Sales Hacker Chat Recap With Jill Konrath

Q1: What Do you Feel Is the Greatest Issue Facing Sales Professionals Today?

Overwhelm. Every seller I talk to feels crazy-busy, like they’re working day and night. It’s been a growing trend. Most recently, research by @CEB_Sales confirmed that seller overwhelm is the #1 issue too. It’s affecting performance too. Despite working more hours, sellers are getting less done & feeling more stressed. A major root cause is digital distractions. Getting sucked into email, LinkedIn, Twitter & more. All the time. Digital distractions cause everything to take longer and eat up 1-2 extra hours/day. To see if you have a problem, download a preview of More Sales, Less Time & take the quiz.

Q2: How Can Sales Professionals Better Manage Online Distractions?

Start by getting a baseline. As I talk about in More Sales, Less Time, a good app for that is RescueTime. With RescueTime you discover your biggest time sucks. It’s eye-opening, and embarrassing to find out how you work. A sales pro can leverage apps like Freedom to prevent them from going online for periods of time. It’s essential to turn off all notifications too. They are constant temptations to take you off task. Another suggestion is to close down email when you’re done checking it. It’s hard for sellers to do, but essential.

Q3: What can sales professionals do to drive More Sales in Less Time?

Once a sales pro has regained control of their distractions, the next thing to do is focus on what matters most. Every day/week, it’s crucial to ask: What will make the biggest difference … and make everything else easier if I do it?” For most sellers, the key is to increase customer-facing activities and prep time to ensure you do a good job. Plan your day and week before you begin. Block off time segments for essential activities. Take breaks too. At least once an hour, get up and move. It’ll re-energize you and make you more strategic/creative.

Q4: How can sales professionals leverage systems thinking to lighten their workload?

First thing is to identify possible “systems” in what they do–like prospecting, proposals or presentations. Let’s look at prospecting: it’s a coordinated set up “touches” that roll out over time – a system. Rather than treating each touch as a unique event, smart sellers develop the whole system at the onset. Then, they search for ways to improve the system, identifying what’s working and what needs tweaking.

Q5: What can sales professionals do to motivate themselves to do tough tasks?

Tough tasks? Like prospecting, dealing with a challenging customer issue? Personally I love the Pomodoro technique It’s like playing beat the clock. Set a timer for 25 minutes, then get to work and get it done. After 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break where you get up and leave your desk. Move. Then repeat this cycle two more times before taking a 15-minute break. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done this way. Guaranteed to double your productivity.

Q6: Where Do Most Deals Go South(west) And How Can Sales Professionals Prevent Them?

Most deals go south before they ever get going. Issue #1 is lousy prospecting with a focus on products/services. When you create messaging that’s addresses key issues or offers fresh insights/information, you pique curiosity. Plus, if you personalize it … or connect with people via social media ahead of time, success rates skyrocket. Issue #2 is lousy initial meetings. If buyers feel like you’re “pitching”, then immediately pull back. According to @forrester, only 15% of execs said their meetings with sales people met expectations. If you blow your first conversation, you don’t get a second one.

Q7: How Can Sales Professionals Set Themselves Apart From The Competition?

Lots of ways. Be highly knowledgeable about the buyer before you connect. Focus on helping them achieve their business objectives, not selling. Constantly bring buyers new ideas, insights and information that they’ll find valuable. In short, consider that YOU are the primary differentiator, not your product/service. Invest in becoming an invaluable resource who your buyers want to work with – or can’t live without.


Q8: How can Trigger Events lead to more sales in less time?

First off, a trigger event is an external or internal happening that changes a companies priorities. External trigger examples: changes in political climate, competitive moves, new technology, new legislation. Internal trigger examples: new leadership, change in strategic direction, relocation’s, stagnant 1st quarter earnings These triggers loosen the grip of the status quo. Buyers open to new options to respond to changing conditions. Sellers who track/follow-up on triggers are much more successful than others. Buying processes are significantly faster. Fewer competition are involved; sometimes none. Discounting is reduced. And, less time is spent on pursuing less qualified leads. Here’s a great e-book on leveraging trigger events—Hidden Gems:

Q9: At What Point Should An Opportunity Be Unqualified?

Any time an opportunity goes beyond the “typical” sales cycle, it’s a major red flag. When buyers are unresponsive, stalling or unwilling to let you engage with others, it’s a red flag too. Could be related to buyers not seeing value, talking to wrong people, other priorities or lack of trigger events. And sales pros should look for their own complicity in this. They could be creating issue. Example: Why don’t buyers see value? Why aren’t they talking to right people? Sales pros should regularly unclog their pipeline, freeing time and mental energy to go after real opportunities.

Q10: Where Do You See The Most Room For Improvement With Sales Professionals?

On a daily basis, focusing on what they can do to increase their success rate in every aspect of their job. That requires thinking, prepping, strategizing, and ultimately experimenting with new ways. It also requires a willingness to be on the edge of your comfort zone all the time – which is a challenge. On a more macro level, top sellers focus on becoming an invaluable resource for their customers. Becoming an invaluable resource requires a significant time investment, but the payback is huge.

Everybody Likes Truth-Tellers and Transparency

Photo Apr 19, 09 38 44 (1)It’s crazy… the more experience I gain working with different organizations, different industries and people with different experiences, the more ideas I can take out of this book and use in my personal sales life… Maybe that isn’t crazy for you, but it sure is crazy for me. On top of that, the other 6 salespeople I work with, I can give them examples from the book when they explain their situation.

Creating value for buyers has always been the focal point in the past few books I’ve read. It’s less about the features and more about what you can bring to the table.

“You could create value for crazy-busy buyers by showing them how to reduce the overall cost of the program while maintaining its effectiveness and integrity. You could share relevant information regarding “best practices” and what your company has learned from work with similar organizations.”[note]Page 180[/note]

Becoming a business improvement specialist can go a long ways. Once you’ve gotten experience in your role, you can use those personal experiences to help future customers. I’m currently talking with a company that is looking at purchasing the competition… Once I got in front of the prospect and shared with them that I’m switching over a company from that competitor, they wanted to know why.

That’s just one example of how I can lend some recently acquired knowledge to my prospect.

“They [customer’s] lack the knowledge, evidence, experience, trust and confidence necessary to invest and commit. More than anything, they are seeking reliable guidance that will give them the confidence to move successfully forward. No one likes change, of course. But no one likes standing still – and being left behind – either.” – Britton Manasco[note]Page 186[/note]

Your prospects want all of the juicy details. They want to know what you know. That’s why they’re talking to you. They are coming to you for help because you specialize in something they need. They want to feel like they’re in the most competent hands out there. It’s time for you to grab the bull by the horns and lead an organization to the finish line.

Once the prospect knows that you’ve done ‘this’ before, the light bulb will click on and they’ll be happy they brought you in. This next part hit home…

“When you’re late to the party

Before you get caught up in the seduction of the low-hanging fruit, slow down, catch your breath and gather your wits about you. Just because you have an interested prospect does not mean that a sale is imminent. In fact, depending on your product or service, it may be months before you have a signed contract.”[note]Page 218[/note]

You’ve got to live this one before you can truly appreciate this Ah-Ha Moment. I was so freaking late to the party… but I was there and I was excited. Got in, did my due-diligence, showed them the product, showed pricing… like clockwork all within a week. #Boom – crash and burn. I was just so excited that I wanted to compete against anybody and they’d already been evaluating the competition for a few months. I would have been better off taking my time or not competing at all.

Luckily though, for me, this prospect is extremely responsive and I sent tidbits of information every few weeks. It’s just a matter of time before I get back in there. I should have been honest, and let the prospect know that I didn’t have enough time to fully evaluate the situation.

“Today’s prospects want to know the truth, so don’t shade it. In this social media age, where customers freely voice their opinions online, you can be assured that any issue about your offering, customer service, and financial stability can easily be uncovered.”[note]Page 241[/note]

Wan evidence? Go on Twitter, Facebook or Google and look up your company’s name and add customer service, hack, experience at the end of it. You’re going to get a handful of websites where customers complain about your company or product. It’s just the nature of the beast being in the information age. It happens… so if a prospect brings it up, DO NOT lie about it. It’ll definitely come back to bite you in the ass.

Nobody likes being lied to… so if you’re transparent, the communication should be completely open.

“Your prospects like truth-tellers. Don’t be afraid to speak up. But make sure they understand the context of what you’re sharing. You care. You want them to succeed. That’s why you’re talking.”[note]Page 251[/note]

Pretty simple, right? I think, often, sales people try to be too salesy. They want to appeal to all of the must-haves an organization it looking for. They want to bend over backwards for their prospect and they’re willing to drop their pants to earn their business. In some sense, it happens. I think the sales people that rise up, provide value, take the opportunity by the horns and lead the prospect down the path of success will end up winning.

Telling them ‘no’ or ‘we can’t do that’, might be a deal killer. But when the competition says they can do it and then they don’t… guess who the prospect is going to come running back to. I get to see this on a weekly basis. The competition says they can do something and then the customer gets screwed. The salesperson is nowhere to be seen since they already closed the deal.


There’s more to come from me about:

Snap Selling | Jill Konrath

Get “Snap Selling” on Amazon.

If They Like What They See; They’ll Find Budget

Photo Apr 19, 09 38 44 (1)After a much needed break… I’m back baby! Michelle got me a trip to Costa Rica for my birthday… which I highly recommend! I wanted to write… but I knew I needed to stop for a few days. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with the Change Creators in the #SocialSelling world and I’m extremely excited and giddy about what’s to come. Along with that, I’m getting further and further into Snap Selling and I keep finding Golden Nuggets.

“Don’t wait for customers who are ready to buy. Be a sales initiator and learn how to create opportunities out of thin air. If you bring prospects an idea that makes good business sense, they’ll consider it. If the idea is aligned with their business objectives, strategic imperatives, or current priorities, it’ll be evaluated. If they like what they see, money will be found.”[note]Page 128[/note]

That makes pretty good sense right? When you need something so badly, you find a way to buy it. So, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and figure out how you can make that happen. If you don’t know what the buyer’s shoes are like, figure it out. The internet is full of information… start reading!

If people are willing to change their priorities throughout the year, they’ll change their budget if you give them a good enough reason to. If they’re giving you time… they can see the value in whatever you have to offer.

“The only thing they care about is if you bring value to their business. If not, you’re a waste of time.”[note]Page 139[/note]

That pretty cut and dry and doesn’t get any easier than that. People don’t want you wasting their time because time is money! You’ve got to deliver whenever you have the opportunity. If you get someone on the phone, capitalize. If someone responds to your tweet or LinkedIn message, provide value. Continuously providing value is difficult, but once you find the sweet spot, man does it feel great!

I talk about this all the time. Providing Value. Don’t lead with your product… lead towards your product. Pitching someone about a feature doesn’t seem to work anymore… unless someone literally asks you about the feature. OR, they’re pissed at the competition. Don’t feel the need to dive directly into the product.

“Unfortunately for most sellers, their itch to pitch is unleashed when they start hearing about their prospect’s issues and challenges. Before you know it, they’re leaning forward in their chair and talking excitedly about their offering or capabilities.”[note]Page 160[/note]

I remember sitting at my desk while are Cornerstone chomping at the phone because the person was telling me about their issues! I was pumped. They’d just told me a huge issue and I knew exactly how my product could help them. I ‘knew’ it was time for me to bring up the product… and pfft… it went from a great conversation to ‘another sales call’. The prospect closed up and stopped talking.

In retrospect, I should have kept asking questions, digging deeper and setting the stage for our next conversation. I didn’t shed any light on the current situation within the industry and I sure as heck ruined the conversation.

Once you get in front of a buyer, it’s time to get out the diagram to get a better understanding of where things are going wrong.

“I’ve seen other sellers draw the silos between departments and the multiple handoff points as they discuss the tremendous inefficiencies in departments.”[note]Page 175[/note]

Try and envision yourself drawing or creating a diagram in front of a buyer. It’s a great engagement opportunity for you to show them where the troubles are. Where are the disconnects in their organization? Where do they lose time and money because they have ‘bandaided’ together solutions? The majority of organizations are ‘behind the ball’, and the majority of them don’t know that. It’s your job to show them!

You’re helping them come to the conclusion that you can save them time and money. You’re leading them down the path to choosing you as a partner because you’re providing them with all sorts of value and content.

“… if you become an everyday value creator, you will stand you. So stop thinking about getting the order and start thinking of yourself as a business improvement specialist who product/service is only one part of the value you bring to your potential and current customers.”[note]Page 177[/note]

Are you creating value regularly? Are you pushing out content all the time to your network? Are you engaging with your prospects? Eventually, once you’ve accomplished that, they’ll be coming to you for information. You’ll be their source for information. It’s absolutely insane as to why people think that this is impossible. It’s not!

I’ve got a friend in the travel industry and I know that she could absolutely murder sales… She just needs to create a website, post pictures and talk about her trips. Who doesn’t want to look at pictures and fantasize about traveling the world. Twitter and instagram are visual feed where you can post pictures. Drive traffic from those, to a website and you’ve got yourself an incredible following.

Not to mention… travel bloggers have an incredible tight niche community. Publish, post, share, comment content and become the value creator!


There’s more to come from me about:

Snap Selling | Jill Konrath

Get “Snap Selling” on Amazon.

Don’t Get Deleted! | Snap Selling

Photo Apr 19, 09 38 44 (1)Day in and day out, salespeople are always looking for different ways to get in front of their future clients. Being in the information age, we want value immediately! If the subject line of an email sucks; boom, deleted. If a voice message starts out boring; boom, deleted. You’ve only got a few seconds to capture someone’s attention… so you have to make it count.

“Here’s what you need to remember: Your prospects read your e-mails with their finger on the Delete key. They listen to you voice mails with their finger on the Delete key.”[note]Page 62[/note]

The majority of your prospects are inundated with multiple sales calls and sales emails a day. Why should they listen to you? Why should they care? What do you have to offer that is so different than what they’re already doing?!

Value… You’ve gotta give ’em value. “Well Jordan, you make it sound so simple.”

It is and it isn’t. You need to catch their attention and spark their interest but in a way where you’re not talking about your service/product. You’ve got to personalize your approach… and sometimes that can be time consuming.

“Being able to clearly articulate your value – from your customers’ perspective – is foundational to your sales success.”[note]Page 70[/note]

Knowing something about their business or their industry will go a long ways when you’re reaching out. Referencing their website and seeing that they’re hiring for a handful of new roles can get you in the door. (You can help them hire people faster.) Following their social channels and learning about the latest breakthrough they’ve had, shows them you care. (You can confirm their security is impenetrable.) That’s pretty black and white, but you get the point… I hope.

If you can articulate your value by referencing their current pains… you’ll have sparked their interest. Don’t lead with the product.

That is only two examples of how you can clearly articulate your value from the customer’s perspective. Jill Konrath takes it a step further and dives into ‘Trigger Events’.

“A trigger event is an occurrence that shifts an organization’s priorities. It could be internal or external to the organization. It doesn’t matter.”[note]Page 76[/note]

You better have just had a big Ah-Ha Moment Baby!

I have trigger events happen all the time! Whenever a law changes; people need to know about it. If something changes with the Affordable Care Act (ACA); I need to alarm my clients/prospects. Those are two examples…  Think anything! They’re in the news, boom. New CFO/CEO, boom. One of your competitors gets acquired, Trigger. Growth, hiring, expansion… ETC. The list goes on.

If something changes (trigger event) and now you’re even more aligned with their goals/immediate issues… imagine how much simpler it would be for you to articulate your value from their perspective!

“Your prospects are just too busy these days to waste their time with you if you don’t pay this price of admission.”[note]Page 95[/note]

I’ve been talking about this for the past few months. It’s the idea of social selling and separating yourself from the rest of the competition. You must personalize your approach. You must do your homework on the company. Nobody wants to be pitched on the first phone call and they sure as heck don’t want a canned voicemail. Same thing goes for your emails. You can’t send them some junk, because, like we learned earlier… it’ll be deleted!

Spend a few extra minutes; go to their website and at least read their ‘mission statement’ or ‘about us’.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve done all that but no word back from the prospect. It happens… and it happens a lot. It happens to ALL of you reading this. No big deal… now it’s your job to find relevant information to send their way every once in awhile. I’m sure you’ve got some cadence of how often you call, email, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

“Content designed for your prospects should present business value, help build a business case, educate about problems, invite interaction across the buying cycle, share expertise and reduce the perception of risk. – Ardath Albee”[note]Page 111[/note]

There is so much reliable content out there about every industry. Find credible information and send it to your prospects. Depending on what organization you work for, your employer could provide that information. Statistics and numbers speak volumes to people. Saving people time and money, increasing security, minimizing attrition… the list goes on. Jill has some lists in the book that you have to read!

Leaving one voicemail and sending one canned email isn’t going to do it in the information age. Prospects are being bombarded daily… set yourself apart and rise above the noise. Everybody is capable… you just have to make it routine.


There’s more to come from me about:

Snap Selling | Jill Konrath

Get “Snap Selling” on Amazon.

Sales Has Changed | Stop Being Boring | Snap Selling

Photo Apr 19, 09 38 44 (1)Sales has CHANGED… If you don’t think this… then you’re crazy. Seriously though. The old school mentality of ‘always be closing’ is no longer applicable.

“In the new sales climate, focusing on your FABs (features-advantages-benefits) creates insurmountable obstacles. Using clever objection-handling techniques insults your prospect’s intelligence. And employing ‘always be closing’ tactics is the surest way to prematurely end potentially fruitful relationships.”[note]Page 4[/note]

It’s black and white… Read it again and internalize it. You and your company do the exact same thing as the company down the street. Literally…

Look at me. Technically, I sell HCM and payroll software. But what’s the difference between me and the other behemoth in the industry? I will out work them, I will out deliver them, I will out communicate them, anyday. It’s because I CARE about the people I sell to. I’m more worried about the success of the organization I’m speaking with than the actual sale.

If it can help your business, I want to help. If it doesn’t help your business, I’ll let you know. The greater good of your organization honestly matters to me. The more I learn about your company… the more help I can offer.

“Once you know your buyer inside and out, you can easily start applying what you’ve learned to create customer-enticing value propositions, messaging, presentations, and proposals. Plus, this knowledge of your customer will be at the heart of all your best, most fruitful conversations.”[note]Page 7[/note]

You’ve got to personalize your approach. You have to learn about the people you’re selling to. Nobody wants to be sold to… but to get in front of them, you have to do something so you can get a better understanding of their issues. Nobody really knows their issue until you show them. Then, once you’ve created that partnership, those people will be the best salespeople for you.

When you’ve got a happy client… they’ll bend over backwards to help you… Don’t forget though… It’s okay to ask them for referrals.

“The only chance to truly differentiate yourself today lies in the value you can personally bring to the relationship. And you can bet that your prospects are constantly assessing whether you’re work it. They truly want to work with smart, savvy people who bring them ideas, insights, and information they deem beneficial.”

Being a boring ass sales person doesn’t cut it anymore. You’ve got to give the prospect something and that something has to directly affect them. If you’re not educated in your industry, how can you differentiate yourself? Whatever you sell, if you don’t know what directly affects your market, you’ve already lost.

Look at your current customers for feedback! If you’re helping people do their current job and they love you… you need to figure out what exactly they love.

“Nothing, I repeat, nothing is more important than your customer knowledge. Without understanding your customers’ business environment, challenges, and marketplaces, you won’t get selling right.”[note]Page 40[/note]

If you can’t connect with your customer’s needs, you can’t sell anything. You need to understand the people you’re selling to. Does that make sense? Try and put yourself in their shoes! Sales people SUCK at doing this.

Ya… your product is awesome but why should anyone else care. We’re getting bombarded with information all day. We don’t know what’s good or what’s crap.

“Your prospects are busily going about their lives and their work with an already overloaded calendar. They’re not waiting for your call. They’re just trying to get done the things that have to be done.[note]Page 57[/note]

Nobody likes being interrupted, so why should someone give you their time? Time is the most important commodity these days. If you’re going to try to sell someone on your product, you need to spark their curiosity and provide value. It’s really easy for prospects to ignore you… so you need to find a way to get their interest!


There’s more to come from me about:

Snap Selling | Jill Konrath

Get “Snap Selling” on Amazon.