Presenting BAO's ISR and MRS of the Year for 2010
Here at BAO, our people are our pride. The team we have assembled is something that you won't find anywhere else – we have a unique blend of intelligence, wit, industry know-how and eclectic personalities.
This month, we announced the winners of our 2010 Inside Sales Representative (ISR) of the Year and Market Research Specialist (MRS) of the Year honors. And we'd like you to meet them.
What are your strategies for successfully managing relationships with your Clients' field reps?
Every single Client rep we work with is super busy – they're on and off planes, juggling phone calls and appointments all the time. So I've got to be respectful of their time because I know it's precious. My ultimate goal, of course, is to help my reps hit their number. But sometimes, I'll get some great information about a prospect, even if the contact isn't necessarily right for a meeting. I'll pass that on because I know the insight is important, but I'm not going to send them out on a meeting that is unnecessary. Setting expectations and painting an accurate picture of opportunities is critical – and it helps my Client stay efficient. My Clients know that if I've set an appointment for them, it's going to be high caliber.
What's the most interesting meeting you've ever secured?
When I first start working with a Client, I really get to know them. I want to know about their job and company, of course, but I also want to know who they are as a person. And this has served me well.
At one point, while doing calls for a Client based on the west coast, I connected with the CIO of a well-known specialty retailer – a really big deal! In the course of conversation with the prospect, I mentioned the rep’s name and the prospect perked up instantly – asking me if the rep golfed at such-and-such golf course and lived in such-and-such city. Well, because I’d gotten to know my rep so well, I was able to confirm that. It turns out that the prospect was the rep’s neighbor. They lived two houses apart but had never met! I got the meeting, but in a really non-traditional way. The prospect said, “Forget the meeting. Tell him to walk down the street. We’ll have a glass of wine and talk!”
So, my favorite meetings are generally direct results of getting along so well with my Clients.
Care to share some of the secrets to your success?
It's pretty simple and not really a secret, but the key is just being respectful of people's time, and being aware that, in most cases, I'm interrupting their day. I find that people warm up much more quickly if I approach them with that perspective. I'm polite. I ask them if they have a minute to talk. And if they don't, I ask when I can call back. I don't want to intrude, but I do need to talk to them. So I follow up when they ask me to, and they're appreciative of that, which makes them more receptive to my message.
What are some of the common objections you hear? How do you overcome them?
Objections? Which ones don’t I hear? I keep in mind that objections don't necessarily mean there isn't an opportunity for my Client. The key to getting around most of them is to be engaging. For the most part, typical sales reps give a robotic pitch. Not me. If I can get them talking – about their company, themselves, whatever – I can get past almost anything.
Less experienced people would “cut bait” as soon as they got a little bit of push back, but I know that if I just gently push past that initial resistance, I can get what I need. Even if they don’t have anything going on in the moment, I can get them talking about future projects and initiatives, which is great insight for my Clients. I love a challenge.
What challenges do you come up against and how do you get past them?
A lot of times, I’ll get the common objections when I first make a call – it’s against company policy to participate in a survey, not interested, too busy. One approach that really works for me is to just get on their level. Letting them know that I understand where they’re coming from goes a long way.
I’m always friendly, always polite. I need them to know immediately that I’m a real person, not just someone reading a script – so there are no awkward “cold call” pauses that we’ve all heard before. If I’m interested in what they’re doing, they’re going to be interested in helping me out. Being genuine gives me the opportunity to give them the pitch.
What's the secret to getting a great profile?
First, I find that people are relieved that I'm not calling to sell anything. I use that to my advantage. But after that, it's all about getting on the same level as the contact. I make an effort to match their tone, attitude, even the way they speak. Did they answer the phone in a casual way? Are they perky and cheerful? I match that. If they're a little more gruff or sound overwhelmed, I approach them in a more serious, efficient tone. Reflecting their energy and demeanor makes them more comfortable. In those situations, even if I get declined, I get declined politely because they can relate to me.
Another thing that works is just letting the prospect talk. I have to strike a balance – I want to respect their time, and I do need to get through the whole survey fairly quickly. But I also realize that the more I can get someone to talk, the better intelligence I'll get. When I can tell that someone is willing to give more information, I let them talk. I ask lots of open-ended questions and if there's silence, I let them fill it.
Never cut them off – and really listen.
What's your favorite functional area to call into?
I love getting the opportunity to speak with the line-of-business contacts that IT serves. That’s where we get the “sweet stuff” for our Clients. For example, if I’m calling about a financial software product and I get to talk to finance people, I can dig deeper into their pain points, their challenges and what can help them out. In those cases, I get way beyond the “yes and no” of surveys, and that’s solid material that Clients can use in their subsequent sales pitches.
What's your favorite part about working at BAO?
I know it sounds cliché, but it's the people. I've worked at a couple of organizations, and when I got here, I didn't know what I was looking for. But I realized that I'd found it once I got to know life at BAO. The people are so real, so true to themselves, so willing to help. It makes it really easy to stay here. We're a team, we all work together and we all work hard. And then there's the fact that I get to reach out to so many people about so many topics everyday.
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