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Creating a Targeted Prospecting Strategy

Creating a Targeted Prospecting Strategy

Creating a targeted prospecting strategy is the biggest prospecting problem facing sales people from the recent 2017 survey by the Richardson Co. The survey was broken into 6 categories; Prospecting, Negotiating, Closing, Buyer’s Decisions, Productivity, and Team Selling and I commend them for their research and efforts.

Over the next several articles, I will share with you my suggestion of how you should handle these current and prominent selling issues/ challenges. I also encourage you to read their report and their insights.

The 2017 top prospecting issues in order according to the survey are:

  1. Creating a targeted prospecting strategy
  2. Quality of leads from marketing
  3. Gaining appointments

The 2016 issues were:

  1. Identifying triggers/sales signals that indicate issues you can resolve
  2. Identifying target accounts
  3. Gaining appointments

And, my ongoing articles will offer suggestion on how to deal with each one.

Creating a Targeted Prospecting Strategy

Existing Accounts

Since your existing customers are the best place to make more sales – via buying the same, cross-selling and up-selling – this is where your prospecting campaign should start. In these accounts you have or should have multiple contacts.  You should also have worked your way to the C-Suite or General Manager’s office where you’ve developed relationships that consist of more than just saying hello in the hallways.  Therefore, with all these positive relationships which you have nurtured you can ask these people for more business and to buy the other products and services you sell.  These people will also be pleased to introduce you and refer you to other parts of their company – departments, divisions, product-lines, subsidiaries, etc.  However, if you don’t ask and don’t pursue selling all the relevant products and services you offer, they won’t chase after you begging to buy them.

Now if you haven’t met, interviewed and develop a relationship with these other contacts and top people, then my suggestion is to begin this process.  Set-up meetings using your existing contacts to meet others.  Your reason, if they ask for one and you are struggling to come up with one,  is “You’d like to be sure you are meeting their expectations and interviewing them and learning from them  will be the only way you’ll know for sure how you are doing.”
Competitors Accounts

Competitors are trying to break into your accounts or increase their share in joint accounts. So you’d be stupid not to go after theirs.  Competitors are selling the same products and services you offer.  They may have the full share or a portion and those accounts should be ideal for you.  The reason you haven’t cracked that account or become the preferred and dominant supplier is because you lack the positive, professional relationships.  That is, many of the decision-makers, those directly involved and their bosses don’t see you as giving them what they want better than any other alternative.

The way to accomplish this is to set-up meetings and interview these decision makers to learn what each wants as it relates to your solutions and how they’d like to get these desires and/or solutions to their stated problems.  This is the time to stop marketing i.e. telling them what you have and why they should have it and why they should buy from you, and start learning what each individual wants and how s/he wants to get it.

This is the time to pursue becoming their second source.  So learn and ask, “What do I have to do to become your second source?” The reason you’d like to be the second source is because customers are always having issues with their vendors – no matter what.  They don’t switch typically because it’s takes too much effort and there may be a risk.  However, if the customer has a second choice that has establish him or herself to their satisfaction, then they will call that source in a heartbeat.

So Listen to the answer and determine if you can do it.  I would suggest you don’t say on the spot you can do whatever they ask.  Give it some thought so you show sincerity.  Then develop how a presentation of how you will prove you can deliver what s/he asked for.  Be sure you do this with multiple contacts in that account, because usually multiple people will make the decision, especially the bosses and especially if a change is involved.

I tell everyone I coach that if you do this, I guarantee within 6 weeks you will get an order that would have gone to the competitor.
Greenfield Accounts

I call them this because if they can use your types of products or services, it’s hard to imagine you don’t have a competitor.  So these could be accounts where they do it themselves or do it in another way.  Again the solution is interviewing and establishing yourself … if you can.  But be careful, this account may not be ideal for you.  This implies you should have developed an ideal profile so you can determine after a few interviews whether or not this account is worth pursuing.

Part of your interview (which you can use with competitors and your own accounts) is, “What do you like about what you use or do now?”  Listen intently and get details.  Then ask, “What do you dislike or would change?” Again listen aggressively.  Caution: don’t just focus on what they don’t like, because they are buying the part that they like.  The answers to these questions will give you the specification of what you will have to do or deliver to win-over this individual.  Again, be sure you do this with multiple people because usually multiple people will make the decision, especially the bosses and especially since this is a change.

Prospecting Time Allocation

This is your prospecting strategy. Pursue existing account 50% of your selling time.  This should be easy because you should have access and you should be there often.  Pursue Competitor’s accounts 30-40% of your time.  This should be that difficult if you have the right attitude of learning rather than marketing.  You should have contacts or know how to easily get them. Finally, go after the Greenfields the remaining 10-20%.  Again, seek to learn rather than tell what they should be doing, even though you know it would be good for them.


And now I invite you to learn more

C-Suite Selling: Identifying the Ultimate Decision-Maker

C-Suite Selling: Identifying the Ultimate Decision-Maker

Sometime it’s tough to know who actually makes the final decision. Well, the person responsible for profit and loss (P/L leader) is the ultimate decision-maker for anything of consequence in his or her domain.  This person can be a CEO or a General Manager or a Plant Manager, or a Product-line Manager, or another title.  But profit and loss are the keywords.  Ask, “Who ultimately takes the hit if things go south?” These P/L leaders are very easy to identify.  Just ask anyone or check the internet.

Other C-Suiters, CFOs, COOs, etc. have approval limits on approved budgets and spending limits so sometimes they can be the ultimate. So it can be confusing or a mystery.  Additionally top executives are shielded by many subordinates who want to keep you away for their own reasons, and usually play dress-up and declare themselves the final decision-maker. So be very skeptical and don’t suck into their reasons why there is no need for you to seek higher echelons.

Therefore if you keep reading, I will give some good indicators and ways to verify who it really is.

The Ultimate Decision Goes to the C-Suite or P/L Leader’s Office

  • Significant impact on the company; health insurance, large expenditure, change in product or operation
  • Capital appropriations are approved by the P/L leader and then the CEO of the larger corporation.
  • Non-budgeted expenditures that can’t be squeezed into someone’s approved budget are always approved by the P/L leader or higher.
  •  Large Expenses: My rule; anything over $10,000 gets kissed-off by the P/L leader.  Smaller expenses against approved capital projects or against approved operational or product budgets can be made at subordinate or C-levels.
  • Product or operational changes: These can have big impacts to company – P/L leader
  • Impact on employees: Keeping them happy is critical to company success – P/L leader
  • Multiple departments impacted – Someone has to corral the cats – P/L leader
  • Big dollar renewable contracts; maintenance services, healthcare, product components, shippers, etc. – P/L leader.  Keep in mind large multi-divisional companies with my P/L centers can have corporate contracts and who approves those negotiation can be confusing.  But the final contract approvals are blessed in the C-Suite.

Verifying Your Insight or Hunches

  1. Use your Golden Network – Those workers in your company who interface with your customer – technicians, engineers, servicer, and customer service.  These people have credibility and access to contacts who know.
  2. Who made the final decision on past purchases: your own, your competitors’. Reach out to other vendors of complementary or similar impact type sales and ask.
  3. Ask your contacts, “Other than yourself, who else will be involved?” or “Who will make the final decision?” or “Who suggested a committee?” or “Who selected the committee?” or “Who will decides if the committee or others have differences of opinion?” or …. Something similar.
  4. Have multiple ports of entry – ask all your contacts the same questions.  You should be talking with all the influential subordinates and bosses. Short circuits cause losses.
  5. Ask yourself and others – “Will the person who says, or other indicate, is the final approver, talk to someone/s higher-up before making the decision?  Ya’ know – just to bounce it off?”  Well, that bounce off-er is the final final.  And that feedback can be very subtle, i.e. “Well, they wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s your call.”  That little jab will kill your deal.

Hopefully you won’t have to exhausted this list to determine who it is. But, it should give you good guidance to uncover accurately who will make the ultimate decision.

And now I invite you to learn more.

Bonus Tip:  FREE E-Books – Getting Pasts Gatekeepers,

Learn how avoid alienating your contacts and get past gate keepers to engage and win-over the ultimate decision maker.





How to win proposals

How to win proposals

You can beat your competitors (even if you are new in the business) if you know the art of preparing winning proposals. The prospects usually send a formal document called a Request for Proposal (RFP) that includes all the specs. You need to submit a proposal in response that reflects your ability to meet the requirements.

These tips will help you prepare winning proposals.

Have you had prior meetings?

If this is the first time you’re seeing this proposal, walk away.  That’s right, leave it.  Your best chances of winning it are 1 divided by the number of competitors.  So if 3 are bidding including you, your best chance is 33%.  I say best because one or more of your competitors has had prior meetings and may have even helped prepare the RFP.  If that’s the case, your chances have even decreased substantially from 33%.  Now in my world 70% plus is my closing ratio.  So anything less than this is taboo.

If you are working your relationships, you should know this RFP is coming and hopefully, you’ve help write it.  You will have met with all the influencers and key decision-makers, especially the ultimate, final authority, and learned what it will take to win his or her vote.

Now you may think this is ridiculous to do, but if you are managing your territory, this is how it’s done to win 70% plus of the times you bid.

Think of what you spend, time, money, other resources to prepare a bid.  Once you start gauging these costs against your winning percentages, you’ll see that bidding an unknown is a waste.  You’d be far more successful spending that time, money and other resources to be out in your territory developing relationships that let you know what’s coming down the pike.

Is this you kind of customer?

What is your ideal customer profile? That is, what are the soft characteristics that define the types of customers that are good for you and easy for you to close?  You probably have hard characteristics, such as dollar revenue, number of employees, type of business, etc.  But the soft are more like, do you have access to the top people and other influencers; are they communicators – talk and listen – give you critical information and open to your ideas; are they doing well and believe it; do they have the money and are willing to spend it; etc.  So if you don’t have specific soft criteria, you have to go through an exercise to establish them.  Then gauge how well this RFP sender matches your criteria – the closer the fit, the better your chances.


How well does it match your strengths?

There are certain projects where you excel and some are real losers for you.  For example, I am good at sales training, but C-level sales training is where I really excel.  So competing for training new sales people would be a project where competitors are better equipped and far more competitive.  So I tend to stay away from them.  Now if a good customer asks me to bid on a big new sales people training contract against other competitors, I will submit a courtesy bid – one that is legitimate, but put together with minimal effort – to respect our relationship.

Now you probably already have criteria for types of projects that are really good for you on the project side (not customer characteristics).  If not, you need to develop them. Then gauge how well this RFP sender matches your criteria – the closer the fit, the better your chances.

So if this project is in your wheel house, then go after it.  If not, spend your time looking for those that are.

Create your Go, No-Go Matrix

The x-axis is for the quality rating of your customer.  Rate each soft characteristic from -5 to +5 – no zeros. You must take a stand.  If you have 5 characteristics add up the score.  What is your total our of a possible -25 to +25, which by the way is the range of your x-axis.

Now do the same for your type of customer.  Gauge each one, add it up.

Now see where the score for each set of criteria lands and decide what to do.


Conclusion: A lot of sales representatives close the deal solely through choosing the right proposals to bid on.  Make sure to bid on only proposals where you’ve had prior meetings and those that fit your profile. You can contact Sam Manfer from Sales Mastery Institute to help you close more deals. Click here to know more.

Major mistakes in B2B selling

Major mistakes in B2B selling

The stakes are high in B2B selling and even a small mistake can prove to be disastrous.B2B is not just about telling what’s great about your product or service. It’s a blend of multiple strategies that ensure the prospects get attracted towards what are you are offering.

Through this blog post, we discuss the mistakes you should avoid while connecting with your prospects.

Not asking multiple questions

Ask the prospect about his/her, challenges, and frustrations as it relates to your solution portfolio. Your solution portfolio is all the benefits your products and services can provide to help this type of business.  You must offer the ones that are of priority to the person you are talking with.  If there are multiple people, you’ll probably be offering different benefits to the different people.  One size does not fit all.  Only this approach will help you prepare solutions that that suits each decision-maker to win his or her vote.

Make sure to ask questions until you understand your prospect fully.   This is not about the company, even though you think it should be or you think s/he should think it should be.  It is about the person and his or her issues, desires and priorities as it relates to the company.

Overselling – Pushing your product

Overselling is a misused word.  Selling is all about learning the problems of the individuals, fitting your solutions/offers to resolve those problems – better than any alternative, testing for agreement, handling objections and attaining commitment.

The part that most associate with overselling is fitting your solution when you don’t know the problem – sort of “ready, fire, aim.”  Most assume they know what the problems are because that’s what most in the same industry and even the same company have.  But people are different.  Everyone has his or her own spin on a problem or desire.  Everyone has his or her own priorities.

So the term overselling really means over-assuming.  That is, suggesting you know what the person is thinking and wanting.  Then telling him you have it and he should buy it.

No doubt learning about the product comprehensively is a good thing. But, more often than not, the sales professionals try to convey all the information during the first point of contact with the client. The prospects will rarely show an interest until you first help them realize you understand their particular situation. Then funnel all your product knowledge to fit his particular situation and leave out the parts that don’t.

Make sure to grab your prospect’s attention

The best attention getter is to make your opening all about the prospect.  Executives love to talk about themselves and their problems once you get them going.  So start your emails, phone calls, etc. with “you” or “your”.  Keep asking them about them self, not about his company or her mission or her objectives.  For example, ask about what she’d like that she doesn’t have as it relates to her business.  This will engage her and build your credibility and knowledge of what you  might have that she wants.

Failing to present the value proposition

The only meaningful value proposition to an individual is the proposition that has value for the individual.  So make sure your presentation is focused on what this individual wants.  Then show you can deliver it better than any other alternative with minimum risk of failure, and maximum probability of success.

At the end of the day, prospects want to know if spending time and effort on implementing your product is worth it or not to him or her. They don’t care if you have the best technology in the industry unless it will give him or her what s/he desires.

Conclusion: If you or your team members don’t commit these errors, it means you are on the right path. To know more about the C-level, investigative, sales training seminars offered by Sam Manfer,

Things you should expect from your sales team

Things you should expect from your sales team

Members of your sales team are not just bunch of employees working to add revenue to your company. They are the voice of your company. The outside world analyzes the level of quality that your organization can offer by communicating with them.

It is obvious to have some expectations from your team when it comes to their performance. Here are some vital things you must expect from the members of your team.


It goes without saying every team member must stay with your organization for a long duration. But this is not the only investment one can expect from sales team. Learning about the products comprehensively, associating with other members, and adapting as per your methods are also essential forms of investment. If someone is not willing to do all these things, the chances are that he or she is seeking another opportunity.


As your team members stay in the field for most of the team, they have better insights on current trends, client behavior, and competitors. Therefore, they are in position to help you with the market intelligence.


It is obvious that circumstances or objectives of an organization modify with changing time. A professional must be ready to adapt as per the changing scenario. If he or she resists change, then it is the sign that the employee is focusing on retaining his/her status quo rather than giving importance the company’s goals.

Last, but not the least, honesty is an innate quality that you must expect from your team. Once you realize that your team possesses all the features discussed above, it is time to invest in improving their skills. You can use the services of Sam Manfer for this purpose. Sam is a leading and popular sales coach, consultant and sales trainer. From C-Suite training to sales management, he is an expert of all aspects of B2B for most industries and geographies.

Signs that you are selling to the wrong people

Signs that you are selling to the wrong people

If you are confused on why you are not achieving targets in spite of a great product and a skilled team, the chances are you are selling at the wrong level.

Large Account Retetion
Large Account Retetion

Here we have listed some signs to show that it is the time to start seeking the C-Suite and other powerful influencers.

The target lacks required budget

There might be a possibility that the target clients have a capping-related to the expenses for their organization. If the price is exceeding the budget, the prospects will resist pursuing the product.   However, the C-levels create budgets, modify budgets and can re-assign budget dollars from one area to another, if they feel your proposal has merit in their eyes.

Your solution is not a priority

The basis of selling is solving a challenge that a prospect faces. If your product or service, in spite of being novel, is not helping a client solving his/her issues, then your product is no good to them.  However, many low level people have more than enough to do and/or don’t want to take on the effort and risk of doing something different.  Top people look at this differently.  So be very careful about whose priority it doesn’t match?

Communication issues

If you are selling at the lower levels, these people do not usually speak the language of the top people.  They say things like “price is too high,” “no budget,” “too difficult to change,” and more.  Therefore communications need to be at the top.  This is not to say you only communicate at the top. But, if you listen to only the subordinates, you really won’t know what’s truth and what’s fiction.

The target does not have the authority

Many a subordinate and committee will tell you they are the final authority.  It’s just not true.  Yet, the real ultimate buyer may very disguised and shielded. Trying to sell only to someone who is not authorized to purchase the products/service is the biggest mistake a sales person can make.

Conclusion: You can seek the necessary knowledge from  C-Level Selling training seminars that can help you overcome these hurdles. This way, you can achieve success faster and easier.

How to become the master of B2B selling?

How to become the master of B2B selling?

B2B selling is very different than B2C. The reason is there are multiple decision-makers who then influence the ultimate decision maker.  That’s why B2B is called a complex sale. If done correctly, B2B can be very rewarding.  But, if done by trying to sell to one or two people as in its B2C counterpart, the sales person will be outsold every time by more thorough competitors.

Through this post, we present some essential tips to help you master the skills of B2B selling.

Get to all the decision-makes including the ultimate one

You must learn who all the influencers are and how to get an interview with each.  There you must learn their expectations and how they anticipate getting them.  This is not about pushing your product/service but learning what each wants.  Once this is surfaced, you can expose them and entice them to other benefits you have which they may not have mentioned.  In this way you will extract each person’s full vision.

Present to each

A lot of B2B sales people commit the fatal error of giving a group presentation.  This is deadly because each decision-maker wants to be sure his or her vision is delivered and each will be reluctant to speak up in a group setting.  Therefore, the sales person really won’t know of hidden objections.  Those that pursue the one-on-ones will have a distinct advantage.

Then, presentations must focus on what that individual wanted, not what others wanted or what the sales person thinks is important.  The sales person must stay on point, especially with C-Suite and top people.

Ask for feedback

After presenting, ask each person how they feel about what was presented.  If good, go for commitment or the order.  If OK or not-so-good, ask the person to explain the issue and what s/he wants you to do about it.  It’s amazing what you’ll hear. Then try to alleviate that problem or walk away.

If you want to enhance and secure your selling future, learn the science of selling using your own prospects and/or accounts with Sam Manfer.

5 free e-books offered by Sam Manfer

5 free e-books offered by Sam Manfer

With years of expertise in the sales industry, Sam Manfer has become a renowned name among the professionals from the USA. His sales seminars and books have helped a myriad of individuals who want to make it big in the world of selling.

To help the sales professionals, he also offers various e-books for free. Here we present a brief description of each of these e-books.

  • Getting Past Gatekeepers and Blockers

As the name suggests, this book offers strategies on handling the blockers and gatekeepers. You will learn how to reach the C-Level executives without alienating the contacts.

  • Meaningful Questions to Engage C-Levels

Learn which type of questions will help you extract maximum amount of information. You will also come to know about how executives get excited and get ready to purchase your service/product.

  • Managing Sales People for Selling to the C-Suite

Sales managers can hone their skills on ways to mentor, coach, and train a sales team. You will also come to know about the strategies for managing different generation of salesmen, like millennials and boomers.

  • Networking secrets to gain access to C-Levels

You are able to create different portals to reach C-Levels after reading this book. How to get maximum benefit through networking is also taught in this book.

  • The Guide to Retail Sales

Salesmen from retail stores can learn the ways to excite the customers when they visit the store. Some useful strategies for up-selling are also taught in it.

4 Simple Steps for C-level Selling

4 Simple Steps for C-level Selling

The main reason companies and sales people lose orders is the sales person delivered the wrong message. It isn’t about price, or competition having something you don’t have.  S/He hears his or her vision of what’s needed will be fulfilled by someone other than you.

Bottom line and never forget it: The message the ultimate decision maker wanted to hear was not your message. Either you gave the wrong message or whoever gave it for you got it wrong or made it wrong.  Therefore, if you want more sales and cross-sells, you have to start C-Level Selling

4 Simple Steps for C-level Selling

  1. Identify who the ultimate decision maker is.
    This can be difficult to do. Many dress-up as the ultimate decision-maker. Rule of thumb: If it is a change to the company or over $10,000 the decision will be approved in the C-Suit.  Watch my free Networking Video.
  2. Gain access to the ultimate decision-maker.
    Many subordinates will try to keep you away from the final, final approval. You may also be your biggest blocker – fear of alienating you contact, or your own anxiety of selling to the C-Levels.
    Read my free E-Book, “Getting Past Gatekeepers and Blockers.”
  3. Interview the ultimate decision-maker.
    Ask C-level questions to engage him in conversation that explores what challenges/problems he wants solved or desires he wants fulfilled, and how he’d like to get them. Remember this is about the ultimate decision-maker, not you. Therefore, you have to get him or her to tell you the message s/he wants to hear.
    Read my free E-Book, “C-Level Questions and Interviewing Techniques.”
  4. Present the message the ultimate decision-maker wants to hear .
    Based on the message the ultimate decision-maker wants to hear, use your portfolio of solutions to show him how he can get them. Structure your presentation to show you can deliver successfully and with minimum risk of failure.  Prove you’ve done it before.  Use numbers, names and details to make it believable and remember-able. Most importantly stay on the points of the message/solution/desire s/he wants and how s/he wants to get it.
    Watch my C-Level presentations video seminar.

Once s/he sees s/he can get the solutions or desires from you, s/he will buy. Competition will not have a chance, unless you missed something, or you didn’t make it believable enough that you can deliver.

C-Level Selling is a process for winning –over the ultimate decisions-makers who reside at the top. Once you do that, sales and profitable large accounts are very easy to win and maintain.

What Prevents Sales Success

What Prevents Sales Success

Selling today is the science of winning buyers over …. Not convincing them.

Not asking client focused questions.

Sellers must ask questions first and these questions must be centered around the buyer – not you or your product. e.g. “What are your challenges as it relates to such and such?” Notice, there are no I’s, we’s, me’s or first persons in this question.

This takes a bit of confidence.  When a CEO or high Government official says, “Tell me what you have for me.”  It takes courage to say (in so many words), “Now hold on.  First I need to ask you some questions.”

Why do you want to ask these questions? So that you can learn or confirm what this individual wants solved or delivered.  More importantly, this individual needs to know that you know what s/he wants.  And the only way to accomplish this is to have him or her tell you.

High level people are intimidating and when they say “Speak” people speak.  Unfortunately, this prevents the sales person from learning what’s really important to this exec and what it will take to win him over.  Consequently the buyer wins control. S/he gets all the info and the sales person learns little.

Not focusing on the benefits of their products

One has to know what his product does and then promote that.  What problems does it solve? What desires does it deliver?  I call this your “Solution Portfolio”.  Don’t tell someone what you have.  Tell what it will do for him or her.

Then, if you can’t muster up a client focused question, you can at least lead with a solution.  And when the prospect says, “Does it have xyz feature?” or “Tell me about this or that,” instead of saying yes or no and then elaborating, your response should be, “What are you hoping that will do for you?” or “How come you are interested in the xyz feature?”

 Lack of sales training creates lack of motivation

One of the biggest motivation factors is expertise, especially for millennials.  Professionals want to be proficient and knowledgeable about what they offer customers. They want to be seen as experts and consultants. If they are just hyped by the marketing department about the features of the product and why it’s better than competitors’, they become an annoying walking commercial.  This is the biggest reason sales people fail and become demotivated.

Sales people have to learn how to sell, otherwise they become marketers.  An individual might have spent a lot of years in the field, but selling is very different than years ago.  Besides, experience is not the same as expertise.

Expertise can be gained by first learning the strategies, tactics and techniques of today. Then learning how to customizing it to one’s style and then implementing it.  Sales Mastery Institute conducts seminars where sales people and managers learn what to do and how to become proficient and successful.  SMI seminars are held in Chicago related to C-level selling, territory management, account management, and effective sales calls.