I think I am like most business professionals, I want to read more and be more “up” on my industry but I have precious little time to do it. I pick up the cliff notes versions of the big books by reading summaries and quotes on line. Never actually read Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents but feel like I did I have seen it quoted so many places and have read many of his blog posts. So when I received Matt Heinz’ book Successful Selling I was immediately attracted to it. It is slim and broken down into digestible chunks. It has room for notes in each section so when I sat down to read it I grabbed both a pen and a highlighter. I begged to be interactive with me so I played along.
I read the introduction in which Matt suggested that you read his book out of order. His exact quote was “Get in, Get out”. My kind of book! Lots of concepts broken down into digestible chunks. He also suggests that you ask yourself the following questions after you read each section.
- How does this apply to my business? How could this make a difference in my objectives and desired outcomes?
- What specifically could I do differently because of this?
- What’s the next step to explore or implement this?
- How will I measure its success?
I dutifully did this and wrote my answers in the notes section of the book. I actually used it as a workbook to have a discussion with a client regarding a market analysis / post mortem I was helping them with. Many of the sections were immediately actionable. I will share a few of my favorites with you.
In the section on Joining, Talking and Participating I highlighted:
“Participation means two-way communication, in an authentic manner, on a regular basis. It takes more time, more effort and more investment than what we used to be able to do – buy a list, get some PR, write a letter. In other words, talk at the prospect. Today’s prospects require and expect more. If you talk at them (in a letter, a blog post, an article in a trade publication), they expect to be able to talk and comment back. And then, in turn, they expect you to read their response and engage yet again.”
This was a light bulb moment for me because I am so used to seeing so many corporate blogs without by-lines. They are thinly disguised brochures with no actual follow up mechanism. You can in fact post a comment on many but the chances the actual author will be the one to respond is slim. You will likely get some Corporate Communications gatekeeper who will thank you for your comment and pass your email address to a sales rep for follow up.
But occasionally an organization had just enough faith in its staff or the organization is just small enough not to have a Corporate Communications gatekeeper and you read a blog post that sparks your interest and you put the authors name into Twitter search and “bam” you can reach them directly. And then the magic happens when they see your comment and reply back and you engage in a conversation virtually over your morning coffee.
The participating Matt is talking about is happening in successful organizations all over the country right now at this very minute and only by empowering everyone in your organization to be part of the conversation will be achieve that open dialogue you are both anticipating and fearing.
The second passage I took to heart was in a section on Better Relations Between Sales and Marketing. The quote is:
“the vast majority of leads generated by B2B organizations in particular will buy – just not right now. Those leads (once they’re identified as such) need to be passed back to marketing for active nurturing.”
The issue in most organizations I have worked in and with is that once a sales person realizes there is no opportunity with an account in his next commission period that is going to satisfy his quota achievement he discounts it as a bad lead from marketing and the organization has little way to manage what I call the “not NO but not NOW” opportunities. You need a defined process for nurturing the “not NO’s”. And by defining a process I am not saying nor is Matt suggesting in his book this means a visio diagram with 17 decision tree boxes routing them from “not NO” to “NOW”. I have never once known a prospect to follow one of those visio diagram paths anyway. We need to appreciate they see value in the product in a crowded world and my making the effort to engage in a “were here when you need us sort of way” we can remain top of mind when the time is right.
There are loads of other good scribble-worthy moments in Successful Selling. It really is a much a work book as it is a good read.