Would you read a book on basketball and then suddenly think that you’re ready to play in the NBA? Of course not... But believe it or not, most salespeople do the exact same thing with sales: They read all the sales books and take all the courses to learn more tactics and think that they’re a sales all-star.
Unfortunately for most salespeople, they quickly realize that tactics do not equal actual skills, particularly when it comes to the most challenging phase of the sales process: lead generation.
To help you actually become a sales all-star, I’m sharing 5 sales lead generation skills that every top sales professional has and uses to close more deals in less time.
If you’re not the kind of person who would read a basketball book and think you’re ready for the NBA, then you’re not the kind of salesperson who would think that they’re an all-star sales pro without really having any skills.
Generating Leads Is Hard For Most Salespeople, Here’s Why:
A 2019 survey revealed that only half of college students say that college prepared them for the workforce.
How could half of the people who go to school to prepare themselves for the workforce come out feeling totally unprepared?
The reason why is because students are taught plenty of information but haven’t been taught how to apply that information. Because they don’t know what to do with the information they’ve been taught, they feel helpless in the real world.
Just like how college students are taught a lot of information but aren’t taught how to apply it, salespeople are taught all the sales tactics in the book but they don’t know how to apply them. AKA, they have no real sales skills.
Skill = knowledge + application.
Furthermore, selling, and lead generation specifically, is so difficult for salespeople because they know all the tactics in the book but haven’t translated those tactics into skills.
You’re Told to Learn More Techniques Instead of to Develop YOURSELF
I bet that you already know more than enough selling tactics. In fact, I’d bet that you probably have been taught a fair share of poor selling tactics.
That said, getting better lead generation and overall sales results probably isn’t a matter of learning anything new as much as it is learning to work with what you already know while unlearning the bad tactics.
Moreover, getting better results comes down to your own personal development. It’s about learning how to take the information you have and figuring out what to do with it in everyday sales scenarios.
You Can Develop Almost Any Skill With Consistent Practice
The good news is that just about anyone can learn any new skill with consistent practice, and sales skills are no exception.
Rather than picking up another sales book on different lead generation tactics, I suggest practicing the 5 skills below with your sales team members on a consistent basis.
Additionally, I suggest practicing them with your real prospects as soon as possible!
Don’t want until you think the skills are perfect to start using them in real life, because the truth is that you’ll never be perfect at them. Instead, start practicing these skills immediately during your next phase of lead gen and make improvements as you go.
Here Are the 5 Skills You Can and Should Develop for Lead Gen Success
Here are 5 skills that top sales professionals use to play the sales game and win every time.
And, no… learning these 5 skills doesn’t require you to learn another new tactic or technique. Rather, learning these skills comes down to your own personal development!
1. Knowing How to Make Fear Work FOR YOU, Not Against You
The most common reason why people fail at any task is because they allow themselves to be overwhelmed with fear.
Feeling afraid itself isn’t the problem, rather, it’s letting fear get the best of you.
Whether it’s approaching a potential new customer in person, making a cold call, or even sending a cold email, salespeople get overwhelmed with fear and allow those feelings to hold them back from taking action. Or, they take some action, but feel so nervous that it cuts off their ability to think straight and properly execute.
When it comes to B2B lead generation specifically, most people are afraid of:
- Being judged by their potential customers
Unfortunately, most salespeople spend 100% of their time learning new sales tactics and 0% of their time confronting fear.
What good is a strategy, technique, or process if you can’t keep your fear in check?
I’ll tell you: They aren’t any good, because allowing fear to overwhelm you will hold you back from putting those strategies, techniques, and processes to practice.
Fear Is the #1 Reason Why Salespeople Botch Sales Lead Generation
At the end of the day, fear is the most common reason why salespeople totally botch lead generation, because fear stops salespeople from taking any action at all.
Without taking action, of course, there’s no way to generate new leads, siphon them into your sales pipeline, and close any new deals.
You can have all the best sales tactics in the book ready to deploy at any moment, but it doesn’t matter unless you take action, and you probably won’t take action if you allow fear to overcome you.
The Only Way to Not Let Fear Get the Best of You Is By Taking Action!
There is no other way to manage your fears than by taking action, because action itself is what reduces fear.
You can sit around all day conjuring up a plan to stop feeling afraid, but the only way you’ll actually stop feeling afraid is by taking action!
Here’s why and how it works: When you take action despite being afraid to do so, your body kicks into survival mode. By kicking into survival mode, all that fearful energy transforms into adrenaline. With more adrenaline, you have more energy potential than if you didn’t feel fear to begin with. With more energy, you can work harder and smarter for longer.
That said, feeling fear can actually help you perform better than if you didn’t feel fear at all! That is, if you choose to transform fear-based energy into adrenaline to power yourself forward.
When you look at the top 1% of sales professionals, it’s not that they don’t feel fear. Rather, they just take action in spite of it AND use it to their advantage.
2. Knowing How to NOT Overthink the Lead Generation Process
When you reflect on it, generating leads is a simple matter of:
- Identifying ideal customers;
- Contacting prospective customers directly and/or creating marketing campaigns to organically attract prospects; and
- Setting up a qualification meeting with prospective customers to ensure that they’re a qualified lead.
Generating leads is a simple matter of deciding what your definition of a high-quality lead is, contacting those potential leads, and getting them into the next meeting, yet most of us overthink the lead gen process as if it’s a life or death situation.
Because, social conditioning has us overthinking that most sales processes are complex, and that processes must be complex for them to be effective.
Despite the fact that complexity consistently fails us and has us in pain, we still opt for it because it’s constantly being reinforced by the world around us.
That said, the way to STOP failing at lead gen and feeling terrible during the process is by choosing not to overthink it.
Because when you don’t overthink, you opt for simplicity instead of complexity. By opting for simplicity, you inevitably have more control over lead gen, and with more control you have more success.
You Know You’re Overthinking When You’re In Unnecessary Pain
It’s easy to say, “Just stop overthinking”, but how do we actually stop overthinking? On top of that, how do we know that we’re overthinking in the first place?
For starters, you will know that you’re overthinking the lead gen process when you don’t have any control over it. You don’t have any control over the process because you overthought it and made it more complex than it needed to be.
When you don’t have any control, leads will ghost you and your overall sales conversion rate will be extremely low. Moreover, you’ll know that you’ve overthought lead generation when it feels like nothing short of a painful process!
Second, the way to STOP overthinking is by recognizing the difference between being in pain and being sore.
On one hand, you feel pain when something is going wrong. For example, you feel muscle pain when you’re overdoing it on the weights with improper technique.
On the other hand, you feel sore when you’re working hard. For example, you feel muscle soreness after a weightlifting session because your muscles are repairing and growing stronger.
Therefore, the way to stop overthinking is by recognizing the pain that you feel during the lead gen process and choosing to scale back instead of push forward as is. Unless you stop and scale back, you’ll remain out of control, in pain, and unsuccessful.
3. Knowing When to Say ‘No’
How often do you start making cold outreach to dozens of B2B companies despite the fact that many of those companies obviously don’t fit within your target audience?
If you and your sales team members are like most people, you probably target anybody who is willing to listen to you. Even though you’re clearly aware that they don’t fit within your target customer outlines, you target them anyway.
Here’s the thing- Not every lead is a qualified lead, and choosing to let unqualified leads into your pipeline is a set-up for failure. By failure, I mean that you’re risking:
- Wasting time, energy, and resources on leads who won’t ever buy from you; and
- Having less time to devote to leads who are actually qualified.
There’s a high opportunity cost to saying ‘yes’ to any person who will listen to you!
From now on, you need to know when it’s time to say ‘no’ to a lead. Sure, it’s satisfying to look at your sales pipeline and see tons of leads, but the momentary satisfaction isn’t worth the long-term consequences of having tons of low-grade leads in your pipeline.
Just remember… whenever you say ‘yes’ to one thing, you’re saying ‘no’ to another thing, so make sure that whatever you’re saying ‘yes’ to is worth it!
Most Sales Teams Undervalue Themselves
So, why do most sales teams regularly target obviously unqualified leads?
To put it simply- Most sales and marketing teams will let anyone who is anyone into their pipeline because they undervalue themselves. They don’t think that they have enough value to capture their ideal customers, so they target anybody who will listen to them.
Moreover, they undervalue themselves and the value they bring to the table, and in doing so they let their standards slip.
To make matters worse, most sales teams approach lead gen with a scarcity mindset. They think to themselves, ‘There are only so many great leads out there, so I better target all of them!’
However, the truth is that if you spend just 5 minutes using a lead generation tool, you’ll realize that there are more qualified leads out there than you could possibly ever contact!
Bottom line: Start valuing yourself just a little bit more and remind yourself that there are more qualified leads out there than you think.
Quality > Quantity
Not only should you focus on new customer quality instead of new customer quantity, but you and your B2B marketers should also focus on high-quality lead generation campaigns over overzealous inbound marketing campaigns.
Too often, marketing teams believe that content marketing is a quantity game. They say to themselves, ‘If we just post all day on all these different social media platforms and blast these email campaigns out every morning, then we will reach our customers!’
However, what these marketers fail to remember is that quality marketing is more impactful than sheer quantity of marketing. Sure, you might make an initial splash by focusing on quantity, but that isn’t sustainable.
Focusing on high-quality, relevant content marketing is more likely to attract your ideal customers because it’s more likely to help you get your message across.
On the other hand, going overboard in sheer quantity often dilutes the impact of the message that you’re trying to send. Ultimately, if potential customers can’t grasp the message you’re trying to convey, then they have no reason to pursue you.
From now on, center your marketing strategy around high-quality content posted consistently. Pick a few different marketing vehicles, such as SEO, webinars, and landing page optimization, and then stay consistent with them.
Consistency + quality = win.
4. Carrying Yourself as the Expert Who You Are
How often do prospects refer to you as a vendor?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does being referred to as a vendor make your blood boil, because you know that you bring something special to the table that nobody else brings?
Yeah, there isn’t a single sales rep out there who likes being referred to as a vendor, but the truth is that they inflict that on themselves by the way they carry themselves.
For example, a vendor is willing to do things like hand out free initial proposals to potential customers which only makes prospects see them as a vendor. Why? Because, vendors are willing to give away free value because they’re in a constant battle with other vendors for leads.
So, what’s the solution?
The solution is to carry yourself as an expert instead of a vendor so that prospects perceive you as an expert. Ultimately when prospects see you as an expert, they’ll take you seriously because they’ll believe that they can’t afford to lose you.
Prospects Will Replace You If They Don’t See You as an Expert
Experts are irreplaceable because there are few people out there with their same level of knowledge and experience.
For example, surgeons are experts not just because they have a medical degree, but because they have a medical degree AND there aren’t many other people out there who get to call themselves surgeons.
That said, when a prospect identifies you as an expert in your field, they won’t let you go because they’ll see that without you that they won’t get their pain point solved.
On the other hand, when a prospect identifies you as a vendor, they’ll think to themselves, ‘I should shop around a little bit more to find the best deal’. Before you know it, they’ll be off looking at your competition.
Prospects won’t let an expert go because experts are scarce!
Thankfully, you have the power to make prospects perceive you as an expert.
5. Being Able to Put Yourself in a Potential Customer’s Shoes
Perhaps there isn’t a more valuable skill in the world than knowing how to step into somebody else’s shoes to see life from their perspective.
It’s a valuable skill to have because it gives you an additional frame on how to think about and analyze a situation. And, knowing how to think versus being told what to think is a very rare commodity.
It’s particularly rare in sales because most salespeople walk into sales scenarios thinking they already know their prospects inside and out. What this ends up doing is alienating prospects because they don’t appreciate it when salespeople act as if they already know them when they’ve barely given them the time of day.
Just think about it... Would you appreciate it if somebody asked you to speak with them only to have them act as if they already know everything about you? Of course not.
From now on, walk into lead gen with a clean slate ready to see life from the prospect’s shoes. Think of yourself as a journalist who is there to get clear and unbiased reporting of a situation.
With a journalistic perspective, prospects will appreciate you (the expert) taking time to understand them before even trying to sell them anything. They’ll see you as somebody who cares about them beyond the sale.
Prospects Buy an Outcome, Not a Solution to Their Pain Point
As a sales journalist, the single-most important piece of information you need to uncover is the destination that your prospect is chasing.
At the end of the day, prospects aren’t looking for solutions to pain points just because they don’t like pain points. Rather, they’re looking for solutions to pain points because they stand in the way of where they are now and where they want to be in the future.
For example, a prospect’s pain point might be crummy email marketing, but solving that pain point is a means to helping them become the most dominant voice in their company’s industry.
Your #1 job is to uncover what that place they want to be at in the future is. That way, you can frame the rest of the selling process in a way that appeals to that final destination.
Remember, prospects aren’t buying a solution to a pain point just because it’s fun. Instead, they’re buying a pathway to their desired outcomes. They don’t care how they get to the destination as much as they just want to get there. Getting in and understanding what that end-destination is is critical!
Final Thoughts on Lead Generation Skills of Top Sales Professionals
Bottom line: Sales professionals don’t become professionals by learning new tactics. Instead, they become pros by learning new skills that’ll actually help them dominate the sales game.
How much longer will you keep learning new tactics until you realize that they’re not what you need for success?
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