Consistent and Coordinated Sales Execution

July 19, 2012

by Townsend Wardlaw

Two weeks ago, I received an email from a sales representative working for a company whose mailing list I had opted into some time ago.

The company is in the luxury vacation rental industry and sells a membership that entitles you to renting any of their 200+ incredible properties anywhere in the world.

The email read:

Hi Townsend,
I see you’ve been in our system for a while and have yet to speak with anyone here about membership.
I’d love to arrange a brief phone call to learn about your travel preferences and see if membership makes sense for you and your family.
Please call me at the number below or let me know a preferred time and number to reach you.

Not bad I thought… professional and straightforward.

I’d actually signed up almost a year ago, when I had met the founders and wanted to learn more about his business. Up until that time, I had received their newsletter – which I criticized in a past post for being internally focused and irrelevant to me.

I was pleasantly surprised to see they were finally getting off their butts and using the data they have acquired to actually try and get in touch with me to sell me something.

Of course like most people, I’m busy and get lots of emails so I pretty much ignored it. I didn’t even delete it….I just left it there because it made a positive impression!

One week later I received a second email. Again, I was pleasantly surprised that they were making a second attempt. The tone of the email caught my attention.

It Read:

Hi Townsend,
Even if you don’t have any immediate vacation plans, I would love to just introduce myself, learn about your travel preferences, and build a relationship for the future.
Please call me at the number below or let me know a preferred time and number to reach you.

Now there is nothing wrong with the email above but to me this felt like the salesperson was defaulting to a submissive ‘sorry if I am bothering you’ tone. Because I pay attention to these things, I can tell you it immediately made me perceive this individual differently. In simplest terms it lowered their standing in my eyes. Whereas the first email created the impression it was written by an executive assistant, the second smelled of a sales person. What a difference a few words can make.

All of this got me thinking…

  • Will I receive another or will this person give up after two emails? Does Sarah plan to try and reach me via phone as well? (They have my cell number!)
  • Were the emails written by Sarah herself or are they standard templates tested in controlled tests and used across the organization?
  • Was this outreach initiated by Sarah? Was she trolling through her database? (as great sales people should do) or did marketing put together a list of ‘neglected’ leads.
  • The basic question I’m trying to answer is: If I buy, would it be to a deterministic sales strategy executed and measured across the organization or… would it be dumb luck.

Can you guess where I’m going with this?

Unfortunately, sales organizations are usually no more than the sum of a number of autonomous, independently operating, independently thinking individuals.

So why is that a problem?

First of all, most sales people are not successful. In fact, current data suggests less than 25% of sales people attain their annual goal.

Second, imagine there’s somebody who’s sitting next to Sarah whose email is just a little more tightly worded. Now imagine there’s somebody sitting next to Sarah who’s just a little more persistent, meaning they’ve decided they’re going to send four emails and follow up with a phone call. If the new approach results in an opportunity twice as often as Sarah’s approach, what are the chances that knowledge will be shared 100% across the organization? Even if it does, how long will it take for this knowledge to disseminate?

So What?

Think about how decisions are made in your sales organization. Who decides who you will target, what medium will you use (email, phone, etc.), how persistent will you be? (number of touches, sequence of messaging, etc.)

More importantly, how are these decisions implemented and measured in real time to optimize results.

More often than not, I run across an “everybody does their own thing” approach. Or worse, an individual (usually the CEO or Marketing VP) is driving a dogmatic “we’re going to do it this way” approach.

The bottom line is I’d like you to think about if and how you intend to pursue your prospects once they have opted in or otherwise come onto your radar.

Is this pursuit of that prospect a reactive, ad-hoc, everybody does what they think is best approach? OR Is it systematic, organized, and consistent across the organization.

I can tell you from personal experience, very slight changes in a campaign – one more call, one more email – can have a dramatic impact on your results.

How you determine what’s working and what’s not and how you then ensure that knowledge, that process, that approach is shared across the organization, is the only thing that really matters.

Townsend Wardlaw is sales consultant who works with individuals and companies who are truly motivated to change and grow and accomplish amazing things.  Read more at http://townsendwardlaw.com/

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