New Sales Simplified by Mike Weinberg: Book Overview

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What is New Sales Simplified about? What solution does the author Mike Weinberg offer to stifled sales progress?

New Sales Simplified by Mike Weinberg demystifies sales prospecting for both veterans and inexperienced salespeople. At the core of his sales advice is the three-stage model he calls the “New Sales Driver.” The stages of the model are 1) targeting, 2) developing sales weapons, and 3) planning and executing.

Below is a brief overview of Mike Weinberg’s New Sales Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development.

New Sales Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development

Generating new business as a salesperson is essential to a company’s success, yet few salespeople are good at it. Many reps are intimidated by making “cold calls” (first-time calls to potential customers to ask for their business), and therefore, they make only half-hearted attempts or none at all.

New Sales Simplified by Mike Weinberg offers the solution to companies’ and sales reps’ struggle to grow new business: his “New Sales Driver” model:

  1. Targeting: strategically selecting potential customers to pursue
  2. Developing your weapons: creating powerful sales tools and using them effectively
  3. Planning and executing: determining which tools to use and when, then executing

New Sales Step 1: Select Prospects to Target

Look for potential new customers with a profile similar to that of your best current customers. Ask:

  • Who are the company’s best customers?
  • What do they have in common?
  • What do these companies and their markets look like?
  • Where or how can we find potential customers who resemble our best customers?

Resources for Finding Prospects

Once you know what kind of sales prospects you’re targeting, there are many resources for coming up with specific names. Local business journals compile and publish annual lists of businesses in the region by size, business sector, and so on. For instance, a journal might list the 10 largest architectural firms in the market, largest employers in the region, or top 25 banks. Another resource is Hoover’s, an online source for business data. With a subscription, sales teams can research potential targets. Other tools include LinkedIn, trade shows, social media, and referrals.

Target List Parameters 

In addition to being strategic, a target list should be:

  • Fixed: Zero in on a fixed or limited number of targets that you’ve chosen for solid reasons. Then work the list and keep working it. Don’t give up and move on if you don’t succeed on your first try with a prospect. Most importantly, stay focused on your prospect list and don’t start pursuing other, non-strategic targets, which won’t be productive. With persistence, you’ll gain traction and begin building new relationships.
  • Focused: Focus intensely on the category of customers that’s produced sales for you in the past. By doing so, you’ll become conversant in the industry’s or sector’s language, opportunities, and challenges. This, in turn, will help you ask smart questions that build credibility with prospects. With each success, the next will be easier to achieve. 
  • Written: Have a written, one-page target list literally at your fingertips to keep you focused on your mission. It’s faster and easier to pull out a paper list or spreadsheet than to boot up and scroll through digital pages of a CRM (customer relationship management) system, or to page through an industry directory. Even the act of writing, printing out, and posting a new-business target list on your wall inspires action and ultimately results.
  • Feasible: Keep your prospect list short enough that you can give each account enough attention, and long enough to be challenging so you don’t get bored and waste time on other things. Determining the right number of accounts to include depends on the type of business being targeted, how easy it’ll be to gain access to each customer, the sales rep’s other responsibilities, and so on. For instance, if you’re selling complex enterprise-level IT software, you’ll need to keep your account list small, perhaps a few dozen accounts, so that managing it will be feasible. However, a telesales rep could handle many more, perhaps hundreds, of accounts for a simple product or service.

New-Sales Step 2: Develop Your Sales Weapons

Once you have your target list, you need three key sales weapons: a compelling sales story, an effective cold call, and a structured face-to-face sales call.

1) Sales Story

Your sales story is the response you give when someone asks you to tell them about your business. It’s the core of your initial face-to-face sales meeting with a potential customer. In addition, you’ll use pieces of the sales story in phone calls, voicemail messages, emails, marketing materials, presentations, and proposals. An effective sales story:

  • Explains the customer issues you solve 
  • Briefly states the solutions and services your company offers
  • Differentiates your offerings from those of competitors
The Sales Story Format

The sales story should be a one-page encapsulation of how your company helps clients that can be presented or read in two or three minutes. Here’s what it should look like, using the example of a company that provides security services:

1) Headline: A sentence or two introducing your company so potential customers can quickly categorize it. This provides context for the sales story.

  • Example: Safety First Inc. is the top provider of security services in the Northeast. We work with businesses and property managers to provide comprehensive, integrated security.

2) Transitional phrase and client issues: An introductory phrase intended to pique the prospect’s interest. It names the type of businesses you serve or client job titles.

  • Example: Building owners choose Safety First Inc. … or Senior marketing executives look to Taylor Communications …

After the introductory phrase, list a half dozen client issues that you address in bullet-point format. 

  • Example: Building owners choose Safety First Inc. when … they’re concerned that their current security firm isn’t projecting a professional image.

3) Your company’s offerings: A few short, unembellished sentences ticking off what you sell. This part of your story is the least compelling to the client, so don’t dwell on it.

  • Example: We provide an integrated service of professionally trained security guards, mobile response, and up-to-date electronic monitoring and alarm systems.

4) Your differentiators: A concluding statement or phrase followed by about five compelling reasons your company does a better job than anyone else at solving the problems you’ve presented.

  • Example: Safety First Inc. dominates the security market in the Northeast because we offer the best comprehensive service available. We provide integrated solutions. We handle crisis situations quickly and professionally. We provide fully qualified and vetted security officers.
Putting the Pieces Together

Here’s a condensed example showing how Weinberg weaves the pieces together into a story for his sales coaching business:

  • “I’m a sales coach who specializes in training sales teams to develop new business. CEOs turn to me when current sales methods aren’t working and the sales team isn’t getting the results the company needs. I coach sales reps and team managers in my proven prospecting methods.”

2) Effective Cold Calling

Your next weapon is the cold call—a first-time call to potential customers to ask for their business. Many salespeople are intimidated by cold calls. So, they make only half-hearted attempts or don’t try at all. But with a strategic prospect list and a structure for the call, cold-calling isn’t difficult. Here are the key steps for planning and conducting cold calls:

1) Create a call outline and talking points: Don’t use a canned call script or you’ll sound like a telemarketer with a phony “sales voice.” But do know what you want to say and plan to say it in a logical order.

2) Focus on the objective: Always keep in mind why you’re calling and the outcome you want—to get a face-to-face meeting with the prospect. Keep steering the conversation toward your objective and don’t get sidetracked when the prospect raises questions or objections. 

3) Develop an effective introductory phrase: Weinberg likes to use “Let me steal a minute” as an introductory phrase. When you say, “Let me steal a minute,” you’re acknowledging, but not apologizing for, interrupting. Other introductions—for instance, “May I have a moment of your time?”—give the prospect a chance to say no.

After your introductory phrase, identify yourself by saying, “I head up the western region for Acme company” or “I head up client relationships for Acme.” Saying that you “head up” an area of responsibility underscores that you’re an important person who’s worth listening to.

4) Write a mini-sales story: Start the dialogue with a condensed version of your sales story that will pique the prospect’s interest in having a face-to-face meeting with you. To position yourself as someone who people in the prospect’s industry turn to for help, focus on a few client issues and one differentiator from your sales story.

Present the issues and differentiator in a conversational way—for example: “Right now many property managers are looking for a security team that projects a professional image.” Pause and wait for a response. Based on the response—for instance, nodding in agreement—you’ll know whether the issue resonated. If it didn’t, mention another issue. Then describe a differentiator, or ask for a meeting.

5) Ask three times for a meeting: There’s a good chance the prospect will say no to the first request for a meeting. It’s automatic, so don’t take it personally. The important thing is, don’t hang up. If you give up on a prospect after one rejection, you’ll fail and keep failing. The third time you ask is usually when you’ll be successful.

3) Structured Face-to-Face Sales Call

Once you’ve secured a face-to-face meeting—your third sales weapon—you must take ownership of it from start to finish by structuring the call in stages that you follow in order:

1. Create Rapport and Learn the Customer’s Style

First, use small talk to connect with the customer and make them comfortable. Also, assess the person’s personality and conversational style—for example, are they quiet, talkative, or impatient? As the meeting continues, you’ll want to adapt your approach to the customer—for example, to cut to the chase if they get impatient. When you adapt to their style, they’ll be more comfortable with you and therefore, more amenable to what you offer. 

2. Introduce the Agenda and Get Buy-In

Share your planned agenda for the meeting, then ask the customer what they’d like to get from it. Sharing your agenda:

  • Differentiates you from competitors (most reps don’t prepare call agendas in the first place)
  • Shows respect for the customer—executives want to know where a meeting is going, so sharing the agenda is a professional courtesy
  • Signals that the meeting will be a dialogue, not a typical one-sided presentation the buyer can tune out

Here’s an example of how to handle the first two stages: 

  • “Thank you for inviting me. Since we set up this meeting for 30 minutes, I’ll make sure we’re done by 10:30. I’ll start with a two-minute introduction to the company and how we help clients, then I’d like to ask a few questions about how you’re dealing with the challenge of late deliveries. Depending on your situation, I can show you some ways we ensure on-time delivery. Then we can discuss whether our services might be a good fit for you and the next step. That’s what I had in mind for the meeting—what were you hoping to get from it?”
3. Tell Your Sales Story

In three minutes, tell your client-focused sales story, highlighting why customers turn to you, what you offer, and how you’re different from competitors. Be alert to the prospect’s reactions to the client problems and opportunities you list—for example, a nod or a wince indicates you’ve hit on a relevant issue. If the customer asks a question, answer briefly but don’t sidetrack your story. Make a note so you can discuss the question further in the next phase of the call.

4. Ask Discovery Questions

Ask several types of probing questions to gather information, discover problems and opportunities, and demonstrate expertise on issues relevant to the customer:

  • Personal: Ask questions to discover what’s important to the customer personally—for example, what their goals are, what results they’re seeking, and how you can help them. The more trust and understanding you can build, the more successful your relationship will be.
  • Strategic: Ask strategic questions to understand the customer’s big picture: about the market, industry, corporate goals and strategies, and internal and external pressures such as cutting costs. Do your research so you can ask specific, relevant questions. Otherwise, your ignorance and laziness will be apparent and make a poor impression.
  • Issue-focused questions: After learning about the customer’s environment, ask questions to uncover the specific ways your offerings can help. Convert the client issues highlighted in your sales story (what you’ve done for past clients) into open-ended probing questions. For example: “How are you handling (X challenge)?” What you learn will help you address the issues in the selling phase.
  • Sales process questions: Ask questions about the company’s processes to avoid running into internal roadblocks later. For instance, ask who has decision-making authority and who will influence the decision, what the timelines and budget are, what criteria the decision will be based on, and what alternatives to your offer are being considered.
5. Sell

With the information you’ve gleaned, deliver a sales pitch that incorporates what matters to the prospect. Show that you’ve listened by focusing only on the points relevant to the buyer, and connecting their needs with your offerings using the buyer’s words.

6. Confirm Fit and Explore Objections

This is the time to comment, “From this conversation, it looks like we might be a good fit for your needs. What do you think?” If the customer is hesitant to confirm you’re a fit, you may need to ask more sales process questions to determine whether there’s an obstacle somewhere. If you sense there’s an issue the client isn’t mentioning, ask: “I have a feeling something is concerning you … What are you thinking?”

7. Agree on and Schedule the Next Steps

Simply ask: “What do you propose as a logical next step?” Listen to the response, then summarize the next steps for each of you—for example: “Based on what you’re saying, how about if I do X and you do Y?” Open your calendar and schedule the tasks. Confirm the date and next step with the client one more time.

New-Sales Step 3: Execute the Sales Effort 

The final step in the new-sales model is planning and executing by pursuing the prospects on your list. Many salespeople like to talk about selling, but when it comes to prospecting, fewer actually do it. Three ways to make prospecting a priority and get it done are time blocking, creating a personal business plan, and maintaining a balanced “pipeline” or portfolio of active accounts.

Block Time for Prospecting

Time blocking is reserving stretches of time for activities that are priorities. Schedule blocks of 90 minutes to two hours at least twice a week for prospecting. (Three hours is probably the maximum you can concentrate and be free of interruptions.)

If you’ve done little or no prospecting, consistently devoting four hours a week to it should significantly improve your results. If you have aggressive business development goals, scheduling eight or nine two-hour blocks a week—still only a third of your working hours—will get superior results.

The keys to successful time blocking are:

  • Putting the time blocks in your calendar (don’t just mentally reserve time).
  • Treating the time as inviolable and using it only for prospecting.
  • Staying on task during the reserved time. Don’t check email or take phone calls.

Develop a Personal Business Plan

Write a personal business plan annually that places a great emphasis on prospecting. Include the following components in the plan:

  • Goals: Identify your personal goals for the year—for example, total revenue, revenue from existing versus new accounts, revenue by account, and number of new accounts gained.
  • Strategies: Determine how you’re going to reach your goals—for example, cross-sell (sell additional services to existing customers), grow specific accounts, or use methods such as team selling, social media, and events.
  • Actions: Commit yourself to specific sales activities, which you can quantify and track by key activity metrics—for example, number of hours committed to cold calls and face-to-face meetings and number of presentations and proposals.
  • Hurdles: Determine what potential hurdles you should address preemptively—for example, lack of sales support or too many competing responsibilities.
  • Personal development: Identify areas in which you’ll develop your skills and the steps you’ll take to develop them—for instance, improving your writing and social media skills by attending training or seeking a mentor.

Once you have a business plan, share it with your colleagues to create accountability and get feedback. Also review it regularly to make sure you’re on track.

Maintain a Balanced Pipeline

Your pipeline is the accounts you’re working on. Spread your sales efforts over many accounts that are at various stages in the sales process so that hitting your sales goals won’t hinge on one or two accounts that could stall. You should have three types of prospect accounts in your pipeline:

  1. Targeted accounts are those you’re working on converting to active accounts.
  2. Active accounts are those where you’ve started a dialogue, and you’re working to convert them into urgent accounts.
  3. Urgent accounts are those with momentum; you’ve provided a proposal or are about to.

It’s natural to focus on urgent accounts, but you should be working in all categories simultaneously. Allocate about a third of your prospecting time to each. In addition, make sure all accounts are progressing from one category to the next rather than stagnating.

New Sales Simplified by Mike Weinberg: Book Overview

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Here's what you'll find in our full New Sales Simplified summary:

  • A step-by-step plan for strategically selecting sales targets
  • How to develop sales weapons
  • How to consistently generate new sales

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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