Why questions asked need to be qualified first and how to do so

Question, reverse questioning, sales questions, process
He knows the answer. But shouldn’t he qualify the question first?

Photo credit: personal stock

School days. Happy days. Lots of memories. The exuberance. The total lack of worries. School friends. Long school holidays spent in the South of France. The teachers I loved. Those I, well, didn’t like at all. And these happy moments when, as the teacher asked a question, I knew the answer, raised my hand and was just so eager to share my knowledge with the teacher and my class mates.

Sadly though, I came to realise that this eagerness to answer questions was a terrible habit we picked at school and that it was well worth trying to control this urge. Surprisingly (or not), when asked a question, there is a lot of value in not answering it, right away. I’ve already mentioned that one should learn to ask questions, they are very useful. So I can hear you think, dear reader. “Foul play! Unfair! Why not answer questions asked, when one asks plenty of them?” This is a good point indeed. I naturally do not mean not to answer questions at all. What I mean is one needs to understand better the real question that is being asked, not necessarily the one heard. Here are four reasons why one should do so and one framework I use:

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Prospecting flow. How to avoid the death valley?

Prospecting, Valley of death, sales process, call flow
You do not have to walk through the valley of death when prospecting or following up.

Photo credit: Pacheco

Have you seen this slide that is regularly doing the rounds on LinkedIn presenting the amount of time a sales person needs to follow-up with a prospect to get a deal and how many sales people stops too quickly.

You can’t have missed it. It comes back over and over again and is coming from the so-called  “National Sales Executive Association”? Well, if you didn’t know already: it is a fake. The NSEA simply doesn’t exist. But this slide seems to make the point there is value in chasing to secure a sale. Is there some sort of ground beyond this fact? Are sales people who do chase, don’t hear back, carry on crossing what I call “the valley of death” courageously (it’s very silent in the valley of death….), are they the most efficient sales people? Or is it a myth. I think it is a myth. So, here is the prospecting flow I follow to make sure a lead or a prospect is a real one or one worth qualifying out:

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How to achieve predictable revenues – Video

Process, lead generation, sales, predictable revenues
That’s an easy process. For lead generation, what is yours?

Photo credit: Dave Gray

I am sometimes asked for some good books to read about sales. If the specific issue at hand is about prospecting, one which is worth knowing about is called “Predictable revenues” by Aaron Ross. It presents the lead generation process that has been implemented within SalesForce around 2004 and helped the company grow to $100,000Mn+. Prospecting is key for young businesses, especially as they can not rely on growing revenues from existing clients or referrals. Or for companies entering a new market. And as many other parts of a company operation, to have a process for prospecting is important (#understatement). The process described by Aaron would however not work for all companies and of course need to be adapted to the company it’s implemented at (companies are living creatures, none of them are identical). A couple of requirements the author details are that the methodology makes economic sense for companies who product and services have a ARR c. $10,000 and for those that have a proven product (i.e. not for those in a product market fit phase). So if you’ve passed that phase and consider scaling, I came across a presentation made by Alan O’Rourke that has been filmed and is a good introduction to the book. Alan is using this approach for Workcompass, a performance management software and author of 30 days to sell. A title that says it all!

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5 reasons why I benefited from proper sales training

Sales coaching, sales courses, sales training
Sorry, no sales degree in our University … and anywhere else for that matter

Photo credit: Stephen Koigi

Education, education, education. Tony Blair used this motto consistently in his first campaign to get into power. And it worked. A few years ago, as I was getting seriously into front-line sales, I was struggling and was wondering if I should make this motto mine. I had some sales experience, more specifically “bizz dev” experience but no sales “education”. So I was considering if it was a right investment of time and money.

I went ahead with it and never turned back.

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What to do with Linkedin profile views?

Linkedin, social selling, linkedin profile view

Like most of people on Linkedin, I check the details of the Linkedin profile views. It’s always interesting to see the variety of people curious to see more than the headline. But what do you do when people look you up on Linkedin? If the person is someone you never met, do you wonder why she or he looked up your profile? Are you feeling flattered? Well, when these is a question to be asked, I believe there is value to simply ask it. As it could lead to a conversation and, as we know, in sales, it all starts with a conversation.

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5 tips to get better at cold email

Cold emailing, cold mail, prospecting, cold call
Is this illusionist just about to send a cold mail?

I am a fan of Derren Brown. For those not living in the UK, he is a rather good illusionist with a big show on BBC. One of the trick he has is to ask people on stage to think of a piece of music and, when they share it, reveal that it is the same piece he wrote on a paper. A rather baffling trick. And he shared the way he prepares for it . Essentially, he has his crew following this person throughout the day prior to the show and make sure she is exposed to a piece of music of his choosing numerous times. This includes a band busking in the street outside her house, music piped in the restaurant she is eating for lunch, etc, etc… Once on stage, her subconscious has been sufficiently exposed to Derren Brown’s choosen piece and he get his result.

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Empathy: or how to connect with people you send emails to.

Sales, empathy
Dale Carnegie. Master of cold emailing before his time?

Are you cold mailing people? Are you talking to customers on email? Are you actually writing email to your boss, wife, customers? No? Well, you can close this page, this post is not for you. If you are, read on.

Good to see you are still here. You must be using email then :). I will make it short. If you are in sales and read some of these posts, you have realised/know/experienced that all conversations should be centred on the problem of the prospect. The problem, how to address it, who is impacted by the problem, etc… should be the lynchpin of all the conversation with a prospect during the sales. It’s simply called having empathy. How many times do we receive cold email absolutely full with “I”, “we”, etc… Being pro-active and prospecting is great. But to be pro-active and to centre the conversation on the client issue, i.e. with empathy, rather than how great one company is, is even more powerful.

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Bring the future forward. Kids do it.

Bring future forward, sales questions, sales process, demo
Bring the future forward. And spend more time in the pool

The Sunday morning breakfast table was full of home made goodies: caramelised french toasts, chocolate filled brioche and pain brioche. Whilst eating these, the conversation was focused on what we would to in the afternoon after rugby training. And one option was starting to get a lot of the kids excited: going to a massive swimming pool with loads of slides and games. However, there was some work to do that hadn’t been done on Saturday. The conversation went a little bit like this:

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How to turn an interesting meeting into a productive one

Sales meeting; Interesting meeting;
This looks interesting. But beware of interesting meetings!

Photo credit: James Merhebi

Imagine this. You just walked out of a meeting with a prospect in a nice office in Central London. The conversation flew very well. Half way through the meeting, your prospect arranged for one colleague to join. She also arranged for some tea and biscuits to be brought in. A nice caring touch she didn’t have to do. And the meeting finished by the prospect saying one of these encouraging sentences:

“That was interesting. Can you send me some more information?” or “That was an interesting meeting. I will relay this internally and we need to catch-up on this.” and to finish “Very interesting. Glad we had this meeting. Let me reflect and we will synch-up shortly”.

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How to nurture leads? And know what they care about.

Sales leads; lead management; rocketbolt; sales; sales process
These little ones need nurturing to hatch. Just like sales leads!

It was Monday morning. I had a rather busy weekend, ferrying kids around to all their activities (music, football, squash), managed the rugby tournament of the age section I coach and many other weekend errands. And I was suffering from Monday morning blues. I was taking a new tech company to market so a substantial portion of my time was invested in prospecting. Looking through the list of prospects I engaged with in the past few months, I was annoyed to realise there was a lot of companies we dealt with but didn’t keep in touch with. There wasn’t a marketing automation in place (yet). And as timing is key in sales, I wished I’d knew which ones had engaged with my content since our last conversation so to know which one I could go back to. For a lot of these companies, what we did made sense but it wasn’t part of their priority when we first talked.  As always, timing was part of the essence…

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