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XChange 2017: Here's A Sure-fire Way To Improve Your Sales Team's Prospecting

Talking with prospects over the phone will enable solution providers to overcome common brush-offs and stand apart from their email-dependent peers, said Keith Lubner of Channel Consulting Corp.

Solution providers should have their salespeople dedicate an hour each day to prospecting and focus on building relationships through telephone calls, according to an XChange 2017 speaker.

Simple, direct telephone conversations with prospects will enable channel partners to overcome common brush-offs, stand apart from their email-dependent peers, and build true connections, said Keith Lubner, founder of Philadelphia, Pa.-based Channel Consulting Corp.

"The telephone, as crazy as it sounds, is now our new weapon," Lubner told solution providers gathered Sunday at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center is Kissimmee, Fla. "You'll go above those robocalls because people are aching to talk to real people. They're so tired of getting emails."

[RELATED: Champion Solutions CEO Chris Pyle: The Channel Must Be 'The Tip Of The Spear' In Cloud Market]

And given that end-user executives typically have a phone attached to their hips at all times, Lubner said solution providers can initiate that meaningful dialogue even when the client is out of the office.

"[Today's salesforces] haven't been taught to make a phone call," Lubner said. "We've gotten away from that, quite honestly."

Lubner also urged channel executives to carve out one hour each morning for their salespeople to do prospecting via phone, social media, email or text. Companies that require their sales team to spent a certain amount of time each day contacting prospects will see their sales pipeline grow within a week, Lubner said.

If possible, Lubner said solution providers should have salespeople do prospecting first thing in the morning so that they finish one of their most difficult tasks right out of the gate. This then frees up the rest of the day for the sales team to conduct follow-up calls, make visits, and take care of some administrative tasks, according to Lubner.

"Just get it done first thing," Lubner said. "They'll feel good."

Lubner advised solution providers to have their salespeople follow a five-step prospecting process that is simple, direct, and to the point. He urged channel partners to avoid starting prospecting calls with the dreaded 'How are you doing today?' and instead use the prospect's name, introduce themselves, and move quickly to the reason for the call.

"They think, 'that [starting with 'How are you doing?'] is how you have a conversation with a friend,'" Lubner said. "Yeah, once they're your friend, you can have that conversation and they'll reply accordingly. But [in this instance], you don't know them. How can you expect them to reply [honestly]?"

And at the end of their pitch, Lubner said most salespeople put the ball in the prospect's court, asking them what would be a good day to meet. Instead, Lubner said salespeople should give a few periods they would be available for a meeting, and ask which of those times would work best for the prospect.

"You have to give them options," Lubner said. "Because if they start dialoguing with you at this point, the challenges will work themselves out. They really will."

Part of what Lubner said causes paralysis in salespeople is the fear of rejection.

Lubner said objections typically take three forms: a reflex response such as 'I don't have enough time,' or 'no thanks' in response to, 'Can I help you?'; a brush-off such as "send me more information," or a material objection.

There are basic frameworks and techniques that Lubner said can help partners get past reflex responses and brush-offs and reframe the conversation. In the examples above, Lubner said these would include asking prospects what specific information they would like to be sent, or pointing out that the offering could help create more time for the business owner.

"You want to get to an objection, because that's the true essence of what they're about," Lubner said. "But most of the time, they come back at us with a reflex, and we think it's a real rejection."

Alliance Technology Partners has struggled with prospecting since employees are typically wearing many different hats and usually find themselves responsible for everything from client support to operations to administration, according to CEO Bryan Ferrario.

In addition to taking up Lubner's recommendation for a dedicated prospecting hour, Ferrario said the Chesterfield, Mo.-based solution provider should work on its pitch to prospects. Alliance hired a telemarketing firm three months ago to help woo prospects, but Ferrario said they haven't had any luck at all.

"Maybe their message has been wrong," Ferrario said.

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