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Stop wasting noodles: 5 sales strategies that will stick

Stop wasting noodles: 5 sales strategies that will stick Fred Schonenberg

Whatever sales manager said it's "a numbers game" is responsible for why customers don't get back to sales people. Buying a list of names and sending a generic or semi-customized email -- the old spray and pray sales philosophy -- is the equivalent of throwing a handful of spaghetti against the wall, hoping one noodle will stick. While one may stick, all the other noodles will be on the floor and ruined. Those ruined noodles are the future of your business. Don't throw them on the floor. Instead, throw the ones that are ready to cook in the boiling water and save the rest for later. You may be hungry.


Competition to generate revenue is fiercer than ever, as emerging technologies rise to compete for dollars across multiple industries and traditional players fight to maintain their positions. The rise of the internet and big data has made depth of product and pricing information available to anyone -- and seemingly commoditized products, threatening to eliminate the need for sales people. However, hidden within this challenging marketplace are opportunities for elite sales people to disrupt industry norms, increase revenue, and differentiate themselves from competitors in 2016.


So how do you cut through the information overload to increase your revenue? These five elite secrets will help your sales pitch stick and allow you to exceed your sales targets.


Hyper-focus your efforts


You need to pinpoint the customers that are absolutely perfect for your business. Less is truly more. Start with the following questions and keep filtering your list until you have a small group of "A" prospects.


Which customers want the precise product you deliver?
Of those, which customers are open to change -- whether trying something new or increasing investment levels?


Then, of those, which will have trigger events next year? This is different for every industry. For advertising, if a brand is launching a new product or re-positioning themselves, it's a trigger event. Getting married is a trigger event for the insurance industry. Find ways to identify trigger events and reach out to your customers as they happen. 


Invest in relationships


Business is built on relationships. Your immediate and future success depend upon establishing trust and becoming someone that customers turn to for solutions.


Never eat alone
I first read the book "Never Eat Alone" by myself in a Chinese restaurant. Read that sentence again. I was asked on a recent interview what is the best thing you can buy for under $100. Without hesitation, my answer was a meal with a potential client. Over a meal, I get to know them and learn what excites and challenges them. That gives me the opportunity to be helpful -- whether it is with my product or introducing them to someone else who might add value. Worst case scenario -- you make a new friend. 


Connect without selling
Please slow down before you begin a PowerPoint presentation. (Don't get me wrong -- I love PowerPoint -- I send PowerPoint recaps of family vacations.) But you need to establish a connection, trust, and prove you are focused on providing them with solutions -- not trying to preach to them or line your pockets with their money.


It's about them, not you


Just because you see an opportunity for revenue does not mean it is the right fit for the customer. See the world through their eyes. If they just got married, they want to protect their new family. That's what you can help them with -- not pitch your new insurance product. Walk a mile in their shoes and deeply understand their vantage point.


Questions
During every meeting you should begin by asking in-depth questions about their objectives, challenges, fears and aspirations.


Adaptive storytelling
Stop regurgitating your generic pitch. Show your customers how you can scratch their very specific itch. Your product doesn't change, but its value is different from client to client. Your product/service is a chameleon -- still the same lizard at its core -- but your colors change based on your surroundings and you should highlight attributes that solve the customer's challenges.


The actionable thank you note


My mother convinced me that if I didn't write a thank you note for every gift I received, I may never receive another one. If someone is willing to invest their time meeting with you, that is a gift and should be treated as such. Additionally, a thank you note is a powerful sales tool that can exponentially reward the time, creativity and thoughtfulness you pour into it. Be concise. Be personal. And set forth a course of action -- the action that will bridge the process from meeting to a partnership.


Streamline your sales stack


You can spend in the high six-figures "investing" in sales tools, contact lists, subscriptions, etc. It's easy to feel that you "need" them in order to succeed. Spending heavily is a premature exercise and giant slurp of your most valuable resource -- time. Do not overcomplicate it. Spending hours doing data entry are hours not spent reaching out to customers to drive revenue. Keep it simple. When you are generating more than $50 million, you can invest in the fancy tools to make your data look pretty. Look for simple, intuitive tools that can scale with your business like Pipedrive CRM and LinkedIn Premium to find leads. Remember to spend your time and money on your customers not on fancy tools.


If you can stop wasting noodles and focus your efforts on being a true resource for the right prospects -- you will see your revenue skyrocket in 2016.


Fred Schonenberg  is founder of VentureFuel.


On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

Fred Schonenberg has over 15 years of high growth media sales experience, introducing new media formats and first-to-market products to the ad marketplace. Known for his award winning creative solutions and ability to forge strategic partnerships...

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