Storytelling in Sales: Notes from Prezi Podcast “The Narrative”

My friends at Prezi invited me to join them for an episode of The Narrative. It’s a podcast aimed to expose the power of storytelling in business.

I sat down with host David Hooker to share my approach to storytelling in sales and sales development.

This piece is not a transcript of the episode. Instead, it’s a supplement filled with insights and actions to get you thinking about narratives and how to better craft them. It’s incredible how often stories are needed.

Consider these examples:

  • How well does your LinkedIn profile complement (not repeat) your resume? What’s your story for how you add value to an organization?
  • How do you, or how does your team, broadcast its results? How do you highlight the journey of going from x to y?
  • Why would a live audience, especially one comprised of prospects, want to listen to your presentation? How can they relate to your theme? What’s in it for them and how can they apply what you’re telling them?
  • How do you tell prospects – in a fast, brief phone conversation – it’s worth their time to keep talking with you?

Like it or not, you’re always telling a story. The question is, are you good at it? If you are, how do you stay sharp? If you’re not, how do you improve? 

David and I chat about what I’ve seen work in my career. Take a listen. If you like the episode (it’s Episode #2, by the way) share it with others.

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Show notes from Episode #2 of The Narrative

00:51 Introduction from host David Hooker.

01:37 David asks about selling for United Parcel Service (UPS), where I started my sales career in 1994.

At UPS, I was a “back door salesman” for close to six years. Most sales calls happened in the shipping area, which is typically located in the back of the building.

My learning experience at UPS was rich. It became the bedrock for my understanding of sales, management, customer service, and leadership.

While I was at UPS, the company continually raised the standards of the sales force in many ways. From how we dressed (women and men wore business suits) to how we communicated (daily huddles), we illustrated a high-caliber operation.

We opened team meetings by reading and reflecting on excerpts from the UPS Policy Book. Reading aloud our commitment to integrity, values, and management philosophies really set the tone for serving the marketplace. What does your company or team’s policy book say? What’s your mission?

The entire sales team received subscriptions to Selling Power magazine. Issues simply arrived in my mailbox each month. I could’ve thrown them out or read them from cover to cover: I chose the latter. I read and applied tips from Editor-in-Chief Gerhard Gschwandtner and contributor Jeffrey Gitomer, both of whom I later met (and keep learning from).

Covers from the now legendary Selling Power magazine.

As UPS salespeople, we were also immersed in Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling methodology. We applied lessons from the book, from classes, and from exercises that earned us certifications.

Finally, we were given a series of books titled Our Partnership Legacy. The books (I still own three of the five) captured talks given by UPS founders and executives at management conferences. The transcripts underscored the obligation leaders have to serve their customers, people, and communities. Pure gold for students of business, leadership, and storytelling.

02:23 Has storytelling been present throughout my career? Was I telling stories as I walked through the back door?

Storytelling has been around since the dawn of humankind. It’s not going anywhere either.  Of course, I’d have stories for my customer visits, but the story was about the customer, not me or my company.

For example, I might have said:

“Remember my last visit, when you were telling me about that band you liked? Well, I just read they’re releasing a new record this summer. The second it’s out, I’m bringing you a copy. In a Rolling Stone article, the lead vocalist felt they showed grace under pressure by finishing the record before going way over budget. The last time I visited, you were dealing with tight deadlines for that shipment to New York. I drew up a few options for streamlining it next time. Let’s grab a few minutes to walk through them.”    

Kevin Avery from Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) suggests we “tell stories that compel your customers to act by answering the key question, “Why change?” Sometimes buyers will change just so they can work with you. When you establish rapport and credibility, become a trusted advisor, and they like you, it could serve as the catalyst for them to move forward with your offering.

Check out SBI’s Guide to Better Storytelling.

Frame stories using the Guide to Better Storytelling

03:01 Has the need to tell stories to prospects changed over the past two decades?

No. There are just different ways to tell stories today. In fact, two decades ago, we were sowing the seeds for how we tell stories today.

Channels for storytelling have evolved since the 1990’s when you think about the internet, reality television, and 24/7 news becoming mainstream. Watch this discussion with Vanity Fair’s editor, David Friend. He talks with former White House Press Secretary, Dee Dee Myers, and filmmaker, Judd Apatow, about how storytelling has grown over the past two decades.

03:28 As a sales leader, how do you get the importance of storytelling through to a large-scale, global team?

People learn differently. Delivering a message to a team of people located across the globe requires mindfulness of geography, language, culture, and learning styles. The Memletics Learning Style (Memory + Athletics = Memletics) trains your brain, like athletes train for competition. 

Accommodate people’s learning styles by delivering messages in different formats. For example, while you listen (aural) to this podcast episode, you’re reading (verbal) my detailed show notes, clicking the links I’ve shared, looking at images (visual) in this post, and sharing your comments (social) below. 🙂

There are seven Memletic Styles of learning.

Gary Vaynerchuk calls this “content on content on content.” The next time an update is sent to your team, especially a critical one, perhaps it’s broadcasted on an All Hands call + by email + in a video clip + from a laminated 3×5 card left on everyone’s desk + by text or WhatsApp.

One time our marketing operations (MOPs) team updated our inbound lead statuses and service level agreements (SLAs). To ensure the change was communicated and adopted by our global team of sales development reps (SDRs), the MOPs team made the announcement at our company’s annual sales kickoff (SKO) meeting. It was an opportune time since every SDR was attending SKO.

As part of the announcement, the MOPs team slipped a laminated 8×10 of the new lead statuses and SLAs into large red envelopes. An envelope was then slid under the hotel room door of every SDR.

An effective way to deliver news to your team is to hand deliver it.

News of the lead status updates traveled fast, was seen by all stakeholders, and was memorable. It was a tangible, physical way of delivering the story.

04:32 Are new hires, especially ones just starting their sales careers, aware of the power of storytelling?

It depends. Whether new hires are aware or not, their sales leader must integrate storytelling into the experience.

Effective leaders direct teams by starting with the why. “The company is on a healthy trajectory towards an IPO. A healthy IPO places us prominently in the market, enables the public to invest in our (and our customers’) success, and expands our ecosystem so we help a broader audience.”

Leaders then tell how it’ll get done. “Let’s aim to produce 2x the opportunities currently in the pipeline by end-of-year. We’ll tweak the qualification criteria, implement a deliberate prospecting campaign against specific target accounts, involve several different teams, and add one hour to each workday to execute our plan.”

Finally, leaders will explain what is happening. “Everyone, our team is hyper-focused on creating 2x the opportunities we have in our pipeline. Unless you’re working with them to accomplish this goal, let them do their thing.”

An easy way to consider this approach is by learning about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle:

Hey Salesperson: WHY go with you? HOW does it help me? WHAT changes for me?

05:29 What does “learning the hard way” look like when getting storytelling wrong?

Telling a story goes wrong when it’s not persuasive, doesn’t have a proper beginning-middle-end, doesn’t have a conflict that’s resolved (or on its way to resolution), or doesn’t introduce a protagonist and antagonist.

Another way stories go wrong, especially in business, is when data is improperly used or misrepresented. As this Harvard Business Review article explains, “quantitative information is uniquely able to capture attention, convey a story visually and bolster your credibility.”

Say you’re a sales development leader, presenting year-over-year (YoY) pipeline contribution figures to your company’s sales leaders (your #1 customers). It’s assumed you own your business within the business and are fully aware of key performance indicators. Yet, you often rely on your operations team to “check the math” and provide the actual figures.

Now it’s time for the final QBR of the year, where you present in front of the sales leaders. If you mistakenly tell the sales leaders your team grew pipeline 88% YoY, but it was really HALF that, you’ve got a problem. In an instant, you risk losing credibility, rapport, and respect. The damage could be systemic, too, as your team’s credibility is also in question.

That’s how storytelling can go wrong.

Former Dell executive, Jim Stikeleather, shares tips for mitigating this risk. When using data to tell a story, it’s important to:

  1. Find the compelling narrative. Ask yourself, “Is there really a story to tell?”
  2. Think about your audience. What does the audience know about the topic, and how well do they know it?
  3. Be objective and offer balance. This comes from alternative representations and showing visualizations devoid of bias.
  4. Don’t censor. Don’t be selective about the data you include or exclude.
  5. Edit, edit, edit! Really work to explain the data, not decorate it.

06:09 What’s the worst story I’ve told or heard told?

I tell the story of a phone call I got at work one day. A sales development rep called to thank me for attending his company’s conference and sell me on his product offering.

He hadn’t done any research prior to the call. Hence, he missed that I was a speaker at the conference and was also connected to several of the company’s executives. If he invested time to learn about me the call would’ve gone well. Alas, that wasn’t the case. I ended up writing about it here.

An effective way to make phone calls conversational is by asking great questions. While yes/no questions are powerful when used at the right time, open-ended questions are the way to go.

Remember to “create space” in your conversations, for the other person to process the dialogue and respond in kind. The best conversation starters and open-ended questions come from Barry Rhein’s Selling Through Curiosity program.

07:37 A good story, then, is a two-way street? Where questions are asked and there’s a conversation? And preparation is key?

Get good at writing. Outline sales conversations before they happen. The better acquainted you are with when you’re at the beginning, middle, and end, the easier it is to navigate and establish conversation flow.

Let’s go back to the sales rep who called me after his company’s conference. If he outlined how he wanted the conversation to go, but also kept in mind how it could go, the call would’ve likely gone well.

See the conversation first in your mind. Guide the prospect through it like a sherpa, knowing where the key questions will surface, knowing how it will likely play out.

10:38 A big portion of a salesperson’s work is preparation, right? From lead qualification to putting the right person on the right account in the right territory, isn’t preparation something good salespeople have done for a long time?

Preparation is imperative, but here’s the catch: Don’t spend too much time preparing and not executing or taking action.

11:25 What kind of impact are you seeing with sales reps that have a good conversation flow?

The best sales reps actually have a story to tell. Take a face-to-face meeting, for example. Reps who establish flow keep things simple. They may mirror and match the person they’re speaking with by tilting their head in the same direction or crossing their arms at the same time.

Looking people in the eyes will never get old, in terms of authenticity. Author Leil Lowndes, in her book How to Talk to Anyone, suggests the “Sticky Eyes” technique:

“Pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s with sticky warm taffy. Don’t break eye contact, even after he or she has finished speaking. When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey taffy until the tiny string finally breaks.”

Address people by their name. In his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

13:05 Tell us about the five barriers.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen salespeople at all levels fail because of one or all of these obstacles. I’ve even experienced it myself. Not fun.

The five barriers are:

  1. Obscurity
  2. Lack of Focus
  3. Inactivity
  4. No Conversation Flow
  5. Failure to Keep Improving

Lack of conversation flow (and storytelling) can have serious consequences. For salespeople, it can stunt career growth, damage relationships with field reps, and prevent your company from landing new customers.

16:19 What’s your advice for salespeople on what tools to use at pivotal points in the sales process, when they must transfer their idea to the prospect?

Sooner rather than later, salespeople need to stop talking and start showing. Most feel limited in how to show their offering or sell their idea.

The traditional slide presentation can put people to sleep. It comes with monotonous bullet points, old school bar charts and graphs, and poorly combined color schemes. A-player reps leverage the strengths of their marketing colleagues or become architects in building killer, compelling presentations.

There’s a number of tools to use in addition to Prezi and other presentation programs. None will work well for you until you embrace all components of a great presentation:

  • Keep things simple: font, text, bullets
  • Use high-resolution, crisp images
  • Create flow with transitions
  • Empower color schemes and palettes

There is a science and an art to selling – this is the art part. Consider your presentation’s aesthetics! For example, let’s talk about colors.

Use a color scheme generator or the color wheel as a guide for complementing colors and setting the mood.

Smart color choices are potent. Choose wisely. (Graphic: Bull Marketing)

Effective sales reps help prospects engineer a vision of the Promised Land (what GREAT looks like). Visual presentations serve as an extension of the sales rep, as a conduit for conveying the rep’s offering or idea. When you’ve got your prospect’s attention, take advantage of it by keeping things simple, tending to the details, and making the presentation pop.

18:22 Companies invest millions of dollars in lead generation, account intelligence, tools, and technology. However, there’s always a reliance on salespeople to produce the magic in the moment. Shouldn’t companies invest more in enabling the salespeople in those moments?

Last I checked, businesses were comprised of people. Therefore, companies must ensure their salespeople develop people skills. Tap into the power of influence to create win-win situations.

Robert Cialdini introduced six principles for us to reference when persuading others:

  1. Reciprocation – be the first to give, give to get
  2. Scarcity – the rule of the rare, exclusive features and offers
  3. Authority – showing and knowing, illustrating credibility and rapport
  4. Consistency – the starting point, sequential success
  5. Liking – making friends to influence people
  6. Consensus – people proof, people power

Draw on these principles when telling your story, especially about how your offering will solve your prospects’ problems. Ideally, you’ll arrive at a point where your presentation accomplishes these six principles on its own.

19:50 The stereotypical sales presentation connotes a drab, dry vibe, unless the salesperson is on.

Craft presentations that resonate, whether you’re presenting them yourself or they’re doing it on their own. One of the best guides to achieving high level presenting is the book Resonate by Nancy Duarte (download it here for free).

In it, Nancy implores you to ask “How badly do I want my idea to live?” Answer that question and you’ll light a fire within yourself to frame-up – and deliver – a presentation that’s nails.

When presenting in front of an audience, never fail from the front of the room. Break the fourth wall by walking into and among the audience members. Put your hand on the presentation screen, place deliberate inflections in your speech to emphasize points, and make it conversational.

Engaging your audience is tougher to do online, which puts more weight on the presentation to live on its own. Video is an exceptional alternative. No matter what channel you choose, preparation is imperative and the aim is to resonate.

21:35 The role of visuals is getting more important. What are examples of staying coherent, compelling, and interesting in a digital world?

Geofilters are overlays on Snapchat and Instagram Stories that allow viewers to feel like they’re there with you. Filters enable story creators to add the outdoor temperature, or the location, or an emoji to give depth and emotion to their visuals.

Did you see the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio? While the bossa nova classic, “Girl from Ipanema” played, model Gisele Bundchen dazzled the crowd with a catwalk across the entire stadium.

As she walked to the soundtrack of the song, the audience cheered and sang the lyrics. Each of Gisele’s steps left a fluid, trace of light beneath her, giving millions of viewers at home a sharp impression of the country’s spirit.

So, what’s your story?

Stories often follow arcs. A theme is exposed, which lifts towards a climax and tumbles downward to resolution. The same applies to your own storytelling evolution. Keep that 5th barrier in mind and never stop learning. All the resources are there if you just look for them.

Thanks to the team at Prezi for having me on The Narrative and waving the storytelling flag.

Salespeople, Don’t Ignite All Your Fireworks at Once

There once was an annual fireworks show in San Diego that encountered a major malfunction.  All 7,000 fireworks blew off at once, with the ‘show’ ending in less than a minute.

Often times, sales reps light all their fireworks at once, too.  Without investing time and energy in researching or engaging their audience, salespeople unleash an arsenal of ambiguous noise about their company, their products, and themselves.

You hear it in their 80-second voicemail messages. They do it in online presentations, while you have the mute button on. It’s spelled out in their three-paragraph emails.  You see and smell it from a mile away.

And when fireworks like that are over, you just roll-up your blanket, pack your bag and head home. Maybe the next show will include space between each explosion, allowing you time to adore, process, and absorb the value.

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The Zen of Thank You Cards

You are blessed.  If you’re a professional reading this article, you represent the Top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people.  You are surrounded by opportunity and should take none of it for granted.

1734958Living with an attitude of gratitude, and acting on it, will infuse more joy, respect, and awareness into the business world, and into your life.

When is the last time you sent a thank you card to someone?

Keep a box of blank thank you cards nearby; in a desk drawer, in your bag or purse, or your car.

When to Send Thank You Cards

There’s rarely an unacceptable, inappropriate time to send a thank you card.  However, make sure to send one after:

  • Face-to-face interviews (every person that interviews you should receive one)
  • Productive sales calls (that are in-person, by phone, or online)
  • Successful chats with an exec admin or anyone that puts you in touch with a targeted contact
  • Events sponsored by a business or person (send it to the sponsor, as well as the host)
  • Acquiring new customers (start that long relationship now, on a positive note – pun intended)
  • Losing a customer (thank them for their business, then make things better so they’ll return)

 

What to Say

It’s the gesture that counts, so write a brief note.  Think about slipping a gift card in there, too.  It always brings a little excitement when the gift card falls out of the thank you card.

In just three lines, you can say something like:

  • Thanks for this opportunity.  I appreciate your time.  Look forward to working with you.
  • Powerful advice & feedback.  I brought it right to my team.  Thanks for sharing with me.
  • The event was fantastic!  Met a ton of great people.  Thanks for hosting (or sponsoring).
  • Thanks for your business!  Here’s to many years together.  I’ll talk with you soon.
  • Such a fun time.  Thanks for including me.  Next time, dinner’s on me!

Where to Buy Thank You Cards

It takes minutes of your time, but leaves a lasting impression on the recipient.  It also demonstrates that you’re mindful of others and on top of your game.  A handwritten thank you note makes everyone feel good.

7 Sales Tips for Prospecting & Cold Calling (Part 3 of 3)

A final excerpt from 21 Sales Tips for Prospecting, Cold Calling, & Social Selling – webinar presented on May 7, 2013.
Representing InsideView, Ralph presented with Steve Richard of Vorsight, & Jamie Shanks of Sales for Life.

TIP #7 is the most important:  To practice CANI!  It’s an acronym for Constant and Never-Ending Improvement.

Work On Your SELF Harder than You Work on Your Job  
The Japanese word for this exercise is kaizen; it’s called Six Sigma at successful companies like GE; and in life, it’s simply modeling the best at your craft, achieving small goals each day, and measuring your progress along the way.

7100310If you plan to bolster your sales career, and you’ve decided that THIS is your profession, then you must aspire to master it.

Awaken the student within you.  Absorb as much information as you can.  You have the same amount of time each day as the greatest minds — take advantage of it.

What Were the Last Five Books You Read?  The Last Two?

  • Were they books about sales, sales management, business processes, or personal development?  Attitude, creativity,  execution, and all that encompasses sales?
  • What podcasts are you listening to?
  • What YouTube videos are you watching?
  • What blogs are you following?
  • How active are you in your industry’s associations?

Here are some books to consider, that are all under $12:

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When You’re Not Training, Your Competitors Are
And when you ARE training, your competitors are.  Build your sweat equity, so that you can differentiate yourself.  Commit to CANI! — to Constant and Never-Ending Improvement.

7 Sales Tips for Prospecting & Cold Calling (Part 2 of 3)

A second excerpt from 21 Sales Tips for Prospecting, Cold Calling, & Social Selling – a webinar presented on May 7, 2013.  Representing InsideView, Ralph presented with Steve Richard of Vorsight, & Jamie Shanks of Sales for Life.

TIP #4 is to send pre-emptive emails.  Alerting your prospect that you plan to call them, during a stated window of time, increases your (and their) options.

YOUR PROSPECT’S OPTIONS

  • Prepare for your call, now that they know it’s coming.
  • Reach out to the exec whose name was mentioned in your email, to find out if you’re legit.
  • Visit Google and gather some intel on YOU.  (Googling your name yields value-added results, right?)
  • Respond with a better time for you to call.
  • Respond that they’re not interested in taking your call (hopefully explaining why).
  • Forward your message to a more appropriate person.
  • Ignore your message.  (This will happen if it’s poorly written, too long, or if it lacks relevant info.)

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YOUR OPTIONS

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare.
  • Find 3 points of research that you will actually use in the call.  Learn more about 3×3 research here.
  • Craft 2 brief emails:  One to (re)confirm the call, if they respond; one to offer more value, if they don’t.
  • Schedule the call on your calendar, so you don’t miss (or forget) the window of opportunity.
  • Save the email as a template for other prospects, especially if it’s successful.

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TIP #5 is to attract prospects to you.  The late Jim Rohn said that “success is something you attract by becoming an attractive person.”

If you bring value to the marketplace, you will become valuable.  Your prospects will seek you out vs. the other way around.  Your reputation will precede you.

Examples to consider:

  • Promote and host a webinar with industry experts and share best practices
  • Present a relevant topic at your industry association meetings
  • Start a blog and write useful articles
  • Film yourself discussing tips and techniques with your peers, and upload it to YouTube
  • Record a podcast and have your best customer join you on an episode
  • Tweet (and retweet) powerful articles, videos, or status updates

Jamie Shanks and Steve Richard, shown below, demonstrate these examples well.  Google them and you’ll see.

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TIP #6 is to make rapid-fire calls.  If your organization manages a large volume of inbound leads, you no longer need to manually dial them all.  Technologies offered by ConnectAndSell, ConnectLeader, InsideSales.com, and others manage the dialing for you.

There’s a scene in the film The Pursuit of Happyness where homeless stockbroker, Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) finds a way to get through large lists of phone numbers — he never hangs up the phone!

He also calls CEOs and gets right through the gatekeeper.  Watch…

The days of crossing out names on a call list are over.  Check out one of the aforementioned solutions.  Note that you still need to research before calling.  You should also sort by title, industry, event, etc. which drives a consistent talk track.

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Part 3 will follow, but no need to wait.  Nothing should stop you from applying these tips today.

7 Sales Tips for Prospecting & Cold Calling (Part 1 of 3)

An excerpt from 21 Sales Tips for Prospecting, Cold Calling, & Social Selling – a webinar presented on May 7, 2013.
Representing InsideView, Ralph presented with Steve Richard of Vorsight, & Jamie Shanks of Sales for Life

The term “cold calling” is real.  It exists.  It’s completely preventable, though.  If you are looking to engage prospects for your business, connect with valuable, relevant reasons.  Applying these 7 tactics to your prospecting efforts can help.  When done right, and done consistently, you will eliminate the term “cold calling” from your vocabulary.

TIP #1 is to automate your outreach.  Mail programs like Microsoft Outlook and Boomerang allow users to send messages whenever they’d like.  If you’re a user of Hotmail or Yahoo! check out LetterMeLater.For example, you’re going through your inbox at 2:37am and want to respond to your prospect’s message.  When they awake later that morning, your message will get deleted with the spam (89% of their messages) that also arrived in the wee hours.

Instead, your message could arrive at 7am, or on a weekend afternoon, when they’ll likely READ the email.

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TIP #2 is to use three sentences in your emails (no more than five).  The average professional receives 115 emails a day, and reads 43% of them from their phone.

If you send a novel of an email, it’ll get trashed, skipped for “later viewing” (which won’t happen), or partially read.  People have time to read texts and tweets, so write brief, concise emails.

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TIP #3 is to have sales intelligence pushed to you.  Sales reps and account managers have overwhelming amounts of data and insights available to them, but they waste time gathering it.

If they, instead, used an intelligence offering like InsideView, key insights would get pushed to them via email or right within their CRM.  And the email would contain the essentials:  leadership changes, new product offerings, earnings, expanding operations, etc.  Try out InsideView’s free offering here.

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Parts 2 & 3 of this article will follow.  In the meantime, work smart by putting these three tips into practice.

The Secrets of Prospecting Ninjas

This article was originally posted to the InsideView Blog on March 4, 2013.  
It followed a webinar that Jill and Ralph hosted on February 26, 2013.

Ninjas are experts in ninjutsu, which is a technique in espionage.  Espionage is the practice of collecting information and gathering intelligence.

 

4935005Today’s sales world requires superior, relevant, and timely information about prospective accounts and key contacts.  To master this effort, salespeople should model the ninjas.

Jill Konrath is recognized across the globe as an expert sales strategist.  Last week, Jill teamed up with InsideView to broadcast a webinar and share theSecrets of Prospecting Ninjas:

PROSPECTING NINJAS HAVE MAXIMUM IMPACT

  • They slash time to the initial meeting
  • They chop months off your sales cycle
  • They eliminate competitors
  • They catch the incumbent sleeping
  • They prove themselves to be a worthy resource

PROSPECTING NINJAS ACCOMPLISH THESE FEATS BASED ON INSIGHTS

Salespeople that have insights on their prospects have an advantage.  According to Craig Elias, the creator of Trigger Event Selling, insights from company and people alerts see a 24%-32% lift in response rates.

Insights and intelligence must come from thorough (but smart) research.  InsideView harvests critical insights on companies, buyers, connections, and industries, to name a few.

Once you gain insights on…      Make sure to also uncover…
The company                                How did it perform last year?  The last 5 years?
The buyer(s)                                 What recent purchases did the company make?  How?
Your connections                          Do you or does a colleague already know the prospect?
The industry                                 What challenges does it face?  What trends does it experience?

Jill makes The Buyer’s Matrix available online and in her most recent book, SNAP Selling, to guide salespeople through the buying process.  You can download The Buyer’s Matrix here:  http://bit.ly/how-to-prospect.

PROSPECTING NINJAS USE TRIGGER EVENTS

Trigger events are internal or external changes that influence an organization’s priorities.  When trigger events occur, and you’re aware of them, they can bring forth big opportunities for you.  Jill unveiled some common trigger events, and highlighted what InsideView calls “smart agents:”

Trigger events…Uncover “tells”…Leadership changesNew decision maker might mean new strategy & new prioritiesEarnings resultsPoor earnings might create opportunity for your offeringCompetitive movesCompanies don’t like to be beat by their competitorsNew strategic initiativesInitiatives often come with urgency that could expedite buying cycles
NINJAS USE A FORMULA

When the rubber meets the road, prospectors must engage with relevance.  This means that messaging must be right on point — whether done via email, voicemail, by phone, or in person.  A study by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business uncovered that 92% of prospects do not answer their phones or emails.

PROSPECTING NINJAS SEND KILLER MESSAGES

Using newly-captured insights, and knowing the right person to contact, ninjas:

  • Build credibility
  • Pique curiosity
  • Close graciously

And guess what?  Prospecting ninjas get responses to their messages!

NINJAS DON’T QUIT

The business world constantly changes, often by the hour.  Unless you keep your finger on the pulse – by monitoring insights, leveraging connections, and watching for trigger events – the prospecting ninjas will leave you behind.

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