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Do You Look Forward to a Cold Call?
9 Steps to a Sales Makeover

December 2014
Colleen McKenna is a LinkedIn specialist, a speaker with Vistage International, and the principal of Intero Advisory, helping business professionals use technology to grow their business. Contact her at colleen@interoadvisory.com or www.linkedin/in/colleenmckenna.

Colleen McKenna is a LinkedIn specialist, a speaker with Vistage International, and the principal of Intero Advisory, helping business professionals use technology to grow their business. Contact her at colleen@interoadvisory.com or www.linkedin/in/colleenmckenna.

For many companies cold calling remains the backbone of their sales process. At any company, there are enough people onsite (preferably the CEO, business owner or president), someone is bound to answer, have a conversation, schedule a meeting and buy something.

How many of those key decision makers have time to answer an unsolicited phone call? How many of those decision makers wake up looking forward to talking to people they don’t know about things they don’t consider relevant to their business? A small number, if any.

The sales process takes longer today especially for “solutions” and complex services. Buyers control the process through their own research and network. On average more than five people are involved in a B2B sale. And 90 percent just don’t respond to a call.

The irony? The same people who don’t answer the cold calls that fill their inbox and voice mail still think it’s an effective sales strategy for their company and that people should be interested in their products and services. How is it that leaders haven’t realized just how much the sales process has changed? Why haven’t they adapted their strategy and process to better realize sales success?

I listen carefully to what CEOs, business owners and leaders say. I look for patterns so that I can better understand how to answer their questions, pinpoint and fill their gaps. When I consider why they are so slow to change, it usually comes down to one or more of the following:
• Short-sighted vision
• Fear of what they don’t know
• Foggy strategy and process

It rarely comes down to resources and budget. Most leaders will find a way to provide their team with the resources they need if they believe there will be a return on the investment.

Leaders need to take the time to understand the tools and processes that can update and refine their sales initiatives. They need to identify internal or external resources to educate them on the options. They need to remain open-minded and they need to create a permission to fail culture. They need to embrace the irrefutable fact that we live in a networked, social world. Their activity in this area is not judge and jury, it’s, in fact, irrelevant.

McKennaGraphicIt tends to be acceptable to say year after year, “sales are off,” “our sales people are not as effective as they used to be” or “we have a sales gap,” instead of “let’s try re-examining what is and isn’t working,” “let’s plot out a new plan and test it,” or “let’s identify people whose skills match the research, networking and business building we need to meet our goals.”

Stop the madness before a new year rolls around. Position your 2015 to be different.
1. Decide to retool toward selling in a social world.
2. Carve out time with your managers, marketing and sales people to understand:
a. current sales reality
b. potential reality
c. competitive landscape
d. gaps to fill
e. immediate, mid-term and long-term steps to close the gap
3. Write it down.
4 .Identify a champion to lead the charge (this person must have a vision, be creative, willing to pilot new tactics, be highly accountable).
5. List the plan.
6. Start somewhere.
7. Provide immediate feedback.
8. Study the feedback.
9. Tweek and continue to test the process.

Nine simple steps that will be at points, painful and frustrating. Hold tight though. The return on the investment will surface and a better marketing and sales process will strengthen the team and the company financially, culturally and mentally. Employees will see themselves as winners, relevant and strong in a chaotic, ever-changing business environment.

Move from cold outreach to a tailored, networked sales strategy. Remember, sales is social; it’s people engaging with people. I95

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