In this episode of the Sales Gravy Podcast, Jeb Blount and David Newman, author of Do It! Marketing and Do It! Selling, discuss exactly how to connect and engage with decision makers and avoid the “middle management trap”. One of the most effective approaches that salespeople can leverage to close bigger deals is using interviews as a sales strategy to gather intelligence, build relationships, and connect with high-level decision makers. Through asking penetrating questions and providing valuable resources, consultants and salespeople can establish themselves as experts and earn the right to have pivotal conversations with their top prospects.
Strategic planning and research are paramount for sales and marketing professionals, including targeting a specific market, establishing credibility, using interviews as a prospecting channel, and planning for the future.
Target a specific market instead of trying to target everyone. Determine where to publish, speak, network, post, and participate in blogs, portals, forums, and communities to reach this audience.
Establish credibility in one industry before expanding into others. This requires deep-dive research on market forces, disruption, and compliance regulations. When you track where the money is going, you can prepare for unexpected events and pivot when necessary.
Using interviews as a prospecting channel to gather intelligence, build relationships, and connect with high-level decision makers. focusing on providing value rather than seeking approval or sounding smart during conversations with economic buyers.
To plan for the future, dedicate time to strategic planning based on research, conversations, and feedback from past clients. It’s important to always have a plan B in place and be ready to shift gears and change direction when necessary.
By focusing on specific markets, establishing credibility, and using interviews as a prospecting channel, professionals can connect with high-level decision makers and achieve their business goals.
To Sell, You Have to Take Action
As a sales professional, you face a simple choice.
Stay put or go out and do something. Believing that “if you build it, they will come” is a fallacy.
Planning is essential, but without conversations, it won’t lead to success. It’s time to take action and start having those conversations.
Shake hands and create familiarity with your voice, face, and message. This way, when people see you, they will recognize you and remember your message. This is where serendipity happens.
The key message of David’s new book, Do It! Selling is that without action, there will be no results. Leads do not come out of the blue. Sometimes these leads may seem serendipitous, but they actually result from the actions you take to create an environment conducive to generating leads.
If you consistently put in effort, the universe has a way of rewarding you, but it won’t reward you for simply waiting for success to come to you. Waiting around for leads to come to you is a reactive approach.
Instead, you need to be proactive and actively seek fresh targets on a regular basis.
The 3 PR Game Plan: Personalized, Professional, Public Relations
For those who are a bit reluctant to sell, David presents a new definition for sales: ‘Are you sending enough invitations to a conversation with enough of the right people about how you can help them?’ This conversation may not always lead to a commercial relationship, but results in an introduction or referral.
Sometimes, the person may not be the right fit at the moment, but they may come back in the future with an opportunity to work together. Therefore, it’s important to put fresh prospects on your radar daily by sending enough invitations to a conversation with real people whom you can help, with the intention of opening a conversation and seeing where it goes.
Enter the Three P. R. Game Plan, which stands for Personalized, Professional, Public Relations. This is not the same as traditional public relations involving press releases and media interviews. Instead, it consists of three components: speaking, publishing, and social media.
Speaking is the first leg of the Three P. R. strategy, which involves generating leads and sales through speaking engagements. This can include speaking in person to groups, participating in podcasts, live streaming, or creating short video emails to send to prospects.
This doesn’t mean publishing a book, but rather creating articles, blogs, cheat sheets, and other content that is relevant and valuable to your target market. These pieces help establish credibility and expertise.
Being active on online platforms where your target market is already engaging helps raise your visibility and shareability. This can include social media platforms, blogs, portals, communities, and forums.
By implementing the Three P. R. strategy, you can generate more leads and increase your visibility, credibility, and shareability. Remember, it’s important to put fresh targets on your radar every day to keep the momentum going.
Targeting Your Ideal Qualified Prospect (IQP)
Every salesperson, whether you are a consultant, solopreneur, or work for a big company, faces the challenge of identifying their target audience and the different layers of people to target within that audience. we are living in a time of insane volatility and uncertainty, so The target audience is constantly moving and changing. Your ideal qualified prospect (IQP) is not static. Finding the money is a problem in a world where everything is changing.
Here are three frameworks you use to identify where the money is in a changing landscape.
You need to define the niche or target market that you want to focus on. The mistake many people make is trying to target everyone, assuming that everyone needs their product or service. However, not everyone has the need or resources to purchase your product or service. If you zero in on exactly the right people that you want to serve, where you have some track records, experience, and expertise, you will have a high degree of confidence that you can help them. This makes your life so much easier because you know where to speak, where to network, and where to build relationships.
To build a universe of influence, it’s essential to focus on a narrow and deep market. Establish credibility in one industry, then expand into adjacent or different markets. If you keep working with a variety of customers and clients, you’ll never gain momentum or a track record within a specific industry. Without a track record, repeat business, referrals, upselling, and cross-selling become impossible.
To get started, consider where you’ve done your best work and who you can help the most. Identify the people who have given you the most significant results and gather testimonials, testimonial clips, and testimonial videos. These individuals are your target audience, and you should focus your efforts on them. Determine where to publish, speak, network, post, and participate in blogs, portals, forums, and communities to reach this audience. Once you’ve established yourself, the snowball effect will kick in, and you won’t need to bounce from one market or target group to another constantly.
It’s Simple Economics
As you go through this process, keep in mind that not only must your prospects have the ability to pay, but they must also be eager to pay for our services. It’s not enough that they have a budget; they must have an urgent, pervasive, and expensive problem that they are willing to pay a premium fee to solve.
This is why it is crucial to choose a target market with financial viability. Otherwise, we may waste our time talking to people who desperately need our services but cannot afford them.
Using Interviews As A Sales Strategy
Did you know that you can use interviewing as a prospecting channel, especially when you want to meet people in the C suite?
The goal is to gather intelligence, build relationships, and connect with high-level C-suite executives whom you might not be able to reach otherwise. These individuals are often behind multiple layers of security, and their emails and phone calls are screened.
During the interview, start by asking about their biggest successes. Focus on the positive at first to build trust and rapport before moving on to more difficult topics. Ask about their unique insights or nuggets of information that only they know, and the best advice they’ve received on the topic. Then, transition to their next goals and challenges, asking what they’re currently working on and what obstacles they’re facing.
Follow-Up Is Where The Magic Happens
The magic of the interview is not in the interview itself or even the publishing of the interview. It’s in the follow-up touch points after the interview. This includes sending a handwritten thank-you note, an email with the finished article, and giving the interviewee the opportunity to make any changes or updates to the article.
Make sure to follow up every 7 to 10 days, continuing to offer helpful information and solutions to their challenges. By the sixth or seventh touchpoint, you will have positioned yourself as an expert and authority in your industry and earned the right to have a pivotal conversation with them. For example, you could say, “Hey Jeb, we’ve been talking a lot about your challenges with problem A, problem B, and problem C. I believe I can help you in a more formal manner. Would a short chat be worth your time?” Often, the answer will be yes.
Even if it doesn’t pay off immediately, the person you interviewed will never forget that you thought their perspective was important, and they may loop back around to you in the future.
Want to learn more about targeting your idea qualified prospects and connecting with hard to reach stakeholders? You’ll find more than 1000 hours of professional development content for modern sales professionals and leaders on Sales Gravy University.
About the author
Jeb Blount is one of the most sought-after and transformative speakers in the world…