Learn pre-framingPre-framing is one of the best-kept secrets of the sales world. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you have most likely experienced it at some point in your life. When successfully mastered, this technique puts salespeople in control, giving them full power to steer the sale they way they want it. Wonder what this clever technique is all about? In essence, pre-framing is the act of directing someone’s focus in advance and influencing the results you want to get from a particular situation, interaction, experience, interview and so on. Salespeople achieve that by letting their prospective clients know exactly what is going to happen before it happens and what it is going to mean. We all know that sinking feeling of having to make a decision when we’re unsure and feel completely out of our comfort zone. The natural response in these types of situations is to step back and reject whatever is causing the feeling. For a sales person, that’s a lost sale and a lot of disappointment. So to tackle buyer objections and eliminate potential doubts and hesitations in advance, salespeople invoke the pre-framing technique and deal with the challenges while they are either insignificant or non-existent. They set the scene on their terms, address common objections and create ways of pre-framing them to influence people in a positive way. A simple example of pre-framing in sales can be something along the lines of, “I know you think this is too expensive, but if we could get you a discounted price, would you see yourself using a service like this?” What do good frames include? Most often they make situations more ‘human’ by embracing emotion, vision, and ownership. The goal is to make the context more engaging and relatable to make people care about what you’re selling. You will be able to overcome client objections much easier when you learn how to pre-frame a sales call or meeting. The difference between winning and losing a deal will lie in the story you set up for your customers.
Take advantage of weak ties when prospectingThe strength of your weak ties determines how far you can extend your network beyond your normal reach. In his paper on the strength of weak ties, Mark Granovetter refers to strong ties as your ‘friends’ and weak ties as your ‘acquaintances’. The easiest way to look at weak ties is to think about your ‘LinkedIn’ account. Are all of your connections on LinkedIn strong ties? Do you consider those people friends? Or are they colleagues who you occasionally mingle with? You will most likely find several sets of weak ties once you start inspecting your social media networks. In sales, weak ties represent the opportunity to greatly expand your reach and increase the potential of finding new clients. And in B2B sales, in particular, connections mean a great deal when it comes to developing and maintaining relationships with clients and winning new deals. Sometimes ‘a friend of a friend’ can be all it takes to land an important client or close a huge deal. Or at least get through the door to be able to pitch a new prospect. Generally, the importance of strong ties increases as we progress in the sales process. At the prospecting stage, though, weak ties can prove to be of great value. They typically act as connectors to other social groups, opening new worlds of opportunity to hungry sales people. If we only relied on strong ties, we’d always be simmering in the same juice – talking to the same people about the same stuff. In the social economy world that we live in today, weak ties are critical to getting access to important information early on, finding work and winning new business. So when prospecting, tap into your social networks to make those weak ties work for you – don’t be shy to ask for introductions or recommendations; only by extending your reach beyond the first ‘layer’ of friends can you generate new leads and discover new nuances of influence.
Polish your sales scriptThere are so many no-nos when it comes to writing a good sales script that I’m tempted to jump straight into listing the most common mistakes. A poor sales script would typically entail the following:
- It’s sketchy about who you are and why you’re calling. The goal is to ‘get through’ rather than to have a proper conversation.
- It’s a hideous monolog. Aim to ask lots of questions to connect with prospects early on and avoid talking at people.
- It paraphrases what the prospect does instead of showcasing your knowledge of their pains and struggles. Focus on telling the prospects how you can help rather than what they do.
- Who are you?
- Why are you calling?
- How does the prospect benefit?
- What are you asking for?
- Relate: demonstrate your understanding.
- Bridge the gap: make it easy for them to move forward by offering new information.
- Ask again: cement their commitment.
Qualify leadsA study by HubSpot found that the best three lead sources for B2B companies are SEO (14%), email marketing, (13%), and social media (12%). Image Source: HubSpot However, before you put a lead generation process in place, take some time to think about and clearly define what a “good lead” means to you and your business. It’s best to set specific criteria that will help you identify and qualify leads for your business, as with the vast variety of terms being used to describe the same thing (prospect, lead, suspect, opportunity, etc.), sales and marketing teams often struggle to communicate effectively. Agree what criteria a lead needs to meet to qualify and stick to that throughout the entire process. That lead qualification is a vital part of B2B sales confirm these self-explanatory statistics:
- 73% of all leads are not sales-ready. (Marketing Sherpa)
- 96% of your website visitors are not ready to buy. (Marketo)
- The biggest challenge for 61% of B2B marketers is generating high-quality leads. (B2B Marketing Community)
- What is your Budget?
- Who has the Authority to make the decision?
- Do you have a Need for this solution?
- What’s your implementation Timeline?
CloseA study by CEB showed that an average B2B buyer is 57% through the buying decision before engaging with a salesperson. That’s a massive change since the days when buyers used to rely thoroughly on the information and help from sales reps needed to make a decision. To be relevant and useful in the newly established buying processed, salespeople must find a way how to provide more value and assist customers during their journey. Image source: Pexels That’s why HubSpot insist that BANT isn’t good enough and have therefore given it an upgrade. GPCTBA/C&I is a process HubSpot have developed internally to be used during an exploratory call. Here’s a breakdown of this three-part framework.
- GPCT (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline). The first opportunity for a sales rep to establish herself as an advisor is at the Goals stage. Ask about their and the company’s goals, priorities for the year and revenue objectives. You want to identify quantifiable goals that your prospect needs to reach and provide help if the goals need resetting or quantifying. The next stage is Plans where you should start assessing the prospect’s plan for hitting their goals and their chances of implementing it. The Challenges stage is where the sales rep should try to seize the day and figure out what keeps the prospects from reaching their goal. This is when you can determine whether your product or service is the right solution for the prospect. Timeline is obviously focused on figuring out timing and determining whether it is the right time to offer your solution.
- BA (Budget & Authority). Once you finish qualifying the lead using the GPCT approach, it’s time to start talking about how the prospects will make the decision and what budget the money will come out of. Budget is the critical part where you learn what your prospect’s financial capabilities are and whether you’ll be able to offer a solution. Then move on to establishing the decision maker and go through GPCT with them if it’s a different person.
- C&I (Negative Consequences and Positive Implications). The last stage will focus on establishing your value proposition. Find out what will happen when your prospects reach or don’t reach their goals and how your product can be of value to them.