This season, we’re analyzing the findings from our latest Media Sales Report. With data collected from surveys conducted in Q4 of last year, the responses from sales managers and salespeople alike will help us chart a solid path forward through the media sales landscape.
In each episode, Matt will be joined by a rolling roster of outstanding experts from our team here at The Center for Sales Strategy.
Today, Matt is breaking down the Sales Process Section of the Media Sales Report with VP/Senior Consultant, Alina McComas and Senior Consultant, Michael Mayer.
Together, Alina and Michael give their take on some top questions that arise from the report, like:
(03:07) Any stats or any data that jumped off the page for you?
(04:15) Only 1% of salespeople are consistently using personal video as they try to get at appointments
(07:01) There's more competition for people's time than there ever has been
(10:59) Starting with a valid business reason at the very beginning is the most important thing you can ever do
(14:32) 37% say that closing the sale is becoming more difficult
(17:53) The definition of qualified needs to be examined
(21:06) As a manager, you have to tell the salesperson what's in it for them when using a CRM. How does it help them make more money?
(25:30) You just need to say, listen, if you wanna work here, you're gonna choose to use the CRM
Matt Sunshine: (00:15)
Welcome to Improving Sales Performance, a podcast highlighting tips and insights aimed at helping sales organizations realize and maybe even exceed their goals. Here we chat with thought leaders, experts in gurus who have years of sales experience from a wide range of industries. This season, we're analyzing the findings from our latest media sales report. With data collected from surveys conducted in Q4 of last year, the responses from sales managers and salespeople alike will help us chart a solid path forward through the media sales landscape. In each episode, I'll be joined by a rolling roster of outstanding experts from our team here at the Center for Sales Strategy. Together we'll break it all down. I'm your host, Matt Sunshine, c e o at the Center for Sales Strategy, a sales performance consulting company.
Matt Sunshine: (01:15)
Man, the topic on today's show is one of my favorite things, setting appointments and sales process. Uh, I, I have all the time in the world. We're not gonna take all the time in the world, I promise, but I have all the time in the world to talk about these subjects. I absolutely love it. Um, we're gonna jump in in just a second, but first, let me introduce my guests, um, Michael Mayer, um, uh, the Center for Sales Strategy, senior Consultant, and Alina McComas, uh, uh, vice President, senior consultant at the Center for Sales Strategy. Great to have you both here. Um, I get the privilege of working with you guys all the time, um, and so I'm delighted to be able to share that now with the, the thousands and thousands of people that will listen to this podcast. Alright. Maybe not thousands, maybe we'll get lucky. Let be thousands.
Michael Mayer: (02:14)
Matt Sunshine: (02:17)
We're gonna go for a thousand people. Let's go, let's go viral. Matt. Let's go Virals. We're good. All right. Um, we're gonna jump in. The media sales report just came out. It is loaded with great information. Um, and I, I'm, I'm hopeful that every single person that would be listening to this has downloaded it, but if you haven't, you should definitely go and download it. We're just gonna tackle one topic today. Um, uh, and this, this entire season of the Improving Sales Performance, uh, podcast is on the media sales report, um, specifically pulling out one section for each one. So today, setting appointments and sales process is, is the topic. And I'm gonna ask you guys some questions. And Michael, why don't you take this one first and then Alina, you chime in. But just in general, were there any stats or any data that jumped off the page, uh, for you when you looked through this?
Michael Mayer: (03:14)
Um, I think the, the stat that jumped off the most for me is the percentages that are, you know, people not being able to set appointments. Uh, I think that was, uh, 52% are finding that they take more than five attempts to get an appointment. And then I'm seeing, you know, 83% of the salespeople, uh, agree they're not being able to set appointments, cuz it's very, it's just way different than it has been in the past few, few years. I think the pandemic's playing a part in that.
Matt Sunshine: (03:43)
Yeah. Alina, anything that jumped out on you before I kind of get into some questions?
Alina McComas: (03:48)
Yeah. So I had one that jumped out and one that was surprising. Right? Okay. So the one that jumped out to me the most was 88% of sellers saying it takes three months for the entire sales cycle. Um, that one jumped out. Little bit of a surprise, not, not huge surprise, but jumped out. I think the, the one that was really surprising to me was how few people are really diversifying their approach and getting appointments. The fact that only 1% of salespeople are consistently using personal video as they try to get at appointments was like shocking that 96% said they rarely use video was absolutely shocking to me and 50% saying they rarely use social media. I, I thought those were very, very surprising, very shocking. And just kind of coming back to, they're really relying on what they've done for, since the inception of email, right? Is phone and email. That's really what many of them are kind of relying on and using consistently. And so that was really surprising to me.
Matt Sunshine: (04:57)
So, uh, we'll jump into the questions here in a second, but do you guys watch the show? 1923?
Alina McComas: (05:04)
Matt Sunshine: (05:05)
Michael Mayer: (05:05)
Do. I I haven't started it
Matt Sunshine: (05:07)
Yet. Did you watch the most recent episode? Alina? Did you watch?
Alina McComas: (05:10)
Matt Sunshine: (05:11)
Did. So, so they're walking by, they're down, walking down Main Street and there's a salesperson out on, out in the, and, and the salesperson is selling this new thing called a refrigerator, right? And, and a washer and dryer, right? These new appliances. And the reaction is, so what do you use that for? Who would use that? That's just gonna cause more work. No one's ever gonna use that. It's like, that's how I think people are with tech, not with, with video and other things. Like who's gonna use that? It's like, listen. Um, as, uh, as, uh, Chris Brogan, who's a, a, a friend of, friend of mine, and, uh, you guys and Elena, I, I know you know Chris as well, or know of Chris as well. I saw him post on LinkedIn the other day. People feared the headless carriage, the the horseless carriage, uh, too, right?
Matt Sunshine: (06:10)
The, the car, right. The people feared it. It's like, get over it. Use technology, let it be your friend. All right. 52% of salespeople say that it often takes five or more attempts before successfully scheduling a sales appointment. And both sales managers at 83%. And salespeople 80% agree that appointments are harder as secure than five years ago. It's getting harder. So Aleena coming to you first. Mm-hmm. , why do you think appointments are becoming harder and harder to secure? And are there any tips or pieces of advice that you would give to salespeople in order to have, uh, help them be more successful?
Alina McComas: (06:54)
Yeah, so I think when it comes to getting appointments than why it's harder, it's a couple of things. But I think the really big one is that there's more competition for people's time than there ever has been, right? There's, there's a lot more people out there just in the media space, you know, and you think about the, the, the fragmentation and the low barriers to entry when it comes to digital and the number of people that call on the same individuals within, uh, a company or an organization. There's a lot more competition for someone's time. And so it is more important than ever to give them a reason to say yes to a meeting with you. And I think it's getting harder because people can't rely just on the call letters of their station or, you know, the, the, the brand in the market and they're missing the why you should want to meet with me.
Alina McComas: (07:44)
And I think that has a lot to do with it. I think the other side of it is, you know, when you look at how little they are diversifying their approach, I think that's a big problem, right? Is just like consumers, uh, are fragmented and, and you've gotta reach them in multiple platforms. I think getting appointments is the same exact way. People are also using a lot of different methods of communication. They're engaging with, with people in different ways. And so if you're only using phone and email, you're doing yourself a disservice because some people are not phone people, some people are not email people, some people are not either. And so you're gonna increase your likelihood not only with giving them a reason why, but also using multiple ways of trying to get in front of them so that you build that frequency that they see your name, you know, whether it's on LinkedIn or other social media vehicles, that you can stand out from everybody else's email by using video.
Alina McComas: (08:46)
Um, I, I think a tip that I've given to a lot of salespeople over the last year where they're getting a lot of success when it comes to securing appointments, there's two things. One, it is video. We see that sellers that are using video are having much more success. And what I usually recommend is, you know, get a whiteboard or get a, even just a white sheet of paper and write their name on it and hold that up at the beginning of your video so they know it's tailored, it grabs their attention, which is the first step in getting them to actually hit play. Um, but use those, those tools, you know, make sure you have your, your alerts set up so that when they watch your video, you get an alert so you can follow up in a timely manner and use that intelligence.
Alina McComas: (09:31)
Um, I, I think the other thing that, that I've seen a lot of success with salespeople getting prospects, especially to engage in, in their approach, is having a really good breakup email. And so as you go through your sequence, right, FOMO is very real. People don't wanna feel like they're being left out. They don't wanna be bothered, but they also don't wanna feel like you're walking away. And so having a really strong breakup email template that you can use as that last effort as you're trying to get up appointments, I see it time and time again that that is a difference maker with a lot of salespeople.
Matt Sunshine: (10:09)
I think the key to that though is you have to have gone through the sequence. Yes. The seven attempts in two weeks. It's not just, well, I, I haven't talked to that person in a long time. I'm gonna send him a breakup email. No, no, no, no, no. It, it has to be that you have reached out with several emails and a phone call and a video message and a piece of mail and a mm-hmm. and a phone call and all the things. All right. Michael, anything to add to that one?
Michael Mayer: (10:38)
Um, I think the thing that really stands out to me is having, I've been in media leadership before, is that I, I don't see 'em getting the five I I see them stopping it too. Uh, and that's probably a little bit more realistic. I think it's very, they're embellishing a little bit possibly there. The other thing, uh, I a hundred percent agree with Alina that's mixing, mixing it up, but it's really starting with a valid business reason that at the very beginning, the most important thing you can ever do as a former buyer myself, you have to talk to me, you need to talk to me as a buyer and talk to me about what you know about me personally, possibly, and also what I care about with my company. And if you don't include that in your own opening vbrs, uh, you probably won't get the appointment at any time.
Michael Mayer: (11:22)
And I've, I've got some other tricks too. Uh, as far as like Alina was talking about with video and stuff, uh, I've had a lot of success recently with doing, uh, the LinkedIn connections cause I do a lot of LinkedIn connections, but I don't send out LinkedIn connections until between eight and 10:00 PM at night. Uh, because I have a candid audience that's not working at that time. And I tend to get people to respond to me, uh, at a very high rate. So, uh, just a little tip there. I'd share if you're really trying to break through the clutter, uh, not doing it at typical times during the day would be very, very sound.
Alina McComas: (11:57)
Yeah. And one thing I will add to that, that I'll pick up off of what you said, Matt, right, it's, it's that you've gotta go through the sequence and you've gotta go through it in a short period of time, right? Mm-hmm. , because the goal here is building frequency to breakthrough the clutter. You've gotta have a valid business reason. You've gotta have that reason why. But seven attempts to try to get an appointment is not, not all seven attempts are equal, right? If it's seven attempts over seven weeks, it will not have the same impact as seven attempts over two weeks and getting sellers to buy into that, those that do see success a whole lot more frequently than those that don't.
Michael Mayer: (12:34)
Yeah. I'd add one thing to that too is, uh, Alina, if you do the seven and 10, just say you do seven and 10 over a two week, uh, period, you are going to be memorable to the the buyer. Uh, they're not gonna forget about you cuz you've been very persistent. If you do, like you just said, seven over seven weeks, 10 weeks, uh, you're just not memorable. I mean, I don't remember. You just kind of pop into my world and pop out. It's like a rollercoaster. And in reality, I, when I remember people that constantly are persistent,
Alina McComas: (13:03)
Matt Sunshine: (13:04)
Yeah. You know, I I I think whenever I talk to people about the seven and 10, I always tell them that they need to put it on their calendar. Right? Because around the third one, in that shorter period of time, you feel creepy. Yeah. I mean, if we're being really honest, you feel like you're a bit of a stalker. You feel like you're, you're creeper. And, and so I say just put it on your calendar, it's a to-do, it's a to-do item on your calendar. Today's Thursday I send this. Right. It just, it happens. And I, and I think that's really important. Cause that's natural.
Alina McComas: (13:40)
Well, and I think it feels more like a creeper if you're only using one or two methods to try to get in front of
Matt Sunshine: (13:46)
Right. An email. An email, an email.
Alina McComas: (13:48)
Yeah. If all you're doing is calling me seven times over two weeks. Right. That feels a little different than if it's an email followed by a phone call and a couple days later it's on LinkedIn and a couple days. Right. It's, it's got a different different feel to it. I think, you know, we still have some salespeople that are operating by what I learned when I first got into sales, which was pick a day of the week and the time and call 'em every day that week. Like, call 'em every week at that same day and same time. And that just doesn't work today.
Matt Sunshine: (14:19)
Right? No, you're exactly. All right, let's get to the next question, and Michael will come to you first on this one. 41% of salespeople tell us that finding leads, qualified leads is only getting harder. And 37% say that closing the sale is becoming more difficult. So, two-part question I was gonna say, yeah, why, what is causing this? And even more important than that, what advice do you, do you have?
Michael Mayer: (14:50)
Well, first and foremost, researching, doing research on the companies for that you're gonna go after to to find the right lead is very, very critical to your success. And qualifying lead involves clarifying their dollar potential, their access that you have to a decision maker within the organization and whether they have a fit for what you're trying to even sell them. Uh, I mean, but I think the key thing that people probably need to really hone in on this one is still, it's, it's all about the research. In my opinion, if you don't put the time in to do the research, you're just not going to develop back to what we just talked about in the, in the previous question. You're not gonna develop a qualified vbr r which is gonna take you further into getting the appointment. Thus, if you get the appointment, now that they know that you have done your research on them, to your second part of your question, why aren't they closing?
Michael Mayer: (15:43)
I, I, I would say that what I see the most, Matt, is in a typical discovery call when you're trying to discover the needs of the client, they will, well, let's just imagine, uh, I, I talked to you Matt, and you, all of a sudden you tell me you're looking at doing a schedule of a program starting next Saturday. Uh, okay, that's your, that's the first thing you tell me. So that becomes a squirrel to the typical sales rep and they're gonna go chase that. And so what was gonna be a discovery call to learn everything they wanted to learn about the needs of the client so that they could be a, a very more comprehensive close opportunity becomes going after this one little squirrel. And so I think it's staying focused on what you're trying to accomplish in those meetings. Cuz when you get to the close, if you, you could close a small deal, but if you're not even closing the small deals, you're, you're really not getting to all their needs in the discovery.
Matt Sunshine: (16:36)
Alina McComas: (16:38)
Yeah, I mean, I, I would agree. I think it all comes down to are we doing the homework ahead of time? Um, and, and not taking the easy with, with the people that'll give us appointments because nobody else is calling on 'em. Right? I think having that set criteria that you are looking for, there's a ton of businesses that, that, you know, whoever you are that are still available to you to go out and talk to, it's a matter of really fine tuning how you qualify them, right? And having that set criteria. What is the right dollar potential that is worthy of your time to sit down and have a conversation? And what are the things that you should be looking at to determine that dollar potential, right? When it comes to access, are you willing to do what it's gonna take to get in front of them? There's a lot of businesses out there that will meet with you, but you'll never take them anywhere. And, you know, I always tell people the goal is to get a good appointment, not just any appointment. And so doing that legwork upfront to make sure that if you're gonna invest time with somebody that it's worthy of your time. Right? I'd rather you go on three really good appointments than 10 soso appointments that don't go anywhere.
Matt Sunshine: (17:47)
Yeah. I'll add a couple of things to this. I I think that, that the definition of qualified needs to be examined. Yeah. Um, I think a lot of times the, the mode that sellers are in these days is qualified means that they're ready to buy right now. Where to me, if you change your definition to qualified means they're capable of buying within, capable of buying my product versus ready to buy right now. I think if you wait until meet someone that's ready to buy right now, you probably missed the opportunity to get to, to, to make a significant sale. Right? If, if what you're doing is finding someone who's ready to buy right now, well, you're at the end. You, you, you're a commodity, you're at the end. I think if we change it to capable of buying right? Then I think that we're able to do a little bit more.
Matt Sunshine: (18:53)
The other thing is, I think one of the things driving this in, in a big, big way is the rise of product focused salespeople. And I think for a while it had gotten customer focused. And I think that there's a lot, companies have more products to sell than ever before. And that's a wonderful thing. I love that there's more products to sell, but that doesn't mean you should become product focused. And one of the things that I, I've been saying a lot lately is it's not what you sell, it's what you solve. And if we could just go back to that, it's like, I don't care about all the things that you sell. Just tell me what you solve. I think that we could help people close more sales because they wouldn't be so focused on this pro buying this product. They'd be more focused on solving the problem, um, that that exists. All right. A Elena coming to you on this one last, last one, tee it up. 48% of salespeople say they don't find their CRM useful for automated automating some basic tasks. So what are, what do sellers as a seller, what do they need from A C R M to make them use it? And and what would you say to sales managers that, that are having a tough time getting CRM adoption?
Alina McComas: (20:21)
So I think it all comes down to what's in it for me as a salesperson, right? Like, I think that the reason salespeople are hesitant to use CRMs is because A, they're allowed not to. And B, they see it as big brother micromanaging every step of the process, and they see it also as duplicative work, right? And so you need to look for a C R M that makes it easy for people to use, right? You shouldn't have to have a PhD to figure out how to use your C R M. There should be some automation in that. Emails and phone calls are, uh, automatically tracked and entered that there's not an additional step that your sellers have to go through. And as a manager, you have to tell the salesperson what's in it for them. How does it help them make more money? How does it help them be better at their job?
Alina McComas: (21:16)
How do they use the data within the C R M to help keep them on task and on track to close more business to identify where they can get stronger in the sales process and where accounts stall out so that they can improve themselves and make more money at the end of the day? Because most sellers are going to work to make money. And so if, if you can bring it back to what's important to them, what is the problem that the c r m solves for them as an individual, right? Um, I, I think you'd get greater usage. Those that use CRMs and use them really well, understand how they help keep them on task and track and help them to work more efficiently and move accounts through the sales process faster and things don't fall through the cracks. Those that struggle with it, simply see it as a way for my manager to track everything that I'm doing and to use it against me. There's a cynicism attached to it that we've gotta remove.
Matt Sunshine: (22:18)
Michael, anything to add to that?
Michael Mayer: (22:21)
, she nailed it really well. I mean, hard to, I can piggyback a couple things. I just say that, you know, I mean, for the leaders who are struggling with getting their folks to use the tool to use their crm, they should really focus in on the areas where they're struggling the most within the pipeline so that they, they know where the breakdowns are occurring and maybe going a little bit further into showing them how not only they can better record and document that stuff in sales. Like, like, like a, a crm, I was gonna say Salesforce, but crm, the best way they can do is by actually getting involved with the rep and showing them how to solve for that problem and then showing them how to document it as well on top of it. I mean, like teaching them, okay, the breakdown is because we're not doing a great discovery call and, uh, I'm seeing you're just not getting into discovery.
Michael Mayer: (23:09)
Why, why are we not recording too many discoveries? And then going and showing out in the field how it is, how to do a great discovery, and then how to record that and put the proper information. I think that the one thing I've always found with CRMs is that they, it's a, it's a great tool as long as you use it, it's as good as what you put into it. And that's the one singular thing that a manager has to do. They have to, they really need to hold their teams accountable to putting it in there, but they gotta, to Alina's point, you've gotta show them what the benefit is to them by showing how much money they can generate for themselves and for the organization.
Matt Sunshine: (23:43)
So I'll take a crack at this one, um, as well. So first things first, is the CR M built to macromanage from the corporate level just to see activity and all of that mm-hmm. or is it built at the, at the street level to be a, um, to really be a really incredible piece of sales enablement to help sellers sell more, sell faster? Um, that, that'd be the first thing. And, and so I'm going to assume, based on what I'm about to say next, that it is built at the local street level to be a sales enablement tool to help people sell and sell faster. And that if you have built your CRM just as a, as a gotcha machine or a, let's, let's, let's catch you not doing enough activity, well then you got bigger problems than getting people to use it, right? You, you, you gotta rethink your whole, your whole game.
Matt Sunshine: (24:43)
Now, I would say this about adoption. People are either in the habit of using a C R M or they're in the habit of not using the crm, but either way it's a habit. They either choose to use the c m or they choose not to use the c r m, assuming that the cr r m is set up correctly, that's gotta be table, right? That's gotta be there. But if the CRM is set up correctly, and you've given me the training on how to use it, it's not, you don't need a PhD, a Elena, to your point. It's pretty simple, which, okay, then you're either choosing two or choosing not to. And I just think if it's that important to the organization, you just need to say, listen, if you wanna work here, you're gonna choose to use it. And if you don't wanna work here or you don't choose to use it, then you're not gonna work here.
Matt Sunshine: (25:42)
That's it. I mean, I, to me now again, it has, I'm assuming two things in a big, big, my two assumptions here are one, that it is set up to be a sales enablement tool that people can get value out of using. And number two is that it's, it, it, it, uh, it's easy to use and it, you know, and you've been trained the right way. So, but if that's the case, you're either in the habit of using it or you're in the habit of not using it. And as a manager, if you tolerate that, then you get what you're getting exactly what you put in. You're tolerating it. Alright, any final thoughts, Michael or Lena on this subject?
Michael Mayer: (26:24)
Um, track your stuff in sales. Uh, and I always wanna say Salesforce. I always do that every time. Matt don't know why, but that's what I used.
Matt Sunshine: (26:31)
They're like Kleenex.
Michael Mayer: (26:32)
No, but what I was gonna say is, is that track your stuff in the crm, it's very valuable to the process that we just talked about as far as understanding where you are in your pipeline. Uh, it is a management tool for you personally to grow your business, and that's how it should be viewed as a seller.
Alina McComas: (26:49)
Yeah, I think that, um, just kind of overall, right? If you're in that, that 83% of sales managers and that 80% of sellers who think ski appointments are harder today than they used to be, I think having your eyes wide open that they're probably gonna be even harder this year, uh, as the competition continues to increase, start diversifying your approach, start using some different avenues. Um, I, I would love to look back at this report next year and see that number of people that are using video and that are using social media and, and LinkedIn, some of these other vehicles that we know work to secure appointments to see those numbers increase year over year.
Matt Sunshine: (27:33)
Alina, Michael, I can't thank you enough. Your wisdom, your expertise, your, your, your, um, your advice is incredibly valuable to everybody that tunes in and, and listens to this as well as the, the, the clients that you work with day in and day out. Thank you so much. Have a great day everyone. This has been improving sales performance. Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard, join us every week by clicking the subscribe button. For more on the topics covered in the show, visit our website, the center for sales strategy.com. There you can find helpful resources and content aimed at improving your sales performance. And if you'd like to connect with any of us, including today's guest, please do. You can find our contact information in the show notes. Until next time, get out there and sell.