What is the key to driving more leads into your pipeline? How does prospecting become something you enjoy—not a chore? Joanne Black believes it’s through referral-driven lead generation. It’s a game-changer that most salespeople don’t know how to properly employ. Joanne shares the details in this episode of Sales Reinvented. Don’t miss it!
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling, a sales contrarian, and the author of No More Cold Calling and Pick Up the Damn Phone! She works with sales organizations to build a referral culture, ensure a qualified pipeline, and get the one-call meeting.
Joanne uses a referral selling system that includes strategy, metrics, skills, and accountability. Every salesperson loves referrals. The conversion rate is more than 50%. What they’re usually missing is a reliable process where metrics are set to get referrals. Joanne notes that sales leaders think they’re doing a good job with referrals. But the reality is that referrals are few and far between.
So she points out that they’re not leveraging one area that would be a game-changer: When you talk about lead generation, who is better to refer to you than your clients? You’ve built relationships with them. Your business, product, or service has helped them achieve results. The problem is that they don’t know what to do and salespeople don’t know how to ask.
You have to start with a strategy around referral selling. What outcome do you expect? You have to be committed to making referrals your #1 outbound approach. You have to measure it, set KPIs, build the skills of your sales team, and teach them how to ask for a referral and get an introduction. Then you make sure they’re accountable to a result. Because without accountability, nothing changes.
You need to be relationship builders—not sales pitchers. Salespeople pitch and cold email in every means possible. But we already know that pitches don’t work. It’s why the sales profession has gotten a bad name. Customers buy because of the relationship and trust they have with you. Without a relationship, the rest doesn’t matter. The research shows that trust is important but only 18% of buyers said they trust salespeople.
If a client agrees to refer someone to you, you help walk them through what that process looks like. Typically, they call or email their connection and say “I’d love for you to talk to Paul Watts, and here’s why…” This person will trust your client, trust that they won’t waste their time, and that they’re a credible resource. The trust transfers to you.
Good salespeople also need patience, persistence, and a good contact strategy. How are you going to stay in touch? What insights can you share?
Joanne emphasizes that you need LinkedIn skills. LinkedIn is a place to begin a conversation and build a relationship—not to pitch. She recommends sending a personalized invitation to make a personal connection. It’s also a great place to begin insightful conversations if you’re really good at asking questions. There is so much news coming in and so many things to talk about. What is going on that you can educate yourself on so you can engage in conversation with your prospect? You build an amazing relationship, learn what they’re looking for, and schedule the next call.
A sales VP came to Joanne with a problem. She needed to drive revenue faster. So what did Joanne recommend? That they implement a referral system. In less than two months of implementing the new lead generation system, they drove 26 opportunities into their CRM. Joanne points out that it reinforces the fact that people aren’t systematically getting referrals. There’s a huge opportunity to close the gap with referral-driven selling. Listen to this episode of Sales Reinvented to learn more!
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Tony Hughes works with companies all over the world and the universal problem that he sees is that no one has enough leads in their sales pipeline. The problem is that if you don’t create opportunities, you have nothing to close. All of your other sales skills are moot if you can’t apply them. So how do you generate leads? What should your prospecting process look like? How can you leverage technology and trigger events to get your foot in the door? Tony Hughes shares his process in this episode of Sales Reinvented!
Tony Hughes has 35+ years of corporate and sales leadership experience. Tony is a renowned speaker, independent consultant, and bestselling author. He recently wrote Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch That Fills Your Pipeline and Wins Sales and has another book in the pipeline.
Tony emphasizes that everyone needs to know their ICP and buyer personas before you can start prospecting. You also have to be honest about product-market fit. The entire world is not a prospect. You need to apply time and expertise where it will help people the most and deliver the best result for you and your company.
You start by creating a target list of companies. Then you must understand buyer personas. What individuals will you be selling to? Decision-makers or influencers? What matters to them? What pushback will they give? What phrasing and language works for them? You get about 7 seconds before someone wants you off the phone, so you have to use that time well.
Then you need to nail your conversation narrative + value messaging. No one wants more tech. They don’t want another vendor to manage. They don’t want another change project. So why do salespeople talk about that stuff? Make the conversation about that person and their opportunity to improve results in their role.
Tony shares that firmographics are the attributes of the organization at the most basic level. What is their industry? Their size? Psychographics questions if they are in growth mode, crisis mode, etc? With technographics, you want to research the tech the organizations are using. Every salesperson needs to develop what Tony calls TQ or the Technology Quotient (like IQ and EQ). You have to be able to wrangle the tech stack. Plus, it’s important to understand what tech your product could be replacing.
Organizations in startup mode may be using Hubspot. If you’re a Salesforce rep, you want to look for companies who are using Hubspot and who have recently done a capital raise (the trigger event). Tony recommends using headless browsing, trigger event monitoring platforms, and Sales Navigator to find a common trusted relationship. Then you can make the sales call on a warm lead. Trigger events combined with referrals give you the highest probability and fastest path to new customer revenue.
COVID has accelerated the 4th industrial revolution. Tony believes that if you aren't concerned about the bots coming for your job, you’re asleep at the wheel. That’s why it’s so important that you leverage technology to automate your reach.
Tony emphasizes that you need to be masterful at talking the language of leaders. Talk about the client’s opportunity to improve results in their role. You need genuine insights and a worthwhile point of view. Unless you hook their interest and back it with legitimate insights, you won’t be successful.
You need to develop TQ and use technologies really well. Get masterfully good at using your own CRM. Learn to use Sales Navigator well to monitor for trigger events. When something changes with prospects, you need to know. People treat tech like a gym membership—they pay for it but never really use it. But Tony emphasizes you can’t struggle trying to use the basic technology.
Tony was in London last year and was working with 80+ people. He was talking about the power of trigger events and referrals. On day two, the head of customer success asked to share a story. In the last two years, they’d lost 7 clients in Europe. They lost those accounts because a new senior person joined the organizations and they didn’t develop relationships with them. Another salesperson swooped in and developed the relationship and snagged their clients from under their noses.
Trigger events are insanely powerful. If someone is coming in and replacing the C-suite executive you have a relationship with, develop a relationship with them—while staying connected with the person on their way out. Congratulate them as they move into their new role somewhere else. In that way, you’re cultivating two relationships where you may have had none if you hadn’t monitored the trigger event.
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According to Brynne Tillman, lead generation and prospecting are both top of the funnel drivers—and the top of the funnel drives all business. If you don’t have opportunities in the door, it doesn’t matter how good your product is. It doesn’t matter how good of a salesperson you are. If you don’t have the first conversation, you won't make a sale. Brynne believes the power lies in warm connections. Listen to this episode of Sales Reinvented to hear her take!
Brynne Tillman is the CEO of Social Sales Link and a LinkedIn Whisperer who teaches business development professionals on how to convert content and connections to conversations. Through her warm marketing prospecting philosophy, she guides sales leaders to leverage the power of LinkedIn to attract, teach, and engage their buyers, ultimately starting relationships with a high level of credibility.
Brynne prefers prospecting with warm leads. You have already established a high level of credibility and it isn’t a climb to prove that you and your business are worthy of a conversation. Bryne notes that the challenging part is asking clients to send referrals your way. Many of them can’t think of anyone right off the bat. But they say “If I think of anyone, I’ll send them your way.” Occasionally, they get those referrals.
Brynne believes that process needs to be accelerated. LinkedIn allows you to do that. Before you speak with your client, run a filter search on their connections, and identify people that might be a good fit for your business. Now you can ask your client, “Can I run this list by you and get your insights on these people?” From there, maybe you could narrow it down to 8 people that would know your prospect and take your call. Then get their permission to use their name in the conversation. With one simple process, Brynne points out that you could have 8 people to reach out to, 4 of which can become phone calls.
Brynne points out that with prospecting, you have to be comfortable asking. You have to be able to have conversations with people. You also have to earn the right to get to the ask. To do that, you have to master the ask/offer ratio. Bryne emphasizes that everything you do in sales is an ask. You’re asking someone to accept a connection, read a piece of content, take a phone call, watch a video, etc. At the end of the consumption, you can do one of three things:
What are you doing that compels them to take your call?
Brynne recommends you learn the ability to detach from reaching your goals and attach to helping the prospect or customers’ reach theirs. Your prospects can smell commission breath. They can tell when you’re pushing to make a sale OR if you’re seeking to provide value.
You should only make the sale when you know that the solution is right based on what you’ve learned about the prospect. It’s not easy to do when you have sales goals and KPIs to hit. It’s hard to measure this skill from an organizational perspective. It’s a tough but important shift.
Michael Port wrote the book, “Book Yourself Solid” which was a revelation for Brynne. In the book, he says “Give away so much value that you’re afraid you gave too much—and then give more.” The ability to give is a skill. Salespeople were taught NOT to give things away for free. But you have to be a resource and provide insights for them. If they can learn more from Google than your sales call, you will lose.
What are Brynne’s top lead generation and prospecting dos and don’ts? Listen to find out!
8 years ago, when Brynne was building out her program, she found one of her clients (Rob) was connected to one of her largest prospects. She had spent years trying to connect with this person. So she asked her client how they knew each other and if he’d be open to making an introduction. He said “absolutely.” Within 20 minutes, she had a response from her prospect with a meeting time.
She showed up and he said, “go.” So she asked how she got the meeting and he said “If Rob asks me to do something, I’m doing it. He’s one of my favorite people.” Brynne said, “If I can show you how to get your commercial lenders in the door the same way, would you be interested?” He looked at his calendar, set a meeting with her, and asked “By the way, how much?” It was the fastest sale she ever made. She leveraged her warm connection and realized, “Why prospect any other way?” Warm connections are so much easier. Hear all of her thoughts by listening to the whole episode!
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How do you get better prospecting results? What is the best and easiest way to bring in leads? How do prospecting and lead generation play valuable roles in the sales process? In this episode of Sales Reinvented, Chad Burmeister shares how he pairs innovative thinking with leading technology to get better prospecting results.
Chad Burmeister is the CEO of ScaleX AI which aims to solve salespeople’s pipeline problems. Chad’s goal is to empower sales professionals to become the best version of themselves by focusing on their mindset, skillset, and toolset. Don’t miss his valuable take on the lead generation and prospecting process.
Chad sees prospecting as getting a list and making emails, phone calls, or social connections. It’s marketing outward. Lead generation is more along the lines of creating content—like a podcast episode—that you drop out on social channels, email, etc. Prospecting is a brute-force technique and lead generation is finessed.
Chad emphasizes that lead generation is hugely valuable. If you can become your own marketing department and create your own content, you can be a thought leader and expert in your space. You’ll get personal inbound leads to yourself—not just your business. It’s a combination of brute-force and flow of inbound leads.
Chad’s company has perfected the prospecting process. They pull 1,000 leads a month. They then have a virtual assistant execute 3,000–5,000 emails against that list of people. Then they automate social outreach and do 50,000 impressions through paid ads against the same people. They just added the ability to send Vidyard or Loom videos to the top 100 prospects as well. It’s the brute-force prospecting that’s 80% automated and 20% human-driven.
For Chad, the lead generation process means jumping into a monthly meeting where he records video for an hour plus. That one video gets chopped into 60 to 90-second segments that get pushed out onto his social channels. That alone brings in 2–3 leads a day.
Chad points out that the level of success you have prospecting relates directly to your level of EQ—not IQ. When you’re selling to a certain part of the market, what are their triggers? What is their emotional process? It needs to be natural for your audience to understand. Park Howell teaches a simple process: You set the context, then you use “and” to raise the stakes, then “but”, and “therefore.” You can use this for anything you’re selling. It’s a simple approach to mapping your audience to your solution. You have to put out content that hits home and gets people to take a specific action. Chad shares a specific example—listen to hear him drive the point home.
At the beginning of the pandemic, one of Chad’s customers called him. One of the companies she did PR for was ordered to switch their apparel production over to mask production. So they printed 100 million masks and sold them all to Amazon in one week. She knew she could continue to do well from a commission perspective. So she asked Chad to help her come up with an approach for selling masks.
So they got together and recorded a 43-second voicemail. They then pulled a list of 1,200 heads of procurement from Fortune 2,000 companies and left them voicemails for 2 days straight. She got 3–5 returned calls per hour. 70% of the time they didn't even listen to the message but still called back.
What Chad learned is that you have to get the right person on the phone. His client sold $10 million worth of masks in 6–8 weeks. There were hundreds of other companies out there selling masks that did emails, social outreach, and other traditional means. The moral of the story? You have to be different than everyone else or you’re going to get the same results.
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Why are both lead generation and prospecting important functions of sales? Have you ever closed a deal that wasn’t in your pipeline? What are you doing if you aren’t prospecting? Prospecting and lead generation are the lifeline to your sales pipeline, according to the guest on this episode of Sales Reinvented—Mary Growth.
She emphasizes that you need a certain amount of deals in your pipeline that—when divided by your close rate—help you meet your goals. You have to know what you need to do to hit your number. If you need to hit $1million in sales and you have a 25% close rate, you need $4 million of qualified leads in your pipeline. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan. Learn all about Mary’s process in this episode.
Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B Sales Rep who after selling millions in revenue and breaking multiple records, formed Sales BQ®. Her 8-year B2B midmarket sales career required daily prospecting efforts. She was the first rep to embed social selling and custom events into her lead gen process to diversify the funnel from just telemarketing and email prospecting.
Mary believes in a world where sales and marketing work together. Her 8 years in a mid-market B2B sales job taught her that revenue generation needs to come from sales and marketing working together.
Mary’s ideal process starts with marketing. It starts with a well defined Ideal Client Profile (ICP). Who are your key buyer personas? Who do you want your clients to be? Be as targeted and niche as possible. You need to know their language to emotionally align with them. Then you create content to help the buyer educate themselves. It’s not a “spray and pray” approach anymore.
Secondly, Mary emphasizes that you have to use marketing attraction methods that work. You need actual social engagement with your audience. You need an SEO and content strategy. Interview your buyers and learn the long-tail key phrases that they’re plugging into search engines. Then produce unbelievable content that helps drive them through your content. You build trust and credibility to the point that they are compelled to work with you.
Then you look at paid traffic. Find any way to supplement your lead funnel. There are television and radio ads, telemarketing, email marketing, and even podcasts. You can host virtual events like webinars or LinkedIn Live events. There are many ways that salespeople can educate buyers.
Make your website the main conversion point. You want sales and marketing working together to take a targeted approach. The goal is to get buyers to land on the website and adjust and tweak it for the highest conversion rate possible. You need to implement calls to action, opt-ins, chatbots, etc. The site needs to be about how you serve your customer. Don’t let your website fail you.
Lastly, you need to have a defined process and plan to manage the inbound leads so nothing falls through the cracks. Define the process for marketing and sales engagement to make sure no one drops the ball.
Mary believes that you need to be passionate about prospecting. If you don’t have the energy and passion that’s necessary, you shouldn’t be in a role where you’re responsible for it. You either have the DNA of a hunter or you don’t. Not everyone is built to handle rejection and it can be energy-draining. You’ll be mediocre at best and won’t see results.
Mary points out that there are sales roles where prospecting responsibilities fall on a marketing team or BDR/SDR teams. A lot of salespeople are account executives that take those leads through high-level qualification, discovery, proposal, and close. Not every salesperson should be in prospecting. Some are better built for account management.
Conversely, if your role requires you to get deals in the pipeline, you and you alone are responsible. Don’t blame marketing for a lack of leads. Own the number yourself. Let marketing, SDR, and BDR teams be the icing on the cake. If you want to be a top sales performer, you won’t get there without prospecting. Take it upon yourself to be successful. What are other skills you can develop to be more successful? Listen to hear Mary’s advice.
A salesperson has to be willing to speak the prospects’ language—not their own. Mary notes that you must convert your language to make their lives better. Be the master of a day in your prospect’s life. You have to be exceptional at your craft, which means learning how to have meaningful conversations with prospects.
What is another key to becoming exceptional? Practice. Do it 100+ times. Practice on anyone and everyone. Do what you need to do to become proficient. Make the outbound call so comfortable for you that you can do it in your sleep.
Do AB testing with your emails. Look at your responses and see how people are—or aren’t—engaging with what you’re sending out. Monitor your social media and how you’re engaging with your audience.
When salespeople are under pressure, they resort to what is stored in their long-term memory. You have to practice these skills so they’re ingrained in your memory and become second nature. Mary shares a story about the importance of planning—don’t miss it.