Tag Archives: sales

Why prospects stall out & what you can do to get them moving

If you’ve ever been frustrated because your “rock star” prospect just won’t make a decision to move forward with what looks like a great career move, you’re not alone. In sales and in recruiting, it can be very difficult to understand why opportunities just stall out.

newtons law stuart miles

And we can beat ourselves up trying to figure out what we did — or didn’t do — that resulted in “cold feet.”

In this post, I’d like to offer the underlying  reason why you might have a hard time getting your prospect to commit, as well as some practical suggestions that might help get things back on track.

Simple physics: A body at rest…

To gain some foundational knowledge about why prospects may have a hard time making a move, let’s start with a quick physics lesson. Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.

In other words, it is going to take some amount of outside energy to get something to change it’s current state. Think of your reluctant prospect as the “body that is not in motion”. When we apply Newton’s law of motion to our stalled out prospect, we see that a possible root cause of this reluctance might simply  be there is not enough outside energy to overcome the inertia.

The person might not have reached a point where the status quo has been sufficiently challenged or exposed as a problem. As a result, then, your prospect simply is going to “stay at rest” because no outside force has triggered the motion. Stated another way, “no pain, no change”.

Tips to help you move a body at rest

One thing you need to check is the extent to which you have “built the case for change”. Perhaps you have not developed sufficient levels of dissatisfaction to have enough “outside energy” to overcome the inertia. For example, it’s one thing to simply identify “aspirations and afflictions“, but it might not be compelling enough for a person to make a change. The person might be thinking “so what?

To help in this case, you might want to try some “implication” questions to get your prospect thinking about the consequences of not making a move. For example, if the person is hoping for a shorter commute, ask them if they have thought about the implications of spending less time on the road and more time at home. Perhaps the value of “gaining time” (think: improved quality of life, or work:life balance) will move your prospect closer to the threshold of pain where they believe it’s time to change.

Another area to be aware of is the extent to which you are able to clearly articulate a value proposition that is tailored specifically to each prospect. When prospects don’t perceive enough value — outweighing this risk of change — they can become resistant to making a move.

Sometimes it’s tempting to talk about all of the positive things that your company can offer. Perhaps it is a flexible work environment, or a strong team culture, or great opportunities for growth and advancement. But if your prospect is not interested in any of these things, they won’t move forward. No matter how excited you are about what you can offer, or how compelling the argument, if it’s not of value to your prospect, it won’t matter. The “body will remain at rest…”

Be sure you spend time asking questions that get the person to clearly articulate what’s important when making a career move. And get the clear, complete list of things that are of value before you begin to demonstrate capability. Once you are sure that you have the list and understand what is of value, then carefully align your presentation with each of the points that are of value to your prospect.

And don’t forget to check in frequently with quick questions. For example, after sharing what your opportunity can provide that aligns with what is important to the prospect, be sure to stop and ask a brief confirming question. An easy confirming question might be, “Does this sound like it would address your need for clear growth opportunities?”

You can also use a brief confirming question after having a discussion about a specific objection or concern that has come up on the call. Once you’ve finished, simply ask, “Have I addressed your concern?” Or, “Does that answer your question?” And be sure to isolate the objection or concern by asking the open-ended question, “What other concerns do you have at this point?”

Remember that a big decision, like a career move, can be risky. And if prospects perceive too much risk, they will become resistant to change unless they believe that the benefits of making a move clearly outweigh the comfort of the body “remaining at rest“.

In order to avoid having your prospects stall out or become resistant to change, keep focusing on their needs and concerns, rather than on your “pitch” and “awesome opportunity”. And, finally, don’t forget to ask if there is any reason why they would not be comfortable moving forward in the process. Be sure to listen with attention and care to their concerns. Demonstrate your genuine interest in making the call a true “win-win”.

To your success!

Image courtesy of stuart miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Want to boost your success? Ask yourself these 3 questions

Much has been written about what it takes to be successful in sales — and in recruiting. Of course, there are many factors that can contribute to success.

keys to success by watiporn

And, while there are no magic methods or non-stop flights to instant success, at least three key attributes have become foundational for sales (and recruiting) success.

Take this short “self-assessment” using the three questions below to help you better understand how you rate on these three, critical attributes.

#1: Am I a learner ‘at heart”?

In her newest book Agile Selling top sales guru, Jill Konrath, tells us that learning agility is key to sales success. With an ever-changing and complex selling environment — as well as more educated and savvy customers — sales professionals must up their game when it comes to continuous learning and improvement.

It’s no different in recruiting. Your prospects and candidates have done their homework – and they expect the same from you. Research has shown that today’s buyers are more than 60% through their buying process before ever contacting a sales person.

How about you? Are you a learner at heart, or are you set in your ways — doing the same things in the same ways (…and expecting better outcomes!)? For example, when was the last time you refreshed your list of questions for your candidate screens? If it’s been a while, try a simple question audit. Get rid of low-impact questions that waste time on calls and replace them with high-impact questions that quickly move prospects and candidates forward.

Develop your selling skills — especially questioning and listening skills — or learn new ones. Successful recruiters are great sellers. And successful sellers spend time learning about their competitors. Why not make time each day to learn more about your competitors so you can be better prepared to successfully sell against them?

Have you thought about learning more about your “customers“? What is important to them (e.g., growth opportunities, company culture, work-life balance)? And be sure you up your game by learning about “your product” — your company and your job openings, so you can develop that powerful, tailored value proposition to close more candidates. Start by learning what problems can you solve for your prospects and candidates and then learning about how your product addresses what’s most important to them.

#2: How quickly to I bounce back from adversity?

In sales – as in recruiting — there are plenty of times when you might be tempted to feel down or discouraged. Days of cold calling or prospecting can leave you feeling depleted at best. But great sales people know that rejection is just part of selling. Top performers know how to get up — it’s the “bounce that counts”.

Daniel Pink, in his great book To Sell is Human: The surprising truth about moving others  says that “…staying afloat in an ocean of rejection… [p.99]” is key to selling success. He calls this attribute “buoyancy”. Buoyancy is not just a matter of being naive and full of false hope or unfounded optimism. It’s about developing the ability to be objective and balanced about each situation. It’s about not taking everything “personally”.

How about you? When you are tempted to feel down or rejected, how do you react? Do you bounce back rather quickly, or do you tend to brood and become self-critical or play the “victim” — taking everything personally?

Great sales professionals learn from each situation and can analyze each and extract the key learnings. They know that adversity and rejection are part of the sales process and can keep afloat. Begin enhancing your own buoyancy by trying to gain some perspective on each situation where you are tempted to despair. Can you ask some good questions that can lead to insight into why a specific situation led to an undesirable outcome for you? What part did you play? What might you do differently next time to change the outcome?

#3: Do I know how to help others buy?

The third, critical attribute is the ability to maintain a sharp customer focus. Great sales people know how their customers make decisions and are adept at facilitating the buying process — rather than pitching solutions. A great selling process is always aligned with how customers make buying decisions.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a “bad sales process” that is “seller-centric”. These sellers make it all about them and their product — leaving us feeling manipulated and coerced. As been said before, we can smell “commission breath” a mile away. And it’s not pleasant.

Top sales professionals — and recruiters — know the best way for them to reach their goals is to help prospects and candidates achieve theirs. The equation does not work the other way around.

How about you? When was the last time you thought about what it takes for a person to make a career move or decision? Try mapping your own “sales/recruiting process” to see how it aligns with your prospects’ decision-making process.

To help people buy, be sure that you are prepared to (a) ask questions that help others identify and clarify their needs; (b) answer questions to help people feel comfortable and avoid unnecessary risk; (c) demonstrate how your company and/or position is in a unique position to provide what’s important to your prospect, and; (d) gain commitment each step of the process.

So there you have it. Check yourself on these three attributes. Be honest. Develop these three, critical attributes and notice how your own success rate is enhanced!

To your success.

Image courtesy of watiporn at freedigitalphotos.net

Recruit more prospects with this proven sales technique

In the “old days” of selling, it was all about product knowledge. And, by the way, the sales person usually had the advantage — knowing more about the product than the buyer. For example, remember the days when you didn’t know how much car dealers were paying for cars? Or how much profit they were making? Or even the history of ownership? That’s why they always said, “Buyer beware“!

success ladder by samuiblue

But today’s great sales professionals know that their success depends less on their product knowledge and more on their ability to understand their buyers. Today’s buyers are highly informed and have access to as much — if not more — product information than sellers. In a way, it’s now, “Seller beware“.

In the current sales literature, much has been written about sales success being tied to the ability to map your sales process with how your buyers buy. So here’s a question for you:

As a recruiter, when was the last time you thought about mapping your recruiting process to how your prospects and candidates make decisions about careers?

If you want to enhance the candidate experience AND increase your own recruiting productivity, here are 3 tips that can help.

#1: Pay attention to the steps your prospects go through in making a career decision

Make it a point to talk with your prospects and candidates about how they will make their decision when it comes to career changes. Be sure you have a clear picture of the steps they will go through before considering a move.

In order to uncover this important decision-making process, you must ask great discovery questions. Resolve to ask more (and better!) questions about how your prospects and candidates will make their decisions. If you are unsure of what questions to ask, or have not developed a set of power questions, consider getting some great training to help you accelerate your success.

#2: Become more flexible

A sure “deal-killer” (especially with your passive candidates) is relying too much on your own needs and “script”. We’ve heard many, many recruiters focus entirely on their need to gather information (think: check-off boxes). This type of interview is anything but customer-centric and easily misses the mark when it comes to aligning with what your prospects need when it comes to making an important decision – like a career decision.

Instead of being rigid and staying on your own “script”, try becoming more aware of the importance of getting in tune with where your prospect or candidate might be in the decision-making process. Drop the need to “always be closing” or forge ahead with incorrect assumptions about interest — just to try and close job postings. Use great questioning and listening skills to ensure you are moving at the right pace.

If you move too quickly or don’t pay attention to what your prospect needs in order to be comfortable, you run the real risk of either losing the prospect all together – or unnecessarily lengthening the time it takes to move your prospect forward.

#3: Become a coach and adviser

Try to be more aware of your role as someone who can actually add value and help your prospect process an important decision. Make a conscious decision to step out of “recruiting mode” and pay attention to what is going to help your prospect minimize risk and maximize the ability to achieve career or personal goals.

Put yourself in their shoes and think of the things that they might be looking for. Some examples might be:

  • Doing work that is interesting or challenging
  • Having a great deal of autonomy
  • Working with a great team
  • Developing new skills or building greater competence with existing skills
  • Making a difference – being able to see the positive impact of your work on others (or in your community)

The point is to shift from thinking like a “sales person pushing a product” to thinking like a buyer with specific goals, needs, and fears. How can you help them think through their decision? How can you add value without appearing selfish or pushy? When you can answer these questions, you are well on your way to becoming more of a trusted advisor than a recruiter who simply need to fill an open position.

So the next time you are interviewing a prospect or candidate, stop being a recruiter and become a buyer instead!

Happy selling!

Image courtesy of samouiblue/ freedigitalphotos.net

3 tips to help you more efficiently move prospects forward

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get side-tracked and forgetful. In sales — and in recruiting — keeping track of calls with prospects is critical to success.

arrows by fotographic1980

It may take several calls, spread over several weeks or months, to close business. But how do you keep track of your calls? How do you ensure that you are moving forward and gaining commitment with each call?

Here are three tips to help you become better at following up and moving prospects and candidates forward.

Tip #1: Make use of existing tracking systems to get in the habit of documenting each call

This might seem kind of basic, but sometimes we leave too much to memory or make assumptions about our “best intentions” for following up from our calls. Remember, as soon as you hang up “life happens.”

Make it a point to use a call tracking system or customer relationship management tool to document each contact, rather than depending on various “post-its”, other random jottings or (yikes!) memory.

The best system to use is the one you are most likely to use on a daily basis — or are already using — to track applicants. Try to leverage existing systems, rather than add new ones just to track prospect progress.

For example, if you use Taleo already as your ATS, find ways to incorporate notes in Taleo that help you track prospects — rather than trying to introduce other software or systems. Keeping it simple will increase the likelihood that you will be able to develop the habit of tracking your calls.

#2: Document action items

If your call requires follow up, be sure to capture any action items. The best way to build trust is to be diligent about following up. A best practice is to also include a time frame with each action item you document. Nothing kills rapport and trust more than missing commitments. Prospects expect you to know how to quickly and efficiently manage follow-up items.

Another benefit of documenting and tracking action items is that you demonstrate to your prospect that your are organized and professional. Remember that we are all “crazy-busy” and things can drop off our already-too-full plates. Your organized and efficient handling of action items can actually be a competitive advantage for you.

Tip #3: Use the “buying decision” as your frame of reference

It’s easy to track candidates with “seller-focused” milestones. For example, “1st screening interview” or “sent assessment” or “Initial call”. But these milestones don’t tell you exactly how you need to move a prospect forward — especially a passive candidate.

Instead, get in the habit of documenting where your prospect is in the decision-making process. This practice will help you know exactly where to pick up on your follow-up calls and how to build commitment in a way that acknowledges where your prospect is in the decision-making process.

For example, let’s say you had an initial conversation with a passive candidate and determined that the prospect might be open to making a career move for the right opportunity. You would document the call by noting the person is open to discussing a move — as well as any other key, relevant points you discovered on your initial call.

You would also document at this point that you have set up a 2nd call (noting, of course, date, time, etc) AND that your next step (call objective) would be to discover/identify the key “pain points” or job motivators that would need to be present for the person to make a change.

The point is that you keep careful notes about what you learn about your prospect and how you are helping that person make an informed career decision. Your notes should help you develop each subsequent call objective.

When you document your calls — using the decision-making process as your frame of reference — you are also giving yourself a nice road map for helping ensure you have commitment along the way. Always keep in mind that the conversation is not as much about you or “your process” as it is about them — AND the steps they need to go through to ensure they are comfortable making an important decision.

So get in the habit of quickly and accurately capturing information about each call and turning your notes into a key competitive advantage. Keep your focus on your prospect’s decision-making process and you will ensure that you are able to quickly and efficiently gain commitment and close those “rock star prospects”!

To your success.

 photo courtesy of fotographic1980/www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

Why you need to pay attention to your prospects’ buying process

One mistake we have seen recruiters make is they forget to pay close attention to the buying process of prospects and candidates. As a result, they not only lose great opportunities, they waste valuable time by taking way too long to “close”.

Swan mirrorHere’s a new year’s resolution idea for you:

Resolve to match your recruiting process with how your “customers buy”.

Whether you are talking with a prospect or candidate, be sure you have a clear picture of how they will make their decision about a career move. Their “buying process” begins with needs.  You will make a huge (think: “rookie”) mistake if you forget to begin your process by understanding the powerful drivers of change.

For your active candidates, don’t assume because they have applied that they are a perfect fit. Use great diagnostic questions to uncover key needs, and then listen carefully to probe and clarify what is being said.

With your passive candidates, it’s even more important to spend time — especially early in the process — and discover what’s important to them when it comes to a career move. After all, without any compelling reason to change, people are going to be highly resistant to your attempts to “sell them” on your great opportunity.

Even the most attractive employer or career move must be sifted through the “buying criteria” of your prospects. The biggest mistake inexperienced sales people make is they skip this step and move too quickly into “pitching” a product. When this happens, run the very real risk of losing opportunities very early in the engagement.

In our experience with recruiters, we often hear them doing the usual “pre-qualification” — asking lots of fact-finding questions. But the problem is these fact-finding questions (typically focused on past experience or work availability) shed little or no light on how prospects or candidates will make a career decision. As a result, recruiters run the risk of being out of step with the buying process. And when you are out of step, you will — at best — damage your relationship.

When you begin with your prospect’s decision-making process in mind, it is much easier for you to begin to establish yourself as a “trusted adviser” in their buying process. As a trusted adviser, your credibility is enhanced, and you will likely encounter fewer objections. In addition, you might even get an opportunity to influence how the decision will be made. For sales professionals, this is the “brass ring” to grab!

Another benefit of keeping in step with your prospects and candidates buying process is that you will be less likely to lose your rock stars to the competition. If you can be a trusted adviser, your prospects (even your passive candidates) will be far less likely to “shop around”.

Finally, here are a few recommendations to help you avoid the costly mistake of misreading (or being out of step with) your prospect’s buying process:

  • Resolve to begin your conversations by focusing on what’s important to your prospects and candidates.
  • Hold off on talking about your opportunity until you have developed a complete list of the things that are most important to your prospects.
  • Spend more time questioning and listening and less time talking — especially early in your engagements.
  • Be careful about moving too quickly. Seek to understand and resolve concerns and hesitations before “selling” or pitching positions.
  • Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Think of the things that you might be concerned about — or need — in order to make a good decision.

Think of yourself as a “buying coach” instead of a seller. And as a coach, your first job is to collect good information before making recommendations or adjustments. As the old saying goes, “When we know better, we sell better.”

Want to be serious about starting your new year in step with your prospects? Check out our sales skill training for recruiters — designed to help you ensure you are a trusted adviser to your prospects!

Image courtesy of Dr. Joseph Valks/freedigitalphotos.net