The Drift

The Drift

Self-Inflicted Wounds.

In this first post of 2022, I’d like to offer a practical gift to every seller in our business (and beyond) as you start this next annual chapter of your sales career. It comes in the form of an observation and some advice.

You are shooting yourself in the foot and it’s clouding your vision, mucking up your forecasts and making your sales cycle longer and more unstable. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

In my recent sales workshops, I’ve outlined the three self-inflicted wounds that can be fatal to your win-rate, but that are also easily corrected.

The Sales Call with No Purpose. Also known as the first call or the introduction. This is an assumption that’s as common as it is deadly. It’s just a first call or I’m just meeting a new team member… Reps tell themselves that we’ll just use this time to get to know each other… introduce them to the site… find out about their plans and goals. By wasting this at-bat, you’ve just added 3-4 months to your sales cycle, wasted your client’s time and probably came away with the same vanilla-mush information that they would have sent with an RFP – to anyone. Instead: Bring one slide filled with information about the client, another with the problem you feel you can solve for them, and 3 or 4 of your own slides about how you would solve it. Even if you’re wrong, the client will make you right.

Defaulting to Another Step instead of Closing. What does a salesperson say when they don’t ask directly for the client’s business? Usually, they just ask for another meeting, or the opportunity to write things up and send a proposal. The customer may have been ready to take a much more specific step – to recommend the plan, to assign budget, to prioritize the idea with their team – but the rep will never know because the question was never asked. Add at least six weeks to the process. Instead: Decide in advance on the most specific step this customer can take to advance the business and practice asking them for it. A good closing question features the phrase Will you… and includes a verb (action to be taken) a number (liberal estimate of cost) and a date (for activation, launch, commitment). Let them tell you that something else is needed. Don't create your own delays.

Chasing Unqualified Objections. Sometimes customers ask for discounts or special service, other times they just throw out questions about possibility. Could we structure the deal differently? Can you integrate with this kind of measurement? Can you put a pixel on it? This throws many sellers into a tailspin of activity. They chase down the answers. They burn extra weeks (and burn out their own team members) only to meet yet another question or objection… or radio silence. Instead: Learn how to use a conditional close. If we’re able to do that, would you recommend us? Is this the only issue standing in our way? A good rule of thumb is don’t answer a question until you know it’s the only question. It’s a simple way to qualify not only the opportunity but also the decision maker you’re dealing with.

Wishing you all a marvelous year filled with creativity, excellence and success.


More Posts

The New Ponytails

Looking back over 50 years of TV and film, the advertising agency business has served as a backdrop and focal point for comedy, drama and social satire. It's an oeuvre whose DNA chain links The Hucksters…


Bullseye?

Perhaps it's because the market's appetite has been whetted by the hyper-focused nature of Google advertising. Or maybe the web's marketing technology has finally caught up to its hype. But there's no…


A Little Rebellion

This fall I was honored to write the foreword for Carat Insight's "Moving Forward" quarterly report. I was asked to offer some perspective on the changing fortunes of our industry and of the medium we're…


Flash, Tell Me A Story!

I've been underwhelmed the last few years. Disgruntled one might say. Admittedly, I'm a cantankerous creative guy who is easily frustrated by the eternal quest for all that is new and exciting. Advertising…


Meetings That Really Matter

In the final installment in a series of "Drifts" devoted to sales strategy and tactics, we focus on the character and quality of client meetings. At birth we possess all the tools we need to be great salespeople. We…


The Inbox Imperative

As the Fall selling season continues, we offer the second in a series of three Drifts focusing on practical sales tactics and strategies. Without some serious changes, e-mail is over. You may be nodding…


Pointless

As the post-Labor Day selling season is upon us, we devote the next three editions of The Drift to practical sales tactics and strategies. I wouldn't call it a movement just yet, but there's a growing…


Summer Reading

"The future is already here - it's just unevenly distributed." ~ William Gibson Summertime, for me, always includes an annual rite of intellectual…


This Time Around

As I write this column, I'm in the Green Mountains of Vermont, a continent away from this week's @dTech conference, which I read is "abuzz with optimism" about the feisty comeback of the online advertising…


Epiphany!

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and over again, but expecting a different result. " ~ Albert Einstein At the recent iMedia Summit in Scottsdale, I helped moderate…


20 Answers (Part 4)

This is the final installment in our four-part response to Jack Myers' "20 Questions for the Online Advertising Industry."Jack's questions, in the order they were offered, followed by our answers. 16.…


20 Answers (Part 3)

On Tuesday, "The Drift" kicked off a special four-part edition aimed at answering columnist Jack Myers' ( http://www.jackmyers.com) "20 Questions for the Online Advertising Industry," which was published…