Managing a team of sales professionals who are focused on selling to senior executives isn’t easy. You want to give your reps all the tools necessary to achieve their sales targets. It’s your job to make sure they bring home fat commission checks … and you do too.
The problem is, the top executives with whom your reps need to talk with are pulled in all directions. They don’t have a minute to spare. But if you can’t coach your sales people on how to get through to them, you’ll fail. And so will they.
So what are the secrets of reaching and engaging these highly sought after executives?
Here are a few to try. Once you put these tips into practice, you’ll not only discover your reps are engaging with more prospects every day, but also your sales conversions will increase.
A study by Objective Management Group showed only 1% of new salespeople could reach decision makers. Much of the problem is those pesky gatekeepers — the administrators who screen their bosses’ calls and decide who to put through. Reps commonly see them as an obstacle to avoid or get around as quickly as possible.
It’s time to reframe that thinking. Your reps should not look at them as people they want to avoid. Instead, they should consider them as VIPs who can graciously open doors to opportunities. Treat them as such. Give them every bit of respect you would offer to the executive for whom they work. Get to know them. Make friends. Gain their trust.
The day-in-the-life of a senior executive is strewn with meetings. So if you want to get through to them, think about when they are most likely to be available.
Often, they’ll come into the office early to get work done before the onslaught begins. Sometimes they’ll stay late. Place calls early in the morning and after five.
Also, take advantage of meeting breaks by calling during the window of two minutes before and after the hour.
Senior execs don’t have time for clicking here and there. Plus, due to security risks, they’re averse to opening email attachments. So if reps have something to share with them, they should put it in their emails and refrain from using attachments and links as much as possible.
Executives are on the go. They’re moving from one meeting to the next and often traveling around the country and the world.
In all likelihood, they will not be at their desks if and when they choose to open your reps’ emails. That means your salespeople must write emails that are easy to read on smartphones.
All industries and companies develop a verbal shorthand for the things they talk about every day. It’s called jargon. One of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary’s definition of jargon is “obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words.”
Who wants that? No one. And yet many salespeople bombard decision makers with taxing words and an alphabet soup of acronyms.
Before using such words, salespeople should ask themselves whether they were familiar with them before they entered their industry, profession or company. If not, they should question whether their prospects would be familiar with them. If in doubt, they should find another way to explain the concept in laymen’s terms.
Most senior executives don't spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. The door-openers, however, who are equally important, check the site to decide who is worthy of their managers’ time. As a result, you must ensure your reps’ profiles present them as highly-qualified professionals.
If you’ve ever had a referral, you know it gives you instant credibility. So take advantage of any relationships you have within an organization. Use them as steps up the ladder to the C-suite.
To do this, look through LinkedIn to determine if you have any connections in common with the executive you’re trying to reach. Then see if they are willing to connect you to them via email or whether you can use their name when communicating with your target prospect.
Here’s the advice that your salespeople likely won’t want to hear. They may need to make 10 or even 20 attempts to reach an executive.
Because salespeople are goal oriented, they may feel like they’re wasting their time when they don’t make contact. They’re not. Whether or not they speak with the executive, it’s up to them to get something out of each call.
Each time they fail to connect with an executive, they’ll either reach the door-opener or voicemail.
The first is an opportunity to build a relationship with the person who may pave the way to talking with the prospect. Reps can also ask questions that give them a better understanding of the account.
If they reach voicemail, they should leave a carefully crafted message. It’s a branding opportunity. Of course, they need to change the message with every call. Each time, it should contain one more bite of information that arouses curiosity and raises the chance that the executive will want to talk with the rep.
The same is true of emails. Even if they don’t elicit a response, the executive might open them. That’s something you can track. If they do open them, your message is being delivered.
If your reps internalize these tips to the point where they become habits, they’ll be well on their way to substantial increases in the number of executives they talk with and ultimately convert to customers. Then you can go home at night knowing you’ve fueled the flames of sales success and your sales bonus will expand accordingly!
Sabrina Ferraioli is Co-Founder and VP of Global Sales for 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. She builds and manages 3D2B’s multi-national sales organization and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.