When you set up a company with ‘doctor’ in the title people expect you to deliver solutions for things they think are wrong.
And that is exactly what Tony Morris, CEO and founder of the Sales Doctor is promising to deliver.
SI caught up with the business author and entrepreneur in the middle of one of his many working trips spreading his own particular remedies for ailing sales forces.
And one of the things that keep him racking up the business miles is a major stumbling block facing everyone in sales right now.
Morris explained: “I think one of the biggest challenges that salespeople are facing is that decision-makers are increasingly hard to get hold of, they’re more clued-up, Gatekeepers are getting better and better trained and really not putting all the calls through now.
“Therefore, your call activity or number of dials to get hold of a decision-maker has probably quadrupled over the past two years. So you have very limited opportunities and, when you do have opportunities, what are the best ways to maximise that?”
And here Morris is quick to point to the solutions Sales Doctor can provide.
He said: “This is why I feel training is now so important because I see it with a lot of my clients making, say, 150 calls a day and getting hold of just three decision-makers. And when they do get hold of them, they often say the wrong things and lose that opportunity. This is extremely demotivating and demoralising so you then end up with a high churn rate among staff.”
Morris said it is important to get away from the negative implications always associated with cold-calling, so much so he does not even call it that.
“I don’t like to describe B2B cold-calling as that because that name has connotations that you don’t know who you’re calling, you don’t know the angle for the call – two things you should always know,” Morris said. “So I like to call this ‘smart calling’ because I know very clearly who is the decision-maker I’m trying to get hold of and I give value within seconds of that call.
“What I always talk about in training is when making these calls, don’t tell them what you do, tell them what you have done successfully with people like them. So immediately you are giving them significant value – they know what you are about and how you have helped people and businesses like them. If you can get that opening message across in 15 seconds, precise and articulated, then you have a real chance of a sale.”
Morris said this can apply across the industry sectors that use the power of selling and uses the example of approaching an estate agency business.
“Make two really strong benefit statements,” he told SI. “As an example, if I were to phone an estate agent I would ask: ‘Are you familiar with my business?’ ‘No, I’ve never heard of you’, ‘We have successfully trained other estate agents, A, B and C, and we’ve helped to negotiate double the amount of viewings they make, significantly increasing the conversions, which reduce lead costs. So my reason for calling is how can I potentially help your business?’ Now I really have their attention.”
He also has a proactive approach to getting hold of the big decision-makers who need to know they are dealing with someone who knows what they require.
Morris explained: “In terms of getting hold of more decision- makers that’s always going to be challenging. Of course, the use of social media sites has helped with the likes of Linkedin to get the contacts name but it’s also important to do other clever approaches. For example, let’s say your market is within the FTSE100 or FTSE250 area you should be sending over something of value to the decision-maker.
Something I do, is to send a copy of my book (Coffee is for Closers) and I write a note inside the cover to say ‘I’m sure you will find this of value and will call later to get your opinion of it’.
“With that, they are more receptive to taking the call and that’s the real lesson in all this is that you just have to be a bit smarter about things and do something a little bit different.” Just as sales uses CRM to track customers, social groups can help ‘track’ decision-makers’ habits and must be an essential part of the initial research, said Morris.
“Find out where your target is looking via Linkedin groups and give value tips – so you are not actually selling, just giving away these tips in a way where they start to notice you. So when you do call, they remember your name and they are receptive.
“On my website we give away weekly ‘sales vitamins’ and I get a lot of business on the back of it because people like the tips and they are prepared to see how our company can help them.
“People say sales is a numbers game but I strongly disagree because, like golf, I am an awful golfer although I love it. If I go to a range and keep practising the wrong shot, when I get onto a course I won’t be able to score anything, whereas, if I have been coached properly by an instructor and practice the right shot, the chances of success are much better.
“So, with my clients before training, they are practicing the wrong techniques, the wrong questioning, the wrong objection handling and the wrong closing so there’s no shock when they get the wrong result despite ‘making the numbers’.”
But as with any education-based service, Morris admits standards have to be reached and maintained to improve the benefits for everyone in the sales industry.
“There are two things to monitor,” he said. “I work with a company that does call recording which is a very cost effective model so that before we make any call we dial a prefix that records the call. In this way I can really listen when they are pitching I can hear it and pick up on what needs work. We do this before we do any training and we call this ‘mystery calls’ that gives me a very good insight to what is good and what needs work.
“Equally, I recommend creating a worksheet in Excel that monitors how many dials they are making, how many decision-makers they get through to and how many they actually convert. I can then look at those figures, analyse them to give me a good idea about the areas that need extra work. Is it call activity, is it pitch, are they talking to the right person and all those sorts of things? It’s a very simple approach but it works.”
And while there are many in sales who blame recession for their woes, Morris said the challenge should be seen more as an opportunity to excel when others are struggling.
He said: “I have personally worked with about 3,000 salespeople and when I’ve analysed the data, maybe about the top 1%, the top 30, the two biggest things they have in common are positive attitude and tenacity. No matter how you look at it, you could view it that we’re in a recession but I view it as a challenge and, actually, an opportunity because in my business training people are more receptive to it because they have to just to survive.
“If you can demonstrate how you can reduce someone’s costs and increase their profits, they will be more receptive to this help in the downturn because their minds are focused on this.
“I see salespeople failing because they play the blame-game “it’s a recession” when these are just excuses. My business has doubled its turnover in the last year. All we do different is grafting twice as hard to get the same result and my clients are in the same position.”