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The Sales Review

Learn about emerging best practices, strategies and insights on B2B sales today dedicated for the modern sales organization.

From The Experts—Solutions To 5 Of Today's Typical Sales Problems

Posted by Julia Manoukian on Jan 20, 2017 2:22:52 PM

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quick-sales-fixes.jpgA few months ago, 72% of sales leaders and professionals told us their top priority was converting contacts and leads into customers. We also found out companies who use social selling consistently see 15% better conversion rates than those who do not have a consistent or measured approach.

solve-sales-problems.pngWe all know without a well-defined plan, it can be difficult to achieve your goals. Competing priorities, lack of resources and organization support can hinder development. Sometimes all you need is a bit of direction.

That’s why, thanks to HubSpot, we're bringing you these tips from top sales experts Jim Keenan, Kurt Shaver, Colleen Francis and Viveka von Rosen. Whether your problem is around creating conversations in the digital marketplace, getting responses on LinkedIn, or running a sales meeting, these strategies are things you can implement today, so you can get back on track with your sales goals and continue crushing quota well into the new year.

1) Problem: Salespeople are intimidated by content
Expert: Kurt Shaver, social selling expert and founder of The Sales Foundry
Solution: Use a three-stage process to build up confidence

Some salespeople are intimidated by the idea of sharing content on their social platforms. I suggest using a three-stage process so you can slowly build up confidence.

1) Start by sharing the content your company is producing. This includes blog posts, ebooks, newsletter updates, and so forth. This is an easy win, since everything is already tailored to your prospects’ interests.

2) Add industry content. Give people a reason to follow you specifically, rather than subscribing to your organization’s RSS feed or blog. Good sources include industry trade magazines, publications your prospects read, relevant white papers and research reports, etc.

3) Create original content. This step is pretty advanced, but it has a huge pay-off: You have your ear to the ground and can quickly pick up on common trends buyers are experiencing.

I also suggest reps pay attention to their individual social engagement metrics. Are there certain times of day that tend to generate more comments, likes, or reshares? Do certain types of content perform better than others? If you’re using LinkedIn, you can track your social selling score with the SSI Index -- it measures your performance against four main benchmarks.

2) Problem: Low response rates for LinkedIn messages
Expert: Viveka von Rosen, founder of Linked Into Business and author of "LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day"
Solution: Do your research, provide context and value

Salespeople should stop sending extremely long introduction messages on LinkedIn that are just about them and their product or service. I can't tell you how many copy-and-pasted sales letters I get on LinkedIn which have nothing to do with me or my business. Even if they did, these messages are so long and dense there's no way I'm going to read them.

If you are going to send an InMail or message on LinkedIn, please get to know your prospect first.

1) Look at their profile.

2) Identify that they are, in fact, a good prospect for your product or service.

3) Address something specific to their profile or content.

4) Use the message or InMail to ask for a phone call or a meeting – but keep it simple and value-rich.

Yes, it might take you a few more minutes -- but you have a much higher probability of your prospect actually engaging with you and trying your product or service if you take the time to research them.

Another practice that salespeople should retire in 2017 is connecting with a prospect on LinkedIn and automatically adding them to a newsletter or email list. When we connect on LinkedIn, we are only agreeing to connect. Connecting on LinkedIn is not tacit permission to fill buyers’ inboxes with irrelevant spam.

Sharing updates is quick and can go a long way toward driving traffic to your LinkedIn profile. Install the LinkedIn Sharing Bookmarklet, which allows you to share any article to LinkedIn in a matter of seconds.

Not every article you read online will have a LinkedIn sharing feature, so the extension makes it very easy for you to share valuable and relevant content as you come across it. The organic nature of those shares tends to reflect in more views and engagement.

Download the LinkedIn mobile app if you have not yet done so. LinkedIn’s mobile app has better analytics on update shares than the browser. Not only does it display how many people have engaged with your update, but it segments viewers by job titles, geography and top three companies. This can be extremely powerful – especially if you notice that multiple people from one of your accounts is looking at your update.

3) Problem: Your demos aren't getting traction 
Expert: Jim Keenan, CEO of A Sales Guy, Inc.
Solution: Seperate your discovery calls and demos, and only focus on MAX 4 pain points

Never give a demo or presentation without running a discovery call first. Everything you show the prospect in your demo should depend on what you learned during discovery: You need to know their current situation, how they run their business, what their existing product or solution looks like, and so forth. Use that information to compare and contrast life now to life with your product.

I also tell salespeople to separate their discovery and demo calls. You can’t fully understand the buyer’s process and needs, then create a customized demo in a single call.

Not only will you give a more compelling demo, you’ll also spend your time more productively. Some salespeople rush to give a demo as soon as their prospect shows interest. But this approach makes the customer angry if there’s not a good fit, and it’s a poor use of the salesperson’s time and resources. Qualify your prospect before your demo.

To quickly make demos more effective, stop saying “if.” I hear reps say, “If you outsource design work, you’ll like this feature … ” “If you use [competitor] … ” “If you have clients sign in … ”

The problem? This shows prospects you don’t understand their business. “If” translates to, “I have no idea what you do, so I’m throwing things at the wall and hoping some stick.”

Instead, draw clear connections between what you learned in discovery and what you’re showing them. For example, you might say, “You told me you outsource design work, so let’s walk through the template creation tool.”

Now your prospect knows you’ve listened to them and honed in on their specific pain points or opportunities, which builds your credibility.

On a related note, don’t include more than six features in your demo. Most buyers are only dealing with three or four problems or priorities at a single time; if you’re showing six-plus features, you’re likely showing some that are unrelated to their situation.

4) Problem: Your presentations aren't meeting customer needs
Expert: Colleen Francis, president and owner of Engage Selling Solutions
Solution: Follow this strict 6-step process

The biggest mistake salespeople make is failing to align features and benefits with the customer’s compelling reason to buy. Sales presentations should always start with a discussion of the client’s business objectives for the project or purchase. Once you have agreement on those objectives, you can share how your solution will meet them using the following formula:

- Share the product feature

- Discuss the value this feature brings to the customer specifically. Use language such as, “The benefit to you is … ”

- Provide an example or proof. Use specific language such as, “For example, ABC company was able to … ”

- Ask a question to make sure they understand

- Ask for the sale

Never start your presentation by apologizing. It sets a negative tone for the entire meeting.

Customers like to work with successful people, not victims. So 99 times out of 100, you're better off saying nothing rather than apologizing.

If you're late, don't ask for extra time; just adjust your presentation to compensate. If your handouts aren't ready, do the presentation like you never meant to offer handouts in the first place, then offer to send them the materials after you finish.

The only thing that starts a meeting off on a worse note than an apology is an apology with strings attached: "Sorry I'm late, but I'll still need the full hour … " or "I apologize in advance that this presentation is so long, but I need to cover a lot of information." Nothing good ever comes after the word "but."

An engaging presentation is one that complements your message, not one that is your message. So, forget about never letting them see you sweat -- don't ever let your customers see you reading from your slides. Your slides should contain key points, not elaborate prose, and they shouldn't mimic exactly what you're saying. Stick to the following six rules for all your slides:

1) No more than three bullets per slide.

2) No more than one line per bullet.

3) Use 28 point font or larger.

4) Don’t cover more than five slides every 20 minutes.

5) Use pictures or diagrams instead of text wherever possible.

6) Don’t give the slides out until the end of the presentation. You want them to engage with you, not the printed slide deck.

5) Problem: You don't know when to do a product demo
Expert: John Sherer, director of sales at Appcues
Solution: Focus only on what your prospect needs to see

Every prospect should get a different product demonstration. A demo should focus on the core of what your prospect needs to see, not each bell and whistle in your offering.

Often, I’ll hear a rep get to a place in a call where they should stop and move to close or next steps. Instead, they keep showing and talking about the product. They risk losing their prospect’s interest, wasting valuable time, and making some of the product’s features seem like overkill. Some of the best sales calls I’ve been a part of never showed the product.

New Research: What Hundreds of Sales And Marketing Leaders And Professionals Told Us

Julia Manoukian

Julia Manoukian

About the Author

Julia is focused on creating, managing and producing everything content-related at Sales for Life. From product to content marketing, she is committed to constantly evolving the company's marketing strategy to exceed the demands of the ever-changing buyer.

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