Recently we had the pleasure of speaking with Jill Konrath who is an internationally recognized B2B sales and sales management thought leader. Jill is the author of two bestselling books: SNAP Selling – which soared to #1 on Amazon within hours of its release – and Selling to Big Companies, a Fortune magazine “must read” sales book. She’s also a frequent speaker/trainer at sales meetings.
Q: Congratulations on your success. How did you become an expert in your field?
I am passionate about what I do. I’ve worked with thousands of inside and outside salespeople over the years. I love solving sales challenges. And, I’m willing to experiment to find out what works.
About 10 years ago, I started focusing on prospecting. It was becoming increasingly difficult to connect with prospects. They’d stopped answering the phone and weren’t responding to emails. Clearly a new approach was needed. And, I decided to find an approach that would be effective in today’s business environment.
Once I discover what’s working, I create training programs and tons of “how to” content that I willingly share with others. My goal is to positively impact as many salespeople as possible. Right now, over 100,000 sales professionals subscribe to my weekly newsletter because they’re always getting fresh ideas.
Q: SNAP Selling is your most recent book. What’s it about?
SNAP Selling is about how to deal with today’s frazzled customer who’s too busy to talk, doesn’t want to change from the status quo and think you’re just like all your competitors. Sound familiar?
Q: Sure does. We see it all the time. How can Inside Sales teams apply it?
The first thing inside sales teams need to understand is the four SNAP Factors that their prospects use to determine if they’ll respond to a salesperson’s message. Literally, within seconds they’re judging the email/voicemail on these four factors:
Simple: Does the core message jump out? Or is it complex, hard to figure out and ultimately deletable?
iNvaluable: Does the salesperson sound like he/she’d bring good ideas or insights? If not, delete.
Aligned: Can the prospect immediately see its relevance to their key business objectives? If not, delete.
Priority: Is it urgent, requiring action now? If not, delete.
Simple – iNvaluable – Aligned – Priority. SNAP! And, an inside salesperson’s job is to ensure their message passes this SNAP Test because that’s how their prospects judge them.
Q: You write about the prospect’s 3 primary decisions. What are they – and why are they important to salespeople?
It’s crucial for inside salespeople to understand the difference between three primary decisions their prospects make. Why? Because at each decision point they need change their own behavior and emphasis in order to be effective. In SNAP Selling, I explain it in detail, but here’s an overview.
Decision 1: Allow Access – The first thing our prospects decide is if we’re worth talking to. They quickly use the SNAP Test above to make that assessment. If our message gets them to say, “Ooh. That’s interesting. I’d like to learn more” then we get to have an initial conversation with them.
Decision 2: Initiate Change – This is the toughest decision for our prospects. Change makes more work for them. It’s disruptive. It’s harder than staying the same. To be successful, salespeople need to help their prospects understand why it’s worth it to switch. Unfortunately, most salespeople really blow it here because that’s not they’re focused on.
Decision 3: Select Resources – At this stage, prospects choose between options. Our job now is to differentiate from our competitors so we stand out. And, to remove any bottlenecks for moving ahead. When we do that, we make it easier for them to say yes to us.
When you know which of these three decisions your prospect is currently making, you give them what they need at that point in time. Nothing more, nothing less.
Q: Can you tell us about your concept of the Buyer’s Matrix as a tool for sales conversations?
I developed the Buyer’s Matrix to help inside salespeople get inside their customer’s head. In my experience, most salespeople don’t know nearly enough about their prospect’s status quo, responsibilities, goals and motivations. Without this info, it’s tough to be highly effective.
This tool gets you to focus on specific positions—not individuals. For example, if you sell to Marketing, you’d create one Buyer’s Matrix for the Vice President of Marketing and another for the Director of Corporate Communications.
In doing so, you’d answer questions that would help you understand their objectives, environment, issues, challenges and more. Once you know what’s important to them, you can create customer-enticing messages that pass the SNAP Test.
Q: What final advice can you give our readers?
To remember that sales is an experiment – there is no right or wrong, just varying degrees of effectiveness. Our job is to constantly seek ways we can increase our effectiveness.
For example, if we’re not getting the callbacks we want, we should ask ourselves: What can we change to get different results. And, when we look at it that way, there are lots of options: our introduction, value proposition, how we sound, who we’re calling, the length of our message and the time of day.
And that’s only a few of the possibilities. When we turn sales into a continuous improvement challenge, we’re guaranteed to get better! And, that’s what it’s all about.
Jill Konrath’s expertise has been featured in Fortune, The New York Times, ABC News, Wall Street Journal and many other media outlets. In 2012 alone she was recognized as a Sales Stars by Success magazine and one of the Top 3 Sales & Marketing Thought Leaders by Top Sales Word. Get Jill’s Free Prospecting Toolkit here: http://www.jillkonrath.com/sales-resources/