What motivates people to sell? What drives people to sell more and reach for higher goals? The traditional business view is that incentives like bonuses, prizes, and awards are the best way to drive production. In the last couple of decades, though, social scientists have been looking at things from a different perspective.
When tasks are simple and goals are clearly defined – make 20 cold calls; schedule 4 sales appointments – incentives like money and pats on the back work well to foster productive behavior. The “this – that” incentive model promises if you do “this” you’ll get “that” reward. It’s the old carrot and stick idea: people want positive rewards and don’t want to get stuck on the bottom of the sales chart.
In situations when the goals are more complicated though, these kinds of extrinsic incentives don’t work as well. In fact, according to business analyst and writer Daniel Pink, extrinsic financial incentives can actually dull inspiration and lower results. Continue reading →
Last issue we wrote about the importance of protecting one of our scarcest and most important resources – time. Today we’re going to talk about another precious resource – other people’s attention.
Before you plow the field, you’ve got to first remove the boulders. Before you till the soil of any sales opportunity you first have to deal with the big obstacles that get in the way of open, two-way communication. Plowing ahead on a prospecting or sales call without first having people’s attention is like listening to the radio while the signal keeps fading in and out. It’s hard for anyone to understand what’s going on and it’s annoying as hell. Continue reading →
In any business day, we’ve all got a limited number of hours to accomplish our purposes and an endless number of distractions and detours that can pull us off track and make us much less productive.
Prospecting for new business – whether you’re making cold calls or networking for referrals – is a critical phase of the sales process that’s especially vulnerable to time-eroding detours. If you’re not reaching the right people efficiently and qualifying them promptly, you’re liable to end up like the college student who got four Fs and a D because he spent too much time on one subject. Continue reading →
How often have we watched someone, or been that person, who’s standing in the lobby ringing the bell again and again as though that continued effort would actually speed up the elevator’s arrival? Doesn’t make sense, does it? Yet all of us, in many contexts, are subject to the same kind of conditioned behavior that wastes time and resources and completely fails to move us closer to our goal. That’s called wheel spinning, and in sales it is a costly and draining activity.
Neil Rackham’s seminal book, Spin Selling, focuses on this significant problem by talking about continuations and advances. The latter move the sales process closer to a resolution while continuations have you dog-paddling in place, and over time are like being stuck in the mire. Advances can be small or large, but they all move you towards the finish line. They include activities like scheduling the next sales meeting, making a webinar presentation or simply getting the name and title of a particular decision-maker. An advance may also disqualify a “suspect” by confirming he’s not at all open to an insurance review, and while that may not be what you want to hear, it resolves the situation, or as we say at PMA, it gets that target business ‘off the radar.’ Continue reading →