Michael Weinberg is passionate and fearless about dragging people and companies firmly into prospecting for new business acquisition. Earlier this year, I met Michael Weinberg at a round-table meeting we both were invited to and realized he was a collaborator in demystifying and simplifying the sales process. Plus he has a killer sense of humor and a no-nonsense approach about going hand-to-hand with the pundits of Sales 2.0. His new book is ruffling more than a few feathers in the world of sales and business development.
Mike walks his talk. He previewed how he arrived at his approach towards business development in his Defining Moment post for this blog. Mike’s just published a new book: New Sales Simplified, available on Amazon.com. Last week, I had the opportunity of interviewing Mike about his book and his life’s work. Here’s what he has to say.
Babette: Your book has a unique title. Where did that come from?
Mike: Thank you for asking that Babette. You’re the first person to inquire about the title. My passion and my specialty is new business development, and anyone who knows me or reads my content knows how simple my approach is. In general, I believe that sales is very simple. What I find is that usually when people complicate sales it’s either because they don’t know what they’re doing, or they’re using the complexity as a smokescreen to hide their lame effort and poor results. One of my goals in writing the book was to create a simple, practical, usable guidebook for helping people to go after and acquire new sales – hence, the title.
Babette: Why is there so much mystery or confusion surrounding prospecting for new business?
Mike: I think there are four reasons: The first one is that the vast majority of sales people today have never had to prospect for new business. A good number of people in sales today survived, or even thrived, when the macro economy was strong and certain industries were hot. There was enough inbound demand that these salespeople did not have to go out and proactively look for new accounts. In a sense, they’re victims of their own success and easier times. The second reason is that a good number of sales people honestly have no idea what to do when it comes to prospecting. No one has shown them what to do, and now that business is not just falling in their laps, they’re scared, lost and confused. Third, they just don’t want to do it! Even if they did have a framework for going after new business they simply don’t want to do it. And that reason leads right into number four: there is a lot of noise and confusion today being propagated by the false teachers of the Sales 2.0 movement. There is a whole crowd of charlatans preaching deadly advice that the itching ears of struggling salespeople love to hear. These false teachers are proclaiming that prospecting is dead and no longer effective for acquiring new business. They tell us that it is fruitless to proactively pursue accounts that are not coming to you. These four areas combined have led to a lot of pain mystery and confusion today.
Babette: Your framework for a new business development sales initiative is, well, quite simple. Why does it work?
Mike: My New Sales Driver framework is effective because it eliminates all the fluff and nonsense and provides people charged with acquiring new business a simple and easy-to-follow roadmap.
Step one: Select Target Prospects. If are going to be proactive and going to attack the market for new business, then we better know who we’re targeting. And it really helps when our target list is strategic, finite, written and workable. You would be amazed if you saw how many people don’t have a handle on whom they are supposed to to be pursuing for new business.
Step two: Create and Deploy Weapons. Salespeople must be armed with powerful weapons to launch at their targets. And no weapon is more important than our “sales story.” Pieces of the story end up in all of our other weapons: the proactive telephone call, voicemails, email, face-to-face sales calls, presentations, proposals, etc. Not only must salespeople be armed with these weapons, but they must become proficient at firing them in order to be effective.
Step three: Plan and Execute the Attack. It’s all academic unless we take the field to fight the battle. Having a strategic prospect list and a powerful sale story mean nothing if we don’t fill our calendar with dedicated blocks of time to prospect for new business.
Babette: You are pretty blunt in sharing the reasons that salespeople fail to develop new business. How do you think readers will respond?
Mike: Yes, Chapter 2 is a pretty direct frontal assault. I use it as a wake up call in the book and when I’m coaching clients. What’s interesting is that salespeople usually do not get mad when I share these reasons. In fact, the opposite happens. They’re amused by the humor and often identify three or four of common reasons from my list that are hindering their success. The two that tend to wrinkle the most feathers are when I yell about spending too much time babysitting existing accounts or criticize the willingness to be good corporate citizens. The harsh reality is that too many salespeople over-serve and babysit their existing customers as an excuse so they never get to prospecting. Highly relational account managers tend to get a little sensitive about this topic, but that does not make it any less true.
Babette: Could you expand on your often-used expression “No one defaults to prospecting mode?”
Mike: That has become one of my favorite and most popular sayings. It’s the truth, Babette. No one defaults to prospecting mode, no one. There is always something more urgent or more appealing to do. The red light on our voicemail is flashing or there are important emails from existing customers that require attention. Most of us are happily and easily distracted from prospecting for new business. And no one finds five free minutes and says, “Hey, let me pick up the phone call a few prospects.” It never happens. Honestly, I am shocked by how little time most salespeople and sales teams actually spend in proactive pursuit of new business. There are salespeople who would rather volunteer to clean the bathrooms than pick up the phone and call someone that they don’t know.
I enjoyed reading Mike’s book, New Sales Simplified. I’m a lifelong learner. I find that I have a three pronged approach to assimilating what I learn from others into the way I approach processes and strategies: adapt, adopt, apply. Mike’s book got me thinking about how I can adapt Sales 2.0 tools and adopt Mike’s New Sales Driver framework and apply it to the manufacturing and technical start-up companies that I work with. I recommend giving New Sales Simplified a read and let me know what you think.
Babette Ten Haken blogs about business development and the world of manufacturing, engineering, and entrepreneurship. She strongly believes that the fulcrum for leveraging innovative business development is collaboration between technical and non-technical professionals. Her company is Sales Aerobics for Engineers®.