lead generationHere’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month.

The year is now halfway over. If your sales reps aren’t on target to make or exceed quota, and aren’t getting meetings at the right level, now is the time to switch tactics … before it’s too late.

Are your sales reps still wasting time with cold prospecting—sending emails and social media requests to strangers who aren’t expecting to hear from them? That’s not going to help build a sales pipeline full of qualified leads.

Your marketing department does an adequate job of eadlead generation, but many of the so-called “leads” aren’t qualified. Sales reps can’t depend on marketing for lead generation, creating connections, and building trust with clients. They must take responsibility for qualified lead generation and scoring meetings with decision-makers.

How? By implementing a strategic referral program, with referral skills, metrics, and accountability for results. A referral program is your missing link to ensure sales reps build a consistent stream of qualified leads and get meetings with decision-makers in one call.

Learn more about what it takes to build and nurture strong referral networks in these No More Cold Calling blog posts from June.

How to Actually Unclog Your Sales Pipeline

You see the warning signs a mile away—prospects who push you on price, threaten to take their business to your competitors, make unreasonable demands, don’t return phone calls, masquerade as decision-makers when they have no real buying authority. Yet, they expect fast, complete, and reliable delivery of your service. These are the “pain in the ass” (PITA) prospects in your sales pipeline. And if you’re not careful, they could easily become PITA clients. PITA customers are never happy. They drain your energy, test your patience, and waste your time. They demoralize your entire sales team. Yet, companies continue to accept this bad business, thinking it must be better than no business. It’s not! (Read “How to Actually Unclog Your Sales Pipeline.”)

The Most Effective Sales Strategies Aren’t Digital

“There’s nothing like meeting people in person.” That’s definitely my belief, but I was stunned to hear these words uttered by a Millennial. We’ve all heard they are tethered to their devices. But my meeting with him (like so many meetings I’ve had) proved that when we’re in another person’s physical presence, we connect in ways that just aren’t possible via email, text, or tweets. Human beings instinctively know how to connect with others. We share stories, read facial expressions, use hand gestures, exchange ideas, laugh, and connect on a personal, visceral level. We haven’t rewired ourselves just because the world has gone wireless. We’ve simply forgotten what we know to be true: Face-to-face cannot be replaced for relationship-building. And when it comes to effective sales strategies, relationships are key to closing deals and getting referrals. (Read “The Most Effective Sales Strategies Aren’t Digital.”)

Kevin Bacon and a Unique Way to Crush Lead Generation 

Have you ever played the game, “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? The concept is simple: We’re all connected … sometimes in the most absurd and unbelievable ways. Finding those connections is key to lead generation and getting referrals. In the digital age, we don’t need six people to connect us to Kevin Bacon or anyone else. It now takes fewer than five. A 2011 study by Facebook and the University of Milan, which mined data from the social media site’s 721 million active users, found that the number of intermediate links between two strangers—or “degrees of separation”—is now only 4.74. Researchers summarize: “When considering another person in the world, on average, a friend of your friend knows a friend of their friend.” This is great news for referral sellers! We’re connected to any decision-maker we want to reach by just a few people. (Read “Kevin Bacon and a Unique Way to Crush Lead Generation.”)

How Women in Sales Boost the Bottom Line

Women are just plain naturals at selling. Saleswomen have the skills and grit it takes to be top-tier performers because success in sales is about building and nurturing relationships. Women get that. We are hardwired to be nurturers, connectors, and collaborators—all traits that make for great salespeople. Yet, many sales leaders are not hiring enough women in sales, or providing support and guidelines for their careers. Why? All things being equal (and they never are), we hire people who look and sound like us. And since most sales leaders are men, it’s natural to opt for a guy. But successful sales organizations in the 21st century need to leverage the strengths of both genders—not just because it’s the right thing to do for women in sales, but because it’s what’s best for the bottom line. New data from DocSend proves that gender diversity on sales teams also has a huge impact on business. (Read “How Women in Sales Boost the Bottom Line.”)

Test Your Referral Savvy

I’m conducting a study on referrals, and I need your help. Please take my 14-question Referral I.Q. Quiz. The questions are mostly “Yes/No,” and it should take less than four minutes to complete. Rest assured, it’s completely anonymous, with no forms to fill out.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll be bounced over to a results page, where you can see the aggregated answers from everyone who has participated.

Take the Referral I.Q. Quiz now.

My goal is to get a 1,000-person sample, so please invite your network to take the quiz as well. Participation is anonymous, and I promise you won’t be added to any lists. Thanks in advance for your support!