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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Creativity in Sales Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on July 30, 2021. It featured Mario Martinez of Vengreso.]
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MARIO’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Prospects respond to different sales outreach methodologies differently based upon the medium that they’re most comfortable with. The reality is that every buyer has a different medium that they’re comfortable with. Omnichannel prospecting says that you are touching them at every single one of the possible channels that they would engage with you on, whether that’s phone, email, text, social, video as well. Omnichannel refers to using any one of the channels in order to be able to get our prospects to do what we would like them to do, and that is, number one, get on the phone and have a conversation, and number two, understand if there’s a business problem or pain that we can solve.”
THE PODCAST STARTS HERE
Fred Diamond: Mario, it’s good to see you, I’m excited. Mario, of course, you’re the leader of Vengreso. You’re one of the top, if not the top social selling, consulting and services firms in the industry. You could describe it later on a little differently if you like. We’ve had Viveka on our show before, she was fantastic. I’m really excited to have you here today.
Mario, the topic is prospecting. We’re going to get deep into the whole area of prospecting. You guys did a study recently where in June of 2020, you did the same study, 58% of the respondents said that prospecting was the hardest thing in sales. You did the study again a couple of months ago in Q2 2021. Up to 69%, nearly 7 out of 10 sellers said that prospecting is the hardest thing in sales. Let’s just define prospecting here. What exactly is prospecting? Then let’s talk about why it’s so hard.
Mario Martinez: Mr. Diamond, thank you so much for having me on the show, my friend. I super appreciate you allowing me to join you, and to be part of the populars like the great Viveka von Rosen, part of Vengreso. Excited to be here with you. That’s a great question. Prospecting, how about I define it as getting the first conversation? That’s probably the easiest and most simplistic definition of what is prospecting. That really actually was the study that we did back in June 2020 as you mentioned, and we redid that study again back in April of 2021.
In fact, sellers were identifying the hardest part of the sale cycle was in fact getting the first conversation, not just by a small number, but as you said, it was almost 69%. 69% said getting the first conversation was the hardest part about selling. I got to admit, yes, it is. It is absolutely the hardest part, getting that first conversation, getting a buyer to say hello, getting a buyer say, yes, I’ll take a meeting, getting a buyer say, yes, I have interest in the sales process. If you look at some of the other stages that we talked about was qualifying the opportunity, presenting a solution, and closing the deal.
The second hardest part about selling that was identified in April of 2021 was closing the deal. The delta between the hardest part of getting the first conversation between closing the deal was 69% versus 17%. It’s a massive delta. I think what account executives, sales development reps, even business owners, who are part of this study, that are responsible for revenue are really highlighting that prospecting is, well, number one, hard, and number two, they’ve got to think of a better way to be able to get the mind share of a buyer.
Fred Diamond: Of course, right now we’re doing today’s show with the end of July, the middle of the summer 2021. Again, you did the first study in June of 2020, and then you did it in April of 2021. The numbers increased by almost 10%. Is it purely the pandemic that made it so much harder or are there some other factors that have made prospecting much more difficult for people?
Mario Martinez: Well, the good news is that prospecting was just as hard, nearly just as hard. Fifty eight percent in June of 2020, and then 69% in April 2021 and it went up by nearly 11 points. The good news is that it’s fairly consistent, it’s right around in that same exact spot that you would normally see things at. However, certainly the pandemic did contribute and certainly I think some of the challenges that we see on why prospecting is the most challenging part is, number one, our customers 100% are incredibly busy and distracted. And there’s such an overload of information that’s out there, that our job right now as buyers is to filter out what is not important versus what is important.
Just look at your own email box alone. The number of Slack messages or Google messages that you receive, the number of LinkedIn messages that you receive, the number of Facebook messages you receive, then time you spend on your newsfeed. We are very much distracted and any kind of sales pitch that someone is giving will automatically be the salesperson detector of, no, and then not interested.
I would also say that some of the challenges that we’re seeing are centered around messaging. And what we’re seeing in the industry is this need for spray and pray, the need for driving more quantity thinking that if we drive higher quantities, we will get better results. And what we’re also seeing is, then the competition is really rising. The buyers are looking at this and saying, “I can do nothing, I can do something with someone else, or I can do it myself.”
Organizations are asking our buyers to be a lot more creative in figuring out how to solve certain problems, especially doing things internally. Those things have really been challenging. In some cases we see the solutions that we once sold that were a very unique, specific niche, somewhat becoming a commodity, because somebody internally says, “I can do that.” So it’s become a challenge with competing against organizations themselves and on taking action on doing something.
Fred Diamond: You work with thousands, if not tens of thousands of sales professionals around the globe. As we do with the Institute for Excellence in Sales, the first point you made is a great one is that, the customer is so busy. I used to do a presentation on how many people were trying to get to the CEO. A lot of people say, “Well, if I could just get to the CEO.” Well, the CEO has so many requirements before they even get to your third-party solution, if you will.
Do you believe that sales professionals understand that? Do they truly understand how truly busy their customers are? Even if you’re working for a top brand, like a Salesforce or an Oracle or something along those lines, Intel, IBM, it’s still a challenge to get to your people because they still have a lot of things going on. And especially in the past year, everybody has been distracted by the personal and the financial effects of the pandemic. Do people grasp this, do you think? Or is it still something they’re just not willing to grasp, they’re still so focused on themselves and what they need to do?
Mario Martinez: Well, I’ll tell you the litmus test that determines whether or not they grasp it. When you receive an email message or a LinkedIn message, or even I received yesterday and the day before a text, a cold text message from someone who was trying to get to me. The test is, is what does someone say? Does someone say, “Hey, do you have time today or tomorrow for a 15-minute meeting?” If you say that, then you’re really that dumb, and you really are not thinking through the fact that an executive that you’re trying to reach, generally speaking, is booked out at minimum, two weeks.
So why on God’s green earth would you waste, number one, an email with a call to action that says, “Hey, can we meet today or tomorrow for 15 minutes? Or sometime even this week?” If you saw my schedule as a CEO of a small business, 30-person company, just yesterday alone, I had no time to even pee. None. It was back to back to back. So do you really think that I’m going to allocate 10 or 15 minutes to get to know you in the next couple of days?
Even when I have a pressing business problem that I must solve, unless that is in DEFCON 1 status, meaning I’m about to lose revenue, my company’s about to explode, it’s impacting people. Unless it’s DEFCON 1, it’s very unlikely that I’m taking a call in the next couple days. So to answer your question, I think a lot of sales reps are making that mistake, especially young SDRs. They believe that what is a priority for them is a priority for their customer.
You might get that lucky occasion where someone says, “Yes, this is a priority.” That happened with me about three weeks ago where someone reached out to me and at that moment in time, literally, I had just gotten off a call talking about this very issue and it happened to be perfect timing, and I replied back to the cold email. But the meeting by the way, didn’t happen for another two more weeks.
I think what we need to recognize is that if you understand that the person that you’re calling on is generally booked out at least two weeks, then the methodology that we teach, which we call our PVC sales methodology, the C is for that call to action. You’ll recognize that when you reach out, you’re going to not just send me a calendar invite to tell me to book a meeting on a calendar, because guess what? Most of us who are that 45 and older, we grew up in the school of hard knocks that says, “You want a meeting with me? You work for that meeting.” That’s number one. And most of the buyers that we’re selling to at the VP and above are 45 and older, our age and older. And so we have that mentality like, “No, you got to work for this.”
So what do you do? You send a message that says, “Hey, here are three dates and times that I’m available. One is two weeks out at 9am. The second one is three weeks out at anywhere between 11 and 1pm, and the third is at four weeks out anytime between three and six o’clock.” Now, what are you looking for? If you actually send that out, you’re looking to see, what are the times that that prospect is willing to meet, and how many weeks out are they booked? When we think about it from that perspective, and I have a business need, then and only then will you get the responses that you want.
Fred Diamond: That’s actually a great point. We talk about it a lot, the whole concept of what’s in it for me, or the whole concept of that you got to remove yourself. It’s interesting, you talk about some people in the SDR role. A lot of times the training is really focused on why we’re so great, why our product offers such amazing solution. You’re drinking the Kool-Aid, you kind of have to be passionate about it. But the reality is, it’s not really in play at the customer side until there is that type of a specific need.
You guys have done a lot of work with the concept of omnichannel prospecting. One of the things that we talk about all the time on the Sales Game Changers podcasts and webinars and at the Institute for Excellence in Sales is not necessarily new ways to prospect, but the most effective ways to get in touch and engaging with your customers. Talk a little bit about what omnichannel prospecting means and what the insights are from Vengreso.
Mario Martinez: That’s a really great question, Fred, on what is omnichannel prospecting. I really do hope that reps, whether you’re an SDR, AE, an Account Director, Global Accounts Manager or Account Manager or a sales leader, doesn’t matter. I hope you’re listening to this because one of the big challenges that we are seeing in the industry is that reps who are responsible for prospecting.
By the way, if you’re an account manager, you’re responsible for prospecting. Why? Because you land and expand. If you are an account executive, even though you have an SDR assigned to you, whether it’s 1:3 ratio or 1:1 ratio, if you’re not meeting your quota, your manager is going to expect you to be able to hit your quota and therefore you better be prospecting. Everybody’s doing prospecting, including all the way up to the CEO.
Omnichannel is essentially using every sales strategy, every sales tool, every channel to engage and connect with prospects. Why? Well, it’s very simple. Prospects respond to different sales outreach methodologies differently based upon the medium that they’re most comfortable with. For example, if I want to get ahold of one of my VPs of sales that we work with, I know that number one, I’ll never email. Number two, I never call. But if I text between 5 and 8pm, any night of the week, Saturday or Sunday, guess who responds? He does.
I also have another customer who is the Chief Sales Officer of a very large global Fortune 500 company. What I know is that if I send an email to him, that email will receive a one-to-five-word response. But if I send a message through LinkedIn, which he is an avid C-suite executive that is on LinkedIn, I will receive a much more deeper response from him.
I also have another executive that will not respond to text messages and will not respond to LinkedIn messages nor LinkedIn engagement and just wants to pick up the phone. So the reality is, is that every buyer has a different medium that they’re comfortable with. Omnichannel prospecting basically says, if you look at your sales cadence, and you’re reaching out on the inbound or outbound, that you are touching them at every single one of the possible channels that they would engage with you on, whether that’s phone, email, text, social, video as well, right? And you are looking for that one time where they say, “Yes, let’s have a conversation. No, I’m not interested.” Because now what you’re looking for is a trend.
If I started a conversation on LinkedIn, I continue it with the intention to move it off. If I started the conversation on email, I continue it with the intent to move it offline. If I started a conversation via the phone, I’m going to take that conversation and move it offline to a virtual meeting, or a live in-person meeting. Omnichannel refers to using any one of the channels in order to be able to get our prospects to do what we would like them to do, and that is, number one, get on the phone and have a conversation, and number two, understand if there’s a business problem or pain that we can solve.
Fred Diamond: It’s a really interesting point you bring up here. We got a nice comment here from Mike and Mike says, you’re talking about being a professional. We’ve been doing webinars every single day since the pandemic kicked in, and there’s a lot of words that have emerged. Empathy, of course, is a big one. Value.
But the big word that has continued to evolve through the webinars that we’ve been doing at the Sales Game Changers Podcast is the whole concept of being a sales professional. What you’re describing here is not just cookie cutter approach, it’s understanding what you as a professional need to be doing in various ways to engage your customer the right way so that you move them further down the path.
Mario Martinez: That’s exactly right. Being a sales professional means something. First off, we’re the most highly paid individuals in a company. That’s number one. Number two, we do what 90% of the rest of the organization and the workforce decide not to do. That is, we feed our families, we have all of our health benefits, we have our mortgage, we have our car payment, our boat, and anything else that we decide to pick up and accrue, we base all of that purchasing and support of our family off of doing one thing and one thing only, hitting a quota.
And 90% of the workforce don’t want to do that. That’s why they end up in customer success and marketing and accounting and every other department that’s out there. Not to say that those roles are not important because guess what? Without them, we don’t exist. But the reality is, is we have that tough job. We need to take that much more seriously when we think about us as a sales professional, we are a professional at its best in class.
We’ve got to be thinking about how to engage and correlate, and also be a marketer at the same time as a salesperson, at the same time as a consoler, at the same time as a psychologist. All those things, when we talk to our customers. Then we think about, what are some of the big challenges inside of the remote selling environment that we exist in? Which by the way, most of us, including most major Fortune 100s still have majority of their workforce that is able to be remote in a remote capacity.
It’s not until next year that people are putting policies in place to actually say, “Hey, come into the office once or twice a week.” So we’re still going to be living with this throughout 2022. But thinking about some of the data that we’re seeing, we have to recognize that some of the latest stats are marketing emails which increased by 62% since March of 2020. Virtual events increased by 1,000% since March of 2020. Sales calls increased by 28% and even ad spend went up by over 22% with our buyers.
Now thinking about all the things, the digital imprints, the things that are coming in. If we understood that as a salesperson, then we would absolutely change the way we are engaging with buyers, and we would recognize, no, I’m not going to be the individual that sends a message that says, “Can we meet today or tomorrow for 15 minutes?”
First of all, don’t ask for the 15-minute meeting. That’s stupid. It takes seven minutes just to build rapport. Secondly, don’t ask for today or tomorrow because your desire booking a meeting is not the same timeline as a customer. Thirdly, you need to make sure that if your leadership is telling you to dial for dollars, that is old school, it is antiquated, it worked in 1990 but it does not work in 2021 or even in 2022. What works though, is leveraging the entire Omnichannel experience with prospecting.
Fred Diamond: We have we have a nice softball question here from Jorge. Jorge, thank you so much. The question is, how do you grab the attention of the prospect in the first message? Try to mention the possible problem that he or she may have? Jorge, thank you so much for the question.
Mario, we kind of started talking about this. I’ll just throw something out, but I want to get your thoughts on this. It’s not about you, it is about the customer. I think one thing that I’m hearing from you is random acts of possible connections aren’t going to work. The other key word that we keep hearing about as a professional is preparation. It’s truly understanding what this prospect may have.
When you do the dial for dollars thing, you’re basically going out with one singular message that the company tells you to do. Keep dialing this and ask them, do you have this problem that we solve? That’s almost invariably going to get you no success. It continues to get you no success until you’re able to communicate specifically a problem that the customer may have that you may or may not be able to solve. What’s your thoughts on that?
Mario Martinez: Yeah, so actually, there’s an answer for the inbound and there’s an answer for the outbound. This is how granular we should be thinking when we’re working with a buyer or a prospect is what’s the best way to engage? And it’s not one size fits all. If your organization doesn’t have an inbound cadence or an outbound cadence, they’re behind the times, they’re not doing it right, and they need to actually do it right.
Let’s talk about the inbound side. First off, on the inbound side, most of us realize that they have done something in order for us to be reaching out. What is that something? They’ve downloaded a web form. They’ve done enough activity on the website that triggers and it says, “Hey, there might be interest here.” They requested a Contact Me form. Whatever the case might be.
What we have to do is when we reach out, whether it’s a phone call, or whether it’s an email, or whether it’s a LinkedIn message, we have to acknowledge what it is that they did, so that we show them that we are educated in what they were performing and what they were doing on our website. That’s first and foremost. Make sure you’ve got a good system that allows you to be able to see, what was this person doing and how did they come on the inbound? That’s also critical.
One of the first things that we do on the inbound, if you go to Google, and you type in the word prospecting, and then put Vengreso, V-E-N-G-R-E-S-O, Vengreso with one S and one O, you’ll come to an article that we have. It’s our second longest article on our site all about prospecting. It talks about the inbound cadence. The first thing that we do, and that we teach our customers is on the inbound, you connect on LinkedIn.
Now, why do you connect on LinkedIn? By the way, with a personalized message. Hey Fred, I saw that you reached out on our website. You requested a few items like… And I wanted to be able to connect with you. Obviously, you’re looking for information related to digital selling, video selling, LinkedIn selling, whatever it might be. Would love to be able to connect with the other fellow sales or marketer, which is who we’d go to. You got to take the script and construct it yourself. We have a methodology called the PVC sales methodology which will help you with that. But first step, connect on LinkedIn.
The next step on the inbound, is pick up the phone and call them. We know that within that first hour is that window of opportunity. If you’re not calling that person within that first hour, shame on you, get on the phone and talk to them. The third thing is, is follow up with an email, and then one day later, you follow up with a social engagement. Now we have 18 steps in this cadence on the inbound, because guess what? Even hand raisers might take you 18 touches over the course of 35 days to solicit a response because we’re so busy.
I am one of those executives. I will reach out, I have interests because at one o’clock in the morning I needed to research something. I reached out, but I can’t get to that for at least another few more days. So you’ve got to work with that particular prospect on that side. On the outbound, how do you capture their attention? This is the hardest one of the two. On the outbound, if you look at our prospecting article, you will find that the very first step in reaching that buyer’s attention is not anything that you would normally do. Not an email, not a phone call, not a LinkedIn connection request, not a video, none of those things, not a text. It’s the referral request.
What you’re looking for is, who is this particular buyer connected to that you can leverage to get in? And it’s not just you, it’s anyone inside your organization. You should be looking at those mutual connections to get into that particular buyer’s office even if the mutual connection is not a strong one. Most people are willing to help somebody else if they simply ask. Sixty plus percent referral requests result in a meeting. Sixty plus percent. That’s the first thing in terms of getting your buyer’s attention.
When that is null and void and you don’t have that opportunity, now you start with the whole entire process. You want to warm this person up. Start with the social engagement. What does that mean? You’re going to like, you’re going to comment, you’re going to reshare, you’re going to tag, you’re going to ask a question to solicit engagement. The moment they look at your profile, the moment they engage back with you on LinkedIn, as an example, is the moment that you take the opportunity to connect with that individual because you’ve earned the right to be able to connect with them with a hyper personalized message.
Then, if that doesn’t work, you’re going to follow them on LinkedIn. Why? Because when you click a follow button, they will receive a notification because most of us don’t even know where to go turn that off, to turn off no follow notifications. They’ll receive a notification from LinkedIn within about 24 to 72 hours that someone has followed them. Guess what it shows? Your name, your contact info, your personal LinkedIn page. I am going to take a wild guess here, Fred, that pretty much @ linkedin.com email address, is pretty much whitelisted across all spam filters. So the likelihood of you getting into their box with a follow is way higher than you sending @vengreso.com email to that individual.
The next day, what you want to think about is doing an email. If you go to that article where you type in, PVC sales method, In fact, I think you could write, pvcsalesmethod.com, you’ll actually go to our PVC sales methodology. There’s a whole entire video that we have around the PVC sales methodology, and how you personalize, how you bring value, and how to have the right call to action. And that value, by the way, is through the use of content.
The personalization is not a generic personalization. I saw that you speak Spanish. I saw that you were speaking at such and such. That’s not we’re talking about. We’re talking about personalization at scale with relevancy, and that is hyper personalized. Mario, I saw you speaking on the Institute for Excellence in Sales with Mr. Fred Diamond. At about 5 minutes and 22 seconds into the show, I heard you say… Loved what you said. By the way, the reason why I’m reaching out is we help sales leaders solve these two problems, get more sales meetings and increase the sales pipeline. Are you challenged by these two things? If so, I thought this white paper, this eBook, this blog would be of value to you.
What are you looking for with stating the business problem that you solve? I as a business leader, which has a 42nd max attention span to a digital task, email, phone call, LinkedIn message, text message, a digital task of doing something on the digital mobile phone, 40 seconds. I’m looking for who this person is, my sales meter goes down as soon as I see that you hyper personalized to me, that you took the time because you were interested in me, so now you become interesting.
And then I look at, do they have something that I have a problem with that I need help with right now? If my answer to each one of those two questions in the script that I just gave you which is a Vengreso script is yes to one or both, guess what? I’m going to keep reading. Now I’m going to look at what other people say, I’m going to look at a particular blog, especially if I reach out on prospecting as an example.
And then you have what’s called the C for the PVC, the call to action. That call to action that gets someone’s attention, Jorge who asked that question, guess what? It likely isn’t, can we have a meeting for 15 minutes in 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks from now. It might be, is this a challenge that you’re having within your organization? Provide a question to solicit a response of, yes, I have this problem. Now, you’re going to hook them. And that is what’s important is that that CTA might not be book a meeting, it might be asking a question to solicit engagement.
Fred Diamond: Jorge says, “Thank you so much.” We also got a nice comment here from Richard, who said, “Great answer.” We also have a comment here from Gina. Gina says, “This is amazing.” Thank you so much. A couple of things that I want to hit on that you talked about.
Two things you said I really want to focus back on. One is, even when somebody raised their hand and said, I need some information, it still may take you 18 touches to get in touch with them in a month’s period. We all know the stats that a lot of times the salespeople will give up after three or four calls. People again, the keyword that we keep hearing time and time again, if you’re a professional, you need to understand that. And you also need to understand how to use your tools.
I was going to ask you since Mario Martinez, you’re one of the industry’s foremost leaders on LinkedIn, to give us some advice on LinkedIn, but you kind of just did give us a great example about how you should be using LinkedIn. You know what? You got to use it as a professional. It doesn’t mean you’ll send an InMail, which says, I’d like to talk to you for 15 minutes on Tuesday or Thursday. Again, it keeps going back.
I love the personalization, the hyper personalization that you’re talking about here, which goes to being a professional, which means you prepare, which means that you know it’s not about you, that it’s about your customer, and how are you bringing them value that they may need right now, or they might need some time in the future? But you also know that I’m not going to talk to you tomorrow, because they’re very, very busy. Mario, how long has Vengreso been around for?
Mario Martinez: We did a seven-way company merger four and a half years ago, and it was the hardest thing I ever did, and I won’t do it again.
Fred Diamond: It seems like it was longer than that. You brought some great people together, you guys have truly established yourself as the industry leader in social selling. I want to acknowledge you and Viv and rest of the team for the amazing work that you’ve done to help tens of thousands of sales professionals around the globe understand social selling, and understand that it’s not just about a share or something like that, that it’s about a process.
I mean, one thing you just talked about a few moments ago is you talked about you got to do this, this and this, in order to get some type of impact. It’s not just about activities, it’s about smart, carefully thought-through activities designed to build the relationship so that you can engage and build a relationship to help the customer achieve the challenges that they need to achieve. I want to thank you.
Mario, as we end every Sales Game Changers webinar and podcasts, even though you’ve given us 30 great ideas so far, give us one specific action step that people listening to the podcast or watching today’s webinar should do to take their sales career to the next level.
Mario Martinez: That’s a great question. First, I want to make sure everybody knows, we’re not a social selling training company. We are a digital sales training on prospecting company, and that’s our big focus is helping salespeople and sales teams create more sales conversations and grow their sales pipeline. But in answer to your question, I’m going to put a shameless plug here on terms of taking your career to the next level. Most of us don’t know how to do digital sales prospecting correctly. Especially the 45-year-old sales leader and above.
If you’re a sales rep, and you think you know what you’re doing, I promise you, you don’t. Not until you’ve booked meetings and revenue out of this and you’re doing it consistently month over month. So in order to be able to help you and take your sales career to the next level, I would encourage you to go to moresalescalls.com. There, you’re going to find a pretty amazing program, and that’s modern sales mastery for individuals.
In that you’re going to get some really amazing training from myself and Viveka von Rosen, one of the world’s most well-known social media influencers on LinkedIn. And for me, I came from right up in the ranks as a sales professional, tried and true, five different industries. My last stop was a VP of sales, managed over $300 million a year in revenue. This is not theory, this is practice.
Fred Diamond: Thank you so much Mario. My apologies for the not the optimal distinction. I’m such a big fan of what you guys do, so I appreciate you give me a little bit of correction there about how you guys position yourself and you guys provide so much value. Once again, to everybody who watched today’s webinar, thank you so much. To everyone who’s listening to this as a Sales Game Changers podcast in the future, thank you all so much as well. Take care, Mario.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo