For a sales professional prospecting skills are key. Their ability to have constructive conversations with people, especially prospective customers, increases the chances for their sales pipeline success.
A recent Gartner report says, “Every year Gartner asks CSOs what their top sales priorities are heading into the next year. This year (2022), 72% of Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) marked improving pipeline creation as their top priority”.
A sales team, that does not focus on continuous pipeline generation is at risk of having an unsuccessful quarter and year end closure. To generate pipeline, both the sales executive and the sales manager are key players. The sales executive must display tenacity and drive to keep prospecting and the sales manager must embrace a coaching approach to help the executive maintain curiosity and preparedness to continuously build pipeline.
I am not a sales executive. Neither am I a sales manager. You may wonder who I am to provide perspectives in this context. Well, I co-founded a couple of organisations and one of them focuses on improving sales performance. Customers refer to my business partner as a sales expert or a ‘sales guru’. While I lead the operations and innovation functions, I have keenly observed, for over a decade, my business partner helping customers qualify and win large deals and improve sales organisations’ capabilities, and thus our business too.
To my credit, along with business skills, I am a professional classical dancer. I have utilised and drawn inspiration from the components of emotions and personalities in dance to transform business and sales situations. I hope this provides context and builds credibility for me to continue.
Going back to building a pipeline and cold calling, I am going to share an experience one of the sales executives narrated to me a while ago, when I was conducting a team learning session on behaviours.
Johnny Sharma is an enthusiastic and energetic sales executive. He had connected with a senior executive of a large IT organisation in LinkedIn. Johnny’s success ratio has been good whenever he contacted his LinkedIn Network for prospecting. To his luck, he was able to obtain the contact number of this senior executive through a common friend and decided to give him a call. Johnny was a seasoned and confident sales professional, and hence did not hesitate to contact this C-Level leader.
The call went through, and the leader answered. Johnny immediately recognised that the leader was in a meeting, given the high noise levels and patchy connection. The leader said, he will call back.
Later in the day, Johnny was in a scheduled video call with another customer, and he saw his phone ringing. It was the same leader he had tried contacting earlier that day. He could not attend the call and decided to call the leader post his meeting.
Finally, at 5pm that day, he contacted the leader, with an intent of completing the day by having a successful call with a senior leader and generating further pipeline opportunities.
The leader answered the call. Johnny introduced himself and said he was calling from XYZ organisation. He was just about to ask how the leader was doing when the leader interjected, ‘Wait! Don’t go any further. Are you a sales executive trying to contact me? How did you get my number?’ He sounded angry and did not allow Johnny to even say a word. He became a bit abusive, and Johnny became silent. The leader banged the phone and Johnny was absolutely taken aback.
Here was Johnny, a seasoned sales executive, and he was feeling the lack of respect, one human to another human, and he asked himself, “Why am I still doing this? Why am I still in Sales?”
I am sure, a lot of you in Sales may have experienced such an incident at least once, if not many times. And I am sure, over the years, you have identified strategies to address these situations.
Allow me to draw some connections from the field of Archetypes. We all have access to multiple powerful personalities within ourselves. By this, I am not proposing anything about psychological disorders, but rather staying within the realms of possibilities for normal individuals.
Therefore, how can multiple personalities or archetypes come to your rescue, under circumstances as experienced by Johnny? Johnny had multiple successes in the past, therefore let us treat this instance as just an aberration. Let us help Johnny prepare for overall success in cold calling pursuits in the future.
1. Drawing inspiration from the Innocent Archetype for Cold Calling
The innocent archetype is guided by the personality of a child. It is the curiosity and freshness a child brings to a circumstance or situation. Children have the intuitive ability to remain curious and keenly observe behaviours. They can use emotion to swing people to their side through their childlike persistence. They are great storytellers and are also quick to earn the trust of people through their unconditional innocence.
Now how can Johnny leverage this personality for his cold calling success?
Johnny can perhaps sound more curious in his conversation, rather than lead the conversation with the pressure to generate further pipeline. His curiosity can help him take a step further to connect with the leader on an emotional level and gain his trust. Sensing the pressures of a C-suite leader in the IT industry and being empathetic can help Johnny establish a better connection with the leader.
An innocent personality is also free to appreciate and acknowledge others. When we are free from the pressures of comparison, we can genuinely connect with people and see the goodness within them.
The innocent archetype also helps sales executives become go-givers and go-givers get more. This archetype helps people establish connections without the baggage of ego and judgements.
2. Drawing inspiration from the Warrior Archetype for Cold Calling
A warrior prepares both at the physical and mental level. They are all about focus and determination. A warrior is also about skill building and learning the art and science of war. A warrior’s success depends on both his body and the sharpness of his mind.
That is why warriors without cognitive agility and neutrality are termed as aggressive.
Now how can Johnny leverage this personality for his cold calling success?
Johnny needs to prepare for every call diligently. His preparation should help him stand differentiated in the eyes of the prospective customer. Customers receive many calls from other professionals like Johnny. Therefore, to ensure that even the first call is valuable, it is critical that Johnny prepares for the call by learning about the customer, their industry and competitors.
As we say, ‘first impressions are the best impressions’. It may help Johnny if he left comments on LinkedIn posts or articles that the leader has published. He can also share an article or report that provides value to the leader. He can then wait for some positive acknowledgement and then plan his call.
Therefore, giving something of value prior to seeking value is an assertive warrior trait that can help sales executives succeed in their mission critical prospecting pursuits.
3. Drawing inspiration from the Sage Archetype for Cold Calling
A sage is all about wisdom. Sage is a personality that provides equanimity or neutrality in challenging situations. Sage is also about compassion and humanity. The sage archetype provides the wisdom to act without judgement or comparison, as it can see beyond limited horizons.
A sage personality has their own unique aura that helps us to remain calm and relentless even under tough circumstances.
How can Johnny leverage this personality for his cold calling success?
The first two archetypes – Innocent and Warrior, provides the right environment for building trust, creating safety, and showcasing cognitive agility. The third archetype – Sage, helps to provide the right level of differentiation and acumen to create memorable customer exchanges.
Cold calling is like a game with high probabilities. Therefore, it is important to stand uniquely differentiated and compelling in the eyes of the prospective customer.
If Johnny must face a prospect like the leader he contacted, then a sage archetype can help him to handle the situation with compassion and wisdom. Johnny became silent when we heard abusive words. What could help him move away from silence?
Suppose Johnny asked a question, “Why do I feel that you are a much better person than how you are sounding right now?”
This is a powerful question which can make even your enemy pause and think. Having the wisdom to leverage such powerful questions to make people think, is a skill that every sales executive should develop.
In conclusion, I want to introduce the power of archetypes to sales executives and present them with the choice to invoke these personalities under various situations, to help them win customers. These are three powerful archetypes, especially for sales professionals to prospect and develop their pipeline.
There are more archetypes one can leverage for game-changing outcomes in other sales stages. I look forward to sharing more of my observations so I can help improve your sales performance, support your business and watch it grow.