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Your Growth Problem

Growth Problem - QuitterGrowth problem defined: in a new sales role, especially if you are starting your own company, you are very likely to become a victim of your own thinking when sales and revenue don't ramp up as you thought they would. You'll give up and quit. Perhaps this has happened to you already...and maybe even more than once.

The Cause of Your Growth Problem

In an employee sales role, you have a wage or salary. That will stave off giving up for awhile, but eventually you'll get discouraged when reality doesn't meet your expectations.

Here's your growth problem: you believe growth should be linear. But it doesn't work that way. And when growth doesn't proceed as 2, 4, 6, 8 etc., you get frustrated and quit.

What's disappointing and deadly about this is quitting resets you to zero. You lose any credibility you may have developed in the niche you were working in. Your specialized knowledge becomes useless. You are no longer "the person to talk to about X." Growth is back to square one.

People give up too soon.

So if growth in business isn't linear, how does it actually work?

Exponentially.

Mapping Your Growth Problem

Check out this graph:

Growth Problem - Graph

The horizontal axis is time passing, and the vertical axis is the money you earn. Look at the green, exponential curve. Growth occurs very slowly at first. Nobody knows who you are. Contrast these results to your expectations: the red, linear line. The gap between the green and red line is your disappointment. Is it any wonder you quit?

Your growth problem is entirely one of expectations. You go in with the linear view. But reality is exponential. So for a long time, things are slow. But at a point things take off. You can see that critical point on the graph. Enough collateral, belief, awareness and results are out there to really blow up your business. People who you've never spoken with before start contacting you, because they know you can solve their problem.

Too bad most people gave up long before. And then they went straight back to 0,0 on the graph, completely starting over.

In my experience with many companies and my own businesses, it takes three to four months to start getting known as "the person to talk to about X". And up to a full year to start getting those serious inbound inquiries from new prospects. Sure, you can speed this up with advertising. But without the "Oomph" of effective marketing and fulfillment collateral, you are going to have a tough time converting those inquiries into sales--until you've hit that critical point on the exponential graph.

Update To Your Growth Problem for 2023

This article was originally written in 2014. That was the year I started this blog. In the eight years since then I've watched many people start something, pursue it for a few days, then give up and jump to something else—putting themselves back to 0,0 on the exponential growth curve.

Success does not come from outside. It comes from you. You must persist, develop new plans, learn and apply new skills to keep striving for what you want. You must give yourself and the exponential growth curve time to work.

Of course, persisting without learning and modifying your plans ie. course correction is a recipe for frustration.

But this is one of those timeless principles rather than shiny objects that we discuss here at salestactics.org. Many people would rather believe the source of success is outside of themselves, and keep chasing those shiny objects. You cannot say, now, that you were not advised.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales force developer. If you found this useful, please consider Liking, Sharing or Commenting to let us know! And if you want more key info like this, get the free Small Business Sales Effectiveness Report! <<

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Tangible vs Intangible Selling

Tangible vs Intangible selling is a conceptual question. Every offer is primarily either tangible or intangible. But can an individual salesperson sell something of this type?

Tangible items for sale already exist. They are sitting there on the shelf, or the showroom floor. You can walk over and see them, touch them, maybe even pick them up. Examples are washing machines, automobiles, and jugs of milk.

Intangible items to be sold are not yet physicially present. They exist in the minds of the prospect and, more significantly, the salesperson. Some imagination needs to be used on both sides for this sale to happen. Examples are custom programmed software or being a bestselling co-author in a forthcoming book. Surprisingly, perhaps, a customized sign made for a shop.

sign, custom sign, reach for the moon, intangible selling, intangible sale

Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

I first discovered I was good at selling the intangible in the mid-2000s while running a metal fabrication shop. Turned out I'd been doing it all along—general contractors would want a custom bracket made of 3/4" steel, let's say, to hold up the beams of the huge open concept cabin they were building. This kind of thing was a gnarly, heavy, this-time-only-angled and drilled connector. Especially with signs, though, specifically the collaboration we'd do with a sign manufacturer, was where it was really pointed out to me that what we were selling was intangible.

The Difference Between Tangible vs Intangible Selling

Alarmingly, the salesperson at the sign shop said, "People have no idea what they want when they come in here. There's no picture in their head of the outcome. They're trusting me to come up with something." She paused, then continued: "And they're handing over thousands of dollars to me on that belief that we'll come up with something good."

"Huh," I thought. I saw her point immediately. In the metal fab world I was more familiar with, it seemed easier. People wanted metal letters, or a gate or railing. Or wrought iron fencing. Or that kind of structural steel I mentioned earlier. That felt necessary. It wasn't hard to visualize what the outcome would look like.

But a sign? That could be anything. Therefore, I realized the prospect was placing a lot of faith into the seller. Should the sign be round or square? How much wood and how much metal? Should the frame be metal, and the lettering routered in relief out of the wood, then painted to stand out? Would there be a picture, maybe of some trees and a mountain? Or should the design go more abstract? Ought we to focus less on imagery and more on style?

The Trust Scale for Selling The Intangible

Subsequently, I realized there was a sliding scale for buyers when it came to trust of the seller's ability to provide a good experience with the intangible sale.

On one side you've got the fully trusting, "I know you: I like you, I trust that whatever you come up with will be excellent and I don't have to worry about it". This could almost be considered abdication of responsibilty; however, I view it more as transference of responsibility, or delegation. Even if the buyer deep down is not in love with the final outcome, they believe the seller knows best.

On the other side you've got minimal trust. "I want to see this every step of the way along. I emphatically want control over what happens." For those selling the intangible, this can be a genuine source of frustration. "Why won't the customer leave me alone to do what I'm good at? Why won't they let me run according to my own internal schedule, rather than trying to worry me along? I know how long these things take. I know the steps to do them in. Why must I explain everything?"

When selling the tangible, you obviously have the thing right there to point at. Features and benefits are available to rely on. If the prospect doesn't follow along, it's readily apparent: you can stop, go back, and find out what's missing.

Selling intangibles...not so much. You must dig. Get to the heart of "Why" this person wants what they want. Likely you'll have to uncover factors they weren't conscious of, preferences they didn't know they had. Unfortunately, it's easy to blow past key sales factors if you don't notice the prospect sitting there nodding mechanically, eyes glazing over.

Deciding whether your firm is focused on tangible vs intangible selling can even have a big tax implication.

Risk Factors In Tangible vs Intangible Sales

In selling tangible offers, you run the risk as the salesperson of falling back on features and benefits. Reliance on these factors is a lower level of selling: it's less effective. Often you'll miss the prospect's "Why" and not get the sale.

As you sell the intangible, you can easily run past the prospect's true reasons for buying. Trying to fit the individual prospective customer into a "one size fits all" process will cause that to happen.

Unless the prospect is well educated about the offer before they arrive, and has a personal sense of urgency about taking action on it, the fact is that the intangible sale is going to take longer. Significantly, what I have observed over a long period in the sales field is this: some people simply don't seem to be able to make the intangible sale.

Whenever hiring into an organization where the intangible sale is a requirement it is not enough that you look at candidates with excellent sales histories. You must find out if they have a history of successfully selling intangible offers.

What Needs To Happen In The Intangible Sale?

A transference of imagination, from seller to buyer, is necessary to make the intangible sale. I'll come back to this in a future discussion, but I want you to understand this for now. Depending on where the prospect is on that line scale I described above, evidently it can take some time to solidify that image and make that transference happen. There's a process to this, of course, but for now all I want you to understand is that this is what happens. Get clear on the concept: tangible vs intantible selling. Which does your organization focus on? Do you have the right people for the role?

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales force developer and conversion expert. Schedule a consultation with him to focus on your specific situation <<

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The Value of Good Prospecting

Good prospecting is a rarity. If you prospect well, you can stand out in a way your competitors won't. You'll shorten your sales cycle. You'll get to the point faster with more prospective customers than you have before, and faster than your competitors do. Your ideal customers will be saying, "How can we work together?" rather than, "So what's your price?"

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

I've covered what's wrong with prospecting before. And I've also provided a FREE solution. But I have to tell you, the records show that you folks don't click over and follow that free course from someone else who's not associated with me, ie. I have nothing in the game in sending you over there. It's simply great stuff.

The Effective Prospecting Course I Share For Free That No One Gets

Yet almost nobody hits that link.

Why?

Is the idea that you're going to have to learn something, do some work, actually go through a course to be able to prospect well too much? Or did you not see the link because it's at the end of the article? Curious.

Anyway, I signed up for a free accountability program from another sales trainer who I respect. It offers to accelerate your results through the rest of 2022, the final three months of this year. I wasn't struggling, but I do always want to be better. It's been about a week and I've already:

1 - made a new series of videos on effective prospecting, as my daily video content creation per the program

2 - hit a personal best in closing six five figure sales in one day.

And my prospecting & qualifying method, as outlined in this video series, is responsible for a lot of that result.

Here is the playlist. Keep coming back to it because I'll be adding more videos, sharing more prospecting tips. As people have pointed out many times over the years, my stuff isn't some idea, some unproven concept: it's based on trial and error and real results in the sales world over the past two decades. (Man, when I think back to the late 1990s, after I got out of college and was in my first bizdev job, just how little I knew about selling...and that nobody trained me on anything beyond technical features of the products!)

Good Prospecting Training Videos Playlist

 

The first video alone will show you the difference between the spam-a-lot outbound leadgen machine, "throw spaghetti against the wall and hope something sticks" method almost everyone has adopted and something that looks, sounds, smells and is treated differently by the prospect.

Why Is Bad LeadGen So Rampant?

Why do you think it is the automated spamming outreach method is used so often? Is it because "that's what everyone else is doing" and so that must be the way you do it? Is it because people are afraid to be human beings, and want to hide behind that automation? Then you have something to blame, right? Must be the email deliverability. Must be that headline. Must be the message content—too long, or too short. Must be anything but YOU, the person ultimately responsible for your performance.

What if, instead of (Option 1) spamming 1000 attempted connections with automated tools over an afternoon...

...using the same bland and personality-less outreach message aimed at all those undifferentiated people you probably know next to nothing about other than "They are in X industry"...

...you (Option 2) focused on 30 leads you personally pre-qualified, who are likely to be receptive to your message because of where they're at and what situation they find themselves in...

...and your intention was to start a genuine dialogue with them as individuals, not immediately whip your offer out and shove it in their face?

I can tell you from personal experience that the second option, applied consistently and not as a one hit wonder, gets you much better results over time. Just like the results I experienced, closing six high ticket offers in a single afternoon.

It is not because I am such a great salesperson. Or that I always know exactly what to say. It is because I chose my prospects and hence where to put my effort carefully.

You Can Have An Effective Outbound Lead Generation Method In Place Today

Get started on that playlist! Apply what you learn, apply it consistently, and watch what happens.

What if your employer uses the automated mass outreach approach to generate leads for you?

No problem! Use the same methods on the leads that you're given. Filter them quickly. Qualify for those indicators I teach you in the videos to look for that show you this is likely to be a good lead. Follow up using the process I demonstrate.

Just about everyone in the online marketing world whines that "If only I had more leads" they would be so much better off.

This is a lie. A falsehood. Generating increasing quantities of poor quality prospects that lead to no engagement will only waste the time and energy of the front line salesperson.

You don't need more leads.

You need good prosecting in place to bring you a manageable number of better leads you can personally engage with.

This isn't something I've made up. I've been talking about it and building my process for many years.

>> If you're ready for the full version of what is explained here, including Challenger Sale instruction, how you should think as a founder beginning to operate your business, what to give your new hires to train them up quickly on effective selling, then get Sales On Fire <<