When the going gets tough, the tough go HUNTING!

Can you imagine if we all went to sleep tonight and woke up tomorrow morning in the caveman era? If we don’t starve first, we’d be bruised from fighting each other to get the only small morsel of food left! Ugg.

In today’s world, the terrain is wider from globalization, yo-yo financial uncertainty, or confusing tools.  Guess what? Nothing has changed. Everyone is STILL fighting for that small morsel. Today’s hunters come in all forms, genders and technical know how.

That small morsel of food is smaller and more evasive and it is called “customers”. With many economies soft, organizations limping along, the spotlight on sales and marketing is brighter than ever before. Organizations should be looking for hunters, not farmers, and least of all order takers. Sales professionals have evolved into order takers because they leave the office to existing customers’ offices -- that is not hunting. Organizations can hire additional customer care personnel at a fraction of the cost to take care of existing customers (wasn’t it Sam Walton who said it best: “Take care of your customer or else your competitor will”?)

With eyes shifting between sales and new customers, forward thinking organizations are investing more in technology or tools to maximize results. Those clever, slick sales rep can be so personable, chat about sports stats or baffle everyone with sales-speak. Now, survival instinct kicks in to realize who they really need are hunters to keep that food, keep up the cave … rocks in the pocket are less important.

Organizations are reading books, talking to sales trainers, bringing in guest speakers -- all  from people who were once sales pros but make a better living telling a BIGGER story!   The organizations start believing they might have grasped some of it, start asking their own sales folk what they’re doing. Out comes the baffling speak that sounds somewhat logical. For added drama, sports score stats are now replaced with sad stories about the economy or what support they're not getting or they would do better if they just had this or that. It all makes sense, sorta.

Just ask people about cold calling and you will get a variety of definitions. If it’s your sales reps, they will tell you that cold calling went out before Glengarry Glen Ross went to DVDs.  There are now bloggers and sales sites saying you don't have to cold call anymore for backup.  That is just wrong!

As the economy has become uncertain, ongoing changes guaranteed, you HAVE to keep the " bucket full" to protect against the unfortunate event that existing customers slow down or halt completely.

What organizations need today, as always, are hunters. True hunters are cold calling, making appointments with nonbuyers, qualifying prospects to test opportunity potential, predicting reasonable success ratios, creating unique presentations and proposals that address unique needs, then following up effectively to close. Time spent should be minimum 6 hours a day out of the office in front of prospects. Time for 2/3 of their efforts on new business development with 1/3 on existing customers. Time to reverse the lazier habits, one being calling on the same customers that are already doing business, easier to get in front of and some times can be upsold.

The challenge many organizations face is understanding what they should realistically be able to ask for combined with what should be expected in return. Taking a cue from the top sales organizations’ culture, it would be to set up "best practices" whereby every sales rep is given daily goals broken down by cold calls, in person calls, presentations, proposals and service calls. Based on the cost of what they’re selling does impact the sales cycle and can reduce some of the numbers. However, establishing “best practices” sales metrics on activity is the most assured way for an organization to establish realistic goals and evaluate their return on investment.

The best recommendation I can give to organizations, especially smaller ones who may not be comfortable understanding reasonable expectations from their sales team would be to consider a CRM system.  After working with Goldmine, ACT!, customized systems, the one I favor is Salesforce.com.  The benefits are as follows:
  • 24/7 accessibility, from home, office, anywhere
  • E-Learning sessions for users, managers, administrators
  • Integrates with all members of the team -- sales, customer service, technical and other support
  • Everyone connected to the same system -- speaking the same language, internal communications
  • Managers can assess dashboards, do forecasting, etc.
  • Allows benchmarking top performers activity
  • Keeps everyone honest
Top sales pros understand the value of CRM systems, or other means of documenting activity, planning/forecasting.  They do NOT consider it "big brother".   Organizations understand the value gained from the ability to accurately forecast, predict ROI, and proactively implement contingency plans.

Cold calling, like hunting, will stay around even if the cavemen haven’t.
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