In Hollywood, many films are based on true stories. Don’t let your revenue pipeline be one of them.
There are 3 macro criteria you should be looking at now (and a few subsets thereof) to determine if your revenue pipeline has enough in it to hit your goals for 2021. Listen in to this video for a description of each, and make plans to adjust if there needs to be more in development.

To say the last year has been odd is a gross understatement. There are so many things happening domestically and globally that we haven’t seen before; we will spare you the exercise of naming them all. For us, the most relevant and pressing issue for our customers and prospects is the radical shift in buying that the Work from Home (WFH) environment has created.

So, what have you done about it? As a sales or commercial leader, you’re doing your best to keep your team focused while they can’t (for the most part) jump on an airplane to see customers or prospects face-to-face. As sellers and other front-line employees in customer facing roles (CFRs) (which include sales, marketing, technical specialists, product development, customer service, project managers, etc.) you are working to get the attention of prospects and keep momentum for deals that used to move through reasonably quickly.

The new buying behavior can be fragmented and frustrating for both buyers and sellers. And the conduit to it all is virtual which relies on your ability to navigate relevant technology platforms like Zoom, TEAMS, GoTo Meeting, Google Hangouts, etc. The word we have received from buyers and sellers is that it’s a mixed bag of good and bad on how well the technology is being understood and used. The meetings that you’re conducting with your internal teams are often the same—some attendees are plugged in and ready, while others need to ramp up their participation and stop multitasking during calls.

Our Virtual Selling Effectiveness (VSE) workshop is designed to help improve the use of technology to connect in the scenarios described above, as well as others.  There are several things that hosts and attendees can do before, during, and after the meetings to increase the overall effectiveness. How well you and your teams are able to manage this new (ab)normal is a large factor in your overall success.

No one knows when we will return to “normal” (I both love that phrase and also have NO idea what it really means). But the ability to embrace and utilize virtual communication is here to stay, regardless of when we are back in our offices huddling around water coolers again. Now’s your opportunity to take the time to make sure you and your team get this right.

An excerpt from San Diego Voyager Magazine.

 

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Flannery Sales Systems, LCC – What should we know?

At a cocktail party or BBQ I say we do Sales Training. What we really do is help our customers to refine and implement a repeatable process to drive revenue. If I say the latter at a social event, people walk away (joking). But if I am speaking with a Commercial Leader of a mid to large size organization, they get it.

Because the work we do is fundamental to the tactical execution of the GoTo Market strategy. And companies spend millions on getting their strategy right. We help our customers to improve the quality of the Sales opportunities they develop, and to increase the overall revenue in their pipeline. All Sales organizations are focused on this, and we enable it with a skills-based program that is custom built for our customers based on the markets they compete in and how organizations BUY, not how they should be selling.

Sales effectiveness is about understanding buying, not refining your sales pitch. The source of pride for us is twofold. First, we have helped the individuals in our customers’ organizations to improve their success. This is important monetarily, but even more so when you hear the effect it has on their families – that makes my heart sing.

And second, there are seven customers who have come back to buy from us again: four have bought from us twice, and three have done so 3 times. It may not be seen like a lot, but we only have 3-4 customers at a time and have worked with 56 overall, so the repeat business says we are doing something right.

What sets us apart is our team. I know that may seem trite or overused, but people buy from people, and we have super individuals at FSS who make the difference.

Flannery Sales Systems is pleased to announce its affiliation with Chris Bullick and Cathedral Consults.  Cathedral is a startup consultancy providing sales coaching and training to insurance related organizations.  Chris brings over 25 years of experience to the consulting world. 

“I am very excited to join with John Flannery and his team.  The FSS’ platform is tried and tested, and has been a revenue driver for companies across many industries around the globe.”   

Chris will be conducting sales and coaching activities with a focus in the commercial insurance industry where he has spent his career.   Chris is a Paralegal, graduate of Penn State University and recipient of an MBA in Organizational Management from Eastern University.

 “We are thrilled to add Chris’ experience and skill set to the platform.  It will allow us to penetrate new markets where we feel there is a lot of runway,” said John Flannery. 

Flannery Sales Systems provides customized sales coaching and management training to sales teams that want to drive revenue.  They go beyond the traditional approach by implementing and reinforcing the sales process. 

It may be February, but we’re still at the beginning of 2021, and many sales executives are laser focused on filling their pipelines for the yearSuccessful sales leaders know that a pipeline filled with qualified opportunities is essential to building sustained and repeatable revenue results, which is ultimately the fuel that drives organizational success. 

But the path to get to a healthy pipeline is not necessarily well understood and includes a number of variables, including the talent of the sales reps, market shifts, government regulations, and the competitive landscape. Despite these factors, there is one element that remains constant – selling skills. In order to have sales reps who successfully fill the pipeline with qualified opportunities, they must know how to identify, qualify, develop opportunities. 

Most sales managers are well versed in deal coaching. This means they know how to help their reps assemble the right mix of product and pricing to meet a customer’s requirements. While this is important, it does not address the fundamental need to understand how well the rep has qualified the opportunity, identified key players, and aligned your product/service offerings to meet the prospect’s business objectives. Each of these three steps requires specific skills, and managers who help their reps improve these skills are ones that will see the biggest impact to their overall sales pipelines and year-end results. 

Want to understand what prevents your sales managers from prioritizing skills coaching? Check this article out. And Look here for tips on successful skills coaching strategies.  

Formerly, an elevator pitch was a short summary designed to describe your company or product.  As the name implies, it should be short enough that it can be delivered during the span of an elevator ride.

Why the brevity? The truth is that when you are “cold calling” into a prospect, ten to fifteen seconds is all you have to make an initial connection and get permission to continue the conversation. In light of this, it is critical that you can quickly establish trust and pique interest.

Today’s prospects are receiving so many incoming sales calls, that they are particularly wary of being “sold.” The old way of delivering your company’s message is no longer good enough.

Let’s take a look at how elevator pitches have traditionally been made and how they should evolve to become more effective in today’s selling environment.

The Old Elevator Pitch

The call starts with, “I’m Bob with XYZ Printing. How are you today?” 

The “clever” segue into the sales pitch, assuming we still have the prospect on the line, goes something like this.  “We’re the premier printing company in the area.  We’ve been serving the local market for over 20 years and have the most advanced digital printing equipment in the area.  Our specialty is quick turnaround and competitive pricing.  I’d like to set an appointment to meet with you to show you how we can save you time and money on your next printing project. Would Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning be better for you?”

Does that sound familiar?  It probably does and there are many problems with this approach:

  • “How are you today?”  Every telemarketer in the world starts the call by asking about the prospect’s “well-being.”  While this is an honest attempt at politeness, prospects know you don’t really care, so it comes across as insincere and makes you sound like a telemarketer.
  • The “compelling” pitch by the printing salesperson sounds like the other printing company that called the prospect yesterday.  They said they were the best in town and could save him or her time and money too.  Whom should he or she believe
  • “Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning?”  How many times have we heard that over-used alternative choice close?  Nearly every salesperson uses it.
  • The salesperson wants an appointment but doesn’t want to take the time to find out if there’s any pain.  This is the typical product pusher’s strategy and the prospect knows it.
  • The easy blow off that the prospect can, and often does, use is to say, “Just send me some information about it.”  And you know how sincere that request is.

The New, Improved Elevator Pitch

Never fear, there is a better way. Take a look at this new, improved approach.

This call starts with, “I’m Bob Smith with XZY Printing.  Thanks for taking my call.  Can I take about 20 seconds to tell you why I called, then you can tell me if we need to talk further?”

When you get permission, you say, “I’ll be brief, right to the point.  We’re one of the leading commercial printing companies in the area.  Typically companies switch to us because they’re upset with long turnaround times, concerned about the inconsistent quality of the final product, or frustrated that their printer can’t offer any creative ideas to improve the job.  Are any of these issues for you?”

Or, you may want to give a specific example of how you’ve helped a competitor with a specific pain, something like “We recently helped [competitor’s name] save $2,000 per month on printing fees and reduce their turnaround time to 48 hours. Is this something that would be helpful to your business?”

If the answer is affirmative, you then go on to explore the pain further.

If the answer is negative, you could conclude the call quickly by saying, “Sorry to have bothered you.  Have a good day.”  And make another call.  Remember, you’re trying to find that gold nugget quickly and not waste time with people who are not good prospects.

There are many benefits to this approach:

  • It’s different.
  • You won’t have done anything to destroy rapport.
  • You won’t sound like every other salesperson that calls.

Your ability to differentiate yourself in your initial call with a prospect will dramatically improve your success at developing new business. Try our new and improved elevator pitch for yourself and see how it works for you.

When a client engages us to help their sales staff, we often ask to interview their top performers. Our purpose is to decode their selling DNA and identify the markers that make them so successful. One common thing we’ve found is that top sales performers consistently help their customers to meet their objectives by selling business value.

There are three tactics these top sellers employ to establish value:

  1. Get to the cost of the problem today.  Buyers will face any number of problems. Great sales people help buyers define in totality all the costs those problems bring. The cost may be non-monetary like low morale or frustration, but costs that strike the bottom line are numbers that are heard by every person involved in making the buying decision. When you are the high-priced product in the market, it seems that every buyer asks about prices first. Great sellers shape and frame conversations around the costs of the buyer’s problems, not on the price of their solution.  
  2. Tell stories. Stories help the buyers discover for themselves the problems they are facing or the solutions that are needed. Great sales people have several stories, personal experiences that they share depending on the situation or desired outcome. They share stories when the conversation lulls and the buyer is unable to articulate problems.  Stories have purpose and you begin them by framing who they are about, their problem, a turning point, and a resolution. Stories not only get to problems, they can be used to describe how others use and derive business value from your products. 
  3. Summarize the conversation in writing. All sellers tell me that they create meeting summaries, but few do it well. We sell our services to many companies in different industries.  I am constantly referring to the meeting summary emails I’ve written as follow up after our conversations. These emails summarize the problems they are facing, the costs these problems are causing, the solutions we discussed and value of those solutions, and, of course, the next steps as discussed. This helps the customer and I keep the focus on the problems we are trying to solve. Great sales people don’t rely on memory.  They summarize the meeting conversations by writing it down, sharing it with the customer, and allowing the customer to give feedback.

Have you used any of these techniques to establish value in your sales process? Do you have others you use? We’d love to hear from you. Send us an email to john@drive-revenue.com

We participated with the entire Thomas Scientific Inc. team in Tampa, Florida this week in their high-energy, full steam ahead Sales Kickoff Meeting. 2020 will be a great year for this team, as they will go the extra mile as demonstrated by Vice President of Sales Kareem Dossa (pictured). The focus will remain on the customer, as they embrace their “Shifting to Growth” strategy. The Thomas Scientific Sales Process, built by our team with their Management, will be a key component to success. Go get ‘em!

Sales is a profession where so many variables come into play. The emotion of buyers and sellers, competing loyalties as to which is the “best” direction to go, and how to close the “big opportunity”. In his thematic song “Many Rivers to Cross”, Jimmy Cliff cites the trials and tribulations in life. How do we help sellers manage through this maze, and be consistent in orchestrating the outcomes?

We stick to The Core Concepts. Over the past 15 years, our customers and prospects have helped to validate the themes that they use to win. And we have consolidated this into the curriculum provided at our sales training sessions.

Have a look at the list we compiled here, and let us know your thoughts. Do you have any to add? Or would you edit what we embrace? Reply here to share.  

  1. Differentiate yourself by the way that you sell
  2. Focus on the customer’s business objective, not on your product/service
  3. Diagnose before you prescribe
  4. You gain credibility from the insights you provide & the questions you ask, not from the information you present
  5. People are best convinced by reasons they themselves discover
  6. Only the customer can validate your progress in the sales cycle
  7. Never make a concession without asking for one in return