ideas to help everyone in the company.


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