"You can bring tremendous value to your business, your customers, and yourself by becoming proficient at bringing in new business."
Mike Weinberg is a top-performing sales hunter, sales executive, and founder and President of The New Sales Coach. His book New Sales. Simplified is a fantastic addition to the bookshelves of salespeople looking to get an edge in new business development. New business development is hard but Weinberg addresses some of the major challenges head on and gives readers a step-by-step approach on how to prepare, speak, and close conversations with prospects. It’s an excellent book filled with practical tips and motivational direction on how to change your mindset around proactive sales calls. No sales rep that spends any amount of time with prospects should miss out on this book. Enjoy!
The Big Idea
A great story changes everything
"Our sales story is our most important and most frequently used weapon. When we have a great story, it changes everything."
Having a great story can completely change the way that you communicate with your prospects and give you confidence about the product or service that you offer. A great story isn’t one where you take the prospect through all the details of how your company was founded, or necessarily give people the “warm and fuzzy” feeling of why they should buy from you – it’s shouldn’t be fluff. A great story is one that is focused on the prospect, the issues you can solve for them, and why you’re different from the existing solution they’re using. Weinberg breaks down a great story into three components:
- Client Issues Addressed
The more powerful and relevant the story is to your prospect, the more confident you will feel. The biggest mistake salespeople make when telling prospects about their company is when they start with what they do. They begin with “we make…” or “we provide…” but none of these explanations are going to go anywhere because a prospect is only going to think “So what? What does that do for me?” And that’s why you need to create a powerful story because from the first words until the last words that you share, it needs to connect with how you’re going to make a difference for that prospect.
I spent an hour crafting my story and I already feel more comfortable and confident in approaching prospects. You can make it a bigger initiative across your team or company but a small investment in fine tuning your story can pay off handsomely the next time you speak to a prospect.
Select targets for a reason
"When charged with acquiring new business, the natural and essential first questions are: 'Where is the business going to come from?' and 'Who should I be pursuing?'. If we are putting together a prospecting and new business development sales attack, we need to know where to go and whom to target"
Having a target list helps you narrow down the prospects you want to go after and ones that you think will have the best potential of converting into customers. Without a target list, you’ll likely end up like most other unfocused salespeople by going after the “hottest” accounts that likely changes every day.
Here are some of the questions Weinberg suggests asking as you begin creating your target list: “Who are our best customers? What are their common characteristics? What do their businesses ‘look, smell, and feel’ like?” Starting by looking at your current customers is a great place to start “hot spotting” companies that “look, smell, and feel” a lot like your best clients. You may also want to dig a little bit deeper and find out if there are certain industries and sub-sectors that many of your customers come from.
“It’s imperative that the salesperson builds a strategic, finite, focused, written, and workable list of target referral sources”. A workable list is very important. Salespeople have a variety of responsibilities and if they have a limited time available to every week, a list of hundreds of prospects may not be feasible. Having a workable list also allows one to reexamine the effectiveness of the target list. After a month of prospecting into target accounts with no traction, there may be some issues with the targets themselves and it may be worth re-evaluating the accounts that were chosen.
Make the phone your best friend
"Bar none, the phone is still the most deadly and accurate weapon to score a face-to-face meeting with a target prospect."
One of the challenges around new business development is the fear of making cold calls. Salespeople fear making them because they don’t know what to say and they also don’t want to sound like a telemarketer. It’s understandable because you’re contacting people without their solicitation. A salesperson’s mindset can really help or hinder this process. A great salesperson knows that proactive sales calling is not telemarketing. She knows that you’re calling the prospects for a great reason and will potentially be able to bring tremendous value to the company she is calling. This makes her much more valuable and she knows it.
To further add confidence, the salesperson knows that she has a great story to tell. She has done homework into the client’s issues her company has helped resolve and what makes her different from the competition. She understands that if an issue doesn’t resonate with a prospect, she can always mention another issue that may hit the mark instead.
Weinberg provides additional tactical tips like starting the call with “let me steal a minute” to make himself sound more human or saying that he “heads up _____” so people can put into perspective who you are.
Mike Weinberg’s New Sales. Simplified is the most important book on business development I have read thus far. I was really impressed at how direct and practical Weinberg was with each of the key topics, which was very refreshing. I also appreciated the step-by-step approach that he takes you through to build your story or create your strategic target list.
It’s so hard to find good books on new business development because it’s a difficult skill to master. But add this to your list if you’re looking to make more sales, especially with new clients. I have a feeling you’ll be re-reading it quite a bit after you pick it up.
What are some of the challenges you face when developing new business? How would you use some of the tips in your role?