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Excuses Don’t Count: December Referral Selling Insights

What’s the #1 way to start the New Year strong?

Only a little more than half of account based sales reps made quota in 2016, according to CSO Insights. Based on what I’ve heard from sales leaders, 2017 wasn’t much better.

Why? There are many possible reasons that account based sales reps miss quota. Perhaps they:

  • Depended on marketing to send them qualified sales leads
  • Didn’t follow up with the leads they had
  • Relied on social media and email to communicate with prospects
  • Lacked requisite selling skills to engage in a value conversation
  • Weren’t coached by their sales managers

These are all excuses. Making quota means that account based sales reps must take responsibility for generating their own qualified sales leads and for having conversations that count. If they’re not getting support from their sales managers, they must demand it. And if you’re the sales leader, it’s time to start providing it.

2018 is the year to change things up if you want your team to make quota. By including a referral program in your account based sales development plan, you can guarantee only qualified leads, increase conversions, decrease prospecting time, and attract new, profitable clients.

Learn more in this month’s blog posts from No More Cold Calling:

Is Failure an Option for Your Account Based Selling Teams? 

“We’ve never lost an American in space; we’re sure as hell not going to lose one on my watch. Failure is not an option.” This famous line from the Apollo 13 movie is delivered by Ed Harris, who plays NASA flight director Gene Kranz. The more I delved into the film’s history (a great story in itself), the angrier I became with sales leaders who let their account based selling teams fail to meet quota. In preparation for the movie, scriptwriters Al Reinert and Bill Broyles interviewed Gene Kranz to find out what it was really like to be in Mission Control. One of their questions was, “Weren’t there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?” “No,” Kranz told them. “When bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them. We never panicked, and we never gave up on finding a solution.” NASA wouldn’t let their mission fail, so why do sales leaders let their account based sales teams fail? Granted, salespeople don’t die if they fail to meet quota. But their sales lives are at stake, and we can’t save their lead generation strategies with duct tape. (Read “Is Failure an Option for Your Account Based Selling Teams?”)

Stop Buying Digital Snake Oil for Your Account Based Sales Team

A sales VP was frustrated with her account based sales team, as they relied almost exclusively on technology for generating sales leads. Their outreach took too long. They spent plenty of time on social media and sent tons of emails, but they rarely reached actual decision-makers. She finally asked her team: “Did you ever close business over email?” Well, that was a splash of cold water. No matter how advanced and “intelligent” communications technology becomes, nothing replaces the original communication medium—in person. Today, many sales teams depend on email, texts, and social media for generating qualified sales leads. It’s easier and faster than old-school sales techniques. But is it as effective? Nope! In fact, new research shows it’s not even close. (Read “Stop Buying Digital Snake Oil for Your Account Based Sales Team.”)

How to Lose Your Best Referral Sources

Julian wasted no time in telling me he was the top account based sales rep at his company. I asked if he attributed his success to asking for referrals. Mostly, he said, but he could do better. He described his target prospect, and as luck would have it, I had the perfect referral. I phoned two of my contacts and got important competitive information. The company had piloted Julian’s software and decided it didn’t work for them. That gave me pause as to why Julian was successful. After all, he should have been privy to this information. Still, he needed to know, so I sent him an email saying that I’d spoken with my contacts and had “intel” for him. No response. I wrote to him through LinkedIn. No response. I checked his profile, and yes, he was still with the same company. Was I angry? You bet. I’d spent time trying to help him, and Julian was guilty of the most egregious mistake that sales reps make—not following up. To use the millennial term, he “ghosted” me. In the process, he lost valuable information and qualified sales leads. (Read “How to Lose Your Best Referral Sources.”)

Why Introverts Are Better at Asking for Referrals

She lights up a room when she walks in. She doesn’t have to say a word, but you know she’s there. She looks for every opportunity to show up—at parties, networking events, conferences, you name it. She thrives on the interaction. That’s exactly the kind of people account based sales reps are—life-of-the-party types, not fearful of confrontation, can talk to anyone about any subject, blazing extroverts. Well, that’s what I believed. I never thought I could sell, because I wasn’t that kind of person. I’m still not, even after a decades-long career in this profession. But introverts have their own advantages in sales. We’re strong listeners and we’re really good at asking for referrals. (Read “Why Introverts Are Better at Asking for Referrals.”)

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