Photo credit: Jeb Blount emphasizes the importance of prospecting during the CoffeeTea&Water Show in Las Vegas.
Sales holds the key to success, and attendees at the National Automatic Merchandising Association CoffeeTea&Water show in Las Vegas received plenty of sales insight from Jeb Blount, sales author and consultant, offered tips on various aspects of selling.
Blount, founder of SalesGravy.com, addressed prospecting in his first session during the show. He noted there are more prospecting methods available today than ever: phone calling, knocking on doors, attending trade shows, email and social media. He said it’s important for sales people to use a variety of methods.
“When you think about prospecting, what is your balance? There’s a tendency to put all the eggs on one basket.”
One of the most important pieces of advice he offered sales people is to allocate appropriate time to prospecting. He said sales people should spend 80 percent of their sales time to prospecting and 20 percent to following up with contacts. He called this the “80/20” rule.
The goal of prospecting, which every sales people should be aware of, is to qualify, get the appointment and close the sale. “A lot of people don’t have a clue what their objective is,” Blount observed.
He noted that “fanatical prospecting” needs to be part of the organization’s culture.
In discussing the role of the sales manager, Blount said sales managers need to help sales people deal with their enthusiasm cycles which all sales people experience. One way to do this is make them aware of the 80/20 rule. “If you manage sales people you’ve got to teach them this,” he said.
In another part of the program, Blount addressed the traits that make a leader successful. He said that in the refreshment services industry today, new processes and technologies have emerged to make the organizations more efficient, but leadership needs to improve.
“You are the most powerful competitive edge in your business,” he said to the attendees.
He said managers need to be likeable, and they need to pass this trait on to their employees.
While likeability is important, he noted that in itself it will not gain customers’ trust. “In Texas, they call it ‘big hat, no cows,’” he noted.
One of the most overstated maxims in business is that customers are buying you personally, Blount said.
“People don’t want you to sell yourself,” he said. “They want you to listen to them. People don’t buy from people they like always.”
Customers want service providers to listen to their problems and solve them. “Problem solvers are the champions of the business world,” he said. “Listening is the most powerful thing you can do in developing a human connection.”
Blount noted the following reasons people buy from a particular service provider:
- Be likeable
- Solve problems
- Built trust
- Create positive emotional experiences
Blount expanded on the elements of likeability. The first and easiest step is to smile.
“Likeability is the gateway to connecting,” he said.
Creating a positive emotional experience requires giving something to people without expecting something back in return.