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What Makes a Team Truly Great?
What makes a team truly great?
Is it the mix of personalities? Is it how teams are measured and rewarded? Does the team leader ultimately determine their success?
There is a lot of research and opinion on what ingredients are necessary to build a high-performing team because it is one of the most difficult things to do -- you are essentially forcing people together -- but it's one of the biggest drivers of success in an organization. A poor performing team can negatively impact an entire organization, not to mention be the cause for missing goals or revenue targets.
Weekdone created the below infographic detailing some of the defining characteristics of great teams. Learn what you should look for in a high-performing team and how to recruit to create your own.
How to Make the Perfect Follow-Up Sales Call
I don’t know many sales people that enjoy making prospecting calls. It’s definitely one of the most difficult parts of the job. There are so many things to consider. How quickly are you responding to your leads? What time and Day are you responding? How long are your average calls?
Let’s take a look at some findings from recent studies to help put our finger on the key points.
The complete article from HubSpot can be found here: https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/best-times-to-connect-with-leads-infographic)
Best Days to Call:
Wednesday has shown to be the most successful day for sales calls. Thursday comes in at second place. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be calling on other days, however, you may want to be sure you are highly productive on those 2 days to take full advantage of the trend.
Best Time to Call:
The best time to call has changed over the years. Several studies found the best time to be between 4:00 PM & 5:00 PM. Another study found the best time to be between 10:00 AM & 11:00 AM. Most studies, however, agree that the worst time for successful calls is between 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM.
The response best time to call new leads. 5 minutes from the trigger of the event. After 5 minutes your odds drop significantly. Waiting longer than 10 minutes to respond means your odds of qualifying have dropped 400%.
Once you’ve responded in a timely manner it’s now time to connect with a meaningful dialogue. Studies have shown that successful follow-up sales calls are almost twice as long as unsuccessful calls. Be informative and keep control of the conversation to maintain focus but don’t waste your potential client’s time.
Educate, be concise, and prove your value offer.
Check out the full article from HubSpot for more takeaways:
Medicare Advantage / AEP Updates:
Build a Customer Referral Program With These 5 Tips
This is a great summary from a recent Hubspot article on how to create an effective customer referral program. 1 in 3 people come to a brand through a recommendation, and customers who were referred by loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate. (Deloitte)
Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, especially when considering a first time buy or something relatively expensive. (McKinsey)
But what does all of this mean for you? Well, although purchasing decisions for your product or service are as complex as ever, a leading factor in your prospect's decision-making process is advocacy from their trusted sources. The question is, are you harnessing the power of your brand advocates to get these quality referrals?
There are a few quick steps you can take to building a customer referral program so you can start reaping the benefits of referral leads that, on average, are 4-10x more valuable than regular leads, resulting in shorter sales cycles, increased win rates, and larger order sizes (Influitive).
1. Find Your Advocates
Advocates, by definition, are consumers and business buyers who frequently recommend brands and products without being paid to do so (Zuberance). Those advocates should be highly trusted by your brand and/or have a substantial amount of influence over the market that you're selling to. But where do you actually get them?
2. Set a Goal
It's important to set goals for your program, even if it's brand new and you have no historical data to base it off of. A useful factor to consider could be the amount of referrals your business is getting organically. You might figure out this number by reviewing sales notes or talking to your marketing team to see how often someone mentions a referral or that they've been referred. Referrals might even be happening outside of the business all together, such as customers talking to prospects over coffee or through social media messages. If this number is non-existent or too difficult to figure out, set a relatively reasonable goal based on how many advocates you're planning to engage in the program and a conversion rate around 10% (Friendbuy).
3. Choose the Right Incentive(s)
It's common knowledge that trying to buy your brand advocates is bad news for your business. Paying advocates to promote your brand can get pricey and extremely inefficient in the long run. On top of the price tag and it's inefficiency, there's minimal trust in a paid to perform relationship where trust should really be a key factor. Instead, consider rewarding your advocates for their organic promotion of your brand.
4. Find Your Promotional Mediums
Now that you've got your advocates, your goals and your incentives all set up, it's time to decide where and how you're going to promote your program. Just like advocates are found in many different locations, so should your customer referral program. An email campaign is a great start but unless you're constantly reminding your customers (in a way that doesn't annoy them enough to stop opening your emails), then you're going to have to find a few more places to stay top of mind. Get creative and find out where your customers spend the most time or even pages they frequent for short periods of time.
5. Keep Your Tech in Check
The tech behind your program is easily overlooked or taken for granted, but it's going to make or break how you approach and manage referrals. Some key information and metrics that you should easily be able to keep track of include:
Building a customer referral program can be time consuming but if done well, the benefits are likely to far outweigh the costs. Just don't be afraid to try something new. Take charge and harness the power of your advocate community, today.
Sales and Marketing = Creation and Capture
No one works in sales without having losses. Some of those losses are the result of errors, bad choices, poor strategy, or sloppy sales approaches. Some of those losses are the result of circumstances that are difficult to overcome. You can do everything right and lose, and you can do many things wrong and win. Either way, losses come with the territory.
Client issues are also part of sales. Even if you own the outcomes you sell your clients with someone else being responsible for doing the work that generates those outcomes, because you promised your client better results, they are going to look to you for help and for answers. You are accountable for the outcomes you sell, or you put future deals at risk (or more likely, you never see the new opportunities at all).
Selling is made up of two major outcomes. The first outcome is opportunity creation, and it requires that you do the work of prospecting, whether you like that work or wish there was another way. The second outcome is opportunity capture. The first outcome always precedes the second. The workload for opportunity creation is equal or greater than the workload of opportunity capture.
There will always be someone with a lower price that sells by suggesting they can produce the same result at a lower price point. Much of the time, these competitors will have an irrational pricing model that would cause you to lose money, and you will struggle to understand how they stay in business. But when they have been in business for decades, the only way you beat them is by creating greater value, not by explaining that they can’t survive with their pricing model.
Selling is not situational. It is individual. There are always salespeople who succeed at selling the most commoditized, undifferentiated products and services and do well for being able to so. There are also people in sales roles with the most compelling, differentiated offer who struggle to sell what should be a much easier sell. There are intangibles that count for a lot more than most people recognize, and these tangibles are not commonly taught or developed. Success then, is a product of developing yourself.
Independent Agents Hold a Significant Advantage over Insurtech Startups
Insurance agents can provide something their insurtech rivals cannot: a human touch.
Independent insurance agents don’t need to fear that they’ll be replaced by insurtech startups powered by artificial intelligence. Recent studies reveal that insurance customers still want to talk to a live agent, especially when they need to file a claim or buy a complex product.
According to a recent survey conducted by insurance technology provider Vertafore, 60% of nearly American consumers worry that an AI-generated insurance purchasing process might automatically reject their coverage request, even when a human agent would likely give them a policy. Even tech-savvy Millennials shared this concern, with nearly 50% claiming that they’d prefer to buy an insurance contract from a live agent.
These findings are no surprise to Vertafore’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer BJ Schaknowski. Speaking at recent conference, he stressed that since insurance is a complicated subject, people feel more confident speaking to someone who can guide them to the “right protection for their family and business.” The Vertafore survey is all the more evidence that independent agents can still compete with insurtech startups.
Build Relationships through Technology
As the Vertafore survey indicates, consumers overwhelmingly prefer human interaction when buying insurance, as 72% said they were turned off by the prospect of purchasing it with a chatbot. Insurance agents, however, cannot ignore recent technologies that are rapidly transforming the industry. Prospects and clients expect a user-friendly and robust web presence, complete with digital portals that enable them to search for information, submit payments, or handle basic inquiries.
Rather than resist these services, successful agents utilize the latest technologies like online lead generation systems, automated email and marketing campaigns, and AI-powered programs to engage with clients and prospects more regularly than ever. In other words, they use technology to cultivate a deeper relationship with their clients — not as a vehicle to offload all customer service functions to a digital system. When an agent responds to a client’s comment on Facebook or Twitter or through a text, he or she is doing so as a human — not a bot.
The challenge for independent agents in today’s tech-driven world is to set themselves apart from their insurtech rivals by providing a human touch — even when that human touch comes through technology. It’s what clients and prospects alike want and expect.
The Best Time to Make a Sales Call in 2017
Most salespeople are eager to know the best time to cold call their prospects. It’s an enticing idea: Rather than waiting for a compelling event, researching the buyer, and crafting a personalized message, the rep simply needs to know the best day for cold calling, as well as the best time of day.
Unfortunately for legacy salespeople, this approach doesn’t work anymore. An oft-cited study from the Keller Research Center at Baylor University shows only 1% of cold calls ultimately generate appointments.
The takeaway is, the “best time to make cold calls” doesn’t exist. But it’s a different story for warm calls. If you’ve done your homework and identified a potential good fit, knowing when to pick up the phone can mean the difference between getting the prospect's voicemail -- and getting a meeting.
Five suggestions for when to call buyers in 2017
1) The Best Day for Sales Calls
A study conducted by LeadResponseManagement.org revealed Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to call prospects.
This finding isn’t completely surprising. After all, people are usually gearing up for the weekend on Friday and aren’t interested in starting a relationship with a salesperson.
On Monday, buyers are transitioning into work mode and planning their upcoming week.
By the middle of the week, people have had enough time to settle into their working week and take care of pressing matters, without your call feeling like an interruption.
2) The Best Morning Time for Sales Calls
Making an early morning sales call lets you connect with prospects before their to-do lists become overwhelmingly long. But timing is still important -- call too early, and no one will answer. Call too late, and your prospects will be busy.
The same LeadResponseManagement.org study found morning sales calls are most productive between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m..
3) The Worst Time of the Day for Sales Calls
What are most prospects doing between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.? That’s right: Eating lunch.
For this reason, reps have the lowest contact rates during lunchtime. Use this time instead to research prospects and prepare for your afternoon calls. (And of course, having lunch yourself.)
4) The Best Afternoon Time for Sales Calls
Reps see the highest engagement rates of the day between 4 and 5 p.m. Most prospects are tying up their projects for the day. This is a great moment to pick up the phone and give your buyer a call. With important work out of the way, your prospective clients will more time to chat and listen to what you have to offer.
5) Call inbound leads within five minutes of receipt
Seeing leads come in is always exciting for sales reps, but the time it takes you to respond to these prospects is crucial. From the same study conducted by LeadResponseManagement.org, the timing of the response played a big part in the success of making contact and qualifying.
The graph above demonstrates how a response time of no more than five minutes after receipt results in a much higher number of qualified leads. After 10 minutes, the number of leads qualified significantly decreases, which shows a quick response will return the best results.
Ultimately, picking the right time to make your sales calls is essential to sales success. While these five rules of thumb are a good place to start, you may find that different strategies work better for your business. Test these approaches and adopt the ones that work for you. You might be surprised to find how many more prospects you can reach with a few simple tweaks.
When the Internet exploded onto the scene in the late 20th century, we heard confident predictions from many experts that sales forces would soon become extinct. Buyers would no longer need (nor want) salespeople to educate and inform them — the Internet would perform these functions instead. And smart executives would not continue to employ these expensive order takers — online order forms would do that job just fine.
I guess those arguments made sense at the time, because other roles inside the corporation had already been automated or eliminated by technology. Factory workers, switchboard operators, bookkeepers, administrative pools — they’d all been replaced to some degree by automation. So it seemed completely reasonable that sales forces, too, would meet such a fate. Cost-cutting and headcount reductions would surely reach the sales team. It was just a matter of time.
Well, unfortunately for the doomsday prognosticators that hasn’t actually happened.
I was recently doing some research with the Sales Education Foundation, and I came across some interesting statistics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1999 there were 12,938,130 workers in sales and sales-related occupations the United States. Impressively, that number represented 10.2% of the total employed workforce.
In May of 2014 (the most recent data available), the BLS asserted that there were 14,248,470 such workers employed in the U.S. or 1,310,340 more than there were 15 years earlier. This total now accounts for 10.5% of the U.S. employed — a slight increase from 1999. Not only does the data not support a doomsday scenario for sales forces, salespeople are in fact holding their own in the workforce. So why has the Internet not replaced our salespeople?
“Rather than reduce the power of salespeople,
Jason Jordan | Partner, Vantage Point Performance
Because the Internet never became a foe of the sales force. Ironically, it became one of the sales force’s dearest friends. Rather than reduce the power of salespeople, it made salespeople more powerful than before. Internet-enabled CRM allowed salespeople to sell more efficiently and effectively anywhere in the world. LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks gave sellers unprecedented insights about their customers and prospects. The Internet created an entire industry of sales enablement tools that never existed before. In the end, the Internet stood with the sales force, not against it.
But more fundamentally, the doomsday criers dramatically underestimated the resilience of the sales force. I would argue that sales is the most in-tune and dynamic function inside any company. It feels shifts in the landscape before other parts of the organization, and it reacts to the marketplace the best. It has the strongest motive to succeed, and it adapts to change the fastest. In retrospect, it was a little naive to think sales forces would battle technology rather than embrace it. Sales forces welcomed the Internet with open arms.
The Internet has changed our world more than other any other technology in the 21st century; however, it doesn’t look like it will replace our salespeople. Companies still need them, and customers still want them. It turns out that sales forces are more than just walking, talking brochures and order forms — they add a lot of value. So how will the relationship between the Internet and the sales force evolve over the next 15 years? I’m not sure, but I bet it makes our sales forces even better than they are now.