lori_richardsonSales reps have lots of questions about how to do their jobs better, but they really all boil down to one chief concern: How do I make more sales?

Luckily, the expert on the subject -- Lori Richardson, founder and CEO of Score More Sales -- stopped by HubSpot's Sales Accelerators event on Monday to address a crowd of eager salespeople. Her presentation touched on many of the common quandaries that reps struggle with, and she wasn't stingy with tactical tips for success. Here's a recap of 10 of her best answers, spanning subjects from prospecting to social selling.  

Q: What bad habits do reps have that short circuit their prospecting?

LR: People don't have a plan. They come to their desks and they're not focused on exactly what they're going to be doing. I like to see salespeople actually put a plan in place. While it takes more work up front to do it and it seems time-intensive, it actually makes you quicker.

Q: What's the best prospecting method: phone, email, social, etc.?

LR: I like to talk to about having a multifaceted approach to prospecting. In my career in selling, I've always tried to mix it up, so I want to have some time that I'm doing calls, some time that I'm doing emails, and some time to focus on things like referral business. 

Q: How should a salesperson decide how much time they allocate to each prospecting method?

LR: They should decide based on where their buyers are, and how their buyers respond. If I can get my buyers on the phone, I'm going to use the phone predominantly. If my buyers are CFOs and very difficult to get on the phone, I'm going to do a combination. I'll make some calls, but also have a really focused campaign through email, probably LinkedIn, and perhaps some other social strategies.

Q: It's not easy to reach the decision maker. Is there value in talking to others who don't have the power to say "yes"?

LR: There are a lot of people who can give you insight. They might say, 'Bob's not here, but he comes in Friday mornings.' So I'm going to know more about when I can reach someone. I might even ask them, 'How are things going over there. Is this a good time?' 'Well, no -- Bob's up to here trying to get this report done.' So I'm not going to call Bob until later. Also, there are a lot of internal politics you can't see on an org chart, and those are things you can learn when you call around and ask inquisitive questions. You just become a questioner -- it's like a puzzle.

Q: How should salespeople define their target buyers?

LR: A good company that has an onboarding program is going to tell you who your buyers are and you're going to have a sales playbook of some kind. If you don't have that, then I think you'd look to who the company's best customers are already and learn about how they became customers and what problem they had. Then I would immediately look for more of those.

Q: Any advice on social selling?

LR: All the things you hear about are tools -- Twitter's a tool, LinkedIn's a tool. They don't automatically help you sell; it's what you do with them. 

Q: What are some of the common mistakes you see salespeople making on social?

LR: Relationships need to be nurtured. I don't just rush up and tell you my deepest darkest secrets. People will request me on LinkedIn who I don't know, but they're connected with someone else I do know, so I go ahead and make the connection. Then they immediately send me a pitch, so I delete them. I don't need that.

Also, they don't have a great profile online. This is your trade show booth 365 days a year. You need to keep it updated and make it buyer-focused, not resume-focused. A lot of people have written and talked about that, but I still run into people everyday that haven't adopted it.

Q: What does a great sales voicemail sound like?

LR: The effective message is very short. I need to say something about them, something about me, and then I'm going to set a next action. It needs to be buyer-focused, so I'm not calling about me, I'm calling about you. For example, "I saw that you guys just issued your IPO -- that's very exciting. The reason I'm calling is X, and I'd like to get on your calendar to show you how we've been working with other post-IPO companies to do that." 25-30 seconds maximum. 

Q: Any sourcing fundamentals that you advocate?

LR: The first thing is a mindset. Unless 100% of your business comes from referrals, you need to get in the business of prospecting. It has to be locked in as a time that you do regularly and you honor that time. 

Q: What's your perspective on the role of listening in the sales process?

LR: I think that listening is one of the most important skills that you can gain, and I bet if you ask the more successful salespeople in the room, they'll agree. One of the best things you can do is stop and listen; that's why it's good to not just immediately respond when someone talks to you. Just stop and make sure you internalized what they said. 

Do you have a burning sales process question not answered here? Leave it in the comments.

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Originally published Nov 20, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

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Sales Experts