I recently had the opportunity to chat with Sal Leone, the VP of Sales at CustomShow to learn about the sales tips and tools he leverages for success. In addition to heading up sales, he also works with both the marketing and product development departments.
With over 14+ years of experience, Sal works with some of the largest brands in the world to help them drive revenue. Additionally, he has mentored other sellers and enjoyed watching them succeed in their careers. His first job out of college was working for a local newspaper as a reporter but shifted careers when a successful business owner and mentor told him sales was his calling.
What do you love most about selling?
I really enjoy helping people and finding solutions to help their business function better. Offering a product/service that will help their organization expand is quite rewarding. Secondly, I also enjoy the strategy of selling. Building a solid approach to work my way into big companies takes a significant amount of planning and I definitely enjoy that challenge.
What recent methods of social media do you leverage to remain in touch and perform research on your prospects and potential decision-makers?
Utilizing social media has become a very effective tool for sales professionals. As an example, LinkedIn for research is one of the best ways to find your target audience. Twitter has a lot of value too by offering a direct connection to some of the largest brands in the world. Jump on a Facebook Fan Page of a large brand, and there’s a wealth of high-level contacts. Additionally, social media is a relatively inexpensive way to make a quick impact by driving quality traffic to a blog post.
Can you break down your personal sales cycle and how you approach new business development?
It really comes down to the seven P’s: “Proper Prior Planning, Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” You need to have a plan, and it all starts with your CRM tools such as Salesforce or ProsperWorks. As an initial step, build your list of high-value targets. When your list tops off (with a minimum of 25), start your research to identify who are the likely decision makers within each organization. As you identify key contacts, update your CRM tool immediately.
Now that you have the world at your fingertips, it’s time to develop your message. Your message needs to be impactful, something that will add tremendous value to your organization. The goal is to start developing activity (calls, emails, meetings, etc.) since the high activity is a key indicator of closing a business.
The next stage is to develop your presentation, which needs to be high-impact. It must tell an engaging story that 1) represents your brand and message 2) visually looks compelling 3) adds significant value to your audience. When you feel that your presentation is a success, with the right company and the right decision makers, then your work really begins.
What are the top three skills that you leverage when closing a sale?
1) Problem-solving: I am consistently helping the decision maker solve problems.
2) Follow up: Consistently following up with the prospect and keeping them engaged, it’s extremely important to keep the momentum.
3) Make the process easy: People don’t like difficult anything, so ensuring that it’s easy to get started, is critical.
After establishing contact with a prospect, how do you prolong the sales cycle? Meaning what additional methods do you employ to keep the contact open to connecting with you and listening to what you have to say?
It all boils down to problem solving, they have a problem and you have a solution to fix it. If you’re not solving anything or making things easier for them, you will never do business with that prospect. Some of the lead nurturing I do involve sending email updates of product enhancements. Also, leveraging past experience with a similar organization and let your prospect know that xyz.com is successful because they have been using your software, can be very powerful. Showing them metrics is also useful. For example, let them know my product/service typically increases revenue or page views by 30%.
I’m sure when you first started in B2B sales, the process was inefficient and at times frustrating. What insights can you share that have enabled you to become more productive and efficient in going after new business?
Always have a plan. Know who you’re targeting and why you are targeting them. Document all or your activity in your CRM tool to keep organized. The bad organization will make you miss opportunities. When you see activity slowing down, make it your priority to change it. Make more calls, send more emails and get more meetings. If you follow your plan, more meetings with the right people will drive more business.
What part of the sales process do you recommend people work on the most?
Messaging is often overlooked but very important. It’s about delivering the right message to the right people. If you’re not solving problems, you’re not helping. If you’re not helping – there’s no business
How does marketing play a roll in your sales process?
Marketing plays a key role. Good marketing practices will help drive qualified leads down the funnel. Successful marketing activities will produce qualified leads. The more qualified leads that are handed to sales, the more business will be closed
Finally, What is the best career advice you ever heard?
I have two: 1) If you’re not being told ‘no’ enough throughout your day, you’re not being active enough. And 2) You never know what’s going to happen unless you ask. Always, always ask for their business.
For more information about CustomShow’s Enterprise Presentation Software connect with us here.