How to Run a Bulletproof Negotiation

Negotiation is one of the most difficult, and in my opinion, poorly understood aspects of the sales process.  If there's at least one thing I've learned about leading sales reps, epecially less experiences ones, they do not know how to negotiate effectively.  Even if they run a flawless sales process, they give up loads of value after having created so much in everything they did prior.  While the customer ultimately gets the better end of this deal, it's not effective for building a business over the long term.  Heavy discounting erodes margin and eliminates a business's ability to invest back into their own people, which in turn, limits the quality of the total customer experience.   

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How to Improve Your Team's Connect Calls: Two Pro Tips for Sales Managers and VPs

I was just talking with my manager -- our Sr. Director at HubSpot -- about an age old challenge that anyone practicing inside sales or inbound selling faces.  The CONNECT call.  Many new reps struggle to build a healthy pipeline because they cannot even get someone to answer the phone for the first time, or agree to take a call with them.  

Two-thirds-of-reps-miss-sales-quota.png

Image credit to: improvingsales.eu

Even worse, when they actually get on the phone, they struggle to get a sufficient number of prospective customers to take a second call with them or with an account exec (if it's a BDR/SDR setting up for a senior rep.  

The more I thought about this, I realized there are at least two specific things that a front-line manager should be doing to improve their reps' connect calls that actually have NOTHING to do with the call itself.  

Pro Tip #1: Carefully Inspect All Actions Surrounding the Connect Call

Having been a manager for a few years now, I still can't believe I overlook this from time to time.  It's so simple.  If you're wondering where your reps might be going wrong on a Connect Call with their prospects, it's time to dissect the pre-call, on-call, and post-call actions they're taking to be successful. And by inspect, I literally mean, "Ask them to show you and review it with them in person." 

For example, here are some steps that might go into the Connect Call itself: 

  • Step 1 : Can the rep stay organized in CRM and are they using CRM effeciently? 

  • Step 2: When the rep chooses who to call, how do they make that decision? 

  • Step 3: When the rep begins a prospecting sequence, what are they actually saying when they leave voicemails? 

  • Step 4: When the rep continues a prospecting sequence, what is actually in their emails, InMails, or other social media messages? 

  • Step 5: When the rep gets someone on the phone, how do they build rapport? 

  • Step 6: During the connect, how does the rep position herself or himself as an authority? 

  • Step 7: During the connect, how does the rep use positioning statements to uncover need and urgency? 

  • Step 8: During the connect, how does the rep transition from Connect to Discovery? 

  • Step 9: After the Connect, how does the rep ensure follow through to the next meeting? 

If you've worked in sales, or work in sales now, you're probably thinking that I missed some steps.  And you would be right!  I did miss steps, but I left a few out on purpose simply to demonstrate how many elements go into running a good Connect Call in the first place.  It's a lot!  And it's more complicated than someone who has (likely) been successful in sales like you might remember.  Which is exactly what brings me to my second point/ tip. 

Pro Tip #2: Focus on Coaching a Single Skill at a Time

In order to fix any problem, we first need to know the nature of the problem and the extent of the problem.  I hope you can use my framework as a starting point to diagnose issues within your own sales team.  

If you do end up using that framework, my advice to you is this -- FOCUS ON COACHING THROUGH A SINGLE SKILL AT ONE TIME.  

You MUST coach on this one skill, and this one skill alone -- relentlessly -- until it's fixed. Otherwise, you will simply overwhelm your rep with information and they'll ultimately change zero behavior. Mark Roberge does an excellent job articulating this point in an article he wrote for InsightSquared -- 5 Foundational Sales Coaching Elements From Mark Roberge. He also did an excellent job elaborating on the importance of sales coaching, and specifically coaching one skill at a time in his Best Seller, "The Sales Acceleration Formula". 

If you have any advice, or pro tips you use to improve new hires (and maybe even tenured hires) Connect Calls, I'd love to hear from you.  Leave a comment below!

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