“Know that it takes a year to get someone started in sales without a pipeline. We can’t afford to take that much of a hit on getting a sales person starting up from scratch. Could pay more for the sales person the first year than what they can bring in, if they don’t come in with a book of business. And frankly the folks who say they have a book of business are really expensive, and even more risky.”

Thoughts of the Day: Define exactly who you do, and don’t, want to connect with. Use social media, email and events to connect, engage and build up relationships with the right opportunities for new sales people to mine. Plan out trade shows that draw in a target rich pool of attendees that match your ideal clients. Assign new sales people to existing clients to shadow. Line up networking events to attend where your clients and prospects are likely to be present. Keep an eye on activity levels.

Focus on buyers.

Go for decision makers. In the beginning, deemphasize the indirect contacts through people who might know people who know people. Those can come later, but the first job is to fill up the pipeline with people who buy.

Connect, connect, connect.

Use social media to spread the word about who is on your team. Build familiarity with your company, your company’s products or services and the people who will be calling. It’s so much easier to break through to people who already have a connection with the person who is reaching out. Targeting specific hot prospect groups is a great way to plough and seed the field for incoming sales people.

Get new sales people on LinkedIn right away, and link them into any discussion groups that help them to get visibility. Give them support creating blogs that prospective accounts might be interested in reading.

Trade shows are a great opportunity to introduce sales people to clients and prospects. It is also a good way to watch how sales people perform. Look for energy, focus on gathering lots of contacts, good note-taking, and quick follow up. Match trade shows to sales peoples’ areas of expertise and interest to get the most out of connections.

Ask current clients to speak up about what you’ve done for them.

Have a list of existing clients that sales people must get to know. Assign sales people customer support duties and let them take credit for being heroes and heroines when customers problems get solved. Those connections will be invaluable when the sales person circles back to ask for referrals to other prospects. And you can find out how well the sales person is doing by connecting with your customers to follow up.

Line up a list of functions where your prospects gather. That might be Rotary, Chamber meetings, international clubs – find out where your customers hang out and that’s probably where prospects are as well. When they come on board, tell sales people to attend regularly. Set up routine follow up tools, including emails, call scripts to request appointments and methods to document opportunities and progress.

Build a way to oversee activity.

Watch that your sales people don’t get bogged down with a few key prospects and ignore the potential to build depth into their pipeline as they start to make contacts. Set goals for daily, weekly and monthly connections. One thing to add to the mix is 2 phone calls / day – anyone on a suspect list – just make the calls and leave a message. Have a script to use, and test for results.

Looking for a good book?

Try “Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide for Starting Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, E-Mail, and Cold Calling“, by Jeb Blount, Jeremy Arthur, Audible Studios.

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