Irrelevant Leads Vs Canvassing for Prospects; Make or break or…blame?

Irrelevant Leads Vs Canvassing for Prospects; Make or break or…blame?

And so it begins… you pick up that phone, you dial a number and YES, you get an answer… at the other end of the line an angry, tired from a difficult morning at work individual, who registered on your website because he saw a promotional banner that he doesn’t remember, doesn’t know what it is that you do and has no interest whatsoever in spending any European, American or Japanese currency on your offering.

On the other hand, online and offline campaigns, a massive pool of media buying options, countless possibilities for lead generation… With online marketing going nuke and the cost of acquiring more precious forex leads hovering above your rise or fall, I ask “is canvassing for prospects still an option?”

The general trend is that you still have the option to canvas for prospects. But then the dreaded report comes only to show that a massive percentage of your forex leads are indeed irrelevant. I named these leads irrelevant, since the term is synonymous with not here nor there, non material and unrelated. Since they have no idea what they’ve done, why they approached you, don’t know who you are, what you do or what you are offering, the term seemed appropriate.

While some people would argue that time well spent is time that makes money which reflects time spent where interested prospects rule, I will tend to disagree. With those irrelevant leads, Sales Reps differentiate themselves from the swarm.

 

Between these irrelevant forex leads and the goal of you making a paying customer out of them, lies a far thinner line than most Sales Reps think. This line includes:

 

Making yourself relevant to them before they become relevant to you
Spending the same amount of energy as you would on a prospect
Ask questions and understand the lead’s surroundings, work, interests to find a connection
Provide information and educate
Send material, links, videos, reading material to gain interest for further follow ups
and what do you know…? That report is not so dreaded anymore, is it?

We are living in the era of blaming each other and the same as in every civilized realization, we need to find someone to blame right? So if we’ve come to agree that canvassing for prospects is bad, who’s to blame for “it” happening? Definitely not the irrelevant forex leads that found a way to crawl into your report and surely not the Sales Rep that has not been educated about what sales are not about.

Sales are not just about knowledge and skills. Through time they evolved into a new-fangled monster called Attitude. So ask yourself and determine whether your attitude is to over think and canvass rather than closing one more sale.

 

Conclusion

 

To conclude, if you are a Director who promoted a Sales Manager just to fill a role, or a Sales Manager who accepted this role with not enough know how to carry out the task, or a Sales Rep that despite the aforementioned still canvasses to make a sale…

Can you now say “Guilty as charged”?

“Anyone can achieve their fullest potential, who we are might be predetermined, but the path we follow is always of our own choosing. We should never allow our fears or the expectations of others to set the frontiers of our destiny. Your destiny can’t be changed but, it can be challenged. Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.” Martin Heidegger.

Sales reps; a closer look… here’s a question: can a person sell underwear to a nudist?

Sales reps; a closer look… here’s a question: can a person sell underwear to a nudist?

Forex sales require knowledge and skills, attitude and habits, scripts and time management, team and personal ambition, motivation and hard work…

The question is which of the above do we possess? Some or maybe all of the above attributes must have already marked our career, shaken the foundations of who we were, shaped who we’re going to become in the future.

We often hear cases like “this guy can sell ice to an Eskimo” or “she can sell coals to Newcastle” or to go a step further, I read somewhere that there are individuals who can actually  “sell underwear to nudists…”

A closer look to the colossal collection of Sales Reps that the sales world collected since the need for trade was discovered only proves that using sales effort is a must where “need” is nowhere to be found. And since all monopoly roads closed, open markets dominate and vicious competition eliminated any possibilities for differentiation, I ask “Do you or your product still feel needed?” I guess you know the answer better than anyone and it possibly inclines towards no, unless you’re one of those who believe that your impeccable service is what characterizes you and yada yada…

 

What changed though and why does it have to be so unsettling?

 

  • We can all agree that the buying end of selling changed
  • Prospects can read between the lines; they see right through you and your product
  • Repletion in everything nourished fierce competition, eliminated differentiation
  • Social media being the number one influencer in the majority of decisions
  • AIDA model (Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action) is 116 years old (1898). Driving customers through the purchase funnel, is well… kind of irrelevant
  • Prospects might allow you to walk with them through their purchasing process; though they have no need, but no need whatsoever to walk with you through the selling process.

So if we agree that all of the above are painting the true picture, does this render sales obsolete? How is it even remotely possible for someone to perform under such conditions?

 

Food for thought

 

Forex sales reps continuously search for their identity. So let’s see… If you’re one to have excellent time management, you probably waste half the day, creating follow ups, writing CRM entries, categorizing your database, read like there’s no tomorrow before you decide to make a call. On the other hand if you’re one to have excellent number of calls, you probably have low if non existent time management efficiency, so you basically cross all your fingers and toes and hope for the best (other wise known as a call center operation).

You reached your targets by the middle of the month. Now what? Do you continue with a bigger end goal or do you call it a day? Where do you draw the line between what you say and how much of it you believe? To what length will you go to make a sale? Will you be pushy and make one hundred and thirty two follow ups or will you give up after your prospect said “don’t call me again”?

So many questions in one’s attempt to evaluate a sales person’s psychology. But do they really matter? Educating yourself on your environment, believing in your product, understanding your competitors, embracing the love/hate relationship for the sales role and most importantly respecting that there is a human being at the other end of the line are but a small sample of weapons in your armory to make you a great sales person.

And if somewhere in the process, you realize you’re one of those.. those charismatic individuals that can sell underwear to nudists (with a proven track record of sales), then what can a man say other than send an email at info@allfx-consult.com… we suddenly have a job opening..

Knowledge and the rest of the attributes; approach to indifference

Knowledge and the rest of the attributes; approach to indifference

For every deal you lose, someone else is getting richer. if you lose a sale only because of your price, then you haven’t sold a thing.

The good thing with the forex industry of today is the variety of techniques used to sell the product; the bad thing is the few people who know how to use them. And to make things worst, the recycling of employees in charge of this task, skyrocketed over the last few years.

Good sales people know stuff; they know themselves, the company they work for, competition, the customers, substitutes of their offerings and more. You ask them a question and there is nothing they can’t match it with. You don’t ask them a question and they have a way to kick start a conversation.

Where does someone like that acquire such knowledge though? is it from the every day work which involves interacting with people within the same industry? maybe from social media platforms? could it be from the countless calls and success/failures while they undergo the sales funnel? or maybe the internet?

No matter where they get it from, a huge challenge arises when they’re not getting it from their managers. Unfortunately not only does it deprive them from tools needed to get the job done, it also creates indifference towards management and loss of respect to what they’re doing.

Steps towards improving the knowledge and skill set of sales reps is more or less considered unnecessary for some, because the notion that “if a sales rep is good, he/she can sell ice to an Eskimo”, is still alive. How many Sales Reps did you come across that are like that? and especially in an industry as saturated as the forex industry?

Irrefutably every company wants and needs trained personnel but they are limited by their experience as well as the head of department knowledge. In the battle to keep overhead low, they choose cheap rather than quality, superficial attitudes rather than substance, oversold backgrounds rather than accurate plans towards departmental improvement.

Now if we do agree to act on such issue and admit our personnel is not trained properly, our eyes open toward who was supposed to train them. We look back into the department’s history and realize our head was mostly shouting and blaming rather than coaching and training.

If for other reasons (an example is forex industry politics) the choice is not to act on such issue, employee attitudes will start to change, skills will be underdeveloped, human resource will be underutilized, expensive leads will be burned and money will be flushed down the drain.

Despite what might seem a healthy sales department, its always good to go back and evaluate the processes, the policies and procedures, the interdepartmental communication and most importantly each of our soldiers individually in order to have a more complete profile of the department’s function, rather than a report with numbers and in some cases over-exaggerated results.

So if you’re reading this and you’re a Sales Rep, you should demand this from your manager. If you’re the manager and you don’t know to act on this, its imperative you find someone who can.

Databases; one big ocean Vs many small ponds…

Databases; one big ocean Vs many small ponds…

Another long day of calls, prospect handling and sales cycles. You want to stay ahead of prospects but today’s vast array of information renders it impossible. Customers are way ahead, like those marathon runners who flash by you as you try to complete one third of the race gasping for air, with each pace being more painful than the other.

Throughout the years we inevitably accumulate a massive number of leads that are now swimming in our vast ocean of prospects. And if the marketing strategy of our company is strong, with each day this number increases more and more. Part of the sales process is knowing what’s in this database of ours as it helps with our follow ups and a more focused or targeted way of working.

Looking into the example of the ocean, how can we really know all the fish that are swimming in it given the number of species, the unlimited color variations, the extreme size differences and so on and so forth… We probably have better chances knowing what’s in a smaller body of water, say a lake or an even smaller one, say a pond.

Similarly we can not really say we know all the leads that are swimming in our database unless we also separate them in smaller pools of data according to our history with them. Articles around the “era of Big Data” exploded and as a result of keeping up to date with today’s standards, customer relation management (CRM) systems now do this for us and separate the databases with all sorts of categories and filters, more like those Matryoshka dolls that are nesting one inside the other. The idea; divide and conquer… The little time you need to allocate to divide the database into segments, the better you know what lies in your many smaller lakes and ponds rather than your one big ocean.

Other than providing you with a segmentation and targeted daily work, the systems could also analyze this information and provide intelligence on the brokerage’s next steps, possible campaign ideas and as a result, render the human creativity, experience, decision making, obsolete.

In our quest for success though, is it possible that we completely missed the point? And did we as a result allow this to become an excuse for not doing what we’re supposed to do?

Truth is that there are not as many fresh leads coming on a daily basis in contrast with a few years back. So from the company’s perspective are we really sure that this great tool we are providing to our sales department is really working for or against us? I’m sure we can agree that most sales reps canvass for prospects, lose half the day reading past comments and pass the time scanning through categories rather than proactively picking up the phone and just, dial.

What happened to knowing and believing in our product, understanding and crashing our competitors, loving and hating the sales role? Classifications like “not interested” or “potential” or “archive” or “active” matter very little when one’s determined to actually close a sale.

Not to level everything, having some knowledge of the prospect’s history is equally important and let’s face it; he who has knowledge spares his words and in the sales world, you would prefer to do more listening than talking so having some of that precious history to work with, definitely helps.

To make a long story short, the job is to make the call and ultimately use your skills to get interest, not make yourself lose interest by the categorizations or comments, and ultimately lose any skills left to motivate you to make that call…

See what just happened? Call – use skills – get interest Vs lose interest – doubt skills – no call.

We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.Oscar Wilde

Listening Vs Brains…or something like that

Listening Vs Brains…or something like that

If you’re a sales rep and you’re reading this, I ask you; how many times did you give proposals to your management about needs of your portfolio and how many of those times, did they actually listen?

If you’re a company and you’re reading this I ask you; how do you know that your corporate decisions on your offerings, are really what the market needs? How many times did you reject ideas deriving off your sales people and your employees in general?

It is an unfortunate fact; companies tend to think “brains” are all it takes to establish a good business plan and tend to forget that keeping eyes and ears open are equally important. Who better to fill this role than the ones who actually interact with the market, the potential customers, the already existing customers, the industry itself?

Decisions made out of “we will be the leaders because we’re different only served a few back in the stone age when differentiation was still an option. Especially in the forex industry, there is so much competition, with so similar offerings that unless we follow the industry trends, we are most definitely not going to go anywhere.

Comments in Social Media platforms show people who lose their identity in order to be accepted in communities and find prospects. No argument here; it’s a tactic that adds to their numbers. And if it works why would we say no to numbers or the era of whatever it is that exceeds quotas? “Good old cold calls” replaced by “good new cold commenting” in the Social vortex.

Due to the nature of this business, sales people are treated harshly and sometimes unfairly. Their opinions many times are sidelined because notions like “oh, they’re in it only for the money” or “they would do or say anything for the money” are still alive. In this constant fight to keep up with the trends and competition, can you honestly say this makes sense to you?. Successful companies are empowering employees by combining their “brains” and plans with the eyes and ears of their soldiers; the market has a voice and it moves in directions. All we need to do is keep eyes/ears open and listen.

If we can agree that sales equals income while everything else is an expense, i’m sure we can also agree that the notion includes management and “bosses”.

So ask yourself, would you rather be poor but a “boss”? or a wealthy sales administrator?

What will you do the next time one of your Sales Reps comes to you with an idea?

Sales; it’s a boxing match. In one corner you have…

Sales; it’s a boxing match. In one corner you have…

It is not uncommon for sales reps in this industry to fail; reasons vary with the most common ones being selling the non sellable and/or selling the wrong sale.

Confusing I get it; but read further and we can argue about it later.

Think of a boxing match between two sales reps; in one corner you have a top seller of many small figured accounts. Although strong in on-boarding new (small) accounts, this person is weak in selling big accounts, institutional accounts or partnerships.

In the other corner you have a great seller of big accounts, master in networking and establishing new partnerships. This person is weak though in on-boarding smaller accounts maybe due to the sales process used or inconsideration to the smaller return on his effort (smaller commission on small accounts).

The two fight for a winning spot as the employee of the month; the ultimate sales person. Both outperforming in their respective sales, one with an amazing number of opened small accounts, the other with smaller numbers of new accounts, but bigger in size, some of them could even be networks. Whom should we consider a winner?

Now if you choose one as a winner but also praise the other for an equally good job, then you’re heading the right direction. The problem arises when you under qualify and fail to recognize the other’s hard work, effort and final result. Due to repletion in everything as well as industry saturation, today’s management uses a systemic way of promoting talent and handling sales departments; there is a tendency to burn through the sales reps and finally data. The delegated responsibilities are for all or nothing and there is no scouting and/or talent promotion.

Whether we like it or not, without categorization comes burn and failure. Inadequacy in identifying and promoting talent and achievements although a big problem in our processes, it also signifies our weak overall procedures that can only lead to bad results. There is nothing worse than a good sales rep to think of being a low performer because of the inability of the company he/she works for to recognize potential.

Inadequacy might be a strong word but the problems don’t start with the soldiers, they end with them. The problems start with the captains who run the show and their inexperience to handle the tasks at hand. There is no coaching or copying the experienced anymore. There’s only hiring “experienced” sales reps with the head of sales shouting and blaming for low numbers.

You have a head of sales that’s like that; get rid of them and start fresh. You don’t know how to start fresh? Find someone who can. The competition is fierce and you need real tools to manage your expensive leads, you don’t need “tools” to work you until there’s nothing left.

Is there anything left? Your move…