How to “Win” in Any Sales Environment
What did the eskimo say to the sales rep?
You need to cool down.
A sales representative that can sell ice to the eskimo essentially refers to someone who can sell anything to anyone!
This phrase make two main assumptions: (1) an eskimo is surrounded by ice and wouldn’t need it and (2) winning this sale would require a rep to persuade the person to go against their better judgement.
While that would be a lucrative superpower to have, it may not be the most productive mindset in the modern sales environment.
As buyers are becoming increasingly more aware, the goal is no longer to sell ice to every eskimo. Rather, the goal is to maximize your chances of success; when 7 eskimos tell you that they are “not interested” and the 8th one says tell me more, you’ll know what to do (and more importantly, what to ask).
So what does it really take to sell ice to an eskimo? In short - process, sales skills, and favorable timing.
Process: The Proof is in the Numbers (50%)
To find 1 of 8 unlikely prospects, about 50% of success is related to having a sound process to effectivity qualify and and move buyers through the sales funnel.
On a high level, the goal here is to define the mechanics of when and how you reach out to leads and measuring conversion rates in each step of the funnel (e.g. lead - demo - close).
Ideally, a rep would track how many eskimos are requesting a demo and how many of those who view the demo choose to buy. If any of these numbers decline (or fail to improve), you’ll know that your process needs attention.
Sales Skills: Knowing What to Say, When (40%)
About 40% of winning your sale is directly related to your sales skills. This essentially means that when a prospect finally asks for more information, do you know what to do and the right questions to ask.
For example, let’s revisit the example of our 8th eskimo. When he asks for more information, here’s a few questions you might consider:
Sure, what kind of information are you looking to see?
Nice to meet an eskimo that appreciates ice. Curious - what are some ways that you typically use ice?
And how do these uses help enhance your lifestyle?
Why haven’t you obtained ice yet if it’s important to you and you’re surrounded by it?
Asking these types of questions allow you to find the right eskimo that has a need and is ready to buy.
Favorable Timing: Crossing Your Fingers (10%)
Though a mere 10% of success, part of sales is having favorable timing. Think about the last time you happened to be in the right place at the right time. This happens in sales too.
However, if you want to be successful in sales 10% of the time, this will be an avenue for you.
If you don’t want to leave you successful up to chance, I recommend refining your process and sales skills and using those to mitigate the risks of uncontrollable variables.
Essentially, winning in the modern sales arena demands constant development of your process and sales ability.
With the highs and lows of sales, winning also has to take on a much broader definition. This includes identifying when your prospect is lying, learning when to disqualify a prospect and save your account executive (AE) time, or gathering market research on why a disqualified inbound lead reached out in the first place.
Once you decide what kind of rep you want to be, it’s up to you to use these tools to seize the win and sell ice to right eskimos.
By: Jaime Garvey
UPDATED: Now that we have an overview of what it takes to sell ice to an eskimo, let's dive a little deeper into each part of the equation. If we have a solid understanding of what goes into the process, then we will be able to sell anything to anyone.
Process: The Proof is in the Numbers
Since this part of the equation has the biggest impact on your sales, it is important to focus your energy here. This is where you will be able to make the most gains. This is how you can set yourself apart from the field. So here are some steps you can take to make sure that your numbers are constantly improving.
Stay up to date on technology
Your sales stack is crucial for your numbers. If you are confused on what a sales stack is then we have a different blog post to give you a thorough explanation. New technology us coming out every day. Finding ways to automate your process, learn more information about your customer, and track success will be important to improving your funnel. What are the best ways to stay up to date on new technology coming out? Subscribing to tech blogs is a good start. Crunchbase and TechCrunch are a few of my favorites. One under-utilized way to stay up to date on information is by using Google Alerts. Putting phrases like "sales technology" or "new technology" will make sure you stay in the loop.
Get ideas from other people
There is so much cheap/free information available to you. Blog posts. Podcasts. Books. Learn how other people manage their funnels. Aggregate their best ideas into your strategy. If you are not utilizing the information that is available to you then you are falling behind. Make a list of people that you respect the most in your field. Try to learn everything you can about their process. Odds are, it will help your process.
Constantly evaluate each stage of your funnel
This can be tough to do sometimes. It can be tedious work. The data can be tough to interpret. But here are some tips. Try to find the average time it takes for a customer to go through each stage. Ignore (or at least pay less attention to) data that may skew your averages. Think about relevant timeframes. Week, month, quarter, annual. If you can get access to data over that timeframe then you will be more aware of any drops in conversion rates. This will make sure that you are able to make necessary changes before it is too late.
Make systematic tweaks to your funnel
Warning: this can be risky. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind. However, I'm of the mindset that risks are necessary in funnel management. Sometimes a change will not help you. But sometimes it will. If your change doesn't help: then you can just revert back to what you were doing before. But if your change does work, then you have a leg up on the competition. It is usually better for your funnel to be shorter so there are less areas for leads to escape.
Knowing What to Say, When
You can manage your funnel effectively and get lucky. But if you don't know which questions to ask the prospect and when, then you won't succeed in sales.
First, we'll go over some good strategies for learning what to say and when.
Surround Yourself with Experienced Sales Professionals
There are a few ways you can make sure that your network is full of experienced sales professionals. First would be choosing a company that has tremendous executive leadership and tons of experience with selling. Another way to improve your sales network is to attend happy hour events that are exclusively for sales professionals. You can find plenty of events like this on Eventbrite and Facebook. One final way to improve your sales network would be to use Linkedin and Bravado to find out who is respected in your industry.
Attend Sales Training Workshops
There are plenty of options out there that could be useful to you. Most of them tend to be quite expensive though. So either try to get your company to pay for it or find a cheap one.
Review the Tape
I think the best thing you can do would be to review your old conversations with clients. You should be able to recognize when the conversation takes a turn for the worse. Some specific tendencies to look out for:
Talking too much (Should be a two-way conversation)
Handling objections (Open-ended questions versus close-ended questions)
Coming across too aggressively (People want to buy, they hate to be sold)
Using negative words/phrases (Can put up barriers)
Next part coming soon.
If you're looking for more free tips on sales, we also have videos online.