“Salespeople have to be good at creating their own personal pipeline” – A John Smibert discussion with Tony Hughes.
According to many research organisations the biggest challenge facing selling organisations and their salespeople is an inadequate pipeline of sales opportunities.
People are looking for a solution in many different ways including social selling and outsourcing.
According to Tony Hughes the focus on these methods will not solve the problem.
In fact he claims that “there’s this lie that’s being pushed out there, that if you just use digital or social as a way of doing outreach with people that you can successfully build pipeline, and the reality is that everyone needs the right combinations of activity, and it’s incredibly important to use the phones”.
You need the combination of digital and social as well as the phone, if you want to go and build a sales pipeline today.
Tony was so concerned that prospecting was not being done effectively that he has written a book titled “Combo Prospecting”
In this discussion I asked him to elaborate on the reasons he wrote it and the book’s essential messages.
See the full interview below to learn more.
Tony is a leading author and keynote speaker in the world of B2B sales and sales leadership. He is well known for his strategic selling book “The Joshua Principle” and for the RSVPselling methodology.
John: Welcome back! I’ve got Tony Hughes with me again. Tony, good to have you!
Tony: Hey John, good to be here!
John: Hey Tony, you’ve just published your new book and you’re calling it COMBO Prospecting. What do you mean by combo prospecting, and why is it important?
Tony: The thing I’m seeing today is there’s this lie that’s being pushed out there, that if you just use digital or social as a way of doing outreach with people that you can successfully build pipeline, and the reality is that everyone needs the right combinations of activity, and it’s incredibly important to use the phones. You need the combination of digital and social as well as the phone, if you want to go and build a sales pipeline today.
John: I’ve heard you talk about the silent sales floor, and this is really what you’re talking about, isn’t it?
Tony: Yes. So many sales floors I go onto it’s like a church of quietude, there’s hardly anybody talking! I’ve even come across crazy situations, where companies make salespeople book some kind of room or booth if they want to go and do cold calling. The truth is no one should really be truly cold calling, it’s very easy to make a call warm, and that’s part of the role of social. But people need to get back on the phone, we need human-to-human interaction.
John: Does that always have to be the salesperson though?
Tony: Everybody in the business should sell, from the CEO to the CFO to the salespeople, but if you’re trying to build pipeline, everything you do should be designed to lead to having a conversation with the person, initially on the phone and then on site.
John: The reason I raise the question is because John Bedwany for example says take that role off the salesperson, salespeople are there to sell. There’s a lot of debate about whether that makes sense or not. What do you think about that?
Tony: In my mind there’s no debate at all. No salesperson today can get enough qualified pipeline from marketing, so web-to-lead leads that come in are never going to be enough, and inside sales or sales development reps are never going to provide enough leads as well. So there’s always going to be a gap, and especially today with crazy companies that keep sort of halving the size of people’s territories and increasing their quota 20-30% every year. Salespeople have to be good at creating their own personal pipeline.
Tony: Yes. Even if you use the boxing metaphor, which I do in the book, if you think of your left hand, you’re constantly jabbing away with your left hand, and you’re jabbing away in social. You’re using LinkedIn, Twitter, text messages and email, so you’re jabbing away…
John: And all of those are vital.
Tony: They are, they are, but then the right hook is a phone call. The thing that will knock the person out… Not that you want to go and beat up your prospects, but the knockout blow is the phone, that’s how you go and get the appointment.
John: That’s the analogy that I like – I love that one. So jab, jab, jab with your social, with all the research you’re doing, with email… You say get on the phone, but you’re going to leave voicemails regularly.
Tony: Yes. Kenny Madden actually termed the phrase the “social phone”, which is the idea of social and the phone together. Every prospect we’re working with has a mobile phone or a cell phone, and that phone is also their personal digital assistant, to use the old parlance, that’s where they look at social and they can take a phone call. If people want to succeed today, social and the phone is the only way to go and be successful.
John: So that’s the key message, social and the phone. Make sure those sales floors out there aren’t silent, we’ve got to be talking to the customer and we’ve got to be going outbound with the phone. There’s a lot of work to do, combo type work to do, before you pick up the phone, don’t hold back on picking up the phone. That’s the message?
Tony: Exactly, and if people want to know more, just look for COMBO Prospecting – it’ll be in bookstores.
John: I really wish you well with the book, Tony – thank you!
Tony: Thanks, John!
More interviews with Tony Hughes:
- “The challenge of change in B2B sales“ “Empowering salespeople with technology“
- “The power of social in B2B sales“ “How to be a top sales influencer“
- “Should salespeople create content?” “2 things a new sales manager should do”
- “The sales closing conundrum” “Is AI & Robotics disrupting B2B sales”
- “Tips for selling software” “Trialling your software is a big mistake”
- “Lose fast – win slow” “Top 3 sales management mistakes”
- “Start with Why” “The sales forecasting Lottery”
- “Managing salesperson behaviour”
Your Invitation: I invite you to join the Strategic Selling group on LinkedIn where you can experience informative discussions with your peers and sales thought leaders on subjects like the one we have discussed here. I also invite you to subscribe to the:
Please Share: If you valued this article, please share via your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook social media platforms. I encourage you to join the conversation or ask questions. So feel free to add a comment on this post – I promise to respond. If inclined please follow my LinkedIn post page here.
Want to touch base? If you have questions please feel free to contact me – email: john.smibert(at)strategicsellinggroup.com, Phone: +61 404857893 or Skype: john.smibert