Author Archives: Jim

How to Leverage Your Telephone Prospecting Efforts in 1 Easy Step

By Kelley Robertson
Robertson Training Group (www.fearless-selling.ca)

I recently came across a strategy that can improve your cold calling efforts. A surprisingly simple concept, yet an effective one. I shared it with a colleague who has been working with telesales reps for more than 20 years and he agreed.

 

Here it is…

Focus all of your calls in a specific time period on one vertical.

Rather than making several dozen calls in one morning to companies in a range of industries, concentrate your efforts on one industry or vertical.

Here are the benefits of using this approach.

  • You can fine-tune your message so it will resonate with your prospect.
  • Your message will get stronger the more you recite it (and develop it).
  • You will hear the same objections so you can respond to them more effectively.
  • You will be able to give relevant examples of the results your solution has achieved.

Most sales people make calls to a wide range of companies every day. This means they have to adapt their message to each person they call. However, when you call companies in the same industry, you can use the same approach, stories, and examples. Plus, it gets you in the zone and gives you the opportunity to speak to the specific challenges your prospect’s face in their particular business.

If you plan to make cold calls this week, group them so you are calling similar companies during the same period. I am confident you will quickly see better results.

Kelley RobertsonKelley Robertson is president of the Robertson Training Group. Kelley is the author of two sales books, Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers and The Secrets of Power Selling. Both sales training books provide practical insights to improving your sales results. Visit his website at www.fearless-selling.ca or call him 905 633 7750.

 

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Give this Closing Technique a Shot … You’ll be Glad You Did

 Pssst ….Want to learn a simple but highly effective closing technique that works extremely well in the world of telephone selling AND will help increase your sales rate?

It’s called, The-Give-It-A-Shot Close and here’s everything you need to know about how and why it works.

Give-It-A Shot Closing Examples

The best way to illustrate the close is by showing you a few examples. You’ll be astounded by how simple and easy it is to use but don’t be fooled, it’s sophisticated and powerful.

“So … Corinne, based on information I’ve provided and how it can help improve your revenues, would you like to give the program a shot?

“Mark, do you want to give that digital unit a shot?

“Bryon, unless there are any more questions, would you like to give the M350 a shot and see what it does for your production rate?”

“So, Kerri, why not give it a shot and see for yourself?

Why it Works So Well With Prospects

One of the key reasons why this close works so well, especially with prospects, is that it helps reduce the natural anxiety a prospect experiences when buying from a new vendor. Prospects worry about you, your company and your product or service. At some level they’re concerned that they might not be making the right decision and that it’ll come back to haunt them.

Bearing this in mind, the Give-it- a-Shot close helps to lesson that anxiety. The technique has a ‘no-big-deal’ quality to it. Because it is a casual and low pressure type of close, the client relaxes. He or she is more at ease because at a conscious or subconscious level there is the feeling that the close is not permanent, that it is reversible. It’s subtle but extremely significant because it doesn’t feel manipulative. Delivered in a nonchalant manner, the prospect senses that you’re at ease with the closing too.

Why it Works so Well with Telephone Reps

Not all telephone reps are hesitant to close, but many are. Psychologically, the Give-it-a-Shot close makes it easy for those who sometimes worry about being perceived as too pushy or aggressive.

Make no mistake about it, you’re still ASKING for the sale but the manner in which you ask does not have that high pressure feel to it. And because more prospects say ‘yes’ to it, the more likely you are to use it consistently.

How to Make it Work For You

The Give-it-a-Shot close still depends on good questioning and qualification on your part. And you still have to deliver a decent presentation after identifying a need. You still need to handle rebuttals well. All those fundamentals are still required. But once you’ve done all that, follow these two steps:

Step #1: Recap the situation and casually use the close.

It might look something like this, “Katrina, based on what you told me about the need to improve cash flow at your office, it sounds like our program would be a good fit in boosting the bottom line with your clients. So… given what I’ve told you, would you like to give the program a shot?”

Step #2: Zip it

Go silent. Let the prospect ponder the opportunity. Don’t add anything more. Don’t clutter or confuse the moment. Let the silence do it’s magic.

One of three things will happen at this point. First, they might have a question, concern or objection. Excellent. It’s a good opportunity to provide more information and help the prospect make a buying decision.

Second, they could say “no.” That’s okay too. Better to ask and hear “no” then not to ask and wonder … forever.

Third, they could say “yes.” Et voila. You’ve got a sale.

Summary

What’s the worst that can happen? Closing in this manner certainly won’t reduce your close rate, so you risk nothing. And it stands a pretty good chance of increasing your close rate because it tackles some of the subconscious concerns most prospect have.

So… why not give it shot today?

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The Brutal Truth About Pre-Call Research and Planning

The following post is from my January 2013 newsletter  (Tele-Sales Vitamins).  It got a good deal of response from readers.  See what you think? Am I spot on or am I off the mark?  You tell me.

Pre-call research and planning prior to picking up the phone and calling the prospect or customer is a good thing, right?

Trainers, consultants and bosses laud the effort. They encourage it. Push it. We’re repeatedly told that taking the time to gather information about the client is a smart thing. We’re told we should carefully plan the call to ensure it’s success.  All in all, this pre-work  helps us position ourselves as ‘consultative.’ It helps give us a competitive edge.  Makes us more money. So it’s a slam dunk activity, right?

Or is it?

While it may seem counter-intuitive, less research and planning may actually be more effective than more and may actually lead to more sales and revenues!

The 2 Perils of Pre-Call Research and Planning

There are a couple of perils that can be associated with too much research and planning.  The first is that it gets awfully easy to go overboard with these tasks. What can happen is that more time is spent on pre-call activities than on picking up the phone and making the call. This impacts productivity, not to mention the opportunity cost. When you spend too much time in researching and planning, what are you giving up? Ultimately you may be sacrificing more opportunities to sell or generate leads because you’re dialing less.

Pre-call research and planning can be (and often is) a form a procrastination. Think about it: it’s much easier and far less risky to browse the internet or leaf through newspapers, or review old files or study past notes or analyze company reports than it is to telephone the client.  Calling clients can lead to rejection and discouragement so we convince ourselves that if we research longer and harder we’ll minimize the chance of the customer or prospect terminating  the call. What makes it even worse is that all this pre-work can give you a false sense of ‘doing.’ It becomes seductively easy to persuade yourself that you’re achieving things.

The other peril is that developing a detailed plan for your call (including composing an e-mail, editing it , changing it,  developing your telephone opener, your questioning sequence, etc. etc. etc.) can not only waste time it can sometimes make you too rigid and structured in your approach. It can impact your ability to be flexible and respond to the curve balls a client might throw at you.

The Case For Pre- Call Research and Planning 

On the other hand, blindly picking up the phone and winging it is a clear recipe for disaster too.

A certain degree of research can be extremely effective in getting your foot in the door and giving you a competitive edge. It can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. Similarly, planning the overall strategy and structure of your call gives you clear direction and greater focus. Jotting down your objectives, laying out your opening statement, making a list of key questions and having a list of key selling points is a wise course of action… provided you don’t go overboard.  (Go here for more information on how Mr. Spock would plan his call)

5  Tips to Balancing Pre Call Research and Planning with Productivity

So what’s the answer? Of course, it’s all a matter of degree. Here’s a checklist for you (AND your manager) to use to determine the level and extent of your pre-call work. All of the items should be taken into account and evaluated collectively. No single item stands on it’s own.

1. The Value of the Sale

What’s the possible payoff? If the value of the potential sale is relatively high, take the time and conduct the necessary research and plan accordingly.

2. The Nature of the Sale

Is your sale simple or complex? If the sale is simple (i.e., one decision maker, low price, many competitive products in the marketplace, short sales cycle) not a lot of research and planning  is necessary. This is not say you should ignore doing some homework but at the end of the day, a minute or two is probably all that’s necessary.

If your sale is complex (i.e., multiple decision makers, higher price, longer sales cycle) more time should be devoted to the effort (with due consideration to the other points listed here).


3. The Prospect

Who are you calling? Are you calling a buyer in a large firm? If so, there’s not a lot you can do before picking up the phone. Buyers are usually paid to source the best value which usually means price.

Are you calling a top executive at a Fortune 500 company? If so, spend the time to scan a few sites and look for something on the individual and/or the company. But here too, it’s a matter of degree. Sometimes you can be searching for something that doesn’t exist. Consequently you search and search, and all the while, rationalize the waste time and effort.  Do this instead: check out Google Alerts and learn how the internet can work for you. Browse newspapers or journals or newsletters. But here’s the IMPORTANT thing: do that in evenings or early morning or over lunch so that it doesn’t interfere with your dialing effort. .

4. The Objective of the Call

What is the objective of the particular call you are making? If it’s to sell directly, then perhaps more time is necessary bearing in mind your prospect or customer, the nature of the sale and the value potential. On the other hand, if the call is to generate a lead or invite the client to a webinar or seminar, your research and planning might be toned down a bit.

5. Your Objectives and Results

Maybe this is the most important consideration. How well are you doing relative to your sales objectives? If you have high objectives and you’re not hitting them, maybe you need to spend more time in doing (making the calls) and less time in ‘doing other things.’ Sometimes you need to dive in and just make things happen. Sometimes – often- it is  a simple matter of elbow grease. Try discussing your situation with your manager (because, in all honesty, sometimes the problem is that reps flail about making calls without the least bit of thought, research and planning).

Summary

Look, I am all for preparation. It generates ‘smart’ selling. The amount of time YOU spend on pre-call activities is often a matter of common sense and utter honesty. Some calls require a good deal of research. Most don’t. So be brutally honest with yourself. Are you doing all this pre-work in the legitimate quest to find something or simply because you’re procrastinating? Then act accordingly

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Fake it ’til You Make it?

By  The Irreverent Sales Girl (http://www.irreverentsalesgirl.com/)

When I was first getting started building my Investment Management business, I was terrified of meeting with clients. I had the education. I felt confident that I could help, but I was afraid to ask for the business. I was afraid I could not connect with the customers.

What to do about my insecurities?Angie Harmon

So, I came up with this great idea. I was a big fan of Law & Order at the time. It was when Angie Harmon was on the show playing a no-nonsense, beautiful, composed attorney. She always kept her cool and she always had it together. And, she looked great doing it!

I decided I would “be” Angie Harmon in every meeting. I dressed the part and I acted just like she would in all of the conversations.

It worked like a charm.

Every meeting I walked in with the confidence and poise of Angie Harmon. I listened like she did. I spoke calmly and clearly just like she always did.

I constituted myself as someone successful. And people responded.

People opened up to me and I found it easy to take my time to hear what they wanted and make solid recommendations. Then, I confidently opened the conversation to ask for the business. I calmly pulled out the paperwork at the right time. And the prospects became clients over 80% of the time – in the first meeting.

Find the person who you can “be” to take your business to the next level. Maybe it’s James Bond, or Cat Woman, or a mentor. Put yourself aside and act the part.

Soon, it will start to come naturally! And you will be who you wanted to be and enjoy the same success!

Diane SmithBringing a Dash of Dignity, Adventure, and Poise to the Art of Selling, The Irreverent Sales Girl encourages her clients to seek new horizons and honor their own muse. She offers compelling messages that remind you of who you are and what is possible; a message of hope, challenge, and new thinking – just when you needed it most. http://on.fb.me/salesgirl.  To view the original article by the Irreverent Sales girl, go here
http://musings.irreverentsalesgirl.com/2013/04/fake-it-til-you-make-it/#.Ubz6d-fVDng
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Do You Use Thes Lame Sales Lines That Make You Look Stupid?

by Kelley Robertson, www.fearless-selling.ca

A friend of mine recently attended a trade show and heard a variety of lame sales lines all intended to get him to make a buying decision. In an email, he suggested that I write a post about lame sales lines people use in order to capture a prospect’s interest and increase their sales.

I thought this would be a fun post to write so here are a dozen lame questions and lines that make sales people look stupid. Warning: there is a serious dose of sarcasm in this post.

“What will it take to earn your business?”
Uh, maybe you could act like a professional and show me how I’m going to benefit from your product or service.

“Is price the only thing holding you back?”
No, but the fact that you think price is the most important issue shows your complete lack of sales ability.

“Here’s the phone, why not call your wife right now and talk to her?”
Seriously?

“Don’t you want to save money?”
No, I’m an idiot. But, please insult my intelligence again by asking another stupid question like this.

“If I could show you (insert benefit), would you be interested?”
How about you ask me a question or two so you can figure out how your product will help me?

“This price won’t last long.”
Really? You can’t come up with anything better than that?

“At this price, we’ll be sold out by the end of the day.”
Sure…and your new shipment arrives tomorrow morning.

“I don’t think we’ll be offering this incentive next week.”
Yeah, I bet it will be better so maybe I’ll wait.

“What do you know about us?”
Didn’t your CEO get sued for something?

“What do I need to do to get you into…”
You’re not “getting” me into anything with that approach.

“Have you heard about us?”
No and do you really think this question is going to make me want to listen to your sales pitch?

“What are your needs?”
Why don’t you ask me some good questions that take a bit of thought and effort and I’ll tell you.

 

What about you? What lame or cheesy sales lines have you heard? I love to hear them so please feel free to add them in the comments section.

Kelley RobertsonKelley Robertson is president of the Robertson Training Group. Kelley is the author of two sales books, Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers and The Secrets of Power Selling. Both sales training books provide practical insights to improving your sales results. Visit his website at www.fearless-selling.ca or call him 905 633 7750.
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How Donald Trump Would Get Past Gatekeepers

If Donald Trump was an inside sales rep making cold calls to higher level executives he wouldn’t have the least bit of problem getting past a gatekeeper and reaching the decision maker. Here’s why:

Putting his famous name aside, “The Donald” would be successful because of the manner in which he would approach a gatekeeper.  If you’ve ever seen Trump on “Celebrity Apprentice” or on news clips, you’ve probably noticed he has a distinct air about him (to say the least).  Not only is he absolutely confident, he radiates a sense of assertiveness.  So, even if Trump called a business and did not use his name, you can bet that both his tone and his words would have a distinct ‘edge’- maybe even tension- to them.

Remember this:  on the telephone tone accounts for over 80% of the message and at a subconscious level, the poor receptionist or personal assistant would immediately sense that this man is not someone to quibble with; best to leave it to the boss.Donald Trump

The Trump Persona

You don’t have to be Donald Trump to get past the gatekeeper.  You only need to create a Trump persona. Act like the Donald would act. Behave like a billionaire would behave. Act like CEO would act. For instance,

Gatekeeper:    Good morning. ABC Corp. Can I help you?

Tele-Rep:         Rob Smith for Jim Jones. Put me through please.

Imagine the words being delivered in a quick, terse, and assertive manner. No mistaking this for a Mr.-Nice-Guy.  Notice the brevity.  Notice the directive nature:  ‘put me through.’  Trump tells, he doesn’t ask. The ‘please’ is perfunctory and has no real sincerity. The rep sounds like he’s busy, in a hurry and doesn’t want to debate the issue.  The suggestion in the tone is ‘don’t try your screening tactics on me.’ He sounds like a peer, a colleague, or an equal to Jones and the gatekeeper is more likely to put the call through without any further delay.

But suppose the gatekeeper mustards up another screen, here is your Trump-like reply,

Gatekeeper:    Where are you calling from?

Tele-Rep:         Nordstar.  Please connect me.

The reply is absolutely minimal. No elaboration. That’s what a busy executive like Trump would say.  Very clipped, too.  Notice, again, the directive tone (connect me please).  Let’s face it; it’s a thinly disguised order. The ‘please’ is a throwaway.  And, of course, the tone has a brash and brittle quality to it.

Theater of the Mind

Some might suggest that this technique is ‘mean’ and aggressive.  It is not. But it is assertive. The words are polite. There is nothing insulting or demeaning or abusive about them.  It is only the tone that suggests the caller is busy, in a hurry … and perhaps not tolerant.  It plays to the theater of the mind.  The gatekeeper gets a sense that this is not the person or the time to draw a line; better to take the safe route and not risk the caller’s annoyance.

But, let’s suppose the gatekeeper takes one more shot at screening the call.

Gatekeeper:    What’s this regarding?

Tele-rep:         Revenue generation and cash flow.  Would you put me through now?

Here again, the information provided by the rep is absolutely minimal but not withheld. He does not confess that he’s calling to set up an appointment.  The directive nature of the call is still evident but notice there is no ‘please’ attached to the phrase.  This slight shift in approach may alert the gatekeeper that maybe now is the time to pass the call through. The tone says it all. You don’t have to be rude; you simply need to maintain that steely manner.

Martha Stewart Works Too

If you’re a female, your persona might be Martha Stewart.  For the life of me, I can’t imagine Martha dancing about with a gatekeeper. Her manner would be exactly like Trump’s.

How to Make Trump Work for You

The fact of the matter is this: reaching decision makers is becoming more and more difficult as more and more companies turn to tele-prospecting to drum of leads, appointments and business.  You need an edge in today’s high level cold calling.  Differentiate yourself and give this technique a shot.

Once mastered, The Donald is extremely effective if only because it is not widely used. To make it work for you, practice it.  Rehearse it. Often. Master the nuances.  Like an actor you need to prepare for your role on stage.  This is precisely what this is: an act and a role.  Know your lines and deliver them well and you’ll get through more often.

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10 Action Tips to Increase Your Sales

by Jill Konrath (www.jillkonrath.com)

Want to take your business to the next level? If so, take these actions. They’re guaranteed to make a difference in your sales results.

1. Clarify your value proposition

Strong value propositions are essential for getting in to see the corporate buyer. Make sure you can clearly articulate the business outcomes customers get as a result of using your product or service.

Be precise – numbers, percentages and time frames make your value proposition even stronger.

2. Target a specific market segment

Don’t chase every available opportunity. Focus. Focus. Focus. Increase your knowledge and expertise in a particular market segment.

Learn as much as you can about their business needs, terminology, issues and marketplace trends. This significantly increases your client desirability.

3. Prepare Ad Infinitum

Today’s customers suffer no fools. Unprepared sellers are quickly escorted out the door. Before you meet with any new prospect, research their business.

Read their annual report, check out their website, interview their clients, and review analyst’s reports. Find out what’s important to them, their challenges, goals, and strategic imperatives.

4. Create Seductive Ideas

Use your brain and think for your prospective and existing customers. They’re so busy putting out fires; they lack time for problem-solving, strategic thinking, creative alternatives or even reflection.

A seller who consistently brings business ideas to the relationship becomes indispensable – winning contracts with minimal competition and at full dollar value.

5. Slow Down, Lean Back

Don’t try to rush sales – even if you’re desperate. Customers feel your push and immediately erect a wall of resistance. On first sales calls do NOT lean forward.

To maintain a consultative approach you must LEAN BACK. The minute you lean forward, you’re “selling” – trying to get your customer to buy. Lean back. Slow down. And you’ll get the business sooner.

6. Pursue Quality, not Quantity

Make fewer sales calls – but much better ones. Focus all your efforts on preparing for the call. Determine the logical next step for each meeting. Then, working backwards, think about what you need to do to make this outcome a reality.

Test every idea you come up with from your customer’s perspective. Think: If I said or did this, how would my customer interpret it or react? Only their perception is important – not what you meant. Make your changes before the call to increase your success.

7. Minimize Opportunity Leakage

Unless customers can explicitly state the business value of your offering in concrete terms your opportunity can easily evaporate into thin air – even if they appear highly interested.

To increase your order rate, ask questions such as: Why would this help you? What value would you get from this service? What are the primary benefits you would realize from my product/service? This cements the value in their brain.

8. Make Follow-up Meetings Concrete

Don’t ever leave a meeting without scheduling your next one – or you may never catch up with your customer again. They’re running from meeting-to-meeting, busy handling way too many projects.

The longer it takes to reschedule, the more their desire for your offering fades. Get the meeting on both your calendars now – even if it’s just to talk on the phone.

9. Always Debrief Your Sales Calls

This is the only way you can get better. Ask yourself: a) what went well? b) where did I run into problems? and c) what could I do next time to get even better results?

This is absolutely the only way you will improve. Sales is a grand experiment – customers change, markets change, your offerings change, and so does your knowledge base. Unless you’re continually learning, you’re losing ground.

10. Reframe Your Attitude

Stop blaming the economy or anything else for your problems. There are many things totally within your control. Approach all tough sales situations with a “what’s possible” or “how can I?” mindset. If you’re stuck, brainstorm with friends or colleagues.

Accept 100% responsibility for your sales success and continually be on the lookout for creative approaches to take your business to the next level.

konrath 4217  websize croppedJill Konrath helps salespeople get their foot in the door and win big contracts in the corporate market. Sign up for her free e-newsletter by sending an email to jill@sellingtobigcompanies.com. You get a free “Sales Call Planning Guide” ($19.95 value) when you subscribe. Contact Jill Konrath at  jill@jillkonrath.com or at (651) 429-1922 to find out how she can help your sales force take their business to the next level
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How to Get Your Telephone Selling Focus Back on Track

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like you worked your butt off but when you look back you realize that you’ve sold nothing or sold very little; that you didn’t send that proposal; that your cold calling never happened; that you forgot to return that important call; that some key e-mails have not yet been answered?

If this happens every now and then, it’s no big deal. It was an off day.  But if you find that these days are occurring more and more often, you need to take action because they have a direct impact on your sales success.

Here’s a neat little tip to keep you on the track, do more and achieve your selling goals. Let me explain further …

Why We Lose Sales Focus

One of the primary reasons why we don’t sell as much as we could or should is because we lose focus of those activities that lead to sales success.

We come into the office with good intentions but we get side tracked on any number of issues. True, some issues are important and urgent and can’t be avoided but you know as well as I do that many issues are unimportant and lack any urgency (yet we still feel compelled to deal with them).  And while some issues have a degree of urgency attached to them (a ringing phone or a blinking voice message light) many end up being unimportant (the call was from accounting and they wanted you to complete Form 501D by the end of the week and the voice mail was from Ben asking if you knew who was eliminated off the island last night).

The point is these distractions assault us throughout the day and if we become victims to them then we lose focus of those things that really matter: thing like sales.

How to Regain Your Focus – The 2MR

Look, distractions are always going to occur but you can help minimize them.  One way to do that is with a technique called “The 2MR” – The 2-Minute Review.  Here’s how it works.  At the end of every hour stop whatever you are doing and take two minutes to:

  • Review what you are doing now
  • Review what you had planned to do
  • Review what you’ve done so far
  • Review what you need to do

Deceptively simple, eh?

You’ll be stunned at how effective this quick little assessment can be to help regain your sales focus.  You’ll discover that somehow you’re working on some trivial task and you’ll ask, “Why in heaven’s name am I doing this now?”  You’ll then look back further and realize that the last ten or fifteen minutes (or more) have been squandered and that your task of getting out that critical quote has taken a back seat and that your deadline for submission could be in jeopardy.

While as distressing as your evaluation may be, it does get you re-oriented and re-focused. You stop the idiotic chore and hunker down to the quote.  Mission accomplished.

5 Steps to Making The 2MR Work for You

First, have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish.  List your specific goals or areas of focus for the day such as cold calling, follow ups, proposals … all those things that lead directly to sales success.

Second, schedule those tasks and activities by blocking out time in whatever calendar system you might be using. You don’t need every single minute scheduled. Work in chunks and leave space in your day for responding to voice mails, e-mails, meetings, the odd emergency, and for ‘free time. But have the biggies scheduled and blocked.

Third, use Outlook or your smart phone or watch or whatever to set an alarm at 2 minutes to every hour. (Repeat: every hour)  Something … anything… to alert you to the moment.

Fourth, when the alarm goes off, gauge the situation as described above.  Reflect. Ponder. Evaluate.

Fifth, re-focus if necessary.  Do what you should be doing..  Do what NEEDS to be done. Ignore the rest. Don’t worry: when you have free time you can get back to the ‘other’ stuff.

Summary

The true thief of our selling success is distraction. Distractions derail our selling focus and impact our sales results. The 2MR can help change that.  By investing a mere 16 minutes every day you’ll become more effective and managing your time, your sales and your success.

BTW, this concept of an hourly review is masterfully described by Peter Bregman in his book 18 Minutes- Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done.  Visit his website by going here.

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When Marketing, Remember This -Buying is an Emotional Experience

by George Torok

Power Marketing

Your customer is an emotional being. You need to be aware of the emotional states that affect the decision to buy from you.

Your marketing must address the emotional needs of your customers.

There are three types of emotions and you need to address each differently.

Relationship

The emotions that the customer might need to feel are: confidence, trust, inclusion, feeling special, comfort and safety.

You can address these emotional needs by building stronger relationships. A significant contributor to the relationship building is the customer service experience.

The key principle to building relationships is to make others feel good about themselves.

Retreat

The emotions that might cause your customer to retreat from you include fear, confusion, suspicion, frustration, and anger.

Your marketing must mitigate these emotions because these can lead to lost sales and worse – bad publicity. The bad publicity is even more prevalent with the online review sites like TripAdvisor.com and the social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter. Bad news travels faster and gets remembered longer than good news.

You can minimize most of these retreat emotions with the use of clear communication, consistent performance and demonstrating a keen interest in your customer’s satisfaction.

Building stronger relationships will also mitigate these emotions and the consequences.

Advance

The most common emotions that might move your customer to buy from you include: pride, greed, love, guilt, and especially, hope.

Your marketing needs to trigger or leverage the relevant emotions of your prospects. Depending on the market the appeal to these emotions might or might not need to be subtle.

For example, while signing the contract for my new car the sales person offered me a few extras which I quickly turned down. Then she offered tinted windows. I quickly refused but when she added that “it would make me look cool” I swiftly agreed to tinted windows.

This third type is the most important set of emotions to making the sale. Even if you build good relationships and mitigate the Retreat emotions you need to influence the emotions of Advance. These are the most important to persuading your prospect to buy from you.

Review the three types of emotions that can affect your prospects and identify the most likely emotions that relate to your best customers. Don’t worry about the emotions of your bad customers.

Now examine how your marketing addresses those emotional needs.

George TorokGeorge Torok is a Marketing Expert who helps contenders in a competitive market gain an unfair advantage over the competition while drawing on an embarrassingly small marketing budget. His bestselling book, Secrets of Power Marketing, published in seven countries. For a free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” visit www.Torok.com
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Selling Fearlessly: 5 Reasons Why You MUST Read This Book on Selling

When I first picked up Selling Fearlessly – A Master Salesman’s Secrets for the One-Call-Close Salesperson, I had my doubts.

Personally, my sale isn’t a one-call-close. Neither are most of my clients. So I wasn’t quite certain how valuable it might be.Selling Fearlessly book

Boy … did I call that one wrong.

Robert Terson has written one hell’uva  of a good book that fits with any type of sale, simple or complex.  It is chalk full of stories, examples, skills, techniques and insights on what it takes to be an effective and successful sales person. Its’ conversational style makes it easy to read and understand.  I couldn’t put it down.

5 Reasons To Read this Book

There are five compelling reasons why you should read Selling Fearlessly.

First of all, it’s a  damn good read. You’ll enjoy it because it flows along at nice fast pace. Bob illustrates points clearly and concisely. It’s entertaining and it’s fun. You won’t get bogged down with stuffy, high falutin’ theories.

Second, it acts as a prompt or a reminder. I was surprised (and maybe even a little embarrassed) to recognize that I had become complacent in certain areas of selling.  Bob’s book was a wake-up call.  It reminded me what I need to keep doing to stay at the top.

Third, the book was motivating. Bob tells good stories that make you think and evaluate; stories that make you feel good; stories that inspire you to get off the couch and do something. (My favorite was of 1992 Olympic runner Derek Anthony Redmond.  I watched the video and was touched to tears).

Fourth, Selling Fearlessly is practical.  It gives you specific how-to tips and techniques.  Terson explains how to handle objections, how to present, how to probe, how to close; the whole gamut of skills. Valuable, usable stuff.

Finally, its real life selling.  It’s not the world of perfect or theoretical.  Bob tells it like it really is with no-holds barred.  His humble and often humorous stories illustrate what it’s like out there.  The book has a truth to it like no other.  (And at less than $19/copy you can’t beat it!)

Summary

 Selling Fearlessly is a book for both sales rookies and veterans alike. Rookies will see that selling is more than just showing up and delivering a pitch. Veterans will see that selling is a life long journey of learning and improving. It’s sage sales wisdom has value regardless of your years in sales or the type of product or service you sell.  Get this book. Read it. And start selling like a master.

Go here to visit Bob’s site and to read his blog!

 

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The 9 Reasons Why Telephone Prospectors Fail

Telephone prospecting can be tough but sometimes we’re our own worst enemies.

Recently, I have been monitoring dozens of calls by various reps.  I listen and watch as some succeed and others fail. Based on these calls (and hundreds of similar calls over the years)here  is  my  list of nine reasons why tele-prospectors fail to achieve the results they could or should get.

Reason #1: Lack of a Clearly Defined Goal, Objectives and Plan

To succeed in telephone prospecting you need three fundamental components. First, you need a clearly defined goal to help drive you to pick up the phone and prospect. Is to achieve a monetary goal? Is it to build your book of business and minimize future risk?  Is it to save your job? All of these are compelling reasons.

Second, you need specific calling objectives.  Focus on decision maker contacts. If your objective is five new contacts per day, work until you get it.  You might be able to do that in ten or fifteen dials … or it might take thirty.

The third component is a game plan.  Tele-prospectors fail when they don’t block time to make their calls, when they don’t have a list ready to go, when they haven’t prepared a script or call guide, when they haven’t practiced and the list goes on. They wing it and they fail.

Reason #2: Lack of Ambition/Drive

Let’s face it, there’s not a good deal of hope for someone who is indifferent about their success.  If the internal pilot light doesn’t burn bright within you then chances are you’ll fail.  This doesn’t make you a bad person or a flawed individual. It makes you a person who lacks the ambition to succeed in this particular job.  If that’s the case, fin something else you are passionate about and you’ll do better.

Reason #3: Lack of Self Discipline

Perhaps discipline is the key to any form of success. It is the ability to stay the course. Take dieting, for example.  Stick to the diet and exercise program and you’ll lose weight.  Cold calling is the same. Stick to it.  Stick to your strategy and stick to your plan even when every fibre in your body screams “no, don’t do it.” If you do that, you WILL succeed.

Reason #4: Procrastination

Procrastination is that dark little cloud that scuttles across the success horizon.  We put off what we know we must do.  Often we are ‘waiting for perfect.’ Of course, perfect never comes but we convince ourselves it’s just another half hour away. And that’s the real culprit: the self-rationalization of why we didn’t pick up the phone and make the calls.  It’s coming up with lame excuses and then believing them.

Reason #5: Lack of Persistence

Persistence is a close cousin of self-discipline but it refers to giving up too soon.  Instead of making fifty dials we make forty.  Instead of setting a goal of reaching fifteen decision makers we quit when we get to twelve, or thirteen or even fourteen.  Persistence is not following on a prospect four, five or six times but rather settling on two.

Reason #6: Negative Outlook/Attitude

You can almost guarantee that a person with a positive mental attitude will succeed in virtually any endeavor.  A person with a negative mental attitude will invariably fail.  A negative person sees walls, obstacles and barriers with every cold call. Here’s what they say or think: “Oh they won’t be interested,” “Oh, no one is in on Fridays,” “Oh, I wouldn’t want to be bothered this early in the morning,” “Oh, that list is lousy,” “Oh, our competitor has a better price.”  You get the picture.

Reason #7: Lack of Decisiveness

Ever notice how decisive people tend to succeed in almost anything they do. Decisive telephone prospectors don’t hum and haw, they pick up the phone and get at it. They may not like cold calling but they deal with it. They ‘git ‘er done.’  Indecisive people waffle, hesitate, delay.

Reason #8: Lack of Risk

Successful telephone cold callers will take a degree of risk.  Smart risk. They’ll call early in the morning (like 7:00 a.m) or later in the day (like 6 p.m.) and risk the ire of a prospect.  They’ll risk the fact that the prospect has call display but will still may a half dozen, well timed calls.  They’ll do something a little bold like send a bottle of spice, or a cookbook, or a fishing fly hook, or whatever to catch the eye of the prospect.

Successful people have a degree of audacity.  Those who fail, don’t. They play it safe. Always. And they’re left with table scraps … if that.

Reason #9: Poor Company

Those who fail at prospecting tend to hang out with others who are in the same boat. (Did someone say “Titanic?”)  They commiserate with one another.  Misery adores company.  Meanwhile, successful telephone prospectors are phone, dialling, get past gatekeepers, speaking to prospects, setting appointments, getting sales … that sort of thing.

Summary

I wish I was perfect. I am not. Far from it. From time to time I fall into one or more of these categories. I know I sometimes procrastinate. Sometimes I lack discipline, and on occasion fail to persist.

But I know that I am doing it. And I take responsibility for it. And it doesn’t last long.

Learn to recognize why you fail and when you do, nip it in the bud … and start succeeding.

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The True Worth of a Customer – (13 Traits That Might Surprise You)

Have you ever stopped to wonder about the TRUE worth of a customer? I’m talking about the ‘bigger picture.’  I am talking about beyond the initial dollars and cents. What else is a customer worth to you?

The point is, a good customer is worth more than we might realize, more than what we see on the table.  And if we’re more aware of the total sum value of a client, then maybe we’ll do more; maybe we’ll be more conscientious; maybe we’ll try harder, respond quicker, create more value.  Maybe it will give us a whole new look at getting and keeping clients.

I recently posed these questions to a group of telephone sales reps that I trained in Florida and here’s what they came up with:

1.      A Sale

Okay, this is rather obvious – no surprise here – but certainly extremely important.  A customer means a sale. It means revenues.  It means success.  We like this.

2.      Subsequent Sales

A customer should not be seen as a one-time transaction. There could and should be subsequent sales.  Gurus will refer to it as the “life time value” of a client i.e., the total dollars the customer generates over the length of the relationship.  Look after your client well and this could be significant. Again, this should not be a big surprise to anyone in sales.

3.     A Pay Check

Someone in the class cleverly pointed this out with reference to commissions or bonuses.  A customer can be a source of income for you.

4.     Referrals and Leads

Customers could mean referrals … if you ask. Both internally in their own organization or externally with associates, friends and peers. You know this and I know this: referrals close faster and at a higher rate.  And as Martha Stewart might say, “And that’s a good thing.” But, you need to ask…

5.    Testimonials

Here’s something that is not often perceived much less leveraged by the average sales rep.  A customer could be a testimonial. Testimonials refer to a customer ‘testifying’ that your products or service helped them solve a problem and/or achieve superb results.  They tend to be more detailed and hence more credible. They’re wonderful things to have on websites, blogs, and other marketing material.  They’re worth a lot.

6.    Friendship

Here’s an interesting perspective.  Several reps surveyed pointed out they’ve developed friendships with certain clients.  Priceless.

7.      Quotes

Quotes are like testimonials but usually they are brief and often more general in their praise or remarks. Nevertheless, they build credibility in your company, your products and you.   Quotes help you sell more because they create confidence in other prospects you might be targeting.

8.      Job Security

Initially, this was quip by one of the trainees but as we discussed it, we decided it has merit. In fact, it has a lot of merit.  The more customers you have the greater your job security.  Can’t argue with that one.

9.      A Job Offer

Inevitably, after we talked about job security someone called out “a future job.”  In other words, your customer might like you and your efforts so much that he/she might offer you a position.  Of course,  your current boss may not be too pleased with that, but it’s something for you to consider.

10.      A Mentor/Coach

This is a heck of concept.  Some of your customers, if managed and groomed well, evolve into mentors or coaches.  This means they go above and beyond their typical role and help you by giving advice, directing your efforts, suggesting strategies.  There’s nothing it in for them. They are helping you for their own good reasons.  You cannot place a value or worth on a mentor or coach.

11.     “Lab Rat”

I loved this one.  A couple of the reps explained that they had clients who were willing test some products and give feedback.  They were willing to measure results and candidly share their impressions.  In effect, they were providing market intelligence that could be used in further selling efforts.  Powerful stuff.

12.     A Reference

A reference is sort of like a referral.  A reference is someone who will give you or your company or your product a rave review.  They’ll field a call for you from one of your prospects. Some will even go so far as to pick up the phone and call the prospect before the prospect calls them.  How much is that worth to you?

13.      Future Sales at a Future Company

Some customers leave their current employer. They go elsewhere. They often “take you with them.”  In other words, they liked you or your company so much that they continue the relationship.  Nice!

What is a Customer Worth to You?                                    

Okay … your turn: what is a customer worth to you?  What other values do they have to offer?  Do you have something we missed?  List them below and let’s see what we come up with.

In the meantime, start looking at your customers differently. They’re worth a lot more than you think.  So groom them. Nurture them. Don’t take them for granted. Scratch the surface and  leverage that value.

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5 Secrets from a TeleSales Insider on Effective Opening Statements

Here are five secrets to creating a more  effective and more successful tele-prospecting opening statement.

Secret #1: Make the opener about the prospect- not YOU

Your prospects don’t give a hoot about you, your products, processes, services or company. So don’t bother telling them. They only give a fig about themselves and what  your call can possibly do for them. Amazingly, many telephone reps don’t get this.

What this really means is that you must incorporate a benefit statement into your opener that gets the prospect to listen and engage. Start by thinking long and hard about your product or service, and then clearly determine the problem it solves or the opportunity it provides for the prospect. This is precisely what your prospect wants (and needs) to hear if you have any hope of continuing further. Incorporate this benefit into your opener.

Here’s a small tip that pays big dividends. Use the prospect’s name twice in your opener. Using their name not only personalizes the call but it also gets them to listen more closely. And of course, it makes the call about them! For the most part, use their first name. It makes reduces the sense of formality about your call.

Secret #2: Sound slightly uncertain

Yes, you read the correctly.  By sounding slightly uncertain you build credibility. In B2B prospecting no one wants to listen to benefits delivered in a bombastic manner. Coming on too strong and being overly confident in your claims can create a sense of immediate distrust. Prospects are skeptical to begin with. Don’t augment the situation by going overboard.

The secret to tempering your approach is to be more humble and uncertain. You do this by employing a simple trigger phrase that acknowledges that the prospect ‘might not’ benefit from the product or service. For instance,

                “Jan, at this stage I am not certain if _____ might be of benefit to you…”

                “Kerri, I don’t really know if this would apply to your situation…”

                “Pat, depending on your circumstances, there is a chance that we might be able to…”

By acknowledging that you may not have a solution or that the benefits might not apply creates instant credibility. In a flash you become more believable if only because you sound honest, reasonable and sincere. And by acknowledging your uncertainty you open the door to questioning and close the door to pitching. (See Secret #3)

Secret #3: Don’t throw up on your client

Don’t throw up your offer all over the prospect.  I know: it’s a graphic and gross image. I did that on purpose so that  it is memorable and that you won’t forget.  Successful telephone prospectors know that vomiting an offer simply doesn’t cut it. Prospects don’t have the time or the inclination to listen to a droning sales rep. Do you? Instead, explain to the prospect that you’d like to ask questions to determine if there is an opportunity. This creates a dialogue, gets them engaged and helps open them and respond.

Here’s an important tip: avoid asking, “is this a good time?” Doing so provides the prospect with a ready-made excuse to get you off the line. Instead, use this phrase, “if I’ve caught you at a good time I’d like to ask you a few questions…” Prospects feel like they’ve been asked if it is a good time and are more apt to let you proceed. Of course, you are not really asking about time. You are inquiring if you can ask questions but the prospect perceives that you are being polite and tend to let you continue.

Secret #4: Script the opening lines – word for word

WAIT! Before you flip out and stop reading because you don’t like the idea of a script, hear me out for a couple of sentences. If you’re planning to make a number of prospecting calls to the same target market, it makes sense to script the opener, word-for-word. Not the entire call, just the opener.

I mean, think about it: why would you change it up every time? You’re saying the same thing every single time when you open the call, right.  Trying to ad lib the words is a recipe for disaster because while  sometimes you’ll be eloquent, most of the time- you’ll be stiff and awkward.

Look: scripting allows you to master the content of your opener. It also controls a variable. You can test a specific opener on twenty or thirty prospects and gauge the results. Then try another opener, word-for-word with twenty or thirty prospects and compare differences. You might discover one works better than another. Et voila! (See examples of openers below). We’re talking three or four lines. Get over it. Master it like a Hollywood star. Pretend you’re Brad or Angeline.

Secret #5: Drill, practice and rehearse

Sales reps worry that they will sound ‘scripted’ if they have a word-for-word opener. Indeed, they might if they don’t drill, practice and rehearse. Successful telephone prospectors practice the delivery and flow of their opener. They work on where to pause, what words to emphasize, when to speed up and when to slow down etc.  And speaking of Hollywood, this is the type of thing a top ranked actor would do. If they can do it, so can you.

Prospects evaluate what you say and how you say it. Studies reveal that over 85% of your message is communicated by the tone of your voice. This means you need to get the delivery of these words down pat! This is the most important part of your entire call. If don’t nail the opener, you don’t have to worry about the rest of the call, do you? Master your opener.

Putting it All Together

So what might a good opener look/sound like? Here are some examples:

If you were a  financial adviser you might say,

“________ my name is ________ and I’m with ABC Financial. We specialize in helping small business owners develop and maintain viable retirement plans.

_________, at this stage I’m not certain if you’ve established a retirement program through your company but if I’ve caught you at a good time I’d like to ask you a few quick questions to determine if there might be a way to maximize your investments and develop a sound strategy for your future.

Let me ask…”

If you were a recruiting specialist you might say,

“_________ ? This is _________ calling from XYZ Recruiters. We help high tech companies find and keep IT professionals.

“_______I’m not sure of your current situation regarding your IT staffing but if I’ve caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you just a few quick question to see if we can make the process a little faster and a lot more hassle free.

Let me ask you…”

Suppose you are a medical rep, you could  say,

“Dr. ______? I’m ___________ with MNO Medical and we specialize in working with children who suffer for ADHD.

Obviously, Dr._____ at this stage, I’m not familiar with your approach to managing ADHD but if I have caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few quick questions and, if it makes sense, provide you with some information on a new delivery system that gives your patient greater flexibility in their daily dosing.

Let me ask you…”

Summary

The ultimate objective of an opening statement is not to sell or qualify the prospect. The primary goal  is to get the prospect to listen a little be longer; to hook them, so to speak. Apply these five and half  secrets and your listen rate WILL improve. And when listen rates increase, so do opportunities to sell.

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The Decline of Selling Acumen and What You Can Do to Fix it Fast!

Be brutally honest:  When was the last time you bought a book on selling?

I ask because over the past two-three years I have been asking sales reps and their managers that very same question.  The results of my unofficial but compelling survey are … well … shocking.

Survey Results

Here are the results.  Of the 516 reps asked, only a measly 13 have bought a book on selling.   Thirteen!  That’s it.  Only 2.5 %.

Of course, the survey is not scientific and it is not necessarily representative of sales people as a whole. At least, I hope not.  It is certainly not a controlled market research test.  At best, you might call it market ‘intelligence.’

Nevertheless … I wonder… I wonder if it might actually be representative.  And if it is, the implications could be staggering.   You can’t help but wonder if sales are suffering simply because the business acumen of sales people is not growing and developing.  If you’re a sales rep, sales manager or sales executives you should probably feel concerned.

Selling Chaos

Consider the current situation in the marketplace.  There’s little doubt that selling is getting tougher, more challenging and certainly more competitive.  Have you noticed that buyers are much more conservative and cautious thanks to the economic issues over the past few years? Meanwhile, decision makers have more options thanks to the fact that every sales rep in every industry is knocking on every door or calling every number. Sales cycles are longer as the multitudes of choices are evaluated.  Put another way, finding revenue dollars is not a walk in the park.

So, in the midst of all this selling chaos, you’d think there would sense of urgency about keeping current with the latest selling strategies and tactics.  But the ad hoc survey suggests otherwise.

Why Reps Don’t Read Books

And so I asked these reps and managers, why they don’t bother investing in books.

While some found books to be “passé”, the vast majority agreed that a good book on selling has value and would help improve their approach to selling or managing but essentially it boiled down to a handful of key issues:

–          Books take too long to read; don’t have the time

–          An entire book might not be relevant

–          Too many choices

–          Hard to determine which are applicable to specific needs

–          Uncertainty of value /quality

–          Expensive

In today’s hectic selling environment, there is probably a degree of legitimacy in these reasons but it doesn’t solve the problem of increasing sales acumen.

A Simple Solution

But I may have stumbled across a solid solution with company called getAbstract.  As their name implies, getAbstract, is a company that provides book summaries (abstracts, hence the name) on sales and marketing (as well as a number of other business area).  They condense every book into a nifty little  5- page summary that makes reading fast, easy, and affordable. You can read it on your computer or handheld device; you can print off a PDF if you like something tangible in your hand; and many of the books are offered in MP3 format.

But what this really means is that you can get a feel for the book and its’ relevance to you and your selling situation.  If it’s applicable you’ll discover what’s ‘hot’ in the marketplace, the trends that are impacting sales both strategic and tactical.  If it’s not applicable, you move on without having wasted time, effort or money.

Subscription based, getAbstract also provides a HUGE archive of past books that you can review and scan at your leisure.  Should you discover a book that strongly resonates with you or your sales team, buy it.  Sales executives can scan for high level sales strategy and philosophy; managers can  scan for information that can help them manage, coach and train; and sales reps can scan for ideas, tips and techniques. It’s a hell’uva resource for any sales organization.

Summary

Bottom line?  In today’s competitive, turbulent marketplace anyone involved in selling needs an edge.  A book summary is by no means the only thing an individual can do to develop their sales acumen but it’s a heck of a good start.   Committing 15-30 minutes every week on self-development creates personal accountability for sales success.

I highly recommend this company because it provides a much needed resource to sales organizations everywhere. Give getAbstract a shot.  Check them out.  Explore their information and take control of your sales destiny.  Click here for visit their site.

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The 2 Most Compelling Words in Tele-Selling and Tele-Prospecting

If you use the telephone to sell and/or prospect there are two words that you must use and apply continuously because they will ultimately increase your sales and leads.

The two words are actually contained in the sentence above.  Can you identify them?  Because if you can, you’ve caught the spirit of this article and telephone selling will be that much easier.

The 2 Words

Okay… here they are… the two words:  ‘you’ and ‘because’.  Let’s take a little closer look at them and figure out why they are important and how they can help you be more successful.

Word #1: You

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you?  You know how important the word ‘you’ is to a prospect.  But let’s look at it in depth.

When you use ‘you’ the conversation shifts radically by placing the focus on the prospect and their situation and their wants and needs … rather than making the call about you, your company, your product and your wants and needs. While this may seem self-evident it is often ignored in our rush to present our offer or product.

When your prospect/client senses (either consciously or subconsciously) that the call is about their specific situation, they tend to open up. They give you better information. They resist less and interact more.  Their objections tend to be legitimate rather than false.  The prospect or client senses you’re in THEIR corner.

How do you make the call about them?

First off, you need to think and plan your call prior to making it.  You need to proactively position what you want to say and how you say it.  It’s not terrible hard to do. It simply requires conscious effort.  For instance, when questioning you might ask:

  • “Kerri, can you tell me about your situation regarding…”
  •  “Mr. Corso, could you explain to me what happens when…”
  •  “When those shipments arrived late, how did that impact you…?”
  •  “Jesse, what have you done to solve these issues in the past…”
  •  “Ms. Londo, what do you feel is the most pressing issue regarding…”

Virtually any of these questions could have been asked without the word ‘you’.  Adding it gives a subtle emphasis.

When presenting your product or service solution, you can frame your presentation by doing the following:

  •  “Roy, you mentioned that one of the items concerning you the most was ..”
  • “Angie, you said earlier that one of your most frustrating concerns with the software is…”
  • “Aaron, one feature you might find beneficial is …”
  • “Ms. Reid, you explained that you wanted more productivity from your employees and that you wanted a cost effective solution, correct?

These phrases indicate to your prospect or client that you listened and understood. You’ve quickly and effectively personalized the situation so your solution becomes more meaningful and pertinent to your client.  At some level, this is conveyed to your client and makes them more receptive.

Word #2: Because

The second most compelling word is ‘because.”  ‘Because’ is one of the  most powerful words in selling because it almost magically creates legitimacy in what you claim. (Note: I used ‘because’ to support my claim).

This has been extremely well documented by Robert Cialdini (among others) in his book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion. His book details a social experiment testing the concept of using the word ‘because’ in getting people to take action.  (Just Google Cialdini and you’ll find the details).

When you make a claim about your product or service, prospects and clients almost instinctively want to know why or how.  Their minds are looking for some sort of rationale to support whatever it is you’re saying. Proof.  Evidence.  If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you know that citing a feature or a fact without some explanation (and benefit) is typically a waste of time.

Interestingly, Cialdini points out that even if the explanation that follows your ‘because’ is not particularly logical, it still has impact.  Why? Because we’ve been conditioned to accept that whatever follows a ‘because’ tends to have rational thought.  I know.  It doesn’t seem logical but it happens. Read Cialdini and you’ll learn more.

Like the word ‘you’, you need to consciously think about applying the word ‘because’.  You do this because it increases client acceptance and because it leads to better sales or increased leads.  (Gee, I am really illustrating the point, eh?)  For instance,

  • “Jim, because the coaching is behavioral based it get your reps to apply to the changes in selling and achieve the results you want…”
  • “The software tracks your e-mail without your prospect knowing it. This is important to users like you because…”
  • “The reason why we’ve positioned the program in this manner is because…”
  • Because the majority of your customers found the usage faster and easier, we made the following changes…”
Summary

Using ‘you’ and ‘because’ doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a sale or a lead right off the bat. You use them because they’re the little extras in selling that give you an edge.  It is something that your competitor might not be doing. You use them because they’re good ideas that are proven to work.  You use them because they’ll help you get into sales shape and generate more sales and leads.

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5 Steps on How to NOT Prolong the Agony of Cold Calling

I know that the sales reps I am coaching hate cold calling.

I know because they tell me at every opportunity.  They tell me about the worries, dreads and fears before they even pick up the phone and dial.

The REAL Problem with Cold Calling

This got me to thinking that the real problem with cold calling is not so much the cold calling itself but rather the thought of cold calling.

If you’re not a fan of cold calling you probably do what most callers do: you agonize about making the calls. You work yourself into a lathered frenzy and you delay the inevitable moment for as long as you can:

  • you check your e-mails,
  •  you read a short article in a newsletter,
  • you straighten your desk,
  • you check your e-mails again,
  •  you get your call guide out and ready
  • you decide a coffee is in order,
  • you need to make a fresh pot,
  • you chat with a colleague about some issue,
  •  you get back to your desk and resolve to pick up the phone
  •  but first you check your e-mail…
  • oh…look… something you can reply to.
  •  And so it goes.

Sound familiar?

You see what’s happening, right? You waste time, you spend energy, a sweat breaks out on your brow, and you fret.  In other words you prolong the agony. It wrecks your psyche and eats away at your resolve.  You sometimes –often?- don’t make your cold calls at all…

The Key is Momentum

But here’s the thing I have noticed when working with those who have to cold call.  Once you start dialing, once momentum is created, it’s not as bad as you thought it was.  Call it ‘resignation’ but you’ve surrendered to the moment the process of cold calling becomes more manageable than trying to manage the stress and worry of thinking about it.

And the best thing is, once you get it done, it’s over.  No more worries.  There is a fantastic sense of relief and accomplishment, isn’t there?

5 Steps to Avoid Prolonging the Agony

So the trick is avoid prolonging the agony and start making the calls before worry has a chance to take a firm hold of your resolve.  Here’s how to do it:

First, schedule your calling for the first thing in the morning. Get your cold calling done. Don’t let it hang over you like the sword of Damocles.   Make an appointment in your Outlook or other CRM. Put an alarm on it. Don’t be tempted with choices. Make the commitment. Schedule it for the entire week, like an exercise program.

Second, before you leave your office for the day, have your prospect list open on your computer (or on paper on your desk) ready to go.  If you can, put your computer into sleep mode so that you need only touch a button.  You don’t want to have to wait for the computer to warm up because that creates delay. Have at least 25 names prepared on a spreadsheet or whatever you use. You don’t want to be hunting around for names.

Third, have your call guide and job aids (or whatever you use) sitting in front of the computer ready to go.  Don’t bury them away so you have to search for them. Remember the agony that comes with prolonging the moment.

Fourth, when you arrive in the morning boldly go to your desk, sit down, touch the key to access your list, and boldly dial the first number on your list of 25.  Dive in.  Don’t chat with friends, don’t grab that coffee, and for heaven’s sake don’t check your e-mails. They’ll be there when you finish making your calls. Make that first dial.  You’ll be glad you did.

Fifth, go through your list of twenty five prospects.  Don’t stop at all until you’ve gone through the entire list.  At that point you can decide if you want or need to continue dialling, take a break or move on to something else.

The Relief

Regardless of what you do, you’ll have already done something! The heavy lifting has been started or has been completed. What a relief. Hallelujah! The rest of your day by comparison is a walk in the park.

Do you know what you’ve done here? You created momentum and spent your time and energy on getting the task done instead of fretting about it.  You’ll feel good. Real good.  And the added bonus is you’ll start picking up leads and sales here and there.

Don’t prolong the agony. Hunker down. Do it.

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The 3 Questions that Telephone Reps Should Ask at the End of Every Day

Do you sometimes finish your day and wonder what you accomplished, if anything?

You started off with great intentions to sell like crazy but somehow things got de-railed. You got side tracked here and there: e-mails galore; a lengthy proposal; troublesome client; a chatty friend; sales calls that got off kilter; a report that needed completion… and only a handful of client and prospect contacts. You know the drill.  Sales didn’t get done.

Hey, it’s okay: we all have days like that.

But don’t write if off either. Whether it’s a bad day – or even a good day- you can take it and learn from it. You can squeeze and extract something from every single day if you simply put seven minutes aside at the end of your work day and conduct a ‘debrief’ by asking yourself these three questions:

Question #1:  What happened today?

Take a moment and evaluate your day.  Look at what you accomplished.  What successes / victories did you have?  Bask in them for a few seconds.  Look at what you did not accomplish. Look at the stumbling blocks.  Determine what wasn’t so successful.

The answers to these questions provide perspective about your day. By assessing the highs and lows you are giving credence to your strengths and you’re acknowledging your weaknesses.  It provides a sense of balance that can help mitigate discouragement or despair.  It can also balance too much euphoria which can be equally dangerous.

Question #2:  What did I learn ?

Here’s a question I learned from a mentor a long time ago.  At the end of day ask yourself, ‘what did I learn from what happened today?’  This penetrating question gets you to drill deeper and learn the lessons of success and/or failure. Typically the answers are behavior related.  They tell you what you have to do or what you have to do more of.  Here are some quotes from reps I have worked with when I asked them what they learned about their day:

“I learned that cold calling at the end of day is not good for me. I’m tired and not at my best…”

“I realize that I should not check my e-mail so often because I get distracted…”

“I found out that spending less time socializing increased my contact rate… Kind of embarrassed by that…”

“ I learned that I did not spend enough time preparing my approach to the follow up call.”

“I learned that if I do the hard stuff first, the rest of the day isn’t so bad.”

“I worked on a lot of things but not the ‘right’ things!”

“I spend too much time and effort on composing e-mails.”

“I should have asked my manager for help on this quote a lot sooner…”

“I learned that I spent too much time pitching and not enough time questioning and listening”

“I think I learned that I focus too much on getting things perfect.’”

Question #3:  What needs communicating?

This is a new question I have added to the end of the day de-brief.  I got this from Peter Bregman’s book “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done,” and I love it.

Bregman suggests taking a few moments to think of whom you interacted with that day? Customers, vendors, prospects, co-workers, other departments?  Is there anyone you should update? What about thank? Get clarification? Ask a question? Acknowledge?

This is a brilliant and powerful question. It forces you to think about people and events in the day, and you can use it to  help you grow and develop relationships. It can create value. It can position  and brand you.  It can make you more efficient and effective.  It gives you an edge. It shows appreciation; courtesy; thoughtfulness.  Its gets you to do those little extras that most sales reps don’t do.

Implementation

You should de-brief yourself at your desk before you leave.  Don’t do it on the commute home. Do it in your work environment in case you need to take care of something (see Question #3).

You could de-brief with a co-worker.  This works well because it forces you to verbally articulate the answers and in an odd way, it holds you more accountable.

You could de-brief with your boss if he/she has time every day.  Mind you, that’s not always practical

Why 7 Minutes?

Seven minutes is an unusual time so you tend to remember it.  Take five of those minutes to reflect on the questions.  Take the last two minutes to communicate to those who matter (if required).  Send an e-mail or text.  Write a thank you card.  Go over to someone’s desk to say thank you or whatever.

Summary

Get into this simple routine. It gets you THINKING.  It’s not only effective, it’s fun.  You’ll actually enjoy the process because you’ll have a greater sense of what you must do or must do more of.  It puts you in the driver’s seat.  It eliminates victimization.  It gives your focus and direction so that the next day is a little bit better.

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The 3 Secrets to Tele-Sales Success

Ever wonder why some tele-sales reps (any type of sales rep, for that matter) are more successful than others?

Scratch the surface and you’ll find that they all seem to apply these three simple secrets:

  1. They find a system
  2. They implement it immediately
  3. They stick to it

You CAN be as successful as you want by following these three secrets.  I can’t take credit for them.  I got them from Bob Burg years ago in an amazing little pamphlet he sent me called, “The Success Formula.”   They’re simple but powerful principles that literally can change your life.

Secret #1:  Find a system

Look, it’s this simple:  being successful in tele-sales has been accomplished by others before you.  They’ve done the heavy lifting. They’ve tested techniques, methods and processes. They’ve failed. They’ve tried again.  And eventually, they got it down pat. They found the “formula.”

The first secret is to discover what they did and simply follow it.  Replicate their system (with obvious customization to your situation).  A system is a repeatable series of actions.  It means they can be copied, implemented and mastered. Burg sums it up by referencing Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth,”

 “Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results predictably.  However, without a system, even extraordinary people find it difficult to predictably achieve even ordinary results.” 

Okay … so what does that mean to you?

It means doing some homework. Seek out those who are very successful. Bob calls this O.P.E. – Other People’s Experience.  Maybe it’s the top rep in your company.  Perhaps it’s someone you know who is successful in a field similar to yours.  Find a coach or mentor you respect and pick their brain.  Scan the web.  Look for authorities.  Read their stuff.  Find out precisely what they do. If it resonates with you then model it.  Duplicate what they do. Hijack the process. Don’t re-invent the wheel. I sure as heck don’t.

Secret #2: Implement it immediately

When you’ve found your ‘system’ take action; apply it immediately.  Avoid the tendency to ‘wait for the right moment.’  Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait until next week or the start of the new sales month or quarter. You know you’ll never do it. Dive in. Hunker down.

Why is it that we tend to delay implementing new ideas?

Basically there are three reasons. First, there’s the fear we’ll fail or look silly or be rejected or whatever.  Second, there’s the issue of time. It takes time to master; time that we think we don’t have or can’t afford.  Third, there’s the ‘change factor.’  We resist change because change is awkward and uncomfortable.  Our natural tendency is to avoid it.

I get all that.  I feel these things myself.  But at the end of the day ask yourself, “Do I want to improve (be more successful) or not?”

Hey, if you’re happy with where you are and what you are achieving then don’t DO anything.  But don’t complain either.  But if you want to further succeed then the price you pay is facing your fear, finding the time and dealing with the discomfort of change.

Secret #3: Stick to it

Think of diets.  Follow the diet and you will inevitably lose weight. Admittedly, it can be tough but when you DO follow it, pounds fall off.  And of course, the moment you stray from the ‘system’ of the diet is the moment you fall back into old habits and regain the weight.

The same is true with your tele-sales success formula.  You need to stick to it; persevere; carry on; stick to it. Sure you’ll stumble and fall.  Just get back up. Start again. Build your discipline. You WILL get stronger.  And you WILL succeed.

Here’s the single biggest challenge you’ll face: quitting. Quitting is just so dang easy to do (go here http://www.telesalesmaster.com/1375/motivation/ for more on this topic).  You need to fight that.  That’s why desire and drive are so important.  You have to WANT to succeed if you’re going to succeed.  Lip service ain’t going to cut it.

Summary

There you have it. In less than 700 words I have given the formula to becoming more successful in tele-sales.  It’s so incredibly simple, isn’t it? But it’s not fluff or hype. It works.  It really, really works.  Start your success journey today.

And be sure to visit Bob Burg’s website at www.thesuccessformula.com 

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What Would Happen if You Knew Your Prospect Was Reading Your E-Mail?

Every now and then I stumble across a superb new product or innovation.  This is one of them and it has the potential to radically change the way tele-sales people do business.  If you use e-mail in your selling process then read this now!

Okay …The problem with prospecting e-mails is that salespeople have no clue what happens to their messages after clicking the “send” button.

There is an information void because you don’t know if someone has read your e-mail or, more important, has any interest in it. For salespeople, this creates “prospect paralysis” because they don’t know whether to follow up and, if so, when and how.

The Solution

But suppose you knew.  Suppose you knew the moment the prospect got your e-mail and opened it.  How would that impact your approach to following up and selling?

Well you can do that now with a cost effective software program called Contact Monkey.    It’s a new and nifty e-mail tracking service for Outlook and Gmail that tells you in real-time if, when, how many times and where a message is opened, as well as what device or browser was used.

Think about this now: Armed with this knowledge, a salesperson has valuable and actionable insight to make better and more informed selling decisions so they can focus on the most promising prospects and opportunities.

The idea for ContactMonkey emerged when Scott Pielsticker, a serial entrepreneur, was frustrated with not knowing if his sales pitches were getting read or were resonating. To solve this problem, ContactMonkey’s developers created the software, which was recently launched.

How it Works

Here’s an example to illustrate how ContactMonkey works.  Suppose you send a proposal to a prospect. After the e-mail has been sent, you will be able tell if and when the e-mail has been opened. There’s a couple of benefits to you:

  1.  The more the message is opened, the more interest someone likely has in the proposal.  It suggests a certain degree of interest; a warm lead perhaps.
  2. Second, and more significantly, because you get real time notification that the e-mail has been opened you can pick up the phone and make your follow up call.  In other words, you increase the odds of reaching the prospect. The more your contact rate increases, the more your opportunities to sell.

What this really means is you’ll be spending more time in conversations and selling, and less time in dialing and leaving messages or making fruitless follow up calls.

But, says Pielsticker, there’s even more insight that can be gleaned. Another feature within ContactMonkey is knowing if a message was opened on a mobile device, within the Chrome browser or Outlook. If an -email is originally opened on an iPhone, and then opened on Chrome or Outlook, it could mean the proposal generated solid interest.

The same approach works for location. An e-mail opened by recipients in Toronto, Boston and London is another indication of good interest.

For you, this information makes it easier to focus on better prospects interested in their email, while you can quickly ignore prospects who paid little or no attention to the e-mail. In other words, it points you in the right direction.  You’re using your time better and smarter!

For “warm leads”, you can figure out the best time to follow up. If there’s a lot of interest in a message in a short period of time, you can strike while the iron is hot — knowing that they will likely get a good reception.

Finally, a very handy feature is that the recipient of your e-mail does NOT get a ‘read receipt’ request.  Your prospect or customer is unaware of the notification.

I’ve been using it for about 5 weeks.  I don’t get notifications on all my e-mail deliveries; there are still some restrictions. But so far, I get notified on about half the e-mails I send.  I’ll take that.  And because it is open on my Outlook I don’t have to log in and determine if the e-mail was received and opened.  It just pops up and that’s when I turn to the phone to make the call.

A Bargain

Here’s the neat thing: ContactMonkey  only costs $4.99/month or $49.99/year. It currently works with Gmail for Chrome and Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010.

For people who want to get more out of their email, ContactMonkey offers an attractive return on investment. Hey, if you close one deal, it would more than pay for an annual subscription.  Test it out!  Try it.  If it doesn’t work for you, fine.  Your investment was minimal.  But I’d bet you dollars to donuts it’ll make a difference to your contact rate.

Go here for more information.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #12: Sell Like a Champion Today

This is the final (12th)  in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and achieving sales success.

Tip #12:  Sell Like A Champion Today

The Notre Dame University football team (the Fighting Irish) have a large sign posted above the doorway as they exit their dressing room onto the field.  It’s been there for years and it says, ‘Play Like a Champion Today.’  When the players leave the locker room they reach up and touch the sign to remind themselves of the spirit of the message.

Apart from all the folklore and legend behind the Irish and that little sign, the real message to the players is to play and act like a winner (champion) …despite the odds…despite what others may think…despite the record… despite adversity.

It’s a powerful thought or attitude and one that can easily apply to selling and to your sales destiny: Sell like a Champion Today.

Act Like A Winner

In other words, go out there and act like a winner (Champion) despite the odds…despite what others might think … despite your (sales) record … despite adversity.

What does this mean in day-to-day terms?  It means when you walk in the office, behave and look like a champion sales rep.  Avoid the sad sack, whoa-is-me bedraggled look of someone who is lagging behind.  Don’t drag yourself to your desk and plunk yourself down in self-defeat.  Others around see it.  Your boss sees it.  But more important your inner self sees it … and responds to it.  It senses defeat and acts accordingly.

Act like a winner, a champion.  Walk a bit quicker; with purpose.  Hold your shoulders higher.  Be conscious of your facial expressions at your desk, at meetings, at lunch … anywhere!  Think about what you say and how you say it.  Don’t be a whiner (See Tip # 1) and avoid the Dementors (See Tip # 3)

When you lose a sale don’t beat yourself up. If someone scores on the Irish, they don’t give up.  What would a champion do?  He or she would say “…okay, what am I going to do about it?” (See Tip # 2)

And sometimes it’s tough.  Sometimes holding your head high is a real battle when all you really want to do is collapse. Choose to fight it. More significantly, choose to look and behave like a champion.

Action Items

Action #1:  Create a little poster with the words “Sell Like a Champion Today.”  Post it to remind you of that attitude.

Action #2:  Before you walk in the office, put your ‘game face’ (‘selling face?’)  on and keep it on. Don’t let people see you sweat.  In other words, be conscious of your behavior: your words, actions, body language.

Summary

Controlling your sales destiny is a matter of attitude and choice.  With the right attitude you can choose to succeed.

BTW, on January 7, 2013 Notre Dame plays Alabama for the National Championship. Win or lose, you can bet the Irish will play like champions.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #11: Find a Coach, Conscience and Cheerleader

This is the eleventh in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and achieving sales success.

Tip #11:  Find a Coach, Conscience and Cheerleader

There seems to be a tendency in sales people to ‘go-it-alone.’  Maybe it’s because we’re adults and we feel we should be able to work on our own and be independent that we resist coaching and help from others.  Maybe we feel ‘inadequate’ if we ask for help or guidance.  Maybe we fear embarrassment.  Maybe we worry about admonishments. Or perhaps we are just shy.

Whatever the case, get over it!

Reach out. Find someone who can lend perspective, sharpen your game, improve your skills, and give you an edge; someone you respect and someone who will HELP you grow professionally; someone who is honest and forthright; who doesn’t have an ‘agenda’ other than to help you succeed. It could be:

  • A manager
  • A sports coach
  • A consultant
  • An advisor
  • A role model
  • A friend
  • A parent
  • A partner

You’ll be in Good Company

Think of it: superstar athletes have coaches.  Aaron Rogers, Serena and Venus Williams, Tiger Woods, Justin Verlander, Sydney Crosby, and every Olympic athlete under the sun have coaches.  They have them because coaches make them better, provide objectivity, and ultimately hold them accountable.

Here’s the big thing: they’ll often act as your conscience: remind you of things, push you a little, admonish here and there, get you to do the things you might like to do.

Oh ya, they’ll do another thing:   they’ll also cheer for you and praise you. They’ll help build you up.  High five you.

Actions

Here are a few actions to get you started

  1. Make a list of people who can act as your coach, conscience and cheerleader.  Typically, it is your boss because they can work with you, real-time, on the job. (But not all bosses want to coach or cheerleader so you might have to go elsewhere).  Incidentally, you can have more than one coach. Different coaches can help you on different elements of your sales game: skills, attitude, knowledge etc.
  2. Formally approach your would-be conscience/coach/ cheerleader and explain what you want them to do.  Depending on your needs, their role will vary.
  3. Commit to listening.  Hey…sometimes you won’t like what you hear. Don’t defend yourself or your action.  Just listen to what they have to say.  They’re in your corner.  For you to control your sales destiny you need to have someone who points out what you might not see.
  4. Implement what you learn.  This is where the rubber hits the road.  Your coach will provide you with direction but it’s up to you to take the steps.

Don’t go it alone.  If you’re truly interested in succeeding in sales, find people who will help.  Take control of your sales destiny!

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #10: A Propensity for Action

This is the tenth in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and achieving sales success.

Tip #10: Propensity for Action

Perhaps the single biggest issue that sales reps face when it comes to controlling their sales destiny is the failure to ‘execute’ or execute consistently.

Put another way, they fail to consistently take effective action on those tasks and activities that have the most significant impact on their sales. Or put yet another way, they have the tendency to procrastinate on key priorities.  For instance, active and ongoing tele-prospecting (business development, cold calling …whatever you want to label it) is often a task that is delayed or whittled because it is not always pleasant.  Yet we all know how important and vital it is to success.

So, here’s the moment of truth: are you guilty? Some of the time? Often?

The Thick of Thin Things

You see the problem is it gets easy to get caught up in the thick of thin things.  It gets easy to clear up our e-mails instead of picking up the phone and calling a prospect.  It is so much more rewarding to surf the net to do ‘research’ on a prospect rather than call that prospect.  You know precisely what I mean, don’t you?

Not surprisingly, 80% of your success in sales will come from about 20% of all your daily activities.  At the top of the list are actions like: cold calling, following up on leads, actively up selling and cross selling, developing relationships and selling to existing clients, gathering referrals and a few others.

Successful reps – the top of the heap reps- have a propensity for action. They do it! They clearly know their priorities and they make the habit of acting on them.  They know that if they act on these important activities and do nothing else, then they’ll succeed.  In fact, an average sales person who has clearly established his/her sales priorities and who gets important tasks done that relate to those priorities will run rings around everyone else.  The point is: you don’t have to be a genius if you act and act wisely.

Actions

Do you have a propensity for action? Here are four actions to get you going:

Action #1:  Identify the top 3-5 priorities in your selling day.  These are those important, sales building and sales sustaining activities that will produce consistent sales results. (e.g., prospecting … I know…you’ve heard it before). Do it right now!

Action #2:  Commit to those priorities by scheduling precisely when you’ll do them.  Block out chunks of time.  Tip: the action that you dislike the most should be done first.  Get it over with. Schedule these activities for the next four weeks. Put them in your Outlook or CRM or whatever you use.  Just do it.  Like, now.

Action #3:  Discipline yourself to follow your plan.  Resist the urge to do something less important or trivial.  CHOOSE.

Action #4: Pause and think. Throughout the day ask yourself, “is what I am working on truly contributing to my sales destiny?” If not, consider what you should be doing.

Summary

Remember this: propensity for action doesn’t mean scurrying about looking busy.  Looking busy doesn’t buy you diddly squat.  It means definitive action of those items that are significant and important.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #9: Get Organized, please!

This is the ninth in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and achieving sales success.

Tip #9: Get Organized

This is an important but often uncomfortable topic.  Very important because it directly impacts your success – or lack thereof- in sales.  Uncomfortable because most almost everyone is guilty of poor time management and would rather avoid the topic.

The fact of the matter is most people – including tele-sales reps like you and me- are not well organized and we’ve gotta’ come to grips with it if we’re to move to the next level.

So let me ask, does this seem all too familiar?

  • a cluttered desk,
  • scads of paper, notes and files scattered around your work station
  • constant multi-tasking on three, four or five items
  • brochures, price lists, bulletins and memos strewn about
  • quotes waiting to be completed
  • behind on dials,
  • ten applications open on your browser,
  • frantic last minute proposals being worked upon
  • late follow up calls
  • checking out Facebook updates
  • behind on prospecting and new business development … you’ll do that tomorrow, right?
  • lost phone numbers – again
  •  incomplete thank you cards to clients who bought a month ago,
  •  month end sales deadline (drop everything)
  • checking your e-mails every 8 minutes
  • texting friends and family
  • fire-fighting with shipping, billing etc. … gasp…
  • fiddling with your cell phone

The Net Impact

The net effect of such chaos is psychological (and physiological) stress that takes its’ toll on your sales success. At some level, it whittles away your energy, drive, focus, and motivation.  Put another way, you’re not nearly as effective as you could be or should be … and that affects your sales, your revenues, your personal income, your personal life … your sales destiny and more.

So What Are You going to Do About it? (See Tip #2)

Being organized, managing your time, setting your priorities, working on the right ‘stuff’ at the ‘right’ time etc. is not something most people are born with.  It is something they learn.  If you struggle with some (or all) of these traits, own up to it and  then DO SOMETHING!  Here’s a couple of ideas to get the ball rolling:

Action Item #1:  Tonight, stay late and thoroughly clean your desk and work areas.  Ruthlessly purge the clutter.  File things properly and neatly.  Scrub – literally – your desk clean. Organize your pens and pencils.  Get rid of those boxes of crackers, bags of chips, chocolate bars and old cups of coffee.  Why do this?  First, it’s a symbolic start at taking control of things.  Second, it gives you an immediate sense of accomplishment.  And third, when you arrive tomorrow you have a fresh clean environment and this, by itself, gives you a sense of clarity and purpose.  It works.

Action Item #2:  This evening, at home, take twenty minutes, get on line and Google “time management” and “getting organized.” Read a few articles on taking control.  Just twenty minutes – that all. Then go to Amazon and look at time management/organization books.  Do some research and then invest in yourself by buying a book or two. (Refer to Tip #7)

Summary

Here’s the thing, taking control of your sales destiny by controlling your time and activities is EMPOWERING.  Once you learn how to do it, you’ll be filled with amazing self-confidence.  You experience a “I-can-do-anything” kind of energy. Really, you will.  But not only does it help you in your sales career, it helps you in your life.

 

 

 

 

 

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #8: Set Goals and Keep Score

This is the eighth in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and achieving sales success.

Tip #8: Set Goals and Keep Scores

Do I really have to tell you to set sales goals?  Everyone knows that goals are destinations and without them sales reps are not certain precisely where they are going, how they are going to get there, and when.

Goals drive us.  They give us focus.  In some cases, the goals are dropped in our laps while in others we establish them ourselves. It doesn’t matter. You need them.  You know this deep inside so let’s not belabor the point.

…Except to say that goals simply don’t relate to revenues.  Your goals can relate to those actions and activities that contribute to that revenue goal.  In tele-sales it includes things like live connects, leads and conversions to sales.  Suppose you have a goal of 5 new contacts a day. You dial until you reach that many … and more, if you’re so inclined.  Identify the key activities and establish goals.

Keeping Score

But what you also need to do is keep score.  Keeping score is gauging where you are relative to those goals and where you should be.   A simple example: you need to generate $1.2 million in revenues.  Over twelve months that’s $100K/month.  On a weekly basis that’s $25K.  If, after three weeks you’re plugging along at $15 it tells you you’re behind in the ‘game.’

You see, the score alerts you.  It tells you of the variation.  It reminds you to act. It creates instant accountability. That’s when you go back to Tip #2 and ask yourself the big question:  “What are you going to do about it?” because it is your responsibility! If 5 live contacts aren’t cutting it, make it seven or eight.  Do what you need to do.

It’s that simple.

Action Plans

  1. Determine your revenue goals for 2013 either on your own or with the help of your boss.
  2. Divide those goals into quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily targets, if you like.
  3. Purchase a little dry erase board and post the goals you’ve set for the day or week.  List your sales revenues on the board as you achieve them.  You’ll get a sense of accomplishment.

Goals and keeping score is nothing new.  But it’s vital if you want to control your sales destiny.  Do it.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #7: Get Some Skin in the Game

This is the seventh in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and achieving sales success.

Tip #7: Get Some Skin in the Game

“Get some skin in the game” is an old expression that you don’t hear that often.  It means invest some of your own money in a venture or task or assignment.  In the case of this post, it means investing some of your own hard-earned cash on your sales education and development.

Here are some examples:

  • Buy a book on selling (or time management or goal setting or anything that will help you improve and succeed.)
  • Purchase some CDs or DVDs.
  • Pay for a download for a sales site or subscribe to a paid newsletter.
  • Fork out a few bucks to attend a workshop or tele-seminar.
  • Invest in a coach.
  • Do something, anything … that can help improve your skill or knowledge.

Two Important things:  First, don’t expect your company to do all the heavy lifting.  Don’t expect them to invest in training for you at the drop of a hat.  If you need training, invest in yourself.  Second, and perhaps more significantly, when YOU risk YOUR money, you are more apt to want an ROI.  Typically you feel compelled to read that book or listen to that MP3 or try a new technique. You pay closer attention.   You try a little harder.

(Hey, here’s an idea: suppose you see a workshop with a larger than usual price tag.  Approach your boss and say, “Hey boss, I’ll pay for half if you pay for half.” )

Skin in the game also applies to time.  Invest the time to learn.  Schedule it. Stick to it. It’s the difference between good intention and implementation.

Action Items

Action #1:  Create a learning budget.  Put twenty bucks aside every week or every two weeks.  That’s $40 – $80 per month to spend on knowledge based items.  That’s a lot cheaper than college or university but it’s just as significant.

Action #2: Read, listen or use what you’ve bought.  Sometimes it gets easy to fork out the investment and then put it aside.  Budget 30 minutes a day to read, listen and use.

Action #3:  Try the techniques right away. Don’t wait till ‘next Monday.’  Try it right away.  And then give it a fighting chance and apply the skill or techniques twenty or thirty times.  That will help you develop a degree of mastery.

Summary

It’s up to you to shape your sales destiny.  If you invest in yourself, you are investing in your own personal development, growth and success.  Makes cents, eh?! (Forgive the clever little pun … it should be ‘sense.’)

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #6: Work Smarter

This is the sixth in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and  achieving sales success.

Tip #6: Work Smarter

As much as working harder (Tip #5) is a good idea, I have seen hard workers fail.  Working hard can translate into flailing about and working hard on the wrong things.  Temper working harder with working smarter.  Working smarter means doing the right things to help you achieve your sales destiny.  Here are three action items you can implement.

Action #1: Implement these Smart Tip Ideas

  • Actively cross sell – find appropriate products and mention them to clients and prospects to increase the average value of a sale
  • Actively up sell – where appropriate, increase the value of the sale by up selling on quantity or recommending an upgrade on the quality of a product
  • Actively ask for referrals – please do this! You’ll sell more at a higher rate in less time.
  • Actively attempt to reactivate inactive accounts – it’s usually easier and faster than cold calling
  • Send thank you cards to existing clients
  • Call clients earlier in the morning when the odds of reaching them are greater

Action #2: Get Back to Basics

Over time, even the very best of sales reps experiences the ‘whittle effect.’  This is the tendency to cut, trim and slices away standards skills and techniques.  For example, your consultative opening statements get whittled to a quick 18-second pitch, or you begin to cut back on your qualifying questions until they no longer exist, or you stop asking for the sale and assume the prospect will say yes.

Vince Lombardi, the famous Green Bay Packer coach, used to begin training season practice sessions by raising a football in his hands and say, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”  He used this to get back basics: tackling and blocking.  He did this because he knew how easy it was to cut corners.

Review you skills and techniques.  Record and listen to your calls. Ask your manager to review your approach. Determine if you’ve whittled anything away.  Fix it.

Action #3: Learn More

Over the last couple of years I have been surveying telephone reps and asking them how many had bought a book on selling.  To date, of the 486 reps surveyed, 9 have purchased a book on selling. There’s no typo here.  Nine. That’s less than 2%. And while the majority of those asked said they did subscribe to selling e-newsletters less than 15% said they actually read them.

How can you control your sales destiny if you do not develop and nurture your selling mind?  A third (more or less) of your day is spent selling.  Should you not devote a little time to developing that which will make you more successful, more effective?

(Obviously, if you are reading this, you are one of the few who take your sales destiny seriously. Congratulations)

Summary

Start working smarter.  It’s not that hard to do and it pays dividends to your sales, your income and your career

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #5: Quit Less, Persist More

This is the fifth in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and  achieving sales success.

Tip #5: Quit Less, Persist More

I know that you – the reader- are not a quitter.  I know that you keep plugging away making your prospecting calls on a regular and continuous basis. I know that you do all the things you have to do to be successful even when you don’t want to do them, right?

But there ARE those that quit and that quit too easily and that’s why they’ve lost control of their sales destiny.  There are five reasons why they quit doing the tough stuff.  First, quitting is easy.  Take cold calling, for example.  All you have to do is stop dialing.  No big deal.  Nothing complex.  You stop.  Easy as pie.

Second, let’s face it, quitting is rewarding.  Let’s continue with the cold calling example.  When you quit cold calling you are rewarded because there’s no more monotony, there’s no more rejection, all your frustration vanishes into thin air.

Third, when you quit something there usually isn’t an immediate consequence.  When you quit cold calling even though you haven’t reached your objective, nothing catastrophic occurs.   The net effect of quitting is not readily apparent.  It only shows up some where down the line when your sales pipeline is empty.

Fourth, taking action means change.  You have to change your routine to take control of your sales destiny. Change is sometimes frustrating; downright hard at times.  So we quit rather than change.

Finally, people quit because they don’t know how to take decisive action.

Action Items

Not quitting is sometimes tough. Not quitting means having faith in your strategy (such as having faith that cold calling will yield results).  Not quitting means having discipline.  Easy to say, not always easy to do.

Action #1: Think about (visualize, if you will) the consequences of quitting a particular sales task or activity.   Think of all the ugly, uncomfortable things that could happen on the job, with your boss, and with your career.  Scare yourself.  Understand the worst case scenario.

Action #2: Do the thing you dislike most first.  Let’s stay with cold calling as an example. If you don’t like it, do it first thing in the morning.  That way it doesn’t hang over your head like the Sword of Damocles for the entire day.  (Quick: does anyone even know who Damocles was?)

Action #3:  Do the thing you dislike most well. If you’re going to cold call, do it right or don’t do it at all. Doing it and doing it poorly is the same thing as quitting.  Don’t kid yourself otherwise.

Summary

Persistence at tough tasks pays dividends.  Over time it makes you stronger and better. Quit less. Persist more.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #4: Apply Elbow Grease

This is the fourth in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and getting you on your way to achieving sales success.

Tip #4: Apply Elbow Grease

Sometimes all you need to control your sales destiny is a little elbow grease.

Elbow grease means work harder.  Do a little more. Push a little harder.  Extras.  Sweat a bit. Grunt work. The old college try and all that good stuff. Nothing horribly complex.  A simple tactic that can pay big dividends.

Sometimes we think we are working harder but maybe we’re not.  Here’s a test: do you regularly get into work twenty or thirty minutes before starting time?  Do you stay after quitting time? Do you sometimes work through lunch? Do you take work home at night to clear up a few things?

What often happens is our work ethic erodes and we don’t see it.  Sometimes we get complacent.  At other times we get down-and-out lazy.  (I know I do every now and then).  And when that happens productivity takes a hit.

Elbow Grease Action Items

We all know what hard work is.  It’s nothing dramatic. It’s just nose to the grindstone. Here are two action items that are easy enough to implement and manage.

Action #1: Apply the 15-15-15 Principle.  This means arrive 15 minutes earlier and start making cold calls.  Take 15 minutes less at lunch and make some calls. Stay 15 minutes later in the day.  You’ve just uncovered 45 minutes of extra selling time per day. That translates to 225 minutes a week or a little less than 4 hours more a week.  That’s 16 hours in a month or put another way, 2 full days.

Action #2: Do work at home. Just 30 minutes.  Write thank you cards.  Compose e-mails.  Stuff envelopes. Read a sales newsletter.  Visit and research the websites of your prospects.  Check out Linked in profiles.  Do all this from the cozy comfort of your home.

Elbow grease increases your odds of success by giving you more opportunities.  It’s like increasing your time at the gym, you’ll get stronger faster.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #3: Avoid Dementors

This is the third in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and  achieving sales success.

Tip #3: Avoid Dementors

In the fantasy world of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling there is a creature called a “Dementor” which is a frightening, ghost-like being that roams around and sucks the souls out of their victims leaving them listless, hollow and almost lifeless.

In the real life world of selling  there is an equivalent creature.  A “Sales Dementor” is typically an insidious co-worker who is capable of sucking the selling life out of virtually any sales rep with their constant complaining and bitter observations.  They find (or make up) fault and flaws in your product. They point out the “gross” inadequacies of your boss and/or the company (whether they exist or not). They loudly report how much better your competitors are.  You know the people I am talking about, right? They’re those gloomy critics who manage to find the bad in just about everything. They’re like whiners who have crossed the line to the Dark Side.

Sales Dementors create a toxic environment with their relentless negativity.  They’re destructive. The more you hang around them, the more likely it is to affect you. They poison your mind and deplete your spirit. They slowly drain the energy out of your selling effort.  At some point you begin to rationalize poor performance:  “You see, it’s not just me struggling, it’s other too.”  This creates a group mentality of  despair and self-pity.  You feed off each others discouragement.  You stop taking action.  You stop ‘doing.’  You become a victim.  And one day you wake up with nothing but a sense of bitterness … and no sales.

A bit dramatic? Perhaps. But you must avoid Dementors if you’re going to control your sales destiny and achieve success.  Dementors drag others down with them.

Action Steps

  1. Simply choose to stop hanging out with Dementors. Walk away. Get back to work. Don’t indulge them by listening.
  2. Choose not to contribute to the pity party (see Tip #1).  Don’t heap your complaints onto the fire otherwise you can become one of those dreaded Dementors.
  3. Take a stand.  If the Dementor whines about the list(or whatever), simply say, “Gee, mine seems to be okay.” You don’t have to belabor the point. You don’t have to defend it.  You just have to say it.  Saying it tells everyone where you stand. Then continue working. Taking this stand makes you a winner. Positive people will gravitate your way. You become an ‘anti-Dementor.’
  4. Find other winners and hang out with them.  Winners take positive steps. They share good thoughts. They point you in the right direction.  They make you feel good. Everything is possible with them.  That’s where you want to be.

Summary

Create a positive selling environment and get your sales on track. Start by avoiding those negative destructive people; not just fellow reps but ANYONE who pull you down.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #2: Take Personal Responsibility

This is the second in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and getting you on your way to achieving sales success.

Tip #2: Take Personal Responsibility

Get this: no one – absolutely no one – is responsible for your well-being and success but YOU!

Not your company. Not your boss.  Not the marketing department. Not your parents.

You.

The precise moment that you accept this reality is the precise moment you will have taken full control of your sales destiny.  You’ll find it liberating and intoxicating.  Once you realize that no one really gives a fig about your sales destiny you’ll start to take action; you’ll start DOING.  And given that you’ve stopped whining (See: Tip #1) you’ll have more time to take proactive and reactive action.

2 Actions You Can Take Now

The first action you can take is creating an imaginary company called YOU INC.  (Or call it “Mark Inc.” or “Sherri Inc.” or “Donna Inc.” or “Brian Inc.”) What this means is that you begin to see yourself as an independent businessperson, not a sales rep or an employee.  Start behaving like your job was YOUR company.  Ask yourself, “If this was my company would I work nine to five? Would I saunter in five or ten minutes late every day? Would I spend a good portion of my day complaining or goofing off?”  I doubt it.

The second action you can take is to create a poster that says this:

So, What Are YOU Going to do About it?

Make it big or small, fancy or plain but whatever you do, post it somewhere visible (maybe next to your Whiner Resignation Form?).  When things get tough look at your poster.  Remind yourself who’s ultimately responsible.

If your sales are down, ask yourself ‘what am I going to do about?’ Work smarter? Work harder? Get coaching? Get organized? Cross sell? Up sell? In each of these cases, you’re thinking about solutions rather than ‘whoa is me.’

If your prospect list is lousy, ask yourself, ‘what am I going to do about it?’ Ask for more referrals? Reactivate inactive accounts? Get on the internet and find a new list?  Start doing! It’s your responsibility.

One Concession

Hey … I know things in sales sometimes get overwhelming and discouraging.  So here’s the one concession I will make.  If it really gets tough, allow yourself 10 minutes of self-pity and misery.  Gnash your teeth. Scream to the sky.  Pull your hair out.  Look desperate and beleaguered.  At the end of 10 minutes, stop the self pity and ask yourself, “So, what am I going to do about it?” Analyze your options. Build a plan.

This is a POWERFUL, POWERFUL tip.  Apply it.  Victimization will end. You will be back in control.  There’s still work to be done but the panic is gone, the rebuilding and re-focusing has started.  Think YOU Inc. and think personal accountability and responsibility. Your sales destiny is on the right track.

And keep your eye out for Tip #3.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #1: Stop Lamenting

 

This is a first in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and getting you on your way to achieving sales success.

Tip #1: Stop Lamenting

I have grown weary of listening to the reps about the lousy economy, about poor lists, about useless managers, high prices, crumby marketing and poor products,  etc.  I am tired of the finger pointing and excuses.  It’s so destructive and well… boring.

Look, if you want to be successful in sales or if you need to break out of a slump, the very first thing you MUST do is stop the lamenting. Stop whining. Stop moaning.  Stop the self-pity.  Right now.

The Cost of a Lament

Lamenting is costly and selfish.  When you verbally complain about all the reasons why you’re not selling more you waste precious time and energy that you could have used for selling.  When you bemoan your lack of success, you heap more onto the fire of despair, and at some point your will to succeed falters.  It begins to eat away at your attitude and motivation.  When you bellyache you annoy many others around you who just want to hunker down and get to work and be successful (and guess what? They DON’T care about your state of affairs).   And finally – and maybe worst of all- when you gripe you’ll  infect others around you with your poison and a drag them down.   They don’t need that.

Lamenting is a way of releasing pent up frustration.  I get that.  It sometimes acts as a safety value when the pressure gets too high.  The only trouble is it grows and grows until it becomes a habit. It becomes easier to complain instead of act.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now

First, make a choice.  You need to choose NOT to lament.  That means stop the verbal complaining and whining.  Right now. This very second.  Choose to keep your mouth shut.  Just say no.

Second, print the declaration below and sign it.  I know, it looks and sounds silly. Doesn’t matter.  Do it anyway.  It’s kind of fun and very symbolic of your new attitude towards success.  Here it is.

Official Lament Resignation Declaration

 I _______________________ on this date of _______________ do hereby officially resign from the lamenting, whining, complaining, moaning and groaning.  I acknowledge that lamenting does not improve things and in fact, makes them worse.  I recognize that others find lamenting destructive.  I am declaring to myself and those around me that I don’t want to be negative anymore.  Instead of moaning I’ll take actions to control my sales destiny.

 

Signed ________________________

 

Third, post it at your desk. Publicly declare your intention.  Tell yourself – and everyone around you- that you’re through with moaning and groaning; that you won’t play that game again.  Silly as it may sound you will inspire yourself and others!

The precise moment that you take these 3 simple steps is the precise moment that you have established control of your success and your destiny in sales.

Well done!  Look for Tip #2.

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Voice Mail/E-Mail – What to Say and What to Write (Part 2 of 2)

If you want to increase the response rate from prospects then you need to integrate and harmonize e-mails with your voice mail. In effect, you want to leverage the strengths of the two mediums while minimizing the weaknesses.

(This is Part 2 of a series. See Part 1: How to Get More Response to Your Voice Mails by Using E-Mails)
Your Voice Mail

Your voice mail message needs to be short and intriguing. It needs to reference a problem or concern that your prospect might be experiencing but it should not pitch a solution.

Next, the prospect should know precisely what he or she must do once they’ve heard the message.

And finally, it should reference the e-mail that you sent which will get them to scan their inbox. By getting them to interact with their e-mail you tend to create a stronger impression of you and your offer.For instance, your voice mail might sound like this,

Hi ______, this is ______ calling from ________.

_______, the reason for my call is to share an idea with you that could possibly reduce the hassle and headache – and the cost – of recruiting quality sales reps at your firm. I have also sent you an e-mail.

In the mean time, my number is xxx xxx xxxx. Again, it’s _________ from __________.

Thanks, ____

Easy isn’t it? The message is quick and to the point. No infomercial here. A problem is cited (hassle, headache and cost) and a solution is implied without a pitch. Finally, there is the reference to the e-mail. You can bet that most recipients of this voice mail will check their e-mail if only to gather more information about you and your company.

Your E-Mail

Your e-mail should echo your voice mail so that the prospect quickly relates the two. It starts with the subject line. A nifty subject line is simply this:

                Subject:  Jim, regarding my voice mail

         Subject:  Joan, voice mail message

                Subject:  Pat, today’s voice mail

Notice, the e-mail features the prospect’s first name. Using the first name acts like an eye magnet for the prospect especially if they’re glancing at their smart phone. Once they see their name, they’ll then be reminded of the voice mail. If they haven’t checked their voice mail they almost certainly will after seeing the message. If they have heard the voice mail, they’ll be curious if there’s additional information and open it up. In either case, you’ve left an impression.

As for the content of your e-mail message, use the theme of your voice message,

“Hi _______,

This e-mail is a follow up to the voice mail I left you regarding an idea I have that might reduce the hassle, headache and perhaps even the cost of hiring a more effective and successful sales rep.

Could you squeeze my call in tomorrow morning or perhaps late afternoon?

Let me know what works best for yo

Kind regards

Look at how short and simple this message is! Whether the prospect reads this at his/her workstation or on their iPhone sitting on the couch, the message is compact and to the point. If a quality rep is an issue with the prospect, there is reason to call if only out of curiosity.

Notice there is no fancy, detailed pitch.

The action request is simple. The prospect could key in “Tmw 8:30” during a commercial break or on the commute from a bus or train or subway or wherever.

Summary

Sending out an e-mail after you’ve left a voice mail adds one more step to the selling process. It appears a little tedious. But the purpose of the effort is to improve RESULTS. More prospects will notice your message and remember it. A certain percentage will act upon it. And that means more selling opportunities.

So integrate e-mail to your voice mail and start selling more.

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How to Get More Response to Your Voice Mails by Using E-Mails (Part 1 of 2)

If you’re an inside sales rep, you are well aware of the challenges of getting prospects to respond to your voice mail messages. In fact, many telephone reps don’t leave voice mail messages simply because the return call rate is so low.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The fact of the matter is you can increase the volume of return calls simply by combining your voice mail message with an e-mail message.

Integrating voice mail and e-mail gives you a 1-2 punch in terms of messaging. You get the audio power of a voice mail message combined with the visual power of an e-mail message. This creates greater awareness and interest in you and your product/services. This article will show you why this works and how

The Trouble With Voice Mail Messages

As if you don’t know this already but the trouble with voice mail is that there are just too many messages being left with prospects. Every sales rep seems to leave one cluttering up the voice mail box. Worst of all, most of the messages aren’t very good. Consequently, prospects have become skeptical if not jaded. Many barely listen to the message; some ignore them completely. The net result is a low pay off for you.

Voice mails have some additional drawbacks to consider. Voice mail tends to be an 8:00a.m. to 5:00 p.m. medium. In other words, the majority of business people tend to access their e-mail only during business hours. Add to that, many decision makers are not at their desks but rather in meetings or off site so accessing voice mail isn’t always the most convenient of tasks. And let’s face it, very few are checking voice mails at 8:45 at night

Finally, responding to voice mails can be a bit of a pain. Often it means jotting down a number and calling you back. The prospect runs the very real risk that you’re on the line forcing them to play telephone tag and leaving a message. Who needs the hassle?

The Power of an E-Mail

In B2B, e-mail is still the darling of the business world. First off, e-mail provides a visual message. It is something prospects can SEE. It creates a degree of tangibility because it is on a screen or sometimes printed out on paper.

Increasingly, e-mail is becoming the preferred method of communication if only because it is fast and convenient.

Think about it. Most decision makers have a smart phone that they take EVERYWHERE. If they’re in a meeting they can and will quickly check their e-mails. If they’re stuck in traffic they check their e-mails. If they’re watching “Dancing With the Stars” or if they’re at their child’s hockey game, they can -and do-check their messages. This means your e-mail will at least be ‘seen.’

Of course, it can easily be deleted. Your prospect probably gets more e-mails than voice mails so they are adept at scanning and deleting more quickly.

But the point is obvious: an e-mail tags along; it follows and lingers; it’s instantly accessible; it’s easy to craft an instant response.

The next step is to provide your prospect with a visual and verbal message that compels them to take action or to be receptive to your follow up call.  See the next post  ( Voice Mail/E-Mail – What to Say and What to Write which will give you some specific tips.

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Telephone Dialing Gotcha’ Down? Take This Quick Break

Pounding out dials to prospects and clients sometimes takes its toll.  If you need a quick mental recess, read these paraprodokians by Winston Churchill.

A paraprodokians is a figure of speech in which the later part of the sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected.  You’ll get a kick out of them.  Read them. Chuckle.  Clear your head.

PARAPROSDOKIANS

1. Where there’s a will … I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you … but it is still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound … some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you … we’d both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up … we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit … Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’… then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism … To steal from many is research.

10. Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations … On my desk is a work station.

11. I thought I wanted a career … Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

12. In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency… notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’

13. I didn’t say it was your fault … I said I was blaming you.

14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut … and still think they are sexy.

15. Behind every successful man is his woman …  Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

17. You do not need a parachute to skydive … You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

18. Money can’t buy happiness … but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

19. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

20. I used to be indecisive … Now I’m not so sure.

21. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

22. To be sure of hitting the target … shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

23. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

25. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian … any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

26. Where there’s a will … there are relatives.

And one more:
I’m supposed to respect my elders … but its getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

Churchill also said, “Never, ever, ever quit!”  The fun is over.  Now, get back to work!

(Source: sent to me via e-mail from France)

 

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How to Pitch Anything in 15 Seconds

by Carmine Gallo

You can’t tell me what you do in 15 seconds, I’m not buying, I’m not investing, and I’m not interested.

Few technologies are as complicated to explain as 4G LTE. Last year I worked with a group of leaders for the division of a global, publicly traded company who were responsible for pitching the technology to potential customers. Since the group was struggling to explain the technology simply, I introduced them to a tool that I’ve used very successfully with other brands—a message map.

The leaders in this particular division were responsible for pitching the technology to public safety agencies. Their audience knew a lot about police work, but had little knowledge about wireless broadband. Imagine if the head of a public service agency heard something like this: 4G LTE is a standard for the wireless communication of high-speed data based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, increasing the capacity and speed of new modulation techniques. Not one person would have acted on the pitch because they wouldn’t be able to understand a word of it!

Instead we created a pitch that started with this sentence: 4G is a mobile broadband technology that will change the way your department communicates, collaborates, and operates. The audience got it in one sentence. The message was so simple and effective, the company landed several multi-million dollar accounts after their first meetings and they credited the message map for helping them pitch the idea in a simple, yet compelling way. The message map gave everyone (sales, marketing, executive leadership) a roadmap for the customer conversation. “Without a doubt it improved the confidence of our sales and marketing teams to articulate our value, our mission, and why our product would make a difference,” one leader told me.

Build a message map in 3-steps.

A message map is the visual display of your idea on one page. It is a powerful and tool that should be a part of your communication arsenal. Building a message map can help you pitch anything (a product, service, company, or idea) in as little as 15 seconds. Here is the three-step process to using a message map to build a winning pitch. For this exercise you will need a notepad, word document, PowerPoint slide, or whiteboard.

Step One. Create a Twitter-friendly headline.

The headline is the one single overarching message that you want your customers to know about the product. Ask yourself, “What is the single most important thing I want my listener to know about my [product, service, brand, idea].” Draw a circle at the top of the message and insert the headline. Make sure your headline fits in a Twitter post – no more than 140 characters. If you cannot explain your product or idea in 140 characters or less, go back to the drawing board.

Step Two. Support the headline with three key benefits.

As I discussed in a previous article, the human mind can only process about three pieces of information in short-term memory. Specifically outline the three or, at most, four benefits of your product. Draw three arrows from the headline to each of the key supporting messages.

Step Three. Reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics, and examples.

Add bullet points to each of the three supporting messages. You don’t have to write out the entire story. Instead write a few words that will prompt you to deliver the story. Remember, the entire message map must fit on one page.

You can create a message map for any product or a brand. Lets use the example of soap. If you can sell soap, you can pitch anything. Lush is a global chain of stores that sells soaps and cosmetics. It has about 100 locations around the world. They literally stock hundreds of items. Although the brand takes the unusual step of sending new products to each of its employees, it wouldn’t be feasible, nor necessary, to create a message map about each product.

This video illustrates the steps outlined below: 

Here is how I would create a message map for Lush store employees.

Twitter-friendly headline: Lush makes handmade soaps and cosmetics.

3 supporting messages. All Lush products are:

  1. FRESH
  2. ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
  3. SUPPORT ETHICAL CAMPAIGNS

The 15-second pitch would sound like this:

Welcome to Lush. We make handmade soaps and cosmetics. Everything in the store is fresh, environmentally friendly, and part of our profits support ethical campaigns.

Now for the supporting points.

Under Fresh, Lush might include the fact that all the products made from natural ingredients and they are handmade daily and shipped the next day.

Under Environmentally Friendly, a Lush sales associate might say that products are made from ingredients not tested on animals, they are mostly unpackaged, and contain little or no preservatives.

Under Ethical Campaigns, Lush might highlight some of the environmental causes championed by the brand.

Here is an example of what a message map looks like.

A message map can be used in several ways. You can make copies and hand it to all your employees who talk to customers. You can use it to outline a longer presentation to customers, investors, or stakeholders. You can, and should, use the same language in all of your marketing and advertising material.

I cannot emphasize enough how well this works. And I’ve seen it work for extremely complicated products and concepts. In fact the more complex your idea, the more important it is to create a message map. You need to pitch your story simply, clearly, and concisely. The message map is your winning ticket.

Carmine Gallo is the communications coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is a popular keynote speaker and author of several books, including the international bestsellers The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. His new book, The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty is the first book to reveal the secrets behind the stunning success of the Apple Retail Store. Follow Carmine on Facebook or Twitter

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5 Steps to Achieving the Tele-Prospecting “Zone”

Aaron Rogers and Tom Brady have been there. So have Justin Verlander, LeBron James and Sidney Crosby (when he’s not concussed). They’ve all been in the “zone” at one time or another throughout their careers.

The Zone

The “Zone” is that almost mystical and magical place in time and space where their athletic performance is extraordinarily focused, where they seem to perform with perfect mastery, where their passes, shots and hits simply and utterly boggle the mind. Everything clicks. It’s like magic. When the athlete describes the Zone, he or she talks about being swept away, losing track of time, and becoming completely absorbed in the activity.   Some experts have speculated that some athletes (for instance, Wayne Gretzky) can actually see events unfold a second or two before they take place.

Whatever is behind the Zone, the end result is typically astonishing.

The Tele-Prospecting Zone

But here’s the thing: the Zone is not just reserved for those in sports.

This place of seemingly effortless productivity and success can be achieved by virtually anyone in any area in life, including tele-prospecting. The trick to achieving a zone-like state is to have a process or method that when applied consistently and with discipline produces superior results.

5 Steps to Reach the Tele-Prospecting Zone

While the results of being in the Zone can be almost mystical, getting in the zone is not so mysterious or profound. There are five steps you can implement that will lead you to the Zone when prospecting or selling:

Step #1: Be Zone Ready

Aaron Rogers does not walk onto the field seconds before the game and start throwing completions. He gets ready for the big game long before that time. Before you pick up the phone and begin dialing, make sure you have your ‘master’ list of decision makers, their names, numbers, extensions, and e-mails. Like Aaron, do your ‘homework’ well before you get on the phone so you are game-ready. Have your notes, call guide, job aids – whatever you need- ready to go.

What this does is ensure that you have ‘flow.’ Flow is that steady, almost rhythmic process of calling that is uninterrupted by stops, pauses and delays. Watch Tom Brady when he’s in the Zone. Typically, he goes into a hurry up offense. No major delays. The flow is there. His job is to maintain it. Do the same. Pick up the phone and dial. No answer? No success? Dial again. Don’t lose the ‘end zone’ focus

Step #2: Create a Zone Friendly Environment

Watch Justin Verlander in the dugout when he’s pitching for the Tigers. Watch how closely his fellow Tigers leave him alone. They don’t want to distract him and disrupt his concentration.

To be in the Zone you have to stay focused on the task. Find or create a spot to make your calls that is free of distractions and temptations. Turn your back away from your fellow workers to avoid visual distractions. Post a sign called “Zone Calling” outside your office or cubicle that tells everyone that you are not to be disturbed. You’re in the zone.

Step #3: Be Zone Wise

Ever watch LeBron James on the court? He has an innate ability to exploit weaknesses in defenses. He makes the most of time and space he is given.

Same thing in tele-prospecting: there are good times to make your prospecting calls and there are not-so-good times. You want to exploit those good times like LeBron exploits his defenders. For instance, the best time to reach higher level decision makers is earlier in the morning or later in the day. To get into the Zone you may have to start calling at 7:30 a.m. or continue calling after 5:30 p.m. You increase your odds of success.The best time to reach your decision makers may vary. Test times. Look for a “Zone Wise” time. Keep track of your results. If you discover a good time, exploit it.

Step #4: Have Goals and Deadlines

You can bet your bottom dollar that Aaron, Tom, Justin, LeBron and Sydney don’t start their seasons or their games with “well… I’ll do my best and see what happens.” Pitchers know what they want to achieve as an ERA. Quarterbacks have ratings stats they would like to achieve because it gives them perspective on where they are and what they must do. Zone-ready athletes are goal oriented.

Give yourself an objective that is meaningful. It’s not about the number of dials, it about the number of contacts. If your goal is to reach twenty decision makers, dial until you reach twenty DECISION MAKERS not until you reach your quota of 80 dials set by your manager. If that means fifteen more dials, then make fifteen more dials (Step #4.) If you reach your twenty in less than a day, you’re in the Zone, keep dialing. That’s when you achieve superior results.

Track your efforts. Track those dials and decision maker contacts. Track the ratio of decision maker contacts to sales or appointments. Track the time that you called to see if there is a better time (Step #3)

Step #5: Just Do It

Nike has it right when they say, “Just Do It.” Get in the game. Pick up the phone and dial. Don’t stop. Be relentless. Do what it takes. At the height of his game, Sydney Crosby did it all. He skates…all the time… he doesn’t dog it. He back checks. He hits. He takes hits and gets up. He fights for position in front of the net. He’s tenacious. Sometimes he’s chippy. He does it all and he doesn’t stop until the game is over. He does not quit

Go through your master list. Don’t stop. Dial. Don’t leave messages if there is no answer. If you go through your list in a half an hour, start dialing again. If you haven’t reached your target objective, don’t quit. It’s sometimes grinding and tiring but … just do it!

Summary

The truth of the matter is that great athletes aren’t always in the Zone. Tom Brady sometime throws five interceptions. Verlander sometimes lobs balls that get smacked out of the stadium. Sid the Kid and LeBron have missed easy shots and lost games because of it. You’ll have those off days too. That’s okay.

The point here is that you go into every call session with a Zone plan. You do everything you can to get into the Zone. You don’t hope the Zone shows up. You do everything to make it happen. You are in control. Apply these principles and you’ll hit the Zone, not all the time, but some of the time. Either way, you’ll be a heck of a lot better off than you were without this process. Just do it.

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7 Tips on Conducting a Better Needs Analysis

Want to know the secret for significantly improving your sales results, generating more revenues and making more commissions or bonus?

Get better at conducting a needs analysis.

Depending on your target market and the product or service you sell, a needs analysis is quite possibly the most important activity in which you can engage.   Needs analysis help you AND your prospect identify areas of opportunity and areas of challenge. Done correctly, an effective needs analysis can also quantify those areas and ultimately determine if there is a need that your product/service can fulfill.   In other words, it is the key to sale.

Here are 7 tips to help you improve your approach to analyzing a prospect’s need:

Tip #1: Write out every single question you can possibly imagine

Here’s the toughest part but it’s worth the time and effort. Think of every single, solitary question you could ask your client relative to your product/service application. Everything: big or small, significant or insignificant.

And then write every one of those questions down on a sheet of paper.

I know. It’s tedious. But here’s what happens. First of all, this exercise gets you to stop and think. It makes you more thorough in your thought process because you have the time. Second, and maybe more significantly, this exercise begins to imprint the questions on your conscious or subconscious mind. It will help you remember them and conjure them up when conducting your needs analysis.

Tip #2: Group your questions into categories

You can do this step in conjunction with Tip #1. Where possible, group your questions into categories. This makes them less random, easy to access and easier to remember. Categories create another level of focus for you and help with the imprinting process.

For instance, you might have a category called “situational questions” which might be questions that ask about the prospect’s current situation or environment. These might be fundamentals such as number of employees, number of locations, types of niche markets, the machinery they use, the processes they follow, the software applications etc.

Another category might be ‘motivator questions’ i.e., those that explore possible challenges, problems and issues or opportunities, enhancements and improvements that your client might be experiencing relative to your product/service solution. Of course, these are important questions because they uncover needs and motivators.

A third category might be ‘analysis’ questions which are questions that get the prospect to quantify and elaborate upon a problem or an opportunity.

Tip #3: Ask yourself, “Why am I asking this question?”

By now, you should have a pile of questions. Now it’s time to cull and refine that list. Review each question and ask yourself “why am I asking this?” Is it vital information you absolutely NEED or is it nice to have?

Re-write those questions that you absolutely need to have answered on another sheet of paper. Write these in RED. They are ‘must haves.’ This is your “master list.” These questions go to the heart of needs analysis. Keep them in their categories.

In blue or black ink, below your master list, have your ‘nice to have questions.’ You can ask these questions if they are relevant or helpful to you and/or the prospect.

Tip #4: Ask yourself, “How will asking this question make my prospect feel? What will he/she think?”

Review your revised list and think about how your prospect might feel when asked. Some questions, particularly questions that probe for problems and concerns can be sensitive in nature. Some might feel defensive. Others might feel embarrassed. Others might be a bit hostile because you seem so ‘nosy.’ Think about this from THEIR perspective.

Identify the sensitive questions and then move on to Tip #5

Tip #5: Ask yourself, “What is the best way to ask this question?”

If you have a question that might make a prospect feel awkward, embarrassed, cautious, defensive or hostile, use a ‘softening trigger phrase’ before asking. A ‘softener’ is phrase that can take the ‘sting’ out of asking a sensitive question and make the prospect more receptive to replying.

For example, “Jim, some of the safety directors I have spoken to have expressed concern over the new OSHA ruling on … Let me ask, you what are your thoughts…” In this case, the prospect recognizes that he is not alone, that others have concerns, and that it’s ‘okay’ to speak up. He becomes less self conscious.

Here’s another one: “Debbie, hypothetically speaking, if you could improve production by 10%, what would be the net impact on profitability?” In this case, Debbie is not being held to specifics and not necessarily being held accountable for the estimate. In other words, she is not putting herself at risk because the question is creating a ‘make believe’ scenario. This makes it easier to truthfully answer.

Here’s one more: “Pat, sometimes clients see this as a sensitive question but I ask because it goes to the heart of what we can solve. We are finding that…” In this case, the softener trigger phrase warns the prospect that a potentially awkward question is coming up. In this manner, he/she is not caught off guard. In addition, the phrase explains why the question is being asked and implies a benefit for the prospect.

Tip # 6: Create a needs analysis cheat sheet

Once you have created your list of questions including softener trigger phrases, create a ‘cheat sheet’ or job aid. Use colored paper, use colored ink. Use large font. Hand write it or use Word and cut and paste. Put you questions on an 11 x17 sheet so there’s plenty of room. If required, paste two 11 x 17 sheets together. Make your needs analysis sheet big, bold and brassy. No one can see it but you. Post it where it is easily accessible and visible so you can reference it.

Tip #7: Drill, practice and rehearse asking your questions.

The last tip is to drill, practice and rehearse your needs analysis. You could do this with your manager, or a co-worker, friend or spouse. You can rehearse it in your mind. The idea is to familiarize yourself with the questions and get comfortable with them. Use your cheat sheet and get comfortable with it too.

IMPORTANT!

The objective of this entire process is NOT to ask every single solitary question, one by one, like conducting a survey. The idea is to ask the appropriate questions when required. You might begin with a few situational questions, then segue into a motivator question, then back to a situational question or two, and then move on to an analysis questions.

No one can teach you the flow of questioning. That is a factor of the client and the information that he or she gives you. But KNOWING the questions ahead of time ( having them imprinted on your mind) makes asking the appropriate question at the appropriate time much easier.

Summary

Good needs analysis differentiates you from your competition. Your prospects tend to see you as more consultative. You will get better, more relevant information. This gives you a distinct opportunity to sell more. Take the time and do it right

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Don’t Send a Prospecting E-mail Like This

A good prospecting e-mail makes a follow up call easier and often more successful.

But the operative words are “a good prospecting e-mail.”  Here’s an example of an e-mail I recently received. It has just about everything you shouldn’t do when prospecting.  Read the e-mail and see my comments in bold.

The Prospecting E-Mail from Hell

Subject: Inquiry Localization Services (Okay, not bad.  I had no idea what this was or meant but the “inquiry” could have been about my services (in other words, a lead)…so I opened it.)

Hi Jim, (personalized and informal: good)

(GROAN! A quick glance at the length of the e-mail staggered me.  Clearly a pitch. Look at the length of some of those paragraphs!  Who has the time to wade through all this? I read it only because I felt an article brewing deep inside me)

Hope this finds you well and on a great path! (Trite. False. Waste of time. Credibility drops. Get down to business)

My name is _________ and I represent ­­­­­­­­­__________, an award winning e-Learning localization company.(ya…whatever…) I write this email to solicit an opportunity to meet with you and discuss our services around localization of content and e-Learning development.   (I see.  And what’s in it for me? What do I get out of it?  Talk about me, not you!)

(Man! Are you kidding me?  Look at this long, rolling paragraph! Am I supposed to be impressed with these features? It ain’t workin’ for me!) Since 2000, _________ has vastly expanded its e-Learning translation capabilities and in just 2011, we localized 200+ courses in 50+ languages both eastern and western. ____ has huge experience within localization of training materials, and now additionally providing extensive translation, engineering, and testing services for a wide array of e-Learning infrastructure software and content. We have saved thousands of dollars for our clients by rightly managing the source files (such as externalizing content in XML files) allowing customers to easily and more affordably perform localization of all titles. (Oh … here’s the benefit, nicely tucked away.  If the rep had told me this up front, I might have been a little more interested.  I suspect that 99.965% of the readers never got this far) Whether the content is scientific, commercial or legal, with _________ localization service at the helm, your content receives focused treatment, testified by quality of the output.

(Incredibly, there’s even more features… not that I care. Can you imagine the telephone pitch or the voice mail that this rep might deliver?) With a team of over 5000+ multi-disciplinary translation specialists, ________ does more than million words of translation and voice recording across 100+ concurrent projects every year. _________ localization services have proven their effectiveness at more than 50 training design companies, and with many leading publishers. G-Cube’s clients include Huthwaite, Corpedia, Kaplan, Omega Performance, ESI International, Sunwin Services Group, QA, Practice IT, Skillsoft, Cigital, Datatask, Incisive Media, Oilennium and many more.

Here are some of the examples of language works:

SSQM Chinese: <link> (Stop, buddy!  You’re killing me by overwhelming me.  Do you think I have the time in my busy day to read all this and STILL click on the Chinese link?)

SSQM Spanish: <link> (see above comment)

I’ve also attached a calculator that will allow you to calculate the expenses if ________ were to do translation, voice recording and repurposing for you.  (Don’t tell me there’s an attachment too? Who would open it?)

_____ is the one amongst very few organizations in the world to be assessed at Level 3 in SEI-CMM (look at the jargon!) frameworks. Its solutions have won prestigious awards including Brandon Hall, APEX, Codie, and Deloitte Fastest 50 Technology. 

I would like to trade 30 minutes of my ideas with 30 minutes of your time.  (isn’t that clever and cute!)  Are you free on 21st  August (Tuesday) at 10:00 am your Local Time for a quick call? Later works well too.   (Oh dear… you can bet I won’t reply.  And just to be sure, I’ll screen every call on the 21st just in case the rep decides to call anyway. I mean, what more can he “tell” me?  EVERYTHING  has been laid forth in the e-mail)  

Look forward to your reply. (Ain’t gonna’ happen)

Best Regards,

How to Improve Your Prospecting E-mail

Look:  I know I was being somewhat sarcastic and flippant in my remarks. But these types of e-mails are typical and I am tired of them, aren’t you?

If you’re  using e-mail for prospecting your message has to be about me, about problems I might have or about opportunities that I might achieve. You need to offer hope.

Next, your message must be short and to the point.  I’m going to scan it, not read it.  So you better make it crisp and clear. It must look short and read even shorter. It’s not something you whip up in 2.5 minutes.  It takes time and effort to compose an effective message.

Finally,it must intrigue me.  It must make me want to learn more.  You do this by teasing me about the potential benefits you have to offer.  Get me salivating with curiosity.

What to learn more? Visit the other articles on this page.  Learn to write an e-mail that gets prospects to turn their heads.

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How to Increase Sales by Becoming Slightly Paranoid

Want to boost your sales in a hurry?

Get slightly more paranoid and beware the dreaded “PHDs.”

The PHDs

A PHD is my term for a “poor, hungry and driven” rival or competitor.  A PHD is the ‘new kid in town’ who is looking to gobble up your business.   They have energy, spunk and audacity.  They’re the ones who arrive earlier and stay later.  Tricky little devils, the PHDs are the ones who push themselves; who take calculated risks and who get so dog gone creative when it comes to stealing business.  They woo and charm your clients like a Casanova . They’re like zombies in their relentless pursuit of your clients.  Don’t ya just hate zombie PHDs?

So get paranoid.

They’re out there.  Watching. Waiting. Ready to pounce. Trust me. Start looking over your shoulder and start worrying a bit more about those insidious “PHDs” who are poised to steal your customers, your prospects, your sales, your commissions and maybe even your job.

The Power of Paranoia

Of course, what I am really talking about is using ‘fear’ as a motivator to fight complacency. In effect, being paranoid  is an anti-PHD strategy. If you  think someone is lurking behind your back you are more apt to be conscious of the threat.  That nagging concern will move you to take proactive action.

Actions That Paranoid Reps Take to Combat the PHDs

How does paranoia translate into actions?

  • Arrive a bit earlier
  • Stay a bit later
  • Dial more
  • Contact 2 more decision makers/ day than you normally would
  • Improve a skill or technique
  • Read more literature on sales
  • Buy a book on selling, communicating, writing …anything business related
  • Read industry journals
  • Subscribe to industry newsletters
  • Contact 3 (instead of 2) more decision makers/day
  • Visit your competitors website
  • Become a subject matter expert
  • Develop a ‘stay in touch’ strategy to delight your clients
  • Be proactive in your calling to existing clients
  • Prospect every single day for new business
  • Get coaching from  your manager
  • Subscribe to selling newsletter
  • Role play with a buddy
  • Write an article on your product
  • Pay more heed in meetings
  • Take more notes
  • Go the distance an contact 5 (instead of 3) more decision makers/day
  • Get organized
  • Be curious about things
  • Get to know your existing clients on a more personal level
  • Get better at using your CRM
  • Ask clients for feedback on you, your company and your products
Summary

You are probably doing some of these activities, maybe even many.  But the truly paranoid sales rep frets that it’s not enough.  The paranoid does more, looks for extras, gets a little daring, pushes a bit harder and seeks to be a bit smarter.

Get paranoid today… and sell more tomorrow.

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A Magic Two-sentence Email that Gets Stalled Sales Back on Track

by Chris Lytle www.max-atm.com

Here’s an interesting tip to help you get a stalled prospect back in sales motion:

When a customer didn’t call me back, I sent this e-mail:

“Cliff, I still have you on my ‘waiting for’ list of people I’m expecting to hear from. Am I still on your radar? Chris”

His response:

“You are good. Let’s talk this morning if you are available. I’m out of town but can be reached on my cell phone.”

Result: Before I could call him, he called me from the road and we scheduled our next meeting. My two-sentence e-mail worked (I believe) because I really do have a “waiting for” list and keep track of people who owe me a call, an e-mail, or a contract – and because the “radar” question lets the customer opt in or out without pressure.

The author of “The Accidental Sales Manager,” Chris Lytle, CSP, time releases immediately applicable sales advice via the MAX-ATM Automatic Training Machine website. Check it out at www.max-atm.com

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What You Need to Know if Tele-Prospecting is to be Effective for You

If you use the telephone to prospect then here’s a big tip:

Get e-mail addresses every time you speak to someone.

Not some of the time.  All of the time.

Start right now with your next call.

Doesn’t seem like much of a tip but it’s packed with implications.

The Decline of the Telephone as a Primary Means of Contact

Here’s the why: as a primary means of contact telephone prospecting is fast diminishing.

It should not come as a surprise. The percentage of prospects who answer their telephone is declining.  Ten-twelve years ago, a 40% B2B contact rate was the norm.  Five years ago the rate dropped to about thirty percent.  Now you’re lucky to get  20- 25%.

Technology and an upsurge in telephone cold calling (thanks to tight economy) are the culprits for this decline.  Prospects are more readily using call display and voice mail to screen the influx of calls.  They are more selective because they are more skeptical.  Who can blame them?

The Rise of E-Mail

If the primary contact rate for prospecting is diminishing by phone, it is increasing by e-mail.  E-mail is fast becoming the initial means for establishing contact and developing a lead or sale.  Of course, prospects can just as easily screen your e-mail as they can your voice message.  However, there are some major advantages to e-mailing for you, the tele-prospector.

First your e-mail follows your prospect everywhere he or she goes.  Thanks to Blackberries, iPhones and other  smart phones, your message accompanies your prospect to meetings, on the commute to and from work,  at the mall or grocery store, at home during supper (if they so choose), in front of the TV or at their kid’s soccer game.  If your message is well crafted, they will SEE it beyond the office setting and this creates awareness.

Secondly, e-mail provides a visual message; something more tangible either on the screen or printed out.  A voice message is audio based.  These are two different mediums and the messages are processed differently by the recipient. For many, a visual message is more easily remembered.

Thirdly, an e-mail message is easier to access, see and ‘re-see’ later on.  The prospect simply scrolls and clicks.  With a voice mail, they need to enter codes, wait and listen.  If the sales rep leaves a number the prospect needs to jot it down.  It’s not always convenient.  No hassle is VERY important in today’s business world.

Fourth, it offers a degree of accountability.  Assuming you have a signature file at the end of your e-mail, your prospect can check out you or your web site.   Again, all it takes is a quick click.

Lastly, it’s easier to reply to a voice mail versus going through the tedious process of calling you back only to discover you’re on the phone and the prospect has to leave a message.  Tag, you’re it.

Forget the Phone?

So with everything that’s been said, the next question is, ‘why bother calling at all?’ Why not just rely on e-mail?  Forget the phone.

Because B2B prospecting is still about SELLING.

That means needs still have to be assessed and evaluated and  pain or gain points must be determined.  Objections must be tackled up front.  Questions need to be asked.  Presentations need to be delivered. A sales cycle must be initiated. Put another way, human interaction is still absolutely necessary. Two way communications is vital.

All that’s really changed is the initial prospecting volley.  Instead of a broadside of telephone calls and voice mails, soften the beach head with a well-crafted e-mail. It creates awareness.  It can develop interest.  It can even create anticipation.

Synergistic

There’s more.  Adding a phone call synergizes the e-mail.  I know that word has been overused but it is particularly applicable here.  An initial e-mail followed by a voice follow up (either live or via a voice mail) REALLY does synergizes both mediums. (In a test situation, a client is currently getting a 50% higher response rate from prospects using  a combination of e-mail and voice follow up).  You get the power of a visual message combined with the power of an audio message.  Carefully planned and implemented, you’ll see an immediate lift in response.

3 Implications

First, the way we prospect for new business is changing.  E-mail is becoming the primary means of contact and if done well increases response. Relying entirely on the phone for cold calling can be an exercise in futility.  Adapt.

Second, you need to get better and smarter at composing e-mails that catch the reader’s eye.  Don’t think that a mass e-mail is your ticket to prospecting success.  E-mails need to be 1:1.  Visit some of the articles in the section of the blog for tips and ideas.

Third, start collecting e-mail address at every turn. Ask gatekeepers, ask other departments, check out web sites, join Linked in, network more often, and get business cards … everything and anything to start building your e-mail list.

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Keep a Black Book

If you’re serious about a career in sales and you want to continue improve your selling skills and abilities (and subsequently) earn more, then keep a black book.

What’s a Black Book?

A black book is literally a bound book of some sort or another (see some popular choices below) that you use to record virtually anything.  It is a single and central repository of everything that is or could be important or significant to you.

7 Good Reasons to Keep a Black Book

1. Black books keep you more organized.  Instead of having sheets here and there, notebooks here and there, smart phone notes here and there, your black book is the one place for everything.  This means you can find everything you need. Use it for client notes, telephone numbers, prospecting notes, memos to yourself.  Everything.  It will save you time, frustration and hassle.

2. Black books keep you focused.  You can record important things like your goals and objectives.  You can use your book to create a daily “To Do” list. Note your priorities.  Your book will keep you on task.

3. Black books keep you motivated. Use your black book to record your ‘victories’ or to list your dreams.  Use them to record your results.  Jot down inspirational quotes.  Cut out pictures of what you’d like to buy or places you’d like to visit or scenes that inspire you. Tape them inside.  Refer to them. Remind yourself of what you’ve achieved and what still lies ahead.

4. Black books keep you wise.  Note your ‘losses ‘and ‘defeats.’  Jot down why you might have lost a sale.  What did you learn from the experience? Were you prepared enough?  Do you need to brush up on a skill? Should you be working on your product knowledge?  You’ll find it quite rewarding when you take personal responsibility.

5. Black books make you more creative.  When a good idea pops into your head, capture it in your black book. Immediately.  Craft some notes while the idea is still sizzling away. Go back to the idea later and expand on it.  In this manner, you’ll never lose the thread.  (You can use your black book to “mind map” your ideas.  Mind mapping is a way to more effectively tap into the creative, right side of your brain.  Check the internet for Joyce Wycoff’s book called “Mindmapping.”  It will literally change your life.)

6. Black books make you look…well…smart.  This may not be a big deal for you but when you go into a meeting with your black book under your arm you immediately set yourself apart from the crowd.  Look around. Half the people won’t even be equipped with a pen or a pencil.  People who count (bosses, executives, owners and the like) take note of someone who comes prepared. It elevates your status.

7. Black books create a legacy.  I have black books dating from the late 1980’s.  Every now and then I haul out one or two.  I see how I have progressed and matured.  I sometimes see where I have regressed.  But it gives me a sense of personal development and growth. I suspect it will do the same for you.

Use your black book to:

Here is a summary list of things you record in your black book.  But don’t feel constrained.  Use it however you see fit.

  • List your sales victories
  • Stimulate thoughts and ideas
  • Record your yearly sales goals and objectives
  • Record your daily goals and objectives
  • Make notes about your clients
  • Take meeting notes
  • Take notes while on the telephone
  • Impress your boss with your thoroughness
  • Tape in articles of interests on sales …or whatever
  • Paste in pictures that inspire
  • Write compelling quotes
  • List “lessons learned” from your mistakes
  • Jot down “Top 10 Lists” ( e.g., Top 10 fiction best books, best movies, best restaurants,best business books, best web sites etc.)
  • Create daily to do lists
  • Doodle and draw
  • Jot down dreams and ideas
  • Note your achievements
  • Draft proposals
  • Write down quotes (“Never, ever quit,” “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace!” etc.)
  • List strategies to develop new customers
  • List ways to develop your relationship with existing clients
  • Jot phone numbers and messages
  • Note questions or issues
  • Rate restaurants that you visited
  • Insights and observations on anything
  • Recipes (All Purpose BBQ rub)
  • … you get the picture, right?
Choosing Black Books

First off, black books don’t have to be black.  Color doesn’t matter. It’s what’s contained inside.

Next, go to any bookstore and you’ll see ever-growing displays of “Moleskin” books that are leather or cloth bound.  More expensive, they tend to have a ‘neat’ look.  People like Ernest Hemmingway used them, so you’d be in good company. They come in different sizes and themes.  Piccadilly make a less expensive version and it’s just as effective.  Check them out on line.

I have gone to art stores and purchased blank sketch books.  These books are sturdy rugged things, and they give you lots of space to write, sketch, and map out your ideas.

But you don’t have to get fancy.  Your black book can be an inexpensive wire bound notebook that you can get almost anywhere for a few bucks.  Doesn’t matter.  Whatever you like; an expression of yourself.

Black books or ‘journals’ are nothing new by any stretch of the imagination.  Caesar had one (it was in a scroll format, of course). Napoleon had one too. Most professional golfers keep a version of a black book.  Most great figures had a black book of one sort or another.  I’ll bet a lot of sales gurus have them as well.

Invest in yourself today and you’ll find yourself in good company.

 

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This is Why Calls Wander Aimlessly

by Art Sobcak (www.businesbyphone.com)

 

On a commercial for an online brokerage, one guy asked another,

“Does your brokerage house give you objective advice?”

“Yeah, their objective always is to sell me something.”

Of course that was meant to be a humorous slam on full-service brokers whose intent is to sell stocks instead of give objective advice.

A  Clear Objective

However, it got me thinking about how lots of sales reps do NOT have a clear objective when they pick up the phone.

For example, when I ask reps for objectives before calls I hear such things as,

“I want to see who they’re buying from now.”

“I’d like to qualify and send out some info.”

“Want to see if they have any needs.”

Granted, all of those should be accomplished, but none are the end RESULT you’re ideally looking for on a call.

You wouldn’t you get in your car and say, “I’m going to start my car, and then just go out on the road somewhere.”

No, you get in your car because you have a very specific destination in mind. And when you have a destination, then you figure out what route you need to take in order to get there. Then you follow that route. And usually you arrive.

Yet, many sales reps get on the phone with no clear, specific destination in mind. Then they end up cruising aimlessly, and not surprisingly, ending their wayward journey without a pleasing
result.

Maybe you’ve had that feeling after a call. Where you sit there shaking your head, thinking, “What just happened on that call? I was all over the place.”

This week’s Tip is boring, simple, but yet required for success:

Have a Primary Objective before each call.

I define your Primary Objective as what you want them to DO as a result of the call.

Again, emphasis on the DO. It must be action-oriented.

The ultimate Primary Objective is to get them to buy on this call.

Perhaps your objective is to “Get agreement that the customer will take your proposal to the board meeting and recommend its approval.”

Maybe you want to qualify, generate interest, and get the prospect to agree to do a side-by-side comparison between his existing product and yours.

Look at these again. They all involve your prospect/customer DOING something.

And think big. One thing’s for sure: if you aim low, you’ll rarely hit above your target. When you aim high, you’ll sometimes reach it, and on average, will achieve greater results than if you start low.
Action Item
So here’s your homework: For every call you place from here on out, simply ask, “What do I want this person to DO as a result of this call?” That’s your Primary Objective.

And when you have your end target in mind, it’s much easier to plot your map, and ultimately arrive at the target.

As Dr. Steven Covey says in his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” begin with the END in mind.

Art Sobczak is president of Business by Phone and is North America’s premiere B2B telephone selling trainer. Author of several books on tele-sales, Art’s practical, no-holds-barred approach to sales is refreshing AND effective.  Visit his website at www.businessbyphone.com or call him directly at 1 800 326 7721. Be sure to sign up for his newsletter!
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Whine Less, Sell More

I am not overly fond of whiners. How about you?

The World of Whiners

A while ago I was visiting a client. It was a month since my last visit and as I walked around the reps I picked up snippets of conversations here and there.  Here’s what I heard over a period of three or four days every, single time I drifted by:

  • Woeful laments on the economy
  • Frightening comments about competitors stealing business away
  • Rumbling groans about commission rates
  • Disdainful remarks on the marketing efforts being made
  • Painful reflections on how they were making less money than ever before
  • Sorrowful reports about the quality of the list
  • Dismissive statements about management
  • And much… much more

And I wondered … I wondered if they whined less and simply focused on selling more that most of their troubles would disappear.

I wondered this because off in a corner, removed from the hub-bub of despair and negativity, was a lone rep quietly picking up the phone and dialing. He was dialing and selling.  He led all the reps by a mile and had only been there a year; blowing the wheels off his objectives and making good money

This is important.  We all complain and whine every now and then.  Sometimes it’s a great safety value for releasing some of the pressure to perform.  I get that. I accept that.  But at some point it has to stop otherwise there are consequences.

Your Whining Options

If you find yourself whining consider your options:

Option #1: Continue to Whine

Your first option is the easiest.  Continue to whine, stay miserable and remain unhappy.  How does that sound as option when it’s printed in black and white?

The neat thing about whining is that you’re sure to find others who feel the same way.  Think of it: you can have a pity party.  You can feel miserable together. You feel even more crappy but at least you won’t be lonely in your despair.

And get this: lament long enough and you’ll eventually find a boss or owner who’ll let you go (fire you) which will take care of all your on-the-job miseries. (And then you’ll have something new to whine about).

Option #2:  Quit

Hey, if it’s so hard, if the list is so bad, if your manager is such an ogre, if your commission plan is so crappy, if the competition is that much better, and if the economy is so gloomy… then quit. Do yourself a big favor, pack up your bags and find happiness elsewhere.  Go where the grass is greener. Seriously! Why stay where you’re miserable?  Find something you like. You’ll be happier and so will all those who sit around you.

Option #3:  Try Changing the Situation

If you have ideas or recommendations that have a legitimate chance of changing, improving, correcting or rectifying the job situation then offer them up. Lay them out to your boss.  I don’t mean just pointing out the negative, I mean offering up a well thought out plan of action. (This is the REAL challenge: anyone can point out the flaws but precious few can offer up good, effective solutions).

Option #4: Stop Whining and Start Selling

Maybe the wisest (and best) action you can take is to zip up your lips, hunker down and start selling harder and/or smarter.  The more you dwell on the unpleasant aspect of your selling situation the more your time, energy and spirit is taken away from selling.  You drain yourself of valuable internal resources. Your resilience takes a beating. You become obsessive about the issues until they consume you. Your attitude takes a turn for the worse.  You won’t sell well and you won’t sell more if you’re in a negative place.  Period. End of sentence. So, sop it. Right now. This minute. Avoid others who complain. Find a nice corner away from the negativity and focus on selling.

Summary

The economy IS mediocre, some compensation plans are not the best, the old days of making tons of money are probably behind us, lists have mixed results, some managers are useless … Okay fine… that’s the way it is. But these issues are out of your control.

One thing for sure: whining won’t fix the situation.  Nothing changes when you whine.  You just sound negative and after a while, tediously boring.

The only thing YOU can control is you.  You CAN pick up the phone and dial.  You CAN try harder.  You CAN sell smarter. So skip the whining, start selling and succeed.

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Beware the “Whittle” Effect When Selling

If your sales have leveled out or worse, have dropped off, maybe you’re suffering from the “Whittle Effect.”  Left unattended, your sales might continue to slide and sooner or later you’ll feel the economic (and perhaps professional) pinch.

What is the Whittle Effect?

The Whittle Effect is the tendency of reps to ‘whittle’ down their approach to selling. It means diluting, reducing or even eliminating certain skills or techniques.  It means taking short cuts. It refers to slicing away and trimming good, solid selling practices.   The net result is a  selling skill set that is drastically pared down to the bare bones.

But here’s the worst part: you don’t realize it. The Whittle Effect is like erosion.  It occurs slowly and over time.  You don’t recognize it but it gradually takes its toll.

Implications

Here’s what happens. Your sales level off and then they start to drop.  You dial harder and still they drop. You get frustrated. Your boss puts you on a ‘get well’ plan. You dial harder and yet the net result is minimal.  You get depressed. You blame the list, the product, the company, the price, the manager…the world. You feel victimized.  You know what I am talking about.

How to Determine If You’ve Whittled Your Selling Process

If you’re in a sales trough and feeling a little flustered you might be suffering from the Whittle Effect. There are three things you can do to determine if that’s the case:

First, you can record your calls and compare them to what you were taught in training or compare them to when you were doing very well. 

Listening to your calls is a powerful way to assess your situation.  It works even better if you can listen to some archived calls from a time when you were selling well. Of course, you must listen openly and honestly to determine if you’ve sliced and diced your calls.

The only trouble with this approach is not all companies record calls. If that’s the case, move on to suggestion #2 below.

Second, you can get your manager to monitor your calls. 

This is simplest and easiest method of identifying if you’re suffering from whittling. Get your manager to monitor your calls or role play with you.  Very quickly it will become apparent if you’ve trimmed your sales process down.  Not unlike going to a sports coach, your manager can monitor and observe and determine if you need to put some meat back onto your sales approach.

Finally, just be honest with yourself.

If you’ve been in a rut and your sales are down it’s no time to kid around.  Be brutally candid with yourself:  have you cut corners? Have you tried to steam line your opening statement? Have you cut a question here and qualifier there? Has your presentation/offer been trimmed and pared down so that it lacks ‘umph?’

If you’re like most reps I have worked with you’re probably guilty.  But hey, no problem.  You just need to back to basics.

What to do: Back to Basics

How many times have you heard that one?  You probably groaned when you saw this solution.  You might have even been thinking there was something “else” you should be doing because the basics seem so … well… basic.

But it’s almost always the issue. When an athlete or team falters inevitably they acknowledge to the world and to themselves that they must get back to the fundamentals. And almost inevitably, they get back on track.  Basics are the foundations of success.  They’re not necessarily new or sexy or advanced but they’re reliable.

Go back to your original training material. Go back to your original call guide. Go back to what made you effective.  Commit to the fundamentals again. Become more thorough and comprehensive.  Stick to the plan, put more ‘meat’ on your approach to selling, and eliminate the whittle effect.

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7 “Positive” Reasons Why Your Voice Mail Messages Are Not Being Returned

Do you get discouraged when your voice mail messages are not returned?

Most reps do and they beat themselves up about it.  They convince themselves that the prospects doesn’t care; or that they asked for a quote or proposal because they wanted to get rid of the telephone rep; or that they’ve gone with a competitor who had a better price etc.

It gets so easy to convince yourself that your calls are not being returned for negative reasons that it becomes nearly impossible to pick up the phone and make another attempt.  It gets far easier to quit rather than persist.  But what if all those negative things aren’t happening?  What if your prospect is positive about you and your company/products?  What if something has happened?

Here are just 7 “positive” reasons why your calls might not have been returned and why you should continue to follow up.

1. Your Messages Were Not Received

What if your message wasn’t received because there was some technical error? What if your client has lost his access code and can’t retrieve your message?  What if there was a problem with the voice mail system?  If you think that the message was not received you’ll be more inclined to make another attempt or two.

2. Your Prospect Simply Forgets

You know what? People forget.  Things come up. Minor or major emergencies crop up. Your call drops down the list. Maybe your prospect had every good intention and simply forgot. They’re human after all.

3. Your Message Was Confusing /Convoluted

To me there is nothing worse than a long rambling message.  Most prospects won’t listen to your entire saga of a message and consequently will miss or ignore your request for a call back.  Did you make your message ‘listener friendly?”  If not, call again.

4. You Delivered Your Phone Number so Fast the Prospect Didn’t Catch it

Early last week I had a message from an individual who might be interested in my training services or who might be trying to sell me something.  The message was vague but intriguing and I couldn’t really tell.   The only trouble is I cannot figure out the phone number.  She recited it so fast, so slick and so garbled that I cannot get all the digits despite listening to it several times.  I can’t call her and I haven’t received a follow up call.  She’s probably convinced herself that I’m not interested.  Too bad, because I am.

5. You or Your Prospect Inverted Your Phone Number

I think I am slightly dyslexic.  More times than I would like to admit I have inverted a number or two or three.  Maybe you inverted a number.  Or more likely, maybe your prospect inverted a number when they jot it down.  They called you back and discovered they had the wrong number.  Things like this happen.  So, call and leave another message.

6. Your Prospect  Expects You to Persist

Some prospects don’t make return calls for umpteen reasons. They expect you to do it. If you want their business you need to earn it the old fashion way: with a little effort.  Apply the effort a few more times. Impress them with your keen follow up.

7. Your Prospect is Swamped

Most prospects aren’t sitting back and doing nothing.  They’re busy.  The have a lot on their plate. They haven’t forgotten you they simply have more pressing issues.  They have prioritized their day. Nothing personal, simply business.  So that means you might have to push the envelope a little more and little harder.

Summary

There you have it: 7 ‘positive’ reasons why your prospect hasn’t called you back.  There is nothing nefarious behind their failure to call back but rather legitimate and benign reasons.  If you think that way, you’ll be more inclined to pursue the prospect. So pick up the phone and try again.

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The Post Call Debrief: 4 Questions That Will Change the Way You Sell

If you want to improve your tele-prospecting and/or tele-sales results, ask yourself four simple questions the moment you hang up the phone.

I call this “The Post Call Debrief” and if you’re completely and utterly honest with yourself you’ll learn to leverage your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.   Apply the Debrief process to successful and not-so-successful calls and you’ll start improving your sales results.

Question #1:  What did I do right?

You’ve just spoken to a prospect or perhaps a client.  Maybe you got a sale, maybe you didn’t.  Either way, pause a moment and ask yourself “What did I do right on this call?”  Think of your planning, opening, questioning, presentation and close.  What did you do well?

Patting yourself on the back is important provided you balance your assessment with the other questions.  By acknowledging what you did well, you reinforce good sales behavior; you build on it; you master it.  You get stronger at selling.  It shows the positives even if the call was not an ultimate success.  You get balance.

Question #2:  What did I not do?

This one is a little harder because it forces you to be self-critical and it can be difficult to face up to weaknesses.  Ask yourself, where did I blow it?  Was your opening weak?  Was the delivery lame?  Did you collapse like a house of cards on a simple objection?  Were your questions effective? Did your close lack a firm follow up date and time?  Be tough on yourself. Look inward. It’ll make your stronger and wiser.

The moment you see a flaw, big or small, and acknowledge it, is the moment you have taken personal responsibility for the end result.  You can fix what see and acknowledge?  Ignore it or bury it and you won’t improve. Period.

Question #3:  What should I have done?

This is a variation of question #3 above.  In the above scenario, you identify what you did not do.  In this scenario you want to articulate what you should have done?  Be specific.  For example, “I should have taken another 30 seconds to plan my questions rather than winging it like I did.”  Or “I should have rehearsed the opener so it flowed naturally instead of bungling it.” Or, “I should have had a date and time prepared for a follow up call.”

When you do this, you begin the ‘repair’ process.

Question #4: What will I do going forward?

Perhaps this is more of an affirmation than it is a question but it is designed to get you to commit to applying the actions immediately on the next call.  For instance,  “I will practice my opener before I dial the next client,” “I will develop three questions that prompt for a ‘pain’ motivator before I even look at the next name of the list,” “I will post my objections job aid on my cubicle wall right now.”

If Question #3 reveals what you should have done, then Question #4 gets you take action immediately to remedy the situation.  Of course, you MUST DO IT and not just say it.

Summary

The neat thing about the Post Call Debrief is that it normally takes less than a minute to conduct.  Your mind works that fast and usually the mistakes you make after often due to carelessness or haste.  You know it right away and you can fix it.  Other calls might be a little more bewildering and might take longer.

Whatever the time, it is time well spent. That’s how you get smarter at selling.

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7 Ways to Get Over Your Fear of Asking for the Sale

by Kelley Robertson, www.fearless-selling.ca

In the seventeen-plus years I have been working with sales people and helping them increase their sales, I have noticed that many of them fail to ask for the sale. In my sales training workshops, people express a variety of reasons why they don’t ask for the sale.

Here are 7 of the most common reasons why sales people don’t ask for the sale and what you can do about it.

1. Fear of rejection

This is by far the most common reason why people don’t ask for the business. I don’t know many people actually enjoy being rejected and sales people are no different.

However, it is critical to realize that a ‘no’ is not a personal slam against you. It simply means that you prospect or customer does not need or want your product, service or solution. It doesn’t mean they dislike you as a person-unless of course, you were pushy, rude or arrogant.

2.They don’t know how
 Some people, especially individuals who are relatively new to sales, simply don’t know how to ask. I remember my first sales call more than 20 years ago.

I had gone through my presentation and my prospect appeared interested; however, I didn’t know what to say so we sat there in silence for a few moments until I finally blurted out, “So, would you like to go with it then?” She said, “Sure.”

The key is to develop a variety of questions that you are comfortable asking.

 3. Don’t know when
The timing can be critical. Some sales people don’t know exactly when to ask a prospect for their business so they wait-often waiting too long, and thus, missing the opportunity. Although you don’t want to ask too early, you can’t afford to wait too long either.

An approach that can work is to build it into your sales presentation. Take the guesswork out of the equation and figure out the best place to position the “close.” I generally position it after we have discussed my proposal or solution and addressed any questions my prospect may have.

I usually say something like, “What other questions or concerns do you have?” If they say, “None” I reply with, “Should we book a date for the training now?”

 4. Afraid of being perceived as being pushy
Unless you use manipulative sales tactics, aggressive closing lines, or the wrong tone of voice, people will seldom think you are being pushy when you ask them to make a buying decision.

The key here is to ensure that you done an effective job at identifying a potential problem, presenting your solution in terms that make sense to your prospect, and addressed any potential concerns they may have.

If you achieve that goal, you have earned the right to ask for the sale.

5. They don’t like being asked for their business
People in my sales training workshops have said, “I don’t like it when someone asks me for the sale so I won’t do that to other people.”

I respect that position. I also believe that we need to eliminate our personal biases. However, I know that this is easier said than done. The key is to identify the personal biases you have related to sales and selling and figure out a way to get past them.

My personal bias is that I abhor aggressive sales people. However, I have learned that you don’t need to be aggressive in order to ask for the sale.

6. Afraid of objections
Objections are a natural part of the sales process and the best way to deal with them is to anticipate them and address them in your sales presentation or proposal.

It is also important to realize that when someone expresses a real objection, it actually demonstrates an interest to buy. It is much better to hear an objection than to walk away from a potential with no idea of why your prospect didn’t buy.

 7. It feels awkward or uncomfortable
I will be the first to admit that it DOES feel uncomfortable taking this step-at least at first. But that’s just like anything else you attempt for the first time.

The key is to create a variety of lines, phrases, statements and questions that you are comfortable using and then practicing them until they flow smoothly and comfortably from your brain to your mouth. Don’t dismiss this simplicity of this idea.

Verbal rehearsal and practice is one of the most effective ways to remove any discomfort from a new sales approach, question or response.

I believe that it was Wayne Gretzky who said, “You will always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” and this applies to sales, too.

In today’s highly competitive world you need to be proactive in asking for the sale. Otherwise, a competitor who is more assertive will capture the business you deserve.

Kelley Robertson is president of the Robertson Training Group. Kelley is the author of two sales books, Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers and The Secrets of Power Selling. Both sales training books provide practical insights to improving your sales results. Visit his website at www.fearless-selling.ca or call him 905 633 7750.
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Stop Pushing

by Kelley Robertson, www.fearless-selling.ca

A few weeks ago a participant in a sales training workshop I recently conducted asked, “How do I convince someone to buy from me?”

This is the same as asking, “How can I force someone to buy from me?

You can’t force or push someone into buying your product or service.

Actually, I take that back.

You CAN coerce people into making a buying decision but it tends to happen more in a B2C setting (think time-share) {{{{shudder}}} than a B2B situation although I have encountered situations where someone made a business purchase because the sales person was aggressive, pushy, and forceful.

BTW: If you need to resort to using this type of approach I suggest you find another way to earn a living. Just saying…

I have always believed that you shouldn’t have to convince someone to buy your product, service or offering. If you have been effective in asking high-value questions to determine the other person’s buying criteria, motives, needs and wants; presented your offering in a manner that resonates with your prospect and properly addressed their concerns and possible objections, you seldom have to convince that person to buy.

However, if you short cut the process and deliver a well-rehearsed pitch without taking the time to adapt that presentation so it addresses the prospect’s key issues and current situation, you will always encounter resistance and reluctance.

And, if you start to push harder when you meet that resistance, the other person will naturally resist even more.

It’s human nature.

When people feel threatened their natural instinct is to defend themselves. And when people feel that a sales person is trying to push, coerce, or convince them to buy, they will become defensive and less inclined to buy from that sales person.

The key is to engage people in a conversation. A natural conversation. A conversation that includes everyone people involved in the buying decision.

Having said all of this, there is a difference between assertively responding to a ‘no’ or ‘not interested’ and aggressively pushing someone into making a decision that they simply do not want to make.

So what do you do when someone obviously has no interest in buying what you are selling? Move on!

Stop pushing and start looking for people who have a need and desire for your product, service and offering.

Kelley Robertson is president of the Robertson Training Group. Kelley is the author of two sales books, Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers and The Secrets of Power Selling. Both sales training books provide practical insights to improving your sales results. Visit his website at www.fearless-selling.ca or call him 905 633 7750
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12 Tips For Handling “Runaway” Talkers (Part II)

Here are 6 more tips on how to manage clients who talk…and talk…and talk.

Tip #7:  Politely Interrupt – Use their name

It’s not always easy but when the Runaway Talker really gets going sometimes the most effective way to interrupt is to use your client’s name.  Names are like beacons and often draw the attention of the speaker back to you rather than on their soliloquy.  Repeat their name slowly and gently in order to break their rhythm otherwise they won’t hear you.  For instance:

“Sarah … Sarah… Sarah… Before I forget  I need to ask you something important. The …”

Sarah will eventually pause when she hears her name. That’s when you interject the little trigger phrase “before I forget …” Then point out that it is important even if it’s not all that important.  It tends to draw their attention back to business.

Tip #8:  Use a Timer

Look, we all know that some clients (big, profitable clients) have probably earned the right to a twenty or thirty minute ‘fireside chat.’   Let them have that, but no more.  One way to keep an eye on things is to set a timer on your computer or watch or iPhone.  Decide that you’ll devote 25 minutes to this customer but at the 20 minute mark, start developing your call exit strategy.

All this really does is create discipline on your part. It forces you to take control otherwise the talker will keep you on the line another twenty minutes.

Tip #9: Acknowledge Their Time and Schedule

This is a nifty little technique whereby you acknowledge their busy schedule and use it as an excuse to terminate the call. When you sense a break or pause in the talker, remark,

“That’s good stuff…And Jim, I know you probably have a ton of things on your plate so I will let you go and give you a call next Thursday at 2:15.  I appreciate your time today.”

The first remark acknowledges the previous comments made by the client whatever they might have been.  Using “And” avoids the “but” (as in “but I’ve got to get going”) and allows you to interject with a comment on their busy schedule. Wrap up the call and terminate.”

Tip #10: Don’t Ask “is there anything else?”

While polite and courteous for most customers, it’s not a wise question for the runaway talker. There will ALWAYS be something else.  Don’t invite it.

Tip #11:  Establish a Pre-Text for Terminating

Here’s where planning kicks in.  Before your call, plan a meeting or a call with someone, anyone, and put it into your Outlook with an alarm.  When it goes off you have a ‘legitimate’ reason to terminate the call.

“Andrea…I’d love to chat some more but I have a call set for right now.  I have to run or I will miss it but we can catch up on the next call.”

Tip #12:  ‘Accidentally’ Drop the Receiver

As a last resort, accidentally drop the telephone receiver.  Again … use only when desperate and for those clients to go on and on despite your best attempts.  Dropping the phone does get their attention.  Apologize of course, but use the break to terminate the call.  Hopefully you don’t have to use this tactic often and only as a last measure, but it is effective.

 Summary

Catering to long winded talkers can cost you time, money and opportunity. They put you behind on your tasks and objectives. They can cause you stress and frustration.  On the other hand, customers are customers.  Some are very good and very big customers.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to let them vent, chat or prattle on.  But when the time comes to terminate, try one or more of these techniques.

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12 Tips For Handling “Runaway” Talkers (Part I)

Runaway talkers are customers  who will talk your ear off.  I don’t mean those who chat two or three minutes but those that go on and on and on.

The Cost of a Runaway Talker

Of course, the real dilemma is that runaway talkers ARE customers – sometimes VERY good customers- and we don’t want to terminate the call and risk their discontent and possibly lose their business.  Consequently most telephone based sales reps ‘suffer’ through it and accept it as a necessary part of business.

But long winded talkers come with a cost.  They cost you time, money and opportunity.  Every moment you spend in idle chatter is moment you could have spent on new business development,  other customer calls, projects, paperwork, the whole gamut.  Runaway talkers can cause frustration and anxiety when you get behind on tasks and activities.  They can cause resentment if you have to work overtime or you miss a deadline or fall short on your objectives.

So it is important that you know how to diplomatically manage a runaway talker and get back to work.  Here are six tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Plan Your Call Before You Call

All calls should be planned but with runaway talkers you need to take a few extra moments to plot the approach to your call.  Determine the objectives of the calls. Prepare questions to keep the call on track. Expect their conversational segues and review the tactics below so that you can turn to them if and when needed.

Tip #2:  Use an Opening Statement that Conveys Time Sensitivity

Use your opening statement to establish a focus and a time limit up front before the talker begins to ramble. He or she will still talk but at least you’ve created a pre-text for concluding the call when the time comes. Here some good opening templates:

                “Gina, it’s _________ from __________. Gina, just a very, very quick call to check on ________.

This opening uses ‘very’ twice and is delivered with a faster than normal pace.  The idea is to create a sense of urgency; like you’re juggling a half dozen tasks, and that THIS call is going to be very quick.  Your words and tone reveal that to your client. Here’ another:

“Hey Mark, _______ it’s _________ calling from  ________. Mark, I have 3 quick reasons for my call today before I have to rush off.”

This opener alerts the listener to your agenda (3 reasons).  Again, the word ‘quick’ is tossed in for good measure.  The idea is that you have some specific things to accomplish and you’ve laid out the plan.  Speed up the pace of your voice. Here’s one more:

“Ron,  it’s ________ calling from ________ I wanted to touch bases before I leave for my 9:30 meeting in about 7-8 minutes.”

In this case, your caller knows your precise availability. The meeting is your excuse to terminate the call if necessary and since they were warned about it, it is easier to interrupt without feeling rude.

Tip #3: Do NOT Volunteer any Extraneous Information

Be careful to avoid the rapport building questions that will take you down endless verbal trails.  The  trouble with most runaway talkers is that they are generally very nice people.  When you say, “How was your weekend?” they dive right in, open up and tell you EVERYTHING about their weekend from Friday at 5:00 till Sunday at 10:00.

Similarly, when you say, “Hey, how ‘bout those Flyers over the Penguins?” you’re asking for long winded trouble.  If you have time, go ahead and ask but if it’s a busy day, avoid mundane questions.

Tip #4:  Limit YOUR Responses

If you’re asked about ‘those Flyers’ give a one line reply to acknowledge the remark and then move to a question to refocus the call.  “Yes, it was quite a game.  By the way Ron, did you get that proposal I sent you about the next implementation phase?”   Don’t make a remark about Sydney Crosby’s on ice behavior unless you want to chat about hockey for the next 18 minutes.

Tips #5:  Minimize Your Use of Open Ended Questions

Open ended questions are generally very good for selling situations.  With runaway talkers it can be their ticket to chatsville.  This is not to say you should not use open ended questions but rather minimize their use.

Tip #6:  Maximize Your Use of Close Ended Questions

In Tip #4, the rep asked a runaway talker a close ended question: did you get the proposal? It narrows the focus and reduces the client’s chance to open up.  Very quickly, follow up with another close ended question such as, “Were the quantities correct?”  “Was the price in range?”, “Would you like to proceed?”  Questions like these may seem a  bit abrupt but that’s what is often necessary.

NOTE: Runaway talkers can still open up and ramble on even if you ask a close ended question but using close ended questions helps reduce the tendency and helps channel the direction of the call.

In the next article you’ll find six more tactics to politely ‘manage and direct’ talkative clients and get you back to work.

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How to Beat the “Budget” Objection

The ‘budget’ is one of the most ambiguous – and consequently, most frustrating- objections in the world of telephone sales.  If you can learn how to effectively master the budget objections you’ll close more sales, plain and simple.

Here’s the problem: there are several ways to interpret the “it’s not in the budget” objection:

  • Is your client saying, there’s budget available but your price exceeds that which has been allocated? Or,
  • Is your client saying, there is no budget for this particular item at all? Or,
  • Is your client saying, we’ve got budget – maybe lots of it- but wants to chisel the price down? Or
  • Is the client really saying, “I am not interested” but is being nice about it? Or,
  • Is the client hiding another objection behind the budget smokescreen?

Clearly you can’t tackle the budget objection without some clarification. There are 3 steps to get you started:

Step #1: Pause

This is a bit theatrical but very effective on the phone. When you hear the budget objection pause for a brief second. This will do two things for you. First, it buys you a little more time to formulate your response and second, it gets your clients attention; they hear the silent gap and zero in on your next string of words.

Step #2:  Acknowledge the Objection

After you’ve paused respond by saying , “I understand,” or “budgets are important” or something similar.  By doing so you’ve acknowledged you have heard the objection and that you’re not dismissing it. You legitimize it.  This reduces tension between the buyer and seller. It relaxes them and makes them open to further probing.

Step #3:  Clarify if budget is indeed the true objection.

Here are some ways you can clarify if the ‘budget’ is the real issue or something else:

“Chris, suppose budget was not an issue would my product/service provide the fit you’re looking for?”

“Pat, when you say budget do you mean that the price of (your product) exceeds the amount you have set aside for such a purchase?”

“Kelly, apart from budget is there anything else that would hold you back from purchasing?”

If Budget is not the objection….

Obviously what you are trying to do is determine if budget is truly the issue that is preventing the sale.  By isolating the budget the client must articulate further.  If there are other issues that are holding them back this is where they’ll crop up.  Usually you hear things like,

“Ah … well… you know…we’ve been buying from ABC for 15 years now and …”

“Well … I’d really have to check with my boss on that …”

“Budget’s important but we are really quite comfortable with our current system…”

“I …er… am a little concerned maybe it’s a little too much for what we need…”

The good news is that now you know it’s not really an issue of budget (or it might be budget PLUS something else).  At this stage you need to pursue a new line of questioning to determine if the latest objection is also a smokescreen. But whatever the case may be, you are beginning to peel back the onion and are getting down to the core objection.

If Budget is the true objection

If  your client pipes up that he/she loves the product and it would work wonders for them but the money is not there, you can respond in a couple of ways:

Budget Buster Option #1: Work Within Their Budget

Again, turn to questioning  to help you respond.  Go ahead and ask your client what they do have established as a budget.  You might frame it like this,

“Jeff, I’d like to see if there might be a solution here.  Let me ask, what do you typically budget for this type of product?”  (or, “What do you have budgeted for this project?”)  If the client is seriously interested in your offer they’ll usually cough up a number because they want a solution.

Once the number is out there you can try to work with it.  There are several ways to do just that:

–          Do you have a ‘lite’ version of your solution (same product but perhaps with less features, bells and whistle) that fits their budget?

–          Is there an alternative product (a different make or type ) that will do the same job?

–          Can you reduce the quantity to meet their immediate requirements?

Budget Buster Option #2: Find the Budget For Them

In this scenario, you act as a ‘consultant’ helping the client look for extra dollars or value.  Here are a few ideas;

–          Outline the additional benefits of your offer (i.e., show the value of the product; for instance,  the productive capacity is 18% greater which offsets the cost over the long run)

–          In a  similar manner, toss in something extra to ‘sweeten’ the deal  (which stretches the budget dollar further e.g., a warranty)

–          Ask if there are other departments or groups that can help with the budget (perhaps they derive some benefit as well?)

–          Ask about ‘contingency’ funds or special  reserves that most companies have for situations exactly like these

–          Offer financing to ‘ease the financial strain’ over a period of time

–          Determine if there is a ‘higher court of appeal’ i.e., find out who can approve the deal if there’s a case to be made

–          Perhaps offer a discount

Summary

Budget objections don’t have to be deal breakers.  If they are legitimate you can make a stab at overcoming them.  If they are not legitimate, you have another shot at finding out the true objection.  Either way, you are further ahead then you were.

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How to Deliver “Bad” News to Customers

Delivering bad news (e.g., delayed shipment, software virus, no warranty coverage etc.)  to customers is not usually pleasant.

Bad news is bad news but how you deliver it can have an impact on future customer relations. There are five steps to delivering bad news in a more effective, customer concentric manner:

Step #1: Prepare and Plan Your Call

Before you make you call, gather all the facts surrounding the situation.  Try to anticipate your client’s reaction by asking, ‘what would I ask, want or demand if it were me?’  Think of what you want to say and HOW you want to say it.   Use a sheet of paper to jot down key points you want to make or important questions you might want to ask.   Determine action plans, alternative recommendations or other solutions to help mitigate the issue.  Finally, minimize external distractions.  If necessary, find a private office to avoid interruptions so you can give 100% of your attention to the issue at hand.

Step #2: Don’t Delay

There’s an old adage, “If you have to eat crow, it is best to eat it while it’s young and tender.  Crow does not get better with age. “  Good advice.

Deliver your ‘dreaded news’ as soon as possible especially if you’re at fault or if there are significant implications.  Bad news is bad enough but delays suggest indifference which can exacerbate the situation.  Gather your information and then pick up the phone.

Step #3: Don’t Beat Around the Bush

When you get your customer on the phone do NOT try to build rapport or make small talk.  It will ultimately ring as false.  This is probably the most awkward part of any call. Here is a nifty technique you can use to break the news.  After you’ve introduced yourself and your company follow this template:

 “Aaron, I have heard back from shipping regarding your last order < slight pause>

(In effect, this preps your client about the topic or issue)

I’m afraid I have some bad news <slight pause>

(This is an extremely important line because it ‘warns’ the client that bad news is forthcoming.  The bad news isn’t quite so shocking when they are anticipating ‘something.’)

The shipment is delayed for two weeks.  It will arrive on the 18th of May <slight pause>

(Okay, so this is where you lay it on the line.  No frills. No obfuscation.  Black and white.  Facts. The dreaded news)

I am sorry about this news.  I know you have due dates and this must be distressing. <slight pause>

(Finally, you conclude your message delivery with an apology and acknowledge the implications.)

Of course your tone of delivery is ABSOLUTELY critical.  The pace should be somewhat slower than you normally talk.  This allows the customer to absorb and comprehend the message.  It also helps make you sound more sincere.  Your tone must resonate with concern and regret.  Use the pauses after each sentence.  Most of the time, the client will allow you to continue as they adjust to your message.

Step #4: Let Them Respond

Pause a bit longer after your last line.  One of two things will happen at this stage. One, they  interject with a question, a comment, a lament, maybe even a curse or two.  It will vary with the individual and the situation but it is important that you let them vent or comment.  It is an emotional moment so bare that it mind if it gets a little heated.

Or two, they will say nothing.  This is kind of a kin to being in shock.  Use it to your advantage.  If they don’t reply right away, move to the final step below.

Step #5: Offer a Plan of Action or Alternatives

Here’s where your pre-call planning can help you out.  If you have an alternative or a plan of action, say so. Tell the client what you CAN do.

“Aaron, here’s what I have done…” or,

“Aaron, here’s what I recommend we do…” or,

“Aaron, I haven’t given up on this. As I see it we have three options…”

Of course, this assumes there is a Plan B.  If not, summarize the action items you took:  who you spoke with, the various avenues you searched, etc.   It won’t always appease the upset client but it will convey that you attempted to DO something.

Summary

Hopefully you won’t have too many dreaded calls to make but when you do, remember these steps.  How you respond with tough news will often dictate the future of that particular customer. This approach is a responsible approach.  Many of your clients will sense that and work with you to achieve a satisfactory solution.  Give it a shot.

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The Absolute BEST B2B Tele-Prospecting Opening Statement… Ever!

Hands down, the best ‘go-to’ opener for cold calling is the  “Humble Opener.” Seriously! This is a VERY, VERY good opening statement template.

Highly effective, versatile, easy-to-learn AND easy-to-apply the humble is your ticket to better tele-prospecting results. Adapt this statement to your situation, practice it and deliver it well, and you’ll increase your presentation rate.   And that means more sales down the line. Period. End of story.

A bit of background: I stole this opening statement from a rep by the name of Rocky Mancini about 15 years ago. Initially, I wasn’t too fond of it. In fact, I thought it was a little wimpy and that it lacked a sense of ‘confidence.’   I was dead wrong. Prospects didn’t seem to react that way at all. In fact, their response was just the opposite. They were (and still are) extremely receptive to the tone and approach of the message.

Humble  Opening Examples

Below are three examples to illustrate the Humble approach. Take a look at each. Determine the common denominators. Kind in mind: how we READ versus how it SOUNDS are two different issues. You may want to read them aloud to appreciate their subtleties.

Example #1

“Anthony? This is Pat McCormick calling from XYZ Investments; we specialize in helping small business owners maximize their retirement portfolio.

Of course, Anthony, at this point in time I’m not certain if we can help minimize your tax exposure and maximize your investments but if I’ve caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few questions, get a feel for your situation and see if it makes sense to chat further.

Let me ask you…”

Example #2

“Kerri, its Aaron Manusco calling from ABC Distributing.

Kerri, the reason for my call is to follow up on an e-mail I sent you yesterday introducing our new tele-account management program designed to streamline your ordering processing and reduce shipping costs.

I don’t if you’ve had a chance to review it in any detail but if I’ve caught you at a good time I’d like to ask you just a few quick questions to better understand your business and then, if it makes sense, explain the program and what it can do for you.

Let me ask…”

Example #3:

“Hi Pat, this Sandra Smythe from TS Consulting. I help companies use the telephone more effectively to sell and market their products.

Pat, I’m not sure if my services would be of benefit to your company but I’ve worked with other distributors helping them increase their contact rates and ultimately their sales.

If I’ve caught you at good time, I’d like to ask you a few quick questions to get a better feel for your situation and determine if it might be worth our while to chat further.

Let me ask….”

Analysis – 5 Reasons Why the Humble Works so Well!

First off, the Humble works because it is client focused not product focused. Notice it doesn’t pitch the product but rather seeks to determine if a need exists (“I’d like to ask you a few questions…) That in itself, puts the opener in a league of its own.

Secondly – and most importantly – the opener utilizes a powerful little ‘trigger’ phrase: “I don’t know…” or “I am not certain…” (Or variations on that theme). This is the very heart of the Humble Opener and it’s what makes it work. Delivered with honesty and conviction this phrase gets prospects to tune in and actually listen closely.

At first glance, it would seem this tentative remark would suggest that the telephone rep is uncertain about his/her product or service. However, the effect is quite the opposite. Prospects like it because it triggers the impression that the rep understands the prospect’s situation is unique and different. It implies there may not be an application for his product or service and if there is none, the rep will politely terminate the call. This ‘take away’ tactic makes the call that much more provocative and gets the prospect all the more curious.

One more thing: most telephone reps don’t approach the call in such a humble fashion and because of that the call is distinctive to the prospect. Most prospects are used to tele-reps spilling their guts or making grand promises of benefits. The Humble is different … so prospects tend to listen more closely rather than dismiss the call. They sense that this is not your run-of-the-mill “telemarketing” call.

Third, while the Humble does not ignore benefits, it presents them in a subtle manner. The opener dangles them but it doesn’t promise them. Benefits are used in the opener to communicate to the client what they might derive. The operative word is ‘might.’ It’s tantalizing, not bombastic. There is a genuine sense of candid honesty. Prospects are more apt to listen if only because they are curious as to why it might not work.

Fourth, another handy trigger phrase is “if I caught you at a good time.” The prospect senses the rep is polite and considerate about interrupting the moment. But if you look at it closely, the rep is not really asking if ‘now’ is a good time but rather is asking if he could ask a few questions. The way the phrase is worded is respectful and acknowledges the importance of time but it is really a request to ask some questions.

Finally, the rep doesn’t wait for a direct reply but rather asks the first question. It gets the client engaged and talking. This increases the chance of completing the call.

Summary

Sure, a prospect can still terminate the call and many will. But the Humble typically increases the ‘listen’ rate by about 35%-40%. That doesn’t mean sales will increase by that much but it does mean more prospects will listen more attentively rather that tuning out. And that’s where you get the competitive edge.

I am not certain how it will work for you but give it a try and let me know.

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Please… Return My Call

by Eric Slife www.salestrainingcentral.com.

Getting prospects to return your calls is one of the most frustrating problems you experience.

You can be 90% sure a deal will close in the next week and suddenly, silence. If you keep calling, you appear desperate and annoying, so what do you do?

Before you drive yourself completely crazy, take solace in the fact your competition faces the same problem. However, that alone won’t pay the bills. Before exploring some tactics that will help you get your calls returned, first ask yourself, “Why don’t prospects return my calls?”

Here are some of the more common reasons prospects don’t return calls:

  • Fear – Most people don’t like confrontation. They would rather completely avoid you, than deliver you bad news.
  • Too Busy – Prospects are bombarded by calls every day. Even though returning your call may only take 5 minutes, the thought of having to talk with a sales person when they have nothing new for you and a pile of work on their desk can seem like an hour. In addition, if they have 10 similar calls that day, it will take an hour.
  • Lack Urgency – If their problem hasn’t reached their pain threshold, they will lack a sense of urgency to fix it. Without pain, their problem isn’t a high priority.
  • No Value – If you are leaving messages that don’t provide additional value or specific reason for them to call you back, there is no point for them to call you. “I’m just calling to see if you got my brochure (or made a decision),” won’t stimulate someone to return your call.
  • Using You – If a company is just fishing for information, they will lose all interest once they receive what they want. Don’t give up information without getting something in return. If they want a price quote over the phone or a brochure, make them first agree to an appointment.

How do you get people to call you back?

Your first action with your prospect is to establish the ground rules and expectations. Your prospect needs to know it is okay to say, “No.”

For example: “Mr. or Ms. Prospect I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. At the end of today’s meeting, my goal is for us to establish if my product or service is a good fit for you and your company. In order to do this, I’d like to ask you some questions, so I better understand your business. Are you okay with this?”

If at any time during our conversation today or future conversations it becomes clear to you that we aren’t a good fit, or you decide to go in a different direction, are you comfortable with telling me, ‘No’? In addition, if at sometime I need you to return a call or reply to an email for additional information or to determine what you want next, what method do you prefer? Great, let’s get started.”

By doing this, you are laying the ground rules. If they don’t return your calls, politely remind them of this conversation. This doesn’t mean you email or call them every other day. Give them an opportunity to respond. I suggest at least 4 business days between contacts.

Let’s say, you’ve laid the ground work, and your calls still aren’t returned, here are some specific techniques you can do to reach your prospect.

  • Disengage Caller ID: Contact your phone company and ask them how to temporarily disengage your caller id. Let’s face it, we all screen our calls. If they still don’t pick up, don’t leave a message, but call back at a different time using the same technique.
  • Use Email: Many times if a prospect can’t be reached over the phone, an email is your best alternative. I’ll often include the following in the Subject Line: John, regarding your request about…
  • Fall on Your Sword: Don’t come across as upset or demanding. Take the opposite approach:

“Mr. or Ms. Prospect, unfortunately we’ve been unable to connect, and I’m starting to feel like I’m becoming an annoyance. I certainly don’t want to be a pain in your side, but I’m feeling like your situation has changed. Please let me know what’s changed, and how I should best follow up with you. This politely let’s them know they haven’t returned your calls, and they appreciate your graciousness.”

  • Contact The Receptionist: That’s right, call the receptionist. Let them know you have had trouble connecting. See if your prospect has been out of town. They may even have information that sheds light on the situation. You may uncover some important internal politics or changes that are happening.
  • Go Over Their Head: Sometimes, you may need to make an end run. One catch. Have your manager make the call to the person over your contact. This way you still may be able to save face with your prospect.

Call at Higher Levels: Most sales people think they are speaking with the decision maker, when in reality they aren’t. Many times sales people will ask, “Are you the decision maker?” Unfortunately, too many people don’t want to admit they aren’t the decision maker. To get a more accurate answer, ask them, “Who else besides yourself will be involved in the decision making process?”

If you start by calling the actual decision maker, you will receive more direct and honest answers. True decision makers don’t have time to play games. In addition, if they tell you to call someone lower in the organization, you can always use that as leverage if someone isn’t returning your calls. You might say something like:

“Mr. or Ms. Prospect I know you are busy. However, I promised _________ (their boss) I would provide them periodic updates, or information by this date. Unfortunately, I can’t provide them with this until I speak with you concerning…”

  • Fire Your Contact: If everything else has failed, it’s time to fish or cut bait. Reach out one last time, to inform them you are throwing away their file. Believe it or not, this will get some people to realize it’s time to make a decision. If it doesn’t work, walk away knowing you’re better off spending time with real prospects

One final thought. Sometimes deals fall through. In this case, the best thing you can do is to build top of mind awareness. Create your own drip marketing campaign, so when a company is prepared to purchase, you are at the top of their list, or at least number two. In addition, this is a great way to obtain referrals!

About The Author:
I started Slife Sales Training, Inc. with my wife Daphne in 1999. Since then, our company has evolved into one of the most extensive and affordable online sales training resources www.salestrainingcentral.com. Sign up for our newsletter today and receive Top 10 Voicemail Blunders for absolutely FREE.
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50 Dumb and Costly Mistakes Tele-Sales Managers Make

Here is a list of fifty dumb and costly mistakes tele-sales managers can sometimes (or often) make.

They are dumb because they can be easily avoided. They are costly because they impact the integrity and profitability of a tele-sales department.

  1. Not being an active part of the interviewing process; leaving it to HR
  2. Not conducting at least three telephone interviews with candidates to determine their ability to communicate over the phone
  3. Providing minimal sales and /or product training
  4. Thinking ‘baptism by fire’ (putting reps on the phone right away) is a clever way to determine who will ‘cut it’ and who will not.
  5. Believing that tele-sales (telemarketing, inside sales) is purely a “numbers” game.
  6. Obsessing over activity (dial counts).
  7. Failing to understand that tele-sales is a ‘results’ game too!
  8. Not providing continuous training to develop skills and/or knowledge.
  9. Not monitoring calls (and call quality) on a regular basis.
  10. Not rolling up your sleeves and actively providing feedback to your reps on a 1:1 basis
  11. Playing favorites
  12. Lack of consistency in management behavior
  13. Not having a well-defined, step-by-step ‘get well plan’ for underachievers
  14. Having a well-defined ‘get well’ but not implementing it well, consistently or at all
  15. Keeping under performers far too long because you are worried about ‘letting them go…’
  16. Changing the compensation plan throughout the year
  17. Capping commissions when some reps perform too well or land a big sale
  18. Setting absolutely ridiculous sales objectives that no one will ever achieve (but you know your boss will admire)
  19. Taking credit for achievements that others have achieved
  20. Ignoring individual achievements
  21. Not celebrating group achievements
  22. Not creating a motivating environment (contests, decorations, activities…)
  23. Thinking that having an “…open door policy” is enough to help develop, coach and motivate your reps
  24. Failing to keep your word … on anything … big or small
  25. Not being tough enough when being tough is necessary for group or self-improvement
  26. Failing to have clearly defined standards/expectations for the calling process
  27. Micro managing … everything
  28. Sneaky behavior – reading e-mails and listening to voice mails (both business and personal) 
  29. Providing critical feedback …only
  30. Not communicating regularly or effectively
  31. Focusing only on what’s NOT been done versus what’s BEEN accomplished
  32. Using ‘but’ too often (“…that was a good call, but …”; “…you had an excellent month, but…”, “…that was a great sale, but…”)
  33. Publicly embarrassing an employee
  34. Not having a sales strategy or plan
  35. Having a sales strategy or plan but not following or implementing it
  36. Preaching that “our people are #1” but not practicing the philosophy
  37. Create compensation programs that are confusing and convoluted and grotesquely interpretative
  38. Giving top reps the best leads (to increase the odds of closure)
  39. Giving new reps or low performing reps crumby leads
  40. Getting some of your reps to do YOUR job (orienting , training, coaching)
  41. Getting some of your reps to do YOUR job and not compensating and/or recognizing their assistance
  42. Overwhelming your reps with ridiculous tracking reports … that are never reviewed anyway
  43. Judging individual sales behavior based on an aberration rather than a trend
  44. Holding off on commission till the end of the quarter … or end of the year
  45. Promising marketing and sales support material
  46. Spying (monitoring e-mails and voice mails)
  47. Arbitrarily take accounts away from your reps or reorganizing territories
  48. Pointing fingers of blame
  49. Not listening despite the logic or relevance
  50. Not saying you’re sorry … acknowledging you made a mistake
 Summary

No one is perfect and some of these mistakes are unavoidable due to circumstances. However, by minimizing what you can, you will create a more effective, more positive and more profitable work environment.

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In Praise of Failure

By Paul McCord

In today’s politically correct world the idea there’s no such thing as failure has become so popular that it’s a staple of motivational speakers; sports leagues make sure that every kid feels like a success by giving each a participation trophy; schools teach kids that they didn’t fail, they just weren’t as successful as some other students; and some companies even make sure that every employee, even the biggest screw up, gets a reward for something.

by Paul McCord

Failure has become a forbidden, four-letter word; one that some think should be purged from the English language, for failure, they believe, destroys ego and can permanently damage the fragile psyche of a kid–or salesperson.  The very word destroys lives.

As a result we have today people entering the workforce who have never failed because they’ve been told that by simply showing up and breathing they’ve succeeded.  Many of these new members of the workforce rudely discover that failure is very much a reality–but instead of taking responsibility for their failure and learning from it, they find a million reasons why it was someone or something else’s fault.

Worse, society reinforces the idea that we cannot fail; we are told it isn’t our fault, instead we are victims of circumstance beyond our control.  We didn’t fail; we were victims.

Teaching the non-existence of failure is one of the most despicable things we can do to someone, as we are setting them up to be devastated when they are eventually confronted with the reality of the consequences of their failure.

The reality is, to put a little twist on a Gordon Gekko line: Failure is Good.

Failure only becomes negative when one accepts it as an end in itself, for there is a huge difference between failure and being a failure–one teaches, the other destroys.

Only through failure can we understand and appreciate success.

Only through failure can we grow.

Only through failure can we be molded into the success we want to be.

Failure is our teacher, our disciplinarian, our coach, and our goal setter.

Although training and coaching combined with time and effort are keys to obtaining the skills needed to become successful, they are in and of themselves insufficient to create a successful person.

If we think of training and coaching as the anvil that the hammer of time and effort beats us against to shape us, the hammering would be useless without the fire of failure to heat us to the point that we can be molded into a success.

If you want to become a success, get to know failure well and gladly take responsibility for it and accept its lessons.  Forget the silly PC denial of reality that failure doesn’t exist.  Instead embrace it as a key ingredient in your current and future success.

Author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and one of the country’s leading authorities on prospecting, referral generation, and personal marketing, Paul McCord has had a distinguished career in teaching, sales, sales training, and sales management. Paul is the author of Creating a Million-Dollar-a-Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals, and The Extraordinary Sales Manager and Planning YOUR Success.  He can be reached by phone at  281-216-6845  or by E-mail: pmccord@mccordandassociates.com.Be sure to visit his Web site: http://www.mccordandassociates.com
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How to Compliment Your Customers and Prospects

How do you feel when someone gives you a compliment?

Provided the compliment was sincere, you feel pretty good, right? We all like compliments. We typically respond well to them and we typically appreciate the person who utters them.

If this natural and fundamental rule of social interaction holds true, then why not use it in the  telephone selling process?

The Compliment

By giving clients a compliment you can improve your sales results.  A compliment is a positive remark, a word of encouragement, or a sincere acknowledgment.

While it is no real mystery why a compliment works (everyone likes one) it is important to understand the “triggers” that are activated inside your client. There are three triggers that come into play.

First, at some level, a compliment,  no matter how small makes people feel good. This is a positive trigger and helps develop rapport with the client.

Second, because the client feels good or positive, he or she tends to be more receptive to you and your selling effort.  Don’t get me wrong, they don’t necessarily swoon simply because you tossed out a kind remark, but again, at a gut level they open up a little more; they cut you a little slack.

Third, when you compliment an individual, there is a subconscious desire and tendency by the client to somehow reciprocate or pay you back. There is a tendency for her to want to return the compliment in some way, shape or form. From the client’s perspective, this usually means being a little more forthright, more patient, more attentive, and a little less judgmental towards you.  More often than not it leads to better, more candid information which in turn, increases your chances of a sale.

The Art of Giving a Compliment

Tossing out a compliment might seem easy enough on the surface. But there is a danger. If done improperly, a compliment can backfire. The client can see you as “pandering” and phony. Instead of opening up, the reverse is true; they close down.

Here are three rules of thumb.

1. Listen for Opportunities

Don’t toss out a compliment just because you feel like it.  The comment must be given when appropriate.  Tune in and listen closely.  For example, suppose a prospect returns your call after you left a voice mail message. You might say,

“Thank your for returning my call, Mr. Lobel. That was kind of you.”

By suggesting to the prospect that they are “kind”, they tend to be kinder! You can apply the same approach on a cold call. When you reach your prospect you might start off by saying:

  “Thank you for taking my call. I know your day must be busy.”

By acknowledging that their day is busy, you show your prospect respect. In turn, they tend to show respect back.

It’s not much, is it? But phrases like these are rarely spoken by sales reps.  The compliment cannot help but evoke a somewhat positive feeling in the prospect.  In addition, it is difficult for the client to hang up or tune out once someone has shown a measure of courtesy. It buys you time, even if it’s only thirty or forty seconds.

One more example: imagine the client asks you a tough question or poses an unusual objection. You might start off by saying:

“That’s a really good question.”

Somewhere deep inside the prospect feels a measure of pride concerning his insightful question.  It acknowledges his or her business acumen. It is only human. Chances are the prospect will open up a little bit more with their responses.

2. Be Simple and  Avoid the Lavish

Here are some additional examples of simple, effective compliments:

  • “That’s a good point.
  • “Thank you for that information. It really helps clarify things.”
  •  “That’s an interesting perspective.
  •  “That was very helpful.”
  • “You are very knowledgeable.”
  • “I like what you are saying.”

These compliments are kind acknowledgments. Avoid lengthy compliments. People become suspect if you go on at length. Be subtle. Less is more.

3. Deliver it Well

When delivered over the telephone, about 85% of your message is tonal. Only 15% of the message is the actual words that you use.

What this really means is that you must sound sincere, respectful and natural. Your message may be short and concise but if you overly inflect or gush, the compliment loses its meaning entirely.  On the other hand, you should place some emphasis on the words so that they do not sound trite.  This is hard to illustrate on paper of course, but common sense will tell you what sounds sincere and what does not.

Summary

Sometimes we forget that selling is a basic interaction of two individuals. Making someone feel good helps nurture that interaction to a certain degree. It creates a positive impression or mood. People respond to a kind remark. While it may not guarantee you a sale a compliment can certainly contribute to it.

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The Top 5 Reasons Why Tele-Sales Reps Don’t Ask (More) Questions

Why is it that despite the mountain of evidence and the billions of words written discussing the merits of questioning that telephone sales reps don’t ask (more) questions?

Boil it down and there would seem to be five distinctive reasons.  Do any of them apply to you?

Reason #1: Fear

Scratch the surface and you’ll discover the number one reason why reps don’t ask (more) questions is due to fear and uncertainty.  Some reps:

  • Fear that  the client will see the questions as intrusive and will get annoyed with them
  • Fear the client will cut them off right away if they don’t get to the point
  • Fear they will look stupid if they ask a ‘dumb’ question
  • Fear that they won’t look like the expert if they don’t quickly spout their expertise

So what do you?  Give your head a shake.  Prospects like it when you question them and hate it when you don’t.  They like it because it shows you’re interested in them and their needs; questions make them feel important.  They hate it when you don’t because it makes you look presumptuous.  Do you think they really want you to vomit up a solution or describe your product ad nauseum without some sort of needs analysis?  Come on, man!

Reason #2: Complacency

The second most common reason why telephone reps don’t ask more questions is because they’re complacent.  (Dare I say, lazy?)

This typically applies to a veteran or seasoned rep that’s ‘been-there-done-that.’  In their minds, they’ve seen and heard it all and so they’ve got it all ‘figured out. The rep is satisfied and content that in depth questioning is really not necessary.  Maybe it’s because the product or service is so simple and so intuitive.  In these cases, it is so much easier to simply skip to the pitch and trust (hope) that their charming and persuasive nature will win the client over. It rarely does.

What the complacent rep doesn’t realize is that even if the product or service is simple and straightforward, the client is flattered when they’re asked questions for the reasons listed above.  It makes the rep more trustworthy and likeable. Net result? People like to buy – and buy more- from reps they like and trust.

Are you complacent? Well, look at your sales. If you’re the top of the heap and ploughing through you’re sales objectives, you’re probably not complacent. If you’re not then maybe you should do some serious thinking.

Reason #3: Lack of Preparation

Some sales reps don’t ask questions because they haven’t done enough – or any – preparation.  Depending on the nature and complexity of your sale and depending on the client with whom you are speaking, some sort of research might be necessary.  The better the question the better the answer.

What should you do?  This one is easy.  Before you ever speak to the client take the time and think about the kinds of questions you could or should be asking.  Develop questions that get the client to elaborate on a problem or expand upon an opportunity.  Ask questions that get your client to quantify the challenge or the opportunity. Get their personal thoughts.  Push yourself and prepare with a pen in hand.

Reason #4: Ignorance

Another reason why reps don’t question more is that they don’t know what to ask. Usually this applies to a rookie rep that hasn’t had enough experience with the product or service.  Or it could also suggest that there hasn’t been enough training or coaching.

What to do? If necessary ask for more skills training.  Go to your manager and ask for help in preparing; role play, drill, practice and rehears; get them to monitor your calls and provide feedback on what you should ask. Buddy up with some of the top sales reps in your company and find out what they ask and why.  Learn more about your product and service so you better understand the problems they solve or opportunities they provide. Finally, learn by doing. Get on the phone and call. Sure you’ll make mistakes but after the call analyse what you asked and what you could have asked.

Reason #5: Forget

Blame it on human nature, but some reps simply forget.   They get caught up in the moment or they get distracted or the conservation veers off on a new tangent and they forget to ask a question. It’s only when they hang up that suddenly they realize that they’re missing some information.

There are a three ways to minimize this issue.  The first is old fashioned preparation as discussed above.  When you jot down the questions ahead of time, you’re more likely to forget.  How simple is that?

The second way is to take notes as you listen.  Here’s the thing: there’s no way you can think of EVERY single question you should ask.  Depending on the answers given by your client, additional questions tend to manifest themselves.  As the client talks take notes in point form.  Jot questions down as they occur to you.  Go back and review them with the client.

The final way to tackle forgetfulness is simply to pick up the phone and call the client back!  Explain that you had one or two or three more questions that occurred to you after you hung up.  The vast majority of clients will be impressed that you took the time to call back. It shows you’re conscientious.  It implies that if you are this thorough at questioning then you are probably equally thorough about implementation and customer service.

Summary

Now that you know why reps don’t ask (more) questions, you can remedy the situation if it applies to you. Questions are the keys to successful sales. Use them.

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This Technique Won’t Work for Your Selling Situation… So Don’t Bother With It

Do you make this mistake when selling?

When you read, hear or otherwise encounter a new selling skill or technique or process, do you tend to dismiss it?  You know what I mean: almost immediately rationalize why it won’t work.  You say to yourself, ‘it’s not me,’ ‘it won’t work with my clients,’ ‘that’s too cheesy,’ ‘my clients won’t like that,’ ‘not applicable to my product/service.’  The list goes on.

Simply put: saying that technique or skill won’t or can’t work is a debilitating mind game. It stunts sales growth and directly impacts your sales career.

Why we Play Mind Games

There are two primary reasons why some sales reps play these games.

  1. First, fear.   By denigrating an idea right off the bat, it means a sales rep doesn’t even have to try it.  If he/she never has to try a new method or approach there is no risk of rejection and ‘failure.’ For some, it is better to risk nothing and gain nothing than risk something and gain a lot.
  2. Second, complacency.  Some reps play mind games simply because they are complacent or worse, lazy.  Trying something new or different means change.  Change is uncomfortable for most people.  We become conscious of our awkward performance as we learn and implement, and because we are more conscious the mistakes or miscue seems huge.  We get embarrassed. We think the client is sitting there dissecting the error.  Better to stay in that safe, albeit conservative, selling world that we know and love so well.
The Net Result

The problem is we don’t realize we are victimizing ourselves.  Let’s face it: no one likes to admit they are ‘frightened’ or ‘lazy.’  Consequently, the tendency is to craft a detailed and seemingly logical rationalization that explains why a technique will not possibly work and therefore justifies the reason we won’t implement it. Case closed.

But what really gets closed is growth, development, and ability.  Sales results will typically stay the same … or maybe even decline.  The rep does not reach his or her potential in their sales or their career.  This eventually leads to frustration and discouragement.  Goals, objectives and dreams are not accomplished.  Bitterness ensues. Burnout is not unusual. Termination is a possibility.  The list goes on.

Who Plays These Mind Games

We are all guilty of the rationalization mind game to some degree (I am certainly no exception).   A degree of rationalization is human and sometimes legitimate.

But where rationalization really tends to settle is on underachievers or those who are going through a slump.  Rationalization offers an excuse to poor performance: “I know this technique won’t work so I won’t apply it. Not my fault.”

What to Do

The next time you read or hear or see a new sales technique,  pause for a moment and analyze what you are thinking. Try to catch yourself in the act of rationalization.  Do you hear the tape being played in your mind that says, ‘this won’t work because…”

If so, you’ve taken the first big step.  You’re looking at the problem square in the eye. Good for you.

Then try this one for size when it comes to rationalizing.  Say to yourself,

“I know this won’t work …. But… but… what if it did?  What if I tried using this new opening statement (or new objection handling technique, or new e-mail template or new closing technique …or whatever) and it works?  What would happen?  What could I gain from it?”

In effect you are fighting mind games with mind games. You are turning the logic around and forcing yourself to think of the benefits of taking the risk.

Then, say to yourself,

                “If I try this new technique what’s the absolute worst that could happen?”

If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is this: not much. In other words, you are not risking a lot.

At this stage the next step is to exercise a choice.  You have a choice to accept your initial rationalization (“it won’t work”) or a choice accept your  ‘re-rationalization’ (“what have I got to lose?”).

One more tip: even if you decide NOT to use the technique (and that’s okay, too) still keep an open mind. Don’t dump all over it.  The thing is, until you try it yourself you don’t really know if it will work or not. You have no evidence. Leave it alone.  By doing so, you don’t close your mind to future possibilities.

Summary

I am still stunned and amazed at the responses I sometimes get from readers of my blog, tweets and newsletters (or on occasion, in workshops) listing the ‘x’ reasons why one technique or another can’t work.    I think to myself, if they simply spent the time they took to compose their e-mail and applied it to trying the technique, their sales would probably increase in a New York minute.

Make a choice today.  Think, “It might work.”  Then give it a shot.

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5 Tips for Better e-Mail Marketing Results

by Corey Perlman

Reports on the demise of email are greatly exaggerated.

I hope social media pundits keep telling people email is dead because it will just make more room for our emails to get through!

According to a 2011 Clickz.com survey, 91% of people still check email once or more daily. In other words, we still get just as excited when we hear the ‘Ding!’ indicating a new message has arrived. 

However, email marketing has become a real challenge with email programs like Gmail and Outlook playing nightclub bouncer-deciding which emails get in and which stay out. People are also overwhelmed with the amount of email they receive, so getting ours opened and read is a constant battle.

So here are Five Tips to see better results from your email marketing.

Tip #1: Never send an email first thing in the morning. 

There’s usually a 6-8 hour window where people are sleeping and hopefully not checking email. After breakfast or when they get to the office, they open their email and are usually met with a flood of junk mail and a few important pieces mixed in. As email goes, this is the most overwhelming part of our day. Most of us skim through, deleting what we can so we can get ahead of the email snowball.

Not a great time for your email to be mixed in with the rest.

Now fast forward a few hours. The junk is gone, we’ve put out the fires and we feel good about our organized inbox.

Great time for your email to arrive.

Between 10am-2pm is when I try and get my email out.

Tip #2: Play with the subject line. 

Shorten it. Ask questions. Use a startling stat. Use their name in the subject line.

Then watch your open rate and see what happens. You’ll start to see a pattern and you’ll make adjustments accordingly. I subscribe to lots of other eNewsletters and take note when they get me to open the email. They give me great ideas for new subject lines.

Tip #3: Worry more about value, less about frequency. 

I get an email every single day from Mashable.com and I’ll probably never unsubscribe. This is because they pack their emails full of value.

At the same time, if I subscribe to a newsletter that comes once every three months and it’s packed full of promotions and ads, I’ll leave immediately.

Pump in the value as much as you can. You’ll build trust and rapport with your subscribers and they will look forward to your emails each time they arrive.

Tip #4: ABCE – Always Be Collecting Emails 

No matter what, you’re going to lose subscribers. In fact, I’ll lose a few when I send this email out. Oh well. We can’t dwell on it. Maybe I just hit them on a bad day or they got tired of my goofy pictures – I’m not going to let it bother me.

Instead, I’m going to keep finding ways to invite more people to be part of this eNewsletter. I do this by:

– Having a subscribe form on my website

– Having a subscribe form on my Facebook Business page

– Letting people share this newsletter with their friends

– Asking for emails at my events and in my books, audios, etc.

ABCE – it’s one of the lifelines of your business.

Tip #5: Give a clear call to action. 

People can only get so much from an email. Don’t make them try and figure out what the next step is to work with you.

Let them know in a casual and non-agressive way if they’d like to learn more, here’s what to do.

That’s why I do webinars every few months – it’s great way for our subscribers to get a deeper dive into web and social media marketing

Corey Perlman is an entrepreneur, best selling author and nationally-recognized social media expert.  His most recent book, eBoot Camp, (Wiley) became an Amazon.com bestseller and received global attention with distribution rights deals in both China and India. This do-it-yourself book written in layman’s terms provides the know-how to win business in cyberspace, while eliminating the need for a large marketing budget.
Corey’s company, eBoot Camp, Inc. manages the social media marketing for over 20 companies around the world. They also put on seminars and workshops for individuals and businesses looking to expand their digital footprint.
For more information, visit www.ebootcamp.com or call 855-eboot-now
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The Best Time to Increase the Average Value of a Sale

You can simply and easily increase the average value of your sales by cross selling and up selling.

When you increase the average value of a sale you generate more revenues in less time.  You’re happy, your boss is happy and your client is happy. Regardless of whether your sale is complex or simple, all it takes is a little bit of finesse and timing.

The Complex Sale Timing

For more complex sales (i.e., a sale that has a higher ticket price, a somewhat longer sales cycle and perhaps a number of decision makers) the absolute best time to up sell or cross sell is about half way through the first sale. Typically, complex sales take a while to implement.  Midway through the implementation (and provided it is appropriate to the clients’ needs) is when you should make your recommendation and suggestion; not at the completion of the first sale.

You ask at this point because your client is typically very receptive to any suggestion you might have for four compelling reasons:

  • The client is appreciative and grateful for your effort and work
  • The client trusts you because you have ‘delivered’ on your word
  • The client knows you and is comfortable with you
  • The client is ‘aglow’ with satisfaction i.e., happy because there has been nothing to sully the purchase

Assuming your first sale is progressing well your client, at the very least, will listen attentively and seriously consider your recommendation. You don’t have to worry about rapport building and dealing with hidden agendas or competitive inroads. Now is the time to make your next sale.

The Simple Sale Timing

For a simple sale (i.e., a routine, transactional purchase, usually a lower priced item that typically does not require a lot of thought and typically has a single decision maker) the best time to up sell or cross sell is literally seconds after  the client says ‘yes’ to your close.

Clients are receptive to your offer at this stage because the ‘major’ decision to buy has already been made. In effect, the wallet is open and the client is more receptive to any suggestions you might have.  It is psychologically easier to spend and the buyer tends to be a little more impulsive. Provided your offer is relevant and provided it is reasonably priced (no more that 25% of the value of the original sale), you stand about a one in five chance of succeeding.  Good odds.

Summary

Be alert to cross selling or up selling opportunities. Be sensitive to the timing and present an appropriate offer.  Then watch the average value of your sale begin to increase.

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Do Me a Favor and Rate this E-Mail Follow Up Message

Do you ever have clients and prospects who don’t call you back after you’ve spoken or sent a proposal or quote?

You know what I mean: you’ve spent time on the phone discussing their needs, an opportunity is evident, the client seems keen enough, you’ve sent a proposal or quote and suddenly, things go silent despite your follow up calls and messages.

But here’s a nifty little e-mail message that seems to be getting a response.

The Message

Subject: Mike, can you do me a favor?

Hi Mike,

I have a quick favor to ask.

I am following up on the proposal I sent you regarding __________ (your product or service) and how it can  ________ (briefly describe the benefits the client will derive). I’ve left a couple of voice mail messages and e-mails but as of yet we haven’t been able to connect.

Can you do me a favor leave me a voice mail message or send me an e-mail on where you are at in the decision making process?

If things still look good, great.  If not, no problem.  In either case, it would help me with my planning and follow up (not to mention getting my boss off my back).

I appreciate the gesture and look forward to your e-mail (or leave me a message at xxx-xxx-xxxx).

Kind regards,

Why it Works

This message works for a number of reasons.  First, the subject line is intriguing.  It uses the prospect’s first name which tends to catch the eye and draw the reader into the message.  And next, it creates interest because it asks for a favor.  A favor is an unusual request. It is somewhat personal and that makes it compelling.  You can bet the recipient will read further.

Second, the opening line reinforces the ‘personal’ request.  Note the use of the word ‘quick’ which tells the reader that the favor won’t take long.

Third, the e-mail provides a quick summary of the situation by reminding the prospect about your product or service AND the benefits the client might derive.  This is important because it reminds the prospect why they originally requested the information from you.  In other words, it can help remind them of the need.

Fourth, the message lays on a little guilt by saying that you left a ‘couple’ (which really means more than two) voice and e-mail messages.  The rebuke is very soft and cushioned by the phrase, “…but as of yet we haven’t been able to connect.”  These words gracefully imply that perhaps the prospect has tried contacting you but you weren’t available.  They’ll feel less guilty but it makes it a little easier for them to respond.

Fifth, the ‘favor’ is clearly defined: an e-mail or phone call regarding the status of the sale.  The e-mail makes a ‘negative’ response easier to give if that’s the case (“no problem”), and it also suggests that the rep is getting some heat from the boss because the prospect hasn’t responded.  Again, the clever and subtle use of guilt.

The e-mail concludes on a positive tone.

Summary

This message will get you a good response rate.  It has a reasonable and polite tone and because it asks for a simple favor, it is hard NOT to respond.

Give it a try and see for yourself.

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The 2012 B2B Tele-Sales Trend Report

What’s in store for B2B tele-sales departments in 2012?

This Special Report provides you with an abbreviated ‘executive summary’ of 10 trends that are impacting the world of telephone sales.

Tele-Trend #1: Telephone Selling Growth Spurt -Again

B2B tele-sales is growing at a rate of 7.5% compared to field sales at only .5%. Clearly more companies are jumping on the telephone band wagon. Telephone selling applications are also growing in complexity and sophistication thanks in part to technology and the internet and thanks in part to a newer generation of buyer who is relatively comfortable with less face to face interaction. However, growth means more competition and more options. Smart telephone executives will emphasize the quality of the sales call to give themselves a distinct, competitive advantage.

Tele-Trend #2: The Decline of the Cold Call

Cold call to closed call ratios with drop like a stone which means it will take more dials and connects to achieve the same results. With so many companies turning to the phone your buyer has more options. Savvy companies will look for ways to become more effective with the smart use of the internet (see below) combined with a higher quality call. More emphasis will be placed on ‘smart dialing” (more skills, finesse and expertise) and less on ‘hard dialling’ (cranking out more phone calls).

 Tele-Trend #3: The Growth of Visual ‘Calls’

‘Visual prospecting’ is the intelligent use of e-mail to prospect because today’s buyer is linked to visual messages through their smart phones at work in meetings, commuting, at home, at leisure, on the weekends, 24-7. Smart, 1-to-1 e-prospecting customized to the individual prospect and integrated with a well planned voice follow up campaign will change the telephone prospecting landscape.

Tele-Trend #4: The Rise of the Hybrid Rep

 An interesting trend that seems to be emerging is that of the “hybrid sales rep.” The hybrid rep is a cross between a field sales rep and an inside sales rep, often working from a remote location. What this means is the scope and dimension of selling will change significantly. A pure ‘field selling’ model and a ‘pure telephone selling’ model will merge. It will require a different type of rep and a different approach to account management and account development.

 Tele-Trend #5: Finding (and Keeping) the Good Rep

Perhaps the single biggest challenge in the world of B2B tele-sales continues to be finding and keeping high quality sales reps.  Whether it is for a telephone selling position or for a ‘hybrid’ position there is no doubt that the quality of the rep is paramount. To distinguish themselves from their competitors and to implement more complex selling programs, companies need to re-think how they will attract better AND keep better quality reps. Radical shifting in compensation, training and coaching will be required.

Tele-Trend #6: Managing Less, Coaching More

Tele-sales managers absolutely MUST manage less and coach more. Sales reps typically don’t sell more than they could or should simply because they are not very effective at selling. They forget, ignore, dismiss or dilute their skills sets. Managers must be actively engaged on the floor beside their reps getting them better at the sales game. Nothing – absolutely, positively nothing- will provide you with a better return on investment than coaching . Period. But the single biggest challenge is that most sales managers don’t know how to effectively coach behavior … if only because they have never been taught.

Tele-Trend #7: Relationship Marketing and Selling Facelift

Relationship selling and marketing seems good in theory but in practice it seems to have flopped. The problem is implementation. Companies flog their customers and prospects with offers and promotional literature but seem to do little to engage the client at a personal level. This can be tough on the phone but enhancing a relationship and building value over the phone needs a radical facelift.

Tele-Trend #8: Re-Focus on Measurement

Forget about dials and connects. They’re like bikinis: they show a lot but not everything. Today’s telephone sales application must also measure e-mail contacts, e-mail responses and e-dialogues . The way B2B communicates has changed and so too must be the way we evaluate the effectiveness of a rep.

Tele-Trend #9: Social Media Integration

Look for tele-sales departments and companies continue to struggle to come to grips with social media as a ‘selling tool.’ Be careful in determining what is marketing and what is selling and who should be doing what

Tele-Trend #10: Leveraging the Moment

With live contacts on the decline, it is vital to seize the moment. Reps must make the most out of every contact they make or take. Whether it is cross selling, asking for a referral, or gathering market intelligence or whatever, companies need to teach their reps the skills and techniques to professionally and tastefully squeeze every ounce of potential from their contacts. This means skills development and training (not to mention coaching).

Summary

The B2B approach to telephone selling is constantly shifting and changing. Old style techniques, methods, strategies and ways of thinking are not working like they once did. To survive and thrive companies need to adapt and change. Pay heed to the trends and develop your program and your people accordingly.

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18 Phone Sales Skills Tips You Can Use Right Now

by Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter www.thesaleshunter.com

It’s time to crank out a new list of phone sales skills tips.

It’s been a few years since I’ve shared with you phone tips you can use right now.

1. Your tone of voice matters more than you think. If your tone of voice is flat and lacks any sense of enthusiasm, how do you expect the other person to ever show interest in your call?

2. Use the person’s name. People always love to hear their name, so use it.  In a typical telephone call, I want to use the other person’s name (almost universally that means the person’s first name) three times.

3. Unless there is no other way, avoid negotiating anything over the telephone. Since you can’t see them, you don’t have the advantage of using body language as a tool to help you negotiate.

4. If you do have to negotiate over the telephone, use pauses and your tone of voice in the same manner as you would in a face-to-face negotiation. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into a quick negotiation just because you’re on the telephone.

5. Show the same level of respect to the gatekeeper or other any other person who answers the phone as you would show to the person you’re looking to talk to.

6. Use descriptive words that paint a picture when you’re talking. Remember, the other person can’t see you, so it means the picture you paint has to come with the words you say and how you say it.

7. Always have the person’s name and the name of their company on a piece of paper in front of you as you call. Last thing you want to do is to accidently forget who you’re calling just as they answer.

8. Limit the background noise. Some background noise if fine, but the last thing you want the other person to hear when you’re calling is loud music or the sound of informal activities going on in the background.

9. If the phone call is important, stand up when you make it. It’s amazing how much energy and focus you’ll have if you stand to make an important phone call.

10. Never be the first person to hang-up the telephone. Always allow the other person to disconnect first.  You never know when the other person might just share with you one more important piece of information.

11. Be quiet when the other person disconnects. Many times a person will think they have ended the call when they have not actually disconnected.  You might just surprise yourself with what you hear from the other end.

12. Don’t be distracted by email or other items popping up on your computer while you’re making a call. Be focused. Because you can’t see them, it’s easy to become distracted with your eyes.  Allowing yourself to become distracted may easily cause you to miss a key point.

13. Reaffirm everything. Again, because you’re only communicating with your voice means you must very reaffirm everything.

14. Use open-ended questions as a way to build the dialogue. Just because you’re talking with someone on the telephone does not mean you can’t use open-ended questions.

15. Don’t make an important telephone call from a telephone that is not stable, whether that be a cell phone with spotty coverage or a weak handset. Quality counts and it represents you.

16. Always answer the telephone with both enthusiasm and at a pace (words per minute) that allows the other party to know exactly who it is they’re talking to. Too many times people who answer many phone calls each day get into a habit of answering quickly, resulting in their words slurring together, making it hard for the other party to hear who they’re talking to.

17. Keep a mirror on your desk to allow you to see yourself talking. It’s amazing how much energy you’ll put into a phone call when you can see yourself.

18. Talk with your hands, as it allows you to convey more energy in your voice. Use a high-quality headset to allow you to talk with your hands.

Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunt” is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales and profitably build more long term customer relationships. To learn more visit his web site at www.thesaleshunter.com

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The Most Dangerous Part of the Selling Process

The most dangerous part of the sales process is AFTER a sale has occurred, not before.

It is the ‘post sale’  where the relationship can be most vulnerable. The ‘danger’ occurs after all the hard works and effort and after your client has said “yes.” Up to this time, the sales rep has courted the buyer:  communicated with them, wooed them with attention and made them feel good and special about entire selling process.  Everyone is happy.

Many sales reps see their job as complete at this point. They pass the ball off to someone else – shipping, accounting …whoever. It’s not.  After the sale has been made, at some level – conscious or subconscious – the buyer expects some sort of acknowledgement from the seller.  Maybe it’s a telephone call with a word of thanks or perhaps it’s a thank you card or possibly a gracious e-mail; something, anything. It doesn’t take much.

I was reminded of this not long ago when we sold some property.  It took some time and effort; the negotiations were complex but the place finally sold.  The agent did his job – no question about it- and he got a nice chunk of change for his effort (which I don’t begrudge in the least). However, what I did begrudge was the post-sale silent treatment.  We did not hear a single, solitary word from the agent. Not a card, not a letter, not an e-mail and not a call. Nothing. Nadda. Zippo.  He literally took the money and ran… or at least, that’s how it felt.

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

While it was a bit of disappointment for me, it’s a real shame for him.  He burned a bridge.  Perhaps he thought this was the only sale he would ever get from us so grabbed his commission check and took off. But here’s what it will cost him:

-we have some more property to sell … he won’t get the deal, another sale and the commission…

-we have referrals we can give … he won’t get those either…

-we certainly won’t act as a reference … should he ask …

-we could certainly tell others of the experience … like I am doing now

It doesn’t matter if you’re in B2C or B2B marketplace, acknowledge your client when you make a sale. Big or small, provide them with thanks.  It’s a right thing do.  Not only is it common courtesy, it impacts the relationship

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Avoid the Annoying Tendency of One-Up-Man-Ship

Let your customer or prospect bask in their glory.

A while ago I was purchasing a new car. The sales rep and I were on a test drive and chatting back and forth.  For whatever reason, I shared a football  ‘glory days story.’  Almost immediately, and without acknowledgement of my tale, the rep launched into his glory days story and, if it was true, it was much better than mine.  In about 30 seconds, he one upped me. Then he told a story of his uncle which was even better.  I guess you could call it a ‘two-up.’

And therein lies the problem.

At this stage there was a disconnect with me and the sales rep for a couple of reasons. Something changed. I didn’t feel quite so special.  First, it told me the rep wasn’t really interested in me or my story.  He wasn’t listening to my tale and thus, not listening to me.  He was simply waiting for his chance to speak.  It was … annoying. In effect, he was saying the story wasn’t important … and by default, I wasn’t important.

Second, he made the moment about him and not about me.  It was supposed to be my moment of basking in the sun.  That his story was a step up from mine was somewhat deflating; it diminished my yarn.  Of course, I recognize that to some degree the guy was trying to ‘empathize’ by providing a related story. He probably convinced himself that his story was rapport building. Quite the contrary.

But here’s the thing: I wasn’t interested in the rep’s story.  And it was clear that the sales rep was not interested in mine.  But the one difference between the two stories was this:  I was the customer; the person who wanted to buy a car.

SELLING LESSON: Let your prospects or customers tell their stories. Nod. Ask a question about the event. Say ‘wow.’  Acknowledge the story. Provide praise or wonder. Make the moment about them.  But don’t …whatever you do… don’t counter it with your tale no matter how enticing it may be .

The customer or the prospect ALWAYS gets the nod. Their story ALWAYS trumps your story.

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Sales Tip – Pick Up The Phone – Solve Problems – Follow Through

by Peter Ramsden, www.paramountlearning.co.uk

The latest fashion in lead generation seems to be social marketing.

Whilst I am a big fan of social media marketing I cannot help but think that many users of this new medium believe that it will actually do the selling for them.

I recently posted an emergency request together with my contact details on a number of social media sites for technical help with a problem I was having with word-press. I waited and waited expecting lots of calls but to my surprise the phone remained eerily silent.

On the other hand my in-box was a real hive of activity as I received message after message, PM’s and DM’s offering assistance and advice on who I should call. But still the telephone was quiet.

I checked to see if the phone line was working. Yep it sure was.

Now maybe I was at fault? Maybe I should have followed through on all those messages? Maybe I should have called each and everyone of them and begged them to sell me!

The last time I looked the easiest way to make a sale was to solve client problems.

Surely they should be calling me?

Surely making direct contact would be a great way to demonstrate and build trust in one’s ability to solve problems and potentially create a business relationship.

In point of fact only one person picked up the phone and called to offer assistance. Yes only one! Everyone else expected me to call them.

To cut a long story short the gentleman who called me fixed my problem in seconds. At that point without prompting I asked;

How much would it cost to solve all my other problems?

He promptly gave me a price quotation for the work I needed doing and I confirmed my order the following day.  I have since placed further orders for work based on the fact that he was the only person who offered assistance when I needed it most.

Several days passed by and not one person followed up on their PM’s and DM’s. Not a single message or call to ask if I have resolved my problem or not.

If only they had picked up the phone!

If you want to make sales then pick up the phone. Don’t hide behind technology. You know it makes sense.

Peter Ramsden is the Director and owner of Paramount Learning Ltd. As well as holding an MBA from Bradford University School of Management, Peter has more than 20 years experience of sales and marketing,  leading and directing national and international agents and distributors in a multicultural environment, marketing industrial consumables to multi-segment clients. Visit his website at www.paramountlearning.co.uk

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2 Ways to Sabotage Your LinkedIn Efforts

I may be wrong and I may be too literal but I think the ‘spirit’ of Linked In is ‘linking’ up and connecting with business associates and friends; a means of networking.

Bearing this in mind there are two ways that LinkedIn users sabotage themselves.

Sabotage #1: The Friend?

The first occurs when a user sends a requests to a ‘prospect’ (someone they haven’t met or spoke to) but indicate themselves as a ‘friend.”   Of course,  I know that sometimes people want to connect but there is no social or educational or workplace past  relationship.  One is sometimes forced default to “friend.”

I understand this but what I don’t understand is why the person doesn’t add some sort of introductory comment like, “Jim, we have never met but I have enjoyed your articles and thought we might link up.”  At least it is an attempt to create a “social media handshake” rather than make the presumption of being friends.  Here is a perfect opportunity to establish some rapport that may pay dividends down the line.  Certainly, leaving your request ‘blank’ doesn’t do much for your credibility. Doesn’t leave me feeling  warm and snug. How about you?  I am left wondering why I should accept the request because the sender has done nothing to endear me to them.

Sabotage #2: An Old Acquaintance, Long Forget

The second way users of Linked In sabotage themselves  is when they send a request to an old friend,  colleague or classmate without some sort of note or greeting.  LinkedIn is for linking up.  Use the opportunity to write a note in order to ‘reconnect’:  “Jim, it’s been a long time, old friend.”  Simply indicating that you were a former co-worker, school buddy or friend seems rather sterile and impersonal.  Phony.

Come on man!  Conjure up some nostalgia or provide a friendly word.  Acknowledge the past relationship.  Acknowledge the individual.   Not jotting down a single word makes the request seem perfunctory; “I-am-doing-this-because-someone-says-I-should-build-my-network-not-because-of-our-past-association.”

Bottom line? Remember the spirit of LinkedIn.  Use the opportunity to ‘link’ with the individual to whom you have sent the request.  It takes but a few seconds and could pay dividends.

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10 Ways to Fix the Quality of Your Voice

If you use the telephone to sell or market your products and services, you should know the tone of your voice plays a critical role in your ultimate success.

On the phone about 84% of what you communicate is by tone compared to 16% by words.  Your voice conjures up an image at a conscious or subconscious level.  You can ‘look’ a like professional or ‘look’ like a rookie; you can ‘look’ elderly and wise, or you can ‘look’ young and inexperienced.

I suspect that the vast majority of telephone users feel that that they are ‘stuck’ with what they got regarding their tonality. Not necessarily so! DJs and other entertainers work hard at developing a voice that creates a strong, professional image. Here ten tips that can fix the quality of your voice.

1. Read Out Loud

Reading out loud for 15-20 minutes per day is like weight training: it builds strength.  Practice reading both loudly and softly.  This forces you to breathe properly and project your voice. It helps you project a sense of confidence.  Be sure to focus on articulating your words.  This conscious act makes you more aware of how you are communicating and creates a message that is much more clear and convincing.

2. Project a Character

Read out loud but read ‘in character;’ pretend you are someone.  Here’s how it works.  Find two or three magazine ads that have a paragraph or two of copy.  Read the copy out loud.  Then read the copy as though you were a coach or perhaps a cop.  Your approach will probably be clipped, abrupt, loud or assertive.  Then read the same copy as if you were priest, minister or rabbi. The tone will likely be more mellow, soft, and gentle.  It’s a hilarious exercise but it demonstrates that despite the words you can create an entirely different impression with your voice.  It helps you create ‘vocal range’ and certainly allow you to develop a sense of personal character.

3. Avoid Dairy Products

Milk, yogurt, coffee with cream consumed at your desk can coat your throat with a thin layer of residue.  Sometimes it forces you to clear your throat.  Ahem!  Clearing your throat can create an image of someone who is uncertain, nervous and unprepared.  In some cases in can convey an image of someone who is being evasive about a point.  This can create distrust in the mind of your buyer (either at a conscious or subconscious level).  Finally, it’s just plain annoying.

4. Watch Your Caffeine

While monitoring calls a while ago I watched a rep knock back one of those highly caffeinated canned drinks.  In no time flat his words were flying out his mouth in record time.  Fast talkers are usually met with skepticism.  They sound impatient, rushed or annoyed. It’s not pleasant for the listener.  In addition, a message delivered at a rapid fire rate is not unlike the ‘fine print’ on a contract: it suggests there’s something hidden.  Don’t risk it.

5. Hum

Humming is like an aerobic workout for your vocal chords. The steady vibration makes them stronger and helps create a more resonant tone.  The deeper your tone, the more authoritative you will be to a listener.

6. Facial Stretch

I watched a TV program about young opera singers.  Before ever  singing a note, they do facial stretching: yawn-like exercises to loosen their mouths, forced grins that made them look like the Joker, sliding their jaws back and forth to eliminate stiffness.  Like athletes warming  up before a big game, these singers limber up the muscles on their face because it makes enunciation easier.  Words flow smoothly. It prevents being ‘tongue tied’ and fumbling about on words and phrases.

7. Sit up Straight

Your mother was right: sit up straight.  We breathe from our diaphragm.  If you’re slouched your lungs don’t get the air that they need.  The net result is a lazy or tired sounding voice.  So as your mom says: sit up and breath properly.

8. Practice

If you have certain scripted parts of your call (e.g., your opening statement) practice delivering your lines like an Academy Award winner. Know them backwards and forwards. Know when to pause. Practice inflection and intonation in order to provide emphasis on key words and phrases. For those parts of the call that REALLY matter, practice, practice, practice. In this way, you can focus more on delivery and less on the words.

9. Post a Reminder

Do you talk too fast? Too slow? Too soft?  Or do you have an annoying little… like… you know…dude …  TOTALLY… annoying mannerisms?  If so, a great tip is to simply post a note or two (or three of four)  at your desk to remind you to slow down or speed up or whatever.  Stick them somewhere obvious so you can’t miss it.  On a daily basis moved them around so they don’t become part of the wallpaper.  These notes act as a visual conscience and remind you to reel in some of your behaviors.

10. Get Feedback

If you have a coach/manager, get them to listen in and give you feedback after a call. That’s what a coach is supposed to do.  So use them.  If you don’t have a coach, record a few of your calls and have someone – a friend, spouse, co-worker- listens to it and give their feedback on how you sound.

You CAN have a better, more professional voice. These tips are easy to do.  By following them  you can whip your voice into shape and give yourself an added edge.

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14 Things Sales Reps Should Never Stop Doing

The following  article is by training expert Kelley Robertson.This article was awarded the silver medal for “Article of the Year” at the 2011 Top Sales and Marketing Awards!

Selling for a living is challenging. There are many highs and frequent lows. Constant pressure to reach sales targets, customer and prospects that are more demanding, and changes in the marketplace all make sales a tough career.

If you are serious about maintaining a long-term career and increasing your sales, here are 14 things you should never stop doing. If by chance, you haven’t started doing some of these, I suggest that you do start…the sooner, the better.

1.   Prospect. If you do nothing else but prospect for new business every day the chances are you will always be busy and seldom, if ever, experience peaks and valleys in your sales.

2.   Improve your skill. Professionals in many industries require regular upgrading up skills. Selling is no different. The marketplace has changed and what worked five years ago is no longer relevant. Make the time and invest in regular self-improvement programs (workshops, conferences, books, audio programs, etc).

3.   Listen more than you talk. People who listen more, learn more. The more you learn the more effectively you can position your solution or offering. Enough said.

4.   Establish clear call objectives. Whether it’s a face-to-face meeting or telephone call, you need to have a clear objective of what you want to accomplish. Closing the sale is NOT an objective.

5.   Create plans (yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly). I know very few sales people who actually create a business plan for the entire year. What sales do you want to achieve? How will you reach those targets? What daily, weekly and monthly activities do you need to execute to achieve your goals?

6.   Study your products. How much time do you spend studying and learning your products? Do you know the key differences between similar products? Do you know how each product will actually benefit a customer?

7.   Network. Effective sales networking means attending the events that your key prospects attend. A friend of mine deals with high-ranking executives so he attends high-profile fundraising dinners. The cost of entry can be expensive but the return can be excellent.

8.   Ask awesome questions. I’ve mentioned this…more than once! But the ability to ask great questions, tough probing questions, penetrating questions, is one of the most effective ways to increase your sales.

9.   Deliver great presentations. Don’t confuse this with the ability to stand up in front of several hundred people and deliver a keynote presentation. The key to delivering a great sales presentation is ensuring that it addresses your prospect’s key issues and that it focuses on their needs and objectives, not your agenda.

10.  Adapt your approach. Do you ever consider the personality style of the other person when planning your sales presentation? Do you know if your prospect prefers correspondence via email, texting, face-to-face or telephone? Is your prospect a 35,000 foot view person or do they like to know every detail?

11.  Set high goals. People with the highest goals tend to achieve the most. Are your goals challenging and motivating? Do you even set your own goals or do you simply take what’s given to you by your boss?

12.  Be persistent. Four or five years ago it would take an average of seven calls to connect with a new prospect. Now it’s a safe bet to say that it can take as many as twelve or more, just to make that first contact. You need to be diligent and persistence.

13.  Forge relationships. Developing and maintaining great relationships with prospects, customers, friends and other people in your network is one activity that will ALWAYS pay off.

14.  Show respect. I have seen, firsthand, how poorly some sales people treat gatekeepers and receptionists and it always disappoints me because I am a firm believer in treating people with respect and dignity. Yes, that person may only be the receptionist in your eyes but they often hold the key to the Presidential Suite. Treat them accordingly.

If you consistently apply and execute these strategies you will definitely see an increase in your sales.

Kelley Robertson is president of the Robertson Training Group. Kelley is the author of two sales books, Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers and The Secrets of Power Selling. Both sales training books provide practical insights to improving your sales results. Visit his website at www.fearless-selling.ca or call him 905 633 7750.

 

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The Best Way to Open a Sales Call

by  Kelley Robertson, www.fearless-selling.ca

I was recently asked, “What the best first sentence to say in a sales call?”

I found the question intriguing because I’m not sure there is a single BEST sentence in a sales call simply because it depends on the type of call you’re making. Here’s what I mean.

There are several types of sales calls you can make including; cold calls, face-to-face meetings, follow-up calls, drop-by, product demonstration, etc.

Let’s explore a few of these and see what would work.

Cold Call

The best way to open any cold call is to use an attention-grabbing statement or question that demonstrates your knowledge or expertise. This must be delivered quickly (20 seconds or less) and contain compelling information.

“Mrs. Smith, employee sick days during corporate mergers can increase by 32 percent.” Pause. “What are you experiencing as you merge with Big Conglomerate?”

Face-to-Face Calls

I don’t think the first sentence in a F2F meeting is a deal buster. However, once you begin your actual sales presentation, you need to capture the other person’s attention quickly so always start by talking about your prospect’s situation.

Personally, I prefer to lead with an overview of their situation and then validate this assumption or understanding.

Follow-up Calls

I like to open my follow-up calls with, “Mr. Prospect, as promised, I’m calling to discuss the details of my proposal.”

In most cases, I only need to use this line when I get the other person’s voice mail because we have pre-scheduled the call and my prospect or customer knows why I’m calling.

Drop-By Calls

The most common statement sales people use in these situations is, “Is was just in the area and thought I’d drop by to see if you needed anything.”

Fuggedaboutit!

A more effective opening is to say something like, “I recently came across some interesting research and wanted to drop it off personally rather than send it by email.”

Product Demonstration Call

“Today, I’m going to show you how the Astro-Deluxe 3100Z works.”

Snore…

It is far more effective to open with a question or a statement that outlines how the demonstration is going to benefit the people attending.

“I understand that you have been experiencing problems with…Let’s look at how you can prevent those situations from arising.”

Every sales call has a slightly different objective which means you need to open each one differently. Ultimately, the more you focus that opening on your prospect or customer, the faster you will capture their attention.

Kelley Robertson is president of the Robertson Training Group. Kelley is the author of two sales books, Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers and The Secrets of Power Selling. Both sales training books provide practical insights to improving your sales results. Visit his website at www.fearless-selling.ca or call him 905 633 7750

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8 Things You Have in Common with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady

by Mark Hunter, www.thesaleshunter.com

If you’re in sales, what do you have in common with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady?

Don’t laugh, because you have more in common than you think. Let me give you 8 things:

1. You spend far more time preparing than you actually do selling or playing a game.

2. You can’t do your job without a sales plan or a playbook.

3. You can’t do your job without knowing something about your prospect or a scouting report.

4. You can’t do your job without feedback from your customers or your coaches.

5. You always face obstacles with the little things that get in the way or the fans who can annoy you.

6. You face objections each day just like they face tough defenses in every game.

7. You have bad sales calls you have to bounce back from quickly, just as they have bad games from which they have to bounce back.

8. You have amazing sales calls with amazing results, just as they can complete the pass no one expected.

Yes! You as a salesperson have far more in common with the great NFL quarterbacks than you maybe had first thought.  As much as we all have in common with them, there are a lot of differences.

The biggest difference between Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and a salesperson is probably the salary.  Sadly, another difference  worth looking closely at is commitment.

Aaron and Tom are committed to doing their job at a level that goes far beyond the level of commitment 99% of all salespeople have toward their job.

Let me leave you with one question.

How much more successful would you be if you were to increase your commitment level?  I’m not asking for it to go to the same level as Aaron and Tom give — I’m just asking, “What would happen if you stepped up your game?”

Only you know the answer.   It’s worth exploring.

Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunt” is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales and profitably build more long term customer relationships. To learn more visit his web site at www.thesaleshunter.com

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Use the Stanislawski Method to Give Yourself a Mental Selling Edge

 Sales a little slow? Getting tougher to pick up the phone and dial?

Need a little umph? A shot in the arm? A dose of  motivation?  Something –anything- to get your mojo back?

Try the Stanislawski Method of motivation.

Positive Mental Attitude

The Stanislawski Method is not unlike visualization but whereas visualization seeks to get an individual to see him/ herself successfully performing a job (or sport) , Stanislawski teaches that the individual should recall successful events in one’s life or job just prior to performing the task at hand.  His theory is that the mind should be ‘fertilized’ and ‘nurtured’ with positive thoughts.

In terms of tele-sales and prospecting, Stansilawski would probably suggest that before you pick up the phone and dial, take a twenty or thirty seconds to simply relax and think about your past successes.  In essence,  conjure up a positive mental attitude by recalling real events from your past.  In effect, when you think like a winner, you become a winner …at least in your approach and the sound of your voice. There is a degree of enthusiasm and confidence that translates readily on the phone. At a subconscious level,  your clients will sense it.

Action Plan

Do this: take a sheet of paper or a small card and list all your major accomplishments to date. Brag all you like, no one has to see it.  Don’t be shy.  It is a personal document meant for your eyes only.  Keep the card handy – in your wallet or purse or on a document on your computer.  Update it from time to time to keep it current.  Before you begin calling take a look at it.    Haul it out when you are going to make a big call on an important client or prospect. Use it to remember when you were at your very best.  You’ll actually feel something surging.

Look, tele-sales and tele-prospecting can get discouraging.  Don’t become a victim to discouragement. Use the Stanislawski Method to fight back and give yourself a little extra edge.

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How to “Pitch’ Your Pitch

Here’s a nifty little way to position your presentation and your close: tell your client that you’re going to pitch them before you pitch them.

Much like a batter in baseball who is awaiting a pitch, your client knows your pitch is going to come at some point. The trick is to make  it easier for the client (and yourself) by giving your client a ‘verbal wind up’ so they are prepared for it. When they can ‘see’ the pitch coming they are more tuned in and listen more closely.   As such,  your client tends to better understand and evaluate your offer which in turn, reduces sales resistance in the form of smokescreen objections.  Of course, what it really does is increase your odds of making the sale.

So, like a pitcher on the mound, the idea is for you to go through a routine so that your  batter (client) know the ball is about to be thrown . The verbal wind up is easy and  consists of two elements.

Part I: Summarize & Verify

First, summarize the client’s situation and pain points that you uncovered in your questioning phase, and then verify summary to ensure that  the client agrees. For instance,

“Sandi, let me summarize your situation as I understand it .  You indicated that _______ (list your findings).  Is that correct?

Part II:  Tell Them You’re Going to Pitch

Second,  literally tell the client you’re going to pitch them  by using this trigger phrase:

“Okay…based on what you’ve told me here’s the pitch …<pause>.

Use these precise words.  Because it uses the baseball pitch metaphor, it tends to sound a little more casual and easy going; less business-like.  This tends to reduce buyer anxiety and makes the client a little more receptive to your message.  Be sure to pause for a second or two so your client can digest the thought.  Then present your product offer  and ask for the sale or appointment.

Too Simple?

Don’t be deceived by the  simplicity of the technique.  The verbal wind up is one of those persuasive and influential phrases that work exceedingly well  in any situation particularly in tele-sales.

Not only does your client benefit from its use but you do as well.  For most reps, there is a degree of anxiety at the moment of closing.  It  stems from a variety of reasons not the least of which is the fear of rejection. Using the pitch  as a quick preamble to your offer and close often helps relieve the anxiety. It removes the pretence of ‘selling.’   It provides an easy-going, no-nonsense method of letting the customer know what’s coming next. They know. You know.

Give it a shot!

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What to Do If You Hate Cold Calls

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Felix hates cold calls.

In fact, he despises them. He won’t make them And yet he is one of the top sales reps in his company. Felix Menendez will only make warm calls and he closes over FIFTY percent of those he makes!

His secret?

Referrals.

Felix Menendez gets referrals from his existing clients whenever and wherever he can. This post  will look at the “Menendez Method” of referral selling. It’s a good one, so pay heed.

Why the Big Deal?

Why the big deal about referrals?  Because in business to business selling, referrals will close at 40%, 50%…heck, even at a 100%. This is not hyperbole. This is a fact.  Referrals close faster and easier than any other single approach in the selling world.

Of course, it makes sense, doesn’t it?  When a customer supplies you with a referral your job is made easier for two reasons. First, when you call the referral you have the common ground of the person who gave you the name.  It is not a cold call. You have a pre-text for calling and typically, the referral listens closely to what you have to say.  That’s half the battle.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, there is the explicit or implied endorsement of you, your company and your product/service by the person who made the referral. This endorsement creates an element of trust almost immediately. The referral, if he or she desires, can ‘check’ up on you.

Why Reps Avoid Referral Selling

But the fact of the matter remains that many, if not most, sales reps avoid this veritable gold mine of leads. There are two reasons for this:

1. They fear it is too pushy or aggressive.

Unfortunately, many reps think customers won’t like them if they ask for a referral.  Bull.  If the sales rep has done a good job in selling the product and the client has derived  positive benefits from it, the rep has “deposited” a degree of trust and satisfaction in their relationship.  This is powerful equity. Use that equity. Leverage it. Use the goodwill that has been created.

Too pushy? Hey, get over it. For pete’s sake, what’s the worst that could happen? The worst thing that could happen is that the client doesn’t cough up a name. So what?

2. They don’t know how.

This is different. Some reps don’t ask for the sale simply because they don’t know how to go about it.  Let’s take a look at how Felix tackles referrals:

The Menendez Method: How to Ask for a Referral

Over the last few months I have monitored Felix several times and have observed that he uses a simple two-step approach:

1. The Request

The first step is the request. After Felix has taken care of any business issues and has  ensured that the client is completely satisfied with the program, he’ll say:

“Dr. Maynard, I’ve got my manager on my back about getting sales in…you know how they are…and I was wondering if you had a name or two of any doctors who could benefit from the program like you have?”

Then he shuts up and waits.

Felix’s approach is candid. Nothing fancy. It is straight and to the point. He explains exactly what he is asking for and why. His approach is also clever. He references the “benefits” of the program and uses that to remind his client that the request isn’t just beneficial to him (Felix) but to others.  In other words, it is a win, win situation. Clients like that.

2. The Reward

The second step is the “reward.”  After Felix has been given a referral or two he says this:

“Thanks Dr. Maynard. I really appreciate that. Hey, listen, if I convert any of these I’ll be sure to send you a cap or golf shirt. Which would you prefer?”

Interestingly, the reward is held back until a name is given. In other words, he doesn’t use it as a  “bribe” up front to solicit a referral. That’s cheesy. He uses the “reward” afterwards to say “Thank you.” That’s classy.

Summary

There is nothing particularly complex about Felix’s approach to referral selling. He has created an effective technique but more importantly, he USES it. And that’s why he’s one of the top sales reps in his company.  Not once in all the times I have monitored his calls has Felix NOT gotten a referral. Not once. So what does that tell you?

If you are not using referral selling you really need to give your head a shake!

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The 7 Little Lies Prospects Tell Telephone Sales Reps

One of the secrets for being more effective and successful in telephone sales is to know the types of objections you are likely to encounter.  When you do, you are never caught off guard because you are better prepared to deal with them.

For instance, here are the top 7 objections telephone reps typically encounter in the initial phase of a call; usually during or right after the opening statement.  I call them ‘white lies’ because the prospect tosses them out because they want to get rid of you not because they’re honest truths.

Lie #1: I’m in a meeting

When you hear this objection don’t you think, “Oh ya … then why did you answer the phone?”  This is a wonderful lie because it tends to make the caller feel slightly guilty that he/she interrupted.  It tends to work too.  Reps utter some sort of an vague apology and say they’ll call back.  Meanwhile, the lie worked in getting your call deflected.

Lie #2:  Call me back

This is a very clever lie because the prospect leaves you with the feeling of ‘hope.’  We kid ourselves into believing that she REALLY DOES want us to call back and so we fall for it. Sometimes we even suggest a time and a date to which they agree.  The only problem is the prospect is rarely there … thanks to call display and voice mail.

Lie #3:  Send me/e-mail me some Information

This is such a brush off.  Sort of a cousin to the ‘call me back’ lie, this objection creates a degree of hope.  I have watched reps gleefully stuff an envelope or spend 15 minutes composing a wonderful e-mail with 9 attachments, all the while confidently believing the prospect is waiting with baited breath.  Don’t hold your breath on this one either.  The grotesque majority don’t want your e-mail, letter or fax. They asked for it to get rid of you. Don’t fall for it.

Lie #4: I’m busy…

This is not really a lie but the net result is still the same.  Guiltily the telephone rep feels like he’s an intrusion and gets knocked off his game.  Quickly the valiant rep tries to recover by asking when would be a better time.  The prospect says, “There is no better time, you’ll have to just try later.”  The call comes to a grinding halt.

Lie #5: Don’t Need/Want Anything Right Now

Delivered politely, this little lie works like a charm almost every time.  The poor sales rep doesn’t want to appear pushy and aggressive so he or she backs off immediately. I mean if there’s no need then there’s no opportunity, right?  The call ends nicely with a promise by the rep to call back ‘in a few weeks.’  Meanwhile the prospect has dodged a sales bullet and goes on merrily with his day.

Lie #6: Send me a Quote /Proposal

Ouch! This is probably the nastiest of the white lies.  It’s nefarious because the prospect might well be wasting a lot of your time and effort getting you to do work that he or she will never seriously consider.  Proposals or quotes suggest that the client is serious about buying. Diligently and eagerly the rep takes the time to churn out a quote or proposal and makes countless follow up calls. Meanwhile, other, legitimate prospects are ignored or put aside.

Lie #7: Satisfied with Current Vendor

Like its friend, “Don’t Need Anything Right Now” this lie is usually based on a truth. It works because it deflates the eager drive of the unsuspecting sales rep.   We take the prospect at his word and dejectedly hang up.  The prospect may indeed be happy with his vendor but a whopping good offer or an exciting new product may turn his head.

 3 Steps to Managing Little White Lies

The trick to dealing with these lies/objections is not to cave in.  Use these three steps to get past the lie and get the client talking.

Step #1: Empathize.  No matter what the prospects throws at you simply pause and say, “I understand.”  It buys you some time to think and catches the prospect off guard a bit.

Step #2: Ignore it. It’s probably a lie (although in some cases it could well be the truth) anyway so trying to respond to it won’t solve the problem.

Step #3: Ask a compelling question.  Start with this trigger phrase, “Jim, one quick question before I let you go…”  Believe it or not, most prospects have a conscience. They know they mislead you and many of them feel slightly guilty. They will usually feel compelled to answer the question.

The trick is to ask a question that gets them thinking about a pain or a gain; a motivator; something that is compelling and out of the ordinary. For instance:

-A financial advisor might say, “Are you absolutely, 100% satisfied with your portfolio’s performance this year?” 

-A safety poster rep might ask, “Roughly how many man hours have you lost to industrial accidents over the last six months?”

-A sales trainer might inquire, “Are all your reps meeting and exceeding their sales quota for the year?”

– A TENS reps might ask a chiropractor, “Has the economic turn down had an impact on the revenues of your practise?”

Questions like these tend to give pause.  While they won’t always hook the prospect’s interest, some will.  If the question works, you can ask more because now the prospect is engaged. Mission accomplished.

This is where preparation and planning comes into play.  You KNOW with absolute and utter certainty that you’re going to encounter these seven little lies throughout your calling day.  If that’s true –and it is – then you need to have a strategy whereby you don’t fall for the lie and make a game of it by countering with a compelling thought, issue, concern, problem, opportunity.

Never be lied to again! Know the little white lies and have your counter question prepared.

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How NOT to Say Thank You

I received an e-mail the other day from the sales rep from whom I bought my new car.

At first glance, I was pleased by the gesture.  I recognized the e-mail address and the subject line said “Thank you” so I opened it up and at that moment the wheels fell off (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

The e-mail began,

“James Domanski

I want to thank you … ”

Of course, it was obvious that this was an “insert- name -here” template.  The “James Domanski” instead of “Jim” or “James” or even “Mr. Domanski” was a dead giveaway.  Any warm and fuzzy feeling I might have had went up in smoke.

I mean, how hard is it to simply insert the proper name?

Needless to say, the remainder of the e-mail message was lost on me. It had no value.  It wasn’t a personal note; it was a corporate message.  It was impossible to feel the spirit of the message because it was canned.  I began to wonder, had the rep sold dozens of cars over the last couple of weeks that he was so busy he couldn’t personalize my e-mail.  Probably not. So that leaves only one conclusion: he didn’t really care.

This faux pas has created two residual effects.  First, it sullied the purchase experience.  When I was still in the buying mode I felt special.  Now I feel kind of … ah … used.  Second, I have a survey from the dealership to complete about my experience.  What do you think I ought to say?  How should I rate it? Oh wait, there’s a third effect. It’s called ‘word of mouth.’  I have a few thousand readers who will see this e-mail…

Look, if you’re going to send Thank You notes there are two ways to do so.

The Best Way
  1.        If it’s a high ticket item then go out and BUY some decent thank you cards at a stationary store.
  2.       Handwrite a simple message
  3.       Handwrite the envelope and put a real stamp on it.
  4.      Send it and let it works its magic

This shows your buyer that you took the TIME and the EFFORT to say thank you.  It leaves most recipients with a warm feeling towards you and your product/service. You make them feel special, important, valued, liked, acknowledged and appreciated.  If a customer survey is to be completed, chances are it will be glowing. You might even get a referral or two.  Depending on the nature of the sale, a repeat purchase is not out of the question.

The Second Best Way

Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of sending a card.  Go ahead and use an e-mail as a thank you vehicle.  Personalize it.

  1.    Put the customer’s name in the subject line
  2.    Put “Thank You” in the subject line
  3.   Use the client’s first name or surname in the salutation
  4.  Create your own customized thank you … do not use a template. Make it simple. You don’t need to gush. Don’t try to market anything.  A simple note of thanks is enough.

Alternatively you could search on line for a nice e-thank you card but personalize it as above.  While not as charming as old fashioned thank you cards an e-mail or an e-card at least shows the recipient that a degree of effort was applied to the task.

Summary

A Thank You note is a very powerful thing … if it is applied correctly.  It’s  simple and easy to use. When applied incorrectly it becomes a major concern, possibly a future deal killer.  Either do it right or don’t do it all.

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6 Ways to Impress a Prospect

By Kelley Robertson, www.fearless-selling.ca

In today’s ultra-competitive business world it is becoming more difficult to stand out from the crowd and impress new prospects. However, there are a few things you can do to achieve this and start increasing your sales.

1 – Do your homework

Before you pick up the telephone and dial for dollars invest a few minutes to research the company or person you are calling. You don’t need to spend hours on this, simply do enough homework that you can speak intelligently about their potential issues.

A friend of mine was cold calling a company and he read through their recent annual report—which was available on their website. During his conversation he referenced a point from the report and his prospect said, “You know more than I do!”

2 – Be punctual

I have heard sales people proclaim, “Why can’t my prospect see me; I’m only 10 minutes late?”

Late is late! You are either on time or you aren’t.

If you say you will call someone at 2:30 make sure you follow through. Allow plenty of time for travel when meeting face-to-face with prospects. Road construction, an accident or other unexpected delays shouldn’t cause you to be late.

Key decision makers are too busy to wait for you so be punctual and on time. It’s a little thing but it makes a big difference.

3 – Get to the point

Don’t waste a lot of time on small talk or social chit-chat—unless your prospect initiates this type of conversation. Instead, get to the reason for the meeting. Your prospect will respect you and you will stand out from your competition.

An effective to open is to verify the time available, “Mrs. Prospect, when we spoke last we allotted 60 minutes for today’s meeting; is that still good?” This ensures that you and your contact are both on the same page with respect to scheduling.

4 – Recap

Just before you launch into your sales presentation, recap your understanding of your prospect’s situation, problems or concerns. This bullet-point summary demonstrates to your prospect that you have a handle on their issues and captures their attention immediately. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to modify the presentation of your offering if your prospect’s situation has changed since your last conversation.

5 – Focus on them

Instead of talking about your company, your client list, your products and services, how long you have been in business or anything else that focuses the attention on you and your company, concentrate on showing your prospect how your offering will help them and/or their organization.

Prospects are not interested in hearing the self-puffery details that your marketing department so desperately wants you to share. They want to know how you can help them solve a potential problem. The more your presentation focuses on this, the longer you will your prospect’s attention and the greater the likelihood you will move the sales process forward.

6 – Don’t overstay your welcome

Unfortunately, many sales calls and meetings go into overtime which disrupts the decision makers’ already jam-packed schedule. I have personally been on the receiving end of sales call that was supposed to take 30 minutes but quickly stretched to 40 and would have gone on longer had I not cut it short.

Just because you have 60 minutes allotted for your meeting does not mean you have to use it all. You can impress a prospect by wrapping up early and giving them a few minutes of “free” time. You will never hear a prospect say, “Wait…we had 60 minutes scheduled for this meeting and we’re only at fifty. Keep talking for another ten minutes.”

These six steps will help you impress your prospects and stand out from the competition.

What others can you think of?

Kelley Robertson is president of the Robertson Training Group. Kelley is the author of two sales books, Stop, Ask & Listen-Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers and The Secrets of Power Selling. Both sales training books provide practical insights to improving your sales results. Visit his website at www.fearless-selling.ca or call him 905 633 7750.

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Are You a Quitter But Just Don’t Know it? 10 Decisive Ways How NOT to Quit

Are you a quitter but just don’t know it?

Nobody likes to think of themselves as a quitter but statistics would seem to indicate the many sales reps tend to quit far too soon and far too easily. In his article, “It’s always too soon to quit,” Lewis R. Timberlake revealed the following

–  only 10% of people actually succeed at what they set out to accomplish

– another 10% accept defeat and try to resolve these feelings by turning to various obsession

–  finally, 80% of the population simply endures their frustration and blame their lack of success on circumstances

While not referring specifically to sales reps and perhaps a bit harsh,  Timberlake’s statistics are probably not that far off the mark.  The percentage of exceptional and truly unexceptional reps is proportionately small while the vast majority of sales reps sit somewhere in the middle.

Being in the middle of the pack does not constitute failure but it does beg the question why aren’t more reps exceptional?

Timberlake’s take on the issue is that the number one reason why people do not achieve  higher levels of success is because they quit too soon.  By quitting he doesn’t necessary mean throwing in the towel. He means giving up on actions that lead to success. He means stopping short. Folding too soon. For instance,  instead of 75 dials a tele-sales rep might ‘quit’ at 60; instead of reaching 25 decision makers for the day they settle on 20;  instead of taking a half hour to read a skills newsletter they quit and watch The Simpsons.

Why do Sales Reps Quit

First, it’s easy to quit; there’s nothing complex about it. The rep simply stops the effort when all that was required was a little perseverance and elbow grease.

Second, quitting is  rewarding. Yes, rewarding. When a rep ceases an activity (such as cold calling) the frustration or rejection stops immediately.

Third, there is no immediate consequence. Quitting a task is very personal, silent and unseen, and there is no immediate reprimand.

Fourth, taking action means change and change is uncomfortable even if it is good for the rep.  Many reps take the path of least resistance and quit at this stage instead of enduring the short period of discomfort.

Finally, Timberlake points out that many people quit simply because they don’t know how to take decisive action to change their circumstance.

10 Decisive Ways To Take Action and Not Quit

If you sit in the middle of the pack and suspect you might be “quitting” on yourself, here are ten decisive ways you can take action, avoid quitting and succeed in sales.

1. Ask Yourself This Question

Ask yourself, “Is this what I want to do right now in my career?” If it isn’t, if you’re doing the sales job out of desperation and hate it, get out. This is the legitimate time to quit.  If your heart’s not into it you won’t have the motivation. But if you think you can do it, then give it your best shot and continue reading.

2.  Shut up and Take Responsibility Now

Stop being a victim. Victims give up. Stop the irresistible temptation to whine, lament and excuse your behavior. Don’t  blame your manager,  the list, prices, product and the economy for your less than stellar results. Say to yourself, “Okay, things aren’t going so well, what am I going to do about it?” This question puts the onus on YOU and no one else to take responsibility for your success.

3. Avoid the Quitters

Avoid co-workers  who drag you down with negative talk; those who look to justify their mediocre results by pointing fingers at others or at circumstances. Misery loves company. They’ll infect you with their negativity and they’ll persuade you to quit on hard work or smart work by offering reasons not to push harder.

4. Hang out with Winners

Get to know, work and hang out with the winners in the office, the top producers; the best of the best. Ask them questions. Learn. Observe. Absorb. You’ll see they do the extras here and there. Copy them. Winners don’t quit. They finish the task.

5. Find a System

 A system is a step by step way or method of doing something. It might be a good opening statement, a killer voice mail template, a technique to get past a get keeper, a way to handle smokescreen objections. Find out what the best of the best do, steal it and apply it. This will reduce frustration and discouragement and increase success. The net result is less tendency to quit.

6. Do it Now! Implement Your System Immediately and Stick to It

 Make a small poster with the words “Do It Now” printed in big letters. It’s your new motto. When you find your system or you learn a new technique, skill or process, don’t wait to implement it. Apply it immediately. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll master it and reap the benefits. Don’t wait till Monday. Do it now. Then give it your best shot by sticking to the plan. It takes a little time for results. Don’t give up if you don’t get immediate success.

7. Get Some Skin in the Game

 Here’s a heck of way not to quit: get some skin in the game. This means investing YOUR money and your time in self development.  It might mean buying a sales book, investing in a webinar, purchasing a sales DVD or downloading a MP3 recording.  Once you reach into your pocket and spend your hard earned money you’ll find you want to quit less and get an ROI more.

 8. Work a Half Hour Longer

Come in 30 minutes earlier or stay 30 minutes longer each day. An extra half hour a day amounts to only 2.5 hours per week but that means 10 hours per month or 120 hours a year. Imagine the dials, connects, visits, presentations and the sales you will make with an extra 15 days a year? Too tough? Start with 15 minutes more a day and you’ll still get incremental results.

9. Set Targets

 Everyone knows targets are important so commit to a set of goals every day.   Set meaningful  goals and then post them in front of you so you don’t quit when you are five dials short of one decision maker contact away from achieving your objective. Whether it is an activity goals (e.g., dials, contacts, visits, etc.) or a revenue goal (or both), set it and push yourself to get it. Make the extra calls. Push yourself for the extra visit. Git ‘er done.

 10. Find a Cheerleader, a Coach and a Conscience

Whether it’s your manager, a peer, a mentor, a friend or a spouse, find someone to act as a cheerleader, a coach and above all a conscience. Share with them your daily targets and report the results to them every day. They’ll give you high fives, they’ll give you advice or encouragement or they’ll give you a little frown. Whatever the case, you win.

Now you know what to do. Go out and do it. And remember the famous words of Winston Churchill, “Never, ever, ever quit.”

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3 Phrases Every Sales Rep Should Avoid Like the Plague

I was buying a car a couple of weeks ago.  Throughout the buying process, the sales reps used the follow three phrases (and their variations) while presenting /describing the feature of the car.  (Heavy emphasis on FEATURES, low emphasis on benefits).  While the intent of the phrases was well intentioned, the net effect was to create doubt, uncertainty and skepticism.

The 3 Phrases You Must Avoid  

Here they are in all their glory

 “I gotta be honest with you…”

“I won’t lie to you …”

“Truthfully…”

Implications

I understand that these phrases were delivered …repeatedly… in the spirit of ‘open candour.’  I was supposed to be pleased with this full disclosure of a key point or fact. The trouble is full disclosure and candour are a given in selling.  I shouldn’t have to be told that the rep is being honest and isn’t lying. It’s an expectation that buyers have.

Rather than create a sense of open honesty, they called it into question.

Think about it.  What these phrases consciously or subconsciously do is create doubt. When a sales rep says, “I gotta be honest with you…” there’s a little click in the buyer’s mind that say, ‘you mean you weren’t being honest before?’  It lasts only a split second. But it’s there like a small stain.

When a sales rep says, “I won’t lie to you…” do you think the buyer says, “Gee, that’s a relief.  I was wondering.  Glad you cleared it up.” ? Even by mentioning the word ‘lie’ you create a little dark cloud that scuttles across the buying landscape.

“Truthfully” seems to be a forthright remark but the opposite of truthfully is what?  At some level the question is asked by the buyer,  “ I wonder, were you being truthful a moment ago?”

Lesson: Think 

We all have phrases – often clichés- that we use to bridge thoughts and concepts.  I have them. You have them.  They become habits. They are handy things to have because they buy us a little time and allow for smoother transitions.  We use them routinely as a crutch, never really thinking about the implications.

The trouble is most buyers won’t point out your phraseology. They won’t say, “You mean you were lying early about …” These phrases are silent, deadly killers. You don’t realize it and often your prospects don’t realize it.  They just walk away thinking, “I don’t feel real comfortable with that rep.  I can’t put my finger on it but …”

Now’s the time to think.  Do you have a word or phrase you use often? Think about them and think of the implications. Could they be perceived in another manner? If so, eliminate them. Now.

Summary

I have to be honest  and not lie to you , these phrases can have a significant impact on your prospective buyer.  I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t tell you that some buyers will feel uncomfortable with the implications of your phasing.  It could have an impact on your sales results.

So ‘watch’ what you say.

(See what I mean).

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The Top 18 Traits of Lucky Tele-Sales Reps

Let’s face it, some telephone reps seem to be consistently luckier than others.   The stars always seem to be aligned for them and they forever seem to get more sales … and bigger sales, to boot.

But scratch the surface of these so-called lucky tele-reps and you’ll discover a number of common traits.  Coincidence?  Not likely.  Lucky reps are lucky because they consistently DO things that other reps do not. Put another way, lucky reps MAKE their own luck. They draw opportunities to themselves like magnets.

Here are 18 traits of lucky reps.  See how you compare.

#1. The number one trait of lucky reps is personal accountability. Lucky reps know that at the end of the day they are personally responsible for their success or lack thereof. They don’t blame or point fingers at their manager or prospect  list or their products and prices or customer  service department or their competitors.  They depend on no one. They are never, ever victims. When faced with a challenge they simply say, “So what am I going to do about it?”

#2. Lucky reps believe they are lucky.  Maybe because they take personal responsibility and are masters of their own fate, lucky reps have positive attitudes.  They seize the day. They are optimistic. They see the positives of their activities and thrive on small victories.  They genuinely believe they are lucky and good things will happen.  Because they feel fortunate they ARE fortunate

#3. Lucky reps fail.  In other words, lucky reps will take risks, try new things and look for angles. Sometimes they fail.  But to paraphrase basketball great Michael Jordan, they succeed because they fail.  As a result of the risk they took, they know what works and what doesn’t work.  And because of that, they’re always ahead of the pack.

#4. Lucky reps are clever little thieves.  They steal good ideas and tactics that help them in selling. They are open and willing to try a new technique or approach. They are flexible and adaptable. They change and adjust. Dust does not settle on lucky reps.  They don’t dismiss anything that might give them an edge

#5. Lucky reps absolutely avoid “dementors” and naysayers.  They don’t hang out with negative people who can drag their spirits down. They don’t huddle together and whine and complain. Lucky reps know negative talk saps energy and effort.  While others lament, they prospect and sell.

#6. Lucky reps typically arrive a little earlier for work. It’s a simple thing: they get started a little sooner and as a result, create more opportunities for themselves.  Not luck, just a little bit of elbow grease.  Harder work.

#7. Lucky reps almost always stay a little later at work. Not long. Just enough to clear up e-mails and clean off their desk. Seems small but the next day the rep can start with the important stuff: prospecting and selling. There’s no clutter; no distraction.

#8.Lucky reps are network builders.  They tend to develop “Luck Lists” of individuals from all walks of life (associates, former coaches, bosses, teachers, vendors, friends, customers etc.) who can help in them in their business and personal lives. Call them mentors or guides, these people can act as resources with their expertise, knowledge, experience, savvy and insights or they can act as centers of influence and refer business.

#9. Lucky reps are builders of relationships.  Lucky reps intuitively know that it is not enough to have a ‘lucky list.’  That network of individuals needs to be groomed and nurtured.  Consequently, they build equity with their list by staying in touch. Sometimes it’s a card or an e-mail or a phone call. Sometimes they send an article or link.  Whatever it might be, lucky reps communicate and build value on a regular and continuous basis.

#10. Lucky reps have a built-in compass.  The luckiest of reps have written goals for the year that guide them; give them focus, direction.  They break their goals down by quarter, by month, by week and by day.  Their work efforts emanate from these goals; dictates their priorities. They know where they stand at any given moment. They’re always gauging and monitoring and adjusting their course.

#11. Lucky reps talk less, question more and listen closely .  By effectively using questions, lucky reps get the client to open up, share more information, be more candid, identify their problems or concerns or opportunities.  And because they are better at understanding the needs of the client, they sell more.

#12. Lucky reps prospect daily.  Prospecting is like a good exercise program: it keeps them sales fit.  What looks like luck is simply an unrelenting adherence to business development so that their funnel is forever being filled.  What looks like luck is really just fundamentals in action.

#13. Lucky reps have a propensity for action.  Lucky telephone selling reps are doers.  They don’t procrastinate. They would rather do something –anything – than nothing.  And because they DO things instead of sitting around on their butts and waiting, things happen.  They take steps to initiate ‘luck.’

#14. Lucky reps are invariably process driven.  This means they look for processes and methods that making them a little more efficient and a little more effective.  They know that other successful reps have gone before them and develop steps that make selling faster and easier.

#15. A lucky rep is a good planner.  Maybe it stems from goal setting but ask a top rep what he or she has planned for the day and they’ll give you an itemized list of what and when.  They schedule their time for prospecting, relationship building, follow up and paperwork. When it comes to a phone call they have a game plan: objectives defined, opening statements prepared, questions to be asked etc.  When they hang up they have the next 3 or 4 steps already figured out in order to move the sale ahead.

#16. Lucky reps invest in themselves.  Lucky reps will buy books and magazines to help them sell. They do homework. They’ll buy thank you cards. They’ll purchase on-line products.  They’ll research a little more. They’ll occasionally send small gifts to their luck list.  They use their own time and money. They get some skin in the game. When they invest in themselves they push a little harder to get an ROI.  And to think, some call them lucky…

#17. Lucky reps say thanks.  When a lucky telephone rep gets a sale, a lead or referral they go out of their way to say thank you.  Often it’s with a personal card; something that shows they took the time and effort to show appreciation.  Put another way, lucky reps don’t take for granted the help they get and the good fortune they derive.

#18. Lucky reps don’t quit.  They’re politely persistent.  They don’t give up easily.  They take a few more shots than most. They’re not always successful but when they do land a big sale with their dogged persistence, we say their lucky.  But they know better.

So, based on these 18 traits how do you stack up?  Are you a luck magnet?  Chances are you have some of these traits but probably not all.  Work on them. Implement them. Practice them.  Make your own luck!

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The Luck List: What Lucky Reps Do to Get Lucky

Here’s the real secret to getting luckier at selling:  create a Luck List and groom it.

A luck list is comprised of individuals that can contribute to your sales and/or personal success.  It might be customers, friends, former coaches, casual acquaintances, mentors, vendors, business people, associates, trainers, IT experts, software geeks, math wizards, social networking gurus, former bosses, teachers … anyone and everyone that might  have some specialized skills, knowledge or expertise that you can use as appropriate, anywhere, anytime.

How to Use Your Luck List

Think of using your luck list in three ways.

Centers of Influence

First, the traditional way.  Your luck list can simply be a network of individuals who can supply you with leads and referrals.  Often called ‘spheres or centers of influence’ these are individuals who are in a position to help you build your business by acting as an advocate and linking you with others who might require your services.   For example, in financial services a center of influence might be a lawyer, accountant or doctor who could refer you to their associates.

Mentoring and Guidance

Second, use your luck list as a source of mentoring and guidance.  We meet all walks of people in our day to day lives.  Some of them have wisdom in certain areas that you leverage from time to time.  A retired executive might be savvy in the ways of business politics and give you a tip or two.  A sales rep from an entirely different industry might give perspective on approaching a complex sale.  A lawyer whose son plays hockey with your son gives you advice on prospecting to the professional market.

Value Added Linking

The third way to think of your luck list is to consider it your own personal “human internet”: a spider-like web of resources and knowledge that you can “google” (call upon) for certain situations. You can link one person to another to help them solve a problem or whatever.  You probably know someone who  ‘knows someone.’ They`re ‘connected.’  They`re the go-to guy (girl).  Hard to find tickets for a game? Call them.  Need the name of someone to fix a basement foundation? They know someone… who knows someone… who knows someone.  Want a good rental property  for the week in an exotic location? They’ll point you in the right direction.  Need a second opinion from a brain surgeon?  They’ll tap their network and inevitably link you up.

To increase your luck, you want to be THAT someone.  You want to be connected.  You want to develop and groom a network of people who can help you out by helping others out.  So…if a customer needs help with her CRM you refer them to the geeky guy you used yourself.  When a customers is looking for tickets to see the Red Sox play, you call a distributor who calls his supplier who calls Tony the ticket guy who comes  up  with two seats at home base.

How Does This Create Luck

When you do things for your Luck List there is a tendency for them to want to reciprocate; to even up the balance.  In sales, if you`ve done a little extra for a client that goes above and beyond the call of duty, most of them remember that.  They reciprocate by giving the last look at a quote or they call you first in an emergency or the cut a few points with your pricing.   They`ll act as strong references and give testimonials. Often they`ll pass your name on to associates.

Getting Started With a Luck List

How do you get started.  Easy as pie.

First, sit down with a pen and paper and create a list of people who might have power, influence, knowledge, experience or skill that could be beneficial to you and others.  Typically, your list starts with people you know, like and respect.  It might be an old coach or teacher or boss.  Maybe you attended a workshop and thought the instructor was awesome, jot their name down.  No holds barred.

Secondly, build a communications plan.  This means develop a means of staying in touch.  The simplest ways are the telephone and internet.  But from time to time use an old fashioned fax or send a letter or meet with certain individuals for lunch.  Try not to let more that 4-6 weeks go by without some sort of touch.  The last thing you want to do is call up someone you haven`t contacted in a year and ask them for a favour.  You can use your Outlook to schedule a couple of hours every 4-6 weeks and devote that to grooming your list.

Third, start building a library of articles, links and other things that you can send to stay in touch and create value.  The library can be business –like i.e., information that relates to your industry or market or product- or it can be personal – individualized information that caters to a hobby, passion or interest.  (I  have a buddy who bought me a book on military knives because he knows it`s a interest I have.  You can bet I`ll reciprocate when the time is appropriate). Old fashioned letters or cards and e-cards are a great way to reach out to your Luck List.  Telephone your luck list every now and then and `get caught up.` Even a voice mail message works.

Fourth, when someone on your Luck Lists helps you out, no matter how big or small, send something.  Usually it`s a thank you card. Maybe a nice letter.  Anything that acknowledges the effort.

Summary

You never know when the payback will come as a result of your Luck List, but it DOES come. And the wider you cast your Luck List net, the more opportunities you will catch.

Of course, everyone will say ìt`s just luck when good things happen to you.  But you`ll know better.

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How to Avoid Sales Sinking Objections

Last week I was flicking through the channels on TV and stumbled across the movie “The Titanic”. The Titanic had just managed to avoid hitting the iceberg and had veered to port.  But of course, it was too late and we all know the rest of the story.

At that moment I couldn’t help but think of sales objections…Hidden Objections Can Sink Your Sales Ship

How so?

Objections are precisely like icebergs in that there are usually two parts. There’s the part that sits on the surface: the objection that is presented by the client; the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’.  But there’s also the part that lies treacherously below the surface: the hidden objection that is not expressed; the real ‘underlying’ objection. It is the big looming reason why a client might resist your offer and not buy.

The Titanic avoided the tip of the iceberg much like a sales rep might handle a surface objection like “your price is too high.” But the iceberg jutted out below the surface and ripped a 299 foot gash in the hull of the ship forty feet below the surface.

In sales, there are often objections that are not expressed for one reason or another that can cause an equivocal gash in your sales effort.  Some clients don’t give you the real objection because they haven’t articulated it yet in their own minds; some are simply resisting the urge to buy; others do it automatically.  The point is there can be any number of reasons.

3 steps to Avoiding “Objectionsbergs”

The process to avoid the ‘objectionsberg’ and keeping your sales ship afloat is to determine what lies below the surface.  There are 3 steps:

Step #1: Acknowledge

When the berg was sited the first thing the Titanic did was turn to port and stop engines.  In other words, it tried to slow down.  Same thing in sales. By acknowledging the objection you slow the objections process down; you buy time.  The best way to acknowledge the objection is to agree/acknowledge to it.

Suppose the client says, “E-mail me a proposal (or price list or quote or fact sheet or brochure or whatever).”  Pause for a moment and simply say, “I’ll be glad to.”  By doing the client feels the request has been heard and is being honoured.  This reduces their resistance and gives you a second or two to move onto step two.

Step #2: Clarify

The second step is to use questioning to clarify and determine if the objection posed is the authentic objection (and some are) or if there are other objections lurking deeper below the surface. You accomplish this by asking a question that gets the client to elaborate and provide you with additional information.  For instance, you might say,

“So that I can put that proposal together, let me ask you a few more questions.”

“So that I am not e-mailing a pile of irrelevant documents, let me ask you a couple of more questions.”

“So that I can present you with the best possible quote, let me ask you…”

“Before I send you a price list, I’d like to get a better feel for some of the products you typically use and the quantities of each…”

Your questions should delve deeper into a potential need or problem. You want the client to engage with you.  If he expands on the questions and provides good information, chances are the objection is real.  But if he is elusive and vague, it might well be a false objection.

Step #3:  Re-Verify

The final step is to re-verify.  This is a nifty little step that does two things. First, it provides added reassurance that the prospect is legitimate about the objection, and second it can help give you perspective on how to keep the sales cycle moving.

One of the best ways to do this is to create a hypothetical situation that gets the client to articulate the ‘next steps’ in the sales process.  Here are some examples,

“Jackson, if you like what you see on the proposal, explain to me what would happen next?”

“Cheri, let’s suppose the quote is in range, what would be the next steps in moving forward?”

“Kerrie, assuming the testimonials I send are satisfactory, how do you see us proceeding?”

 Summary

By identifying false objections you avoid a Titanic-like iceberg on two levels.  First, if you uncover the ‘real’ objection that lurks below the surface, you have an opportunity to address it.  In other words, you have an opportunity to proceed further in the sale because you are dealing with real issues, not false.

Second, while you might not proceed further with the sale, you do save yourself time and effort.  Taking time to write a proposal, send a quote, or forward information not to mention making countless follow up calls that are never returned takes away from the time you could be spending on legitimate clients.

Avoid objections icebergs by determining what lies beneath the surface.

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Rejection is Not Failure

When a prospect is rude or abruptly terminates the call or says ‘no’ to your offer, do you feel rejected?

Most reps do.  It is a natural reaction.  But it should only be a short term, momentary thing.  You cannot let it consume you because if you do, you’ll stop doing the things that will build your business and increase your sales. If you let rejection overcome you, you WILL fail.Rejection is not failure. Failure is quitting -Rick Castle

So let’s talk about getting a grip on rejection; about getting additional perspective. Last  week I watched an episode of “Castle” on ABC and while it’s’ basically a light hearted mystery/comedy series, it featured two profound message for sales reps.

In the episode, Castle’s daughter, Alexis, received a rejection letter from Stanford University.  She was absolutely devastated. Her world was ‘at an end’ and ultimately lamented that she was a failure.  She was ready to throw in the towel; give up; quit.  If you’re in sales, you could feel for Alexis and her angst.

Meanwhile, Castle, a successful mystery writer that works with the NYPD solving murder mysteries, tries to help is daughter by giving her a couple of profound thoughts on rejection.

Profound Thought #1: Rejection is Not Failure

Castle says to Alexis, “Rejection is not failure.”

This is a remarkably astute insight particularly for those of us in sales.  Being rejected by a prospect  does not mean YOU failed.  It means the prospect chose not to answer your questions or listen to your presentation or to buy your product or to set an appointment.   The prospect did not reject YOU.  They rejected your business offer for their own reasons.  So while your call objective may not have succeeded, you did not fail. By definition, then, you are not a failure.

Profound Thought #2: Failure is Quitting

Castle then provided a second profound thought.  He said, “Failure is quitting.”

I think he nailed it on this one.  He was saying to Alexis that if she stopped submitting applications to universities simply because Stanford rejected her, then she WAS a failure. Failure is when you don’t give it another shot; when you don’t pick up the phone and make those tough cold calls after you’ve heard ‘no’ a dozen time.   Failure is when you quit or quit too soon.  Failure is a lack of persistence.

Castle tells his daughter that he was rejected 20 times by publishers before his first novel was published (and became an instant success and a millionaire). In fact, he even had his first rejection letter framed and hung on his wall so that he would never forget that success is about  perseverance;  about hanging in there and going the distance.

Sure, the show is fictional but Castle’s message is superb.  Being rejected doesn’t mean YOU are a failure. You’re only a failure when you stop doing the tough things that will bring you success.

Don’t quit.

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Buyers are Liars

by Invoke Selling

Okay, this may seem cynical – it may seem over the top.  I am not saying that buyers are bad people. I am not saying I’ve formed this opinion from bitterness.  I am certainly not saying you should jump down a buyer’s throat every time they tell you something.

However, Your ability to have the mindset that buyers are liars is vital to your success as a sales person.  Think about it this way – a good friend of yours, or even your spouse: You know when something is up, they have their tells that set your radar off and you realize something is not right.  You begin to probe and ask what’s going on or what’s wrong. You almost never get a real answer the first time – and typically you don’t get a real answer a couple questions in.  You try to make them comfortable, and console them – get them to trust that they can confide in you, perhaps even use a little comic relief.  Eventually they open up and tell you what’s really going on.  If you stopped  with “what’s wrong?” you would never find out their troubles and you wouldn’t be able to help.

People are people – buyers are no different.  They are not going to tell us the truth right away, they are going skim around the top of the problem.  It is you responsibility as the sales person to ask the right questions to dive to the heart of the problem.  Unless you are able to get the buyer to open up and share with you what’s really going on in their organization – you will not be able to win the business

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Tele-Sales Managers: 4 Reasons to Hate Scripts and 5 Reasons to Love Them

To borrow from Shakespeare: to script or not to script, that is the question.

In the world of B to B tele-sales, minor wars have been raged on whether or not to script the call.  There are those who love scripts and they have some compelling arguments to support their claim.  Others would rather chew off a body part than script a call and have some rather convincing reasons in their favor.

The truth is scripts can work for and against you. Knowing how and when to use them or avoid them is the key to better sales results. Regardless of where you sit on the scripting fence, here is a definitive look at scripts and the ultimate solution to help you maximize your calling opportunities.

The Case Against the Script

1. Scripts Lack Flexibility

Because scripts are highly structured, it assumes your client based is a homogenous mass that thinks, acts and responds in the same manner. You know and I know that just isn’t true. Certainly in a B to B setting, a script tends to lack the flexibility that is needed in a client dialog.  A sales rep has to be able to react and respond to the client depending on the situation and circumstances.  Scripts don’t allow that and that severely limits their effectiveness.

2. It Sounds Canned

For the most part, scripts tend to sound ‘canned:’ awkward, stiff, stilted, insincere, mechanical, belabored, rote, bored, lacking conviction and the list goes on. Unless your sales rep is a particularly good actor who can call effectively delivery his lines, the script rarely comes off as natural.  Your clients pick this up immediately. They don’t have the time or the inclination to suffer through a droning pitch.  Put more simply, prospect know when a script is being read and don’t like it.  And rarely do they buy.

3. It Burns Out Reps

Look at a script from your sales rep’s perspective. In fact, why not give it a try yourself. Recite a script thirty or forty times a day, five days a week and four weeks a month and you’ll clearly understand the impact it has on your rep. Mind numbing repetition will frustrate your reps in record time which leads to burnout which leads to turnover. And that costs you money.

4. Dependency

Once a script is in place and up and running, sales reps become hooked or dependent on them. It becomes difficult if not impossible for them to think out of the box when the client doesn’t follow the script you’ve set. They recite; they don’t think.  Of course what this really means is that you can and will lose selling opportunities.

The Case for a Script

1. Creates Consistency

A script ensures that “everyone is singing from the same hymn book.”  In turn, consistency helps ensure call quality. This gives you peace of mind that your client base is hearing the same thing from all reps all of the time.

2. Shortens the learning curve

A script is easy to learn. Plunk it down on paper and you have a training document. In short order, your rep can be on the phone making calls and making money.

3. Reduces call lengths and increases productivity

A well written script gets rid of useless clutter that often accompanies a sales call. Because it is focused and structured, it gets to the point more quickly; messages are more succinct and better understood.  This efficiency can carve seconds or even minutes off a call. Multiple those by the volume of calls and the number of reps and you have economies of scale.

4. Provides a Standard by which you can coach

But perhaps one of the most significant benefits of a script is that it creates a standard by which a manager can coach. A standard is specific way something should be said or delivered. If a rep knows precisely what is expected, it becomes easier to support it through coaching and coaching is the key to sustained sales results.

5. Allows you to test

Finally, one of the strongest features of scripting is that it allows you to test various components of a call. For example, you could create two or three opening statements and test one against the other to determine which gets the higher response rate. You can do the same thing with offers.  Does offer A out pull offer B?  Because you can control the variables of a call, you can isolate and test one component at a time. In this manner you can determine the best mix of words to get the highest return on investment.

The Solution?

So there you have it: a partial list of the pros and the cons.  What’s the solution?

It’s simple. Create a hybrid. Take the best of both worlds. Combine the good of a script and toss out the bad.

The trick is to use “scripts’ in certain key parts of the call. For example, the opening statement should be scripted. Think about it: your reps are making sixty cold calls per day to the same target market. This part of the call should never have to change because your initial message should be the same from call to call. Scripting the opening statement creates a call standard.  It creates a consistent message that can be coached and supported by you. Best of all, if your reps are using the same opener you can start to test variations and figure out what works best in garnering the client’s attention.

Questioning, on the other hand, is something that cannot be scripted. Oh sure, you can have a list of questions that should be asked but once questioning begins the client can take you all over the map. Your rep needs the flexibility to move where the conversation goes. He needs to “think out of the box.” Don’t script questioning.

Voice mails can and should be scripted. Why? Because you can see what works and what doesn’t work in getting a client to respond.  And dare I say it: test!

If you are using offers as part of the selling process, they can and should be scripted. The offer typically doesn’t change so why change the words? If you allow too much flexibility and free form at this stage you’ll discover that sometimes your reps are eloquent and sometimes they sound like the village idiot. Don’t risk it. The offer is the ultimate hook. Make it a standard, coach to it and watch it work. Or test it. Get half your sales team to present the offer in one manner and get the other half to present the offer in another.

Objections are a more troublesome. The problem is smokescreens: i.e., false objections. For instance, you can have all the right words and phrases to deal with a price objection but if that’s just an excuse to get rid of the rep, then a script doesn’t help, it hinders. Instead, you can develop a ‘call guide” for handling objections. A call guide is a process for a given situation. For example, you could teach your reps a 4 steps process to handling an objection (emphasize, verify/isolate, respond and confirm) which would give you structure of a script but the flexibility of free form.

When providing a solution in a complex sale, your rep will likely need to have the flexibility of  tailoring the message to a particular client. This is hard to script. However, like objections, a call guide can be used to craft a message that provides the client with key features supported by clear explanations and topped off with a benefit or two.

Script the close. You can have 10 different scripted closing lines if you want but you must ensure that the sales rep uses ONE of them.  If you do that, you increase the chances that the sale will close.

Summary

The fact of the matter is this: most B to B tele-sales departments typically don’t use scripting in the management of their calls. They give their reps license to do as they please because of the negative perceptions about scripts. Rest assured, sales and opportunities are being lost because a modicum of structure is not being applied. Script certain key parts of your call and you’ll have added a degree of ‘science’ to the ‘art’ of selling.

And if you’re not a script writer, find one. (see article below) The reps will learn faster, apply the knowledge more consistently and sell more. Period.

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5 Steps to Overcoming the Fear of Cold Calling

Do you dread the thought of picking up the phone and making a cold call?

Join the crowd. Whether it is because of the fear of rejection or the worry of being seen as too aggressive or some other deep rooted psychological reason, most sales reps would rather gnaw off a body part than pick up the phone and make an unsolicited call to a complete stranger.

But in as much as you may hate cold calling, chances are you can’t avoid it. It’s a necessary requirement for most reps. If that’s the case, you might as well come to grips with it and deal with your fears head on. Here are five steps you can take to make cold calling less intimidating and more effective.

Step #1: Build Your Knowledge Level

Call it common sense but one of the BEST ways to overcome the fear of cold calling is to become a ‘resident expert.’ Knowledge truly is power. The more you know about your product or service, the more confident you will become. Prospects hear that confidence in your voice and tend to be far more receptive to your call.

Become a resident expert by doing your homework. Read the manuals of top products. Learn the specs. Visit web sites. Subscribe to relevant industry newsletters. Memorize Q & A sheets. Ask existing customers what they like best. Determine how (and why) they use your products. Get examples. Hear the success stories. Take notes.

The simple act of learning more about your product and services enhances your confidence and significantly reduces the fear factor.

Step #2: Get Better a Selling

Cold calling isn’t all that hard. Really! Most sales reps falter because they have not honed their prospecting skills and techniques to a fine edge.

For example, is it any wonder that you get rejected when you open a call with a self-serving pitch delivered in a listless monotone? Do you really expect to engage prospects when you fail to ask questions that identify possible needs? Are you the least bit surprised when the prospect terminates the call because your long winded presentation is long on features but short on benefits?

If you haven’t had formal cold calling skills training, get it. Ask your manager. Get coaching. Buy book on cold calling. Surf the internet. Find sites dedicated to cold calling. Subscribe to newsletters. Download special reports. Order some DVDs. Listen to peers who excel. Take notes. Keep a ‘black book’ of tips. Learn (or re-learn) how to deal with objections. You know the drill. Just do it and take control of your destiny.

(For 26 great selling tips see the article below)

Tip #3: Spend More Time Preparing

Most cold callers are not adequately prepared for cold calling. They grab a list, sit down and wing it or they use a script that worked well for their boss in 1992.

Start by creating a call guide, not a script. A call guide is like a road map that provides you with a step-by-step approach to each part of the call. The trick with a call guide is to avoid scripting it word-for-word. A script forces you to ‘read’ and that can make you sound ‘canned’ or phony (no pun intended …okay… maybe a little one). The more conscious you are of ‘reading a script’ the more self conscious you become and the more awkward you feel.

Instead, use bullet points and short phrases for your opening statement, questions and offer. This will provide you with ‘flexible structure.’ In other words, a framework to help you stay on track but the freedom to sound more natural by varying the message. Psychologically, it does wonders.

Prepare job aids for product descriptions and for objections. Print these job aids on colored sheets of paper and posted them so they are visible and handy. Don’t be shy.

Call guides and job aids are support tools – cheat sheets, it you like- that will help make your call less intimidating.

Step #4: Drill, Practice and Rehearse

Preparing calling guides and job aids isn’t particularly new but what is not nearly so commonplace is drilling, practising and rehearing. If there truly is a secret to overcoming the fear of cold calling, this is it.

Every sales rep knows about role playing and its benefits but most avoid it like the plague. Practicing your call with a co-worker, buddy or spouse just isn’t ‘cool.’ It exposes our weaknesses. It lays bare all our faults and misuses. It makes us conscious of how incompetent we think we sound. We get embarrassed, bury our heads in the sand and avoid it completely.

Get over it. Practising your ‘lines’ is like practising your swing in golf, your slap shot in hockey, your forehand in tennis or your jump shot in basketball, or your sonata on the piano. It’s how you get better and it is where confidence it built.

Find someone and role play until you’re blue in the face. (Or, at the very least, rehearse your call in the shower, the car, the elevator …somewhere.) Use your call guide and learn your ‘lines.’ Get used to the rhythm and flow of the call. Reference your job aids. Practice objections. Nothing will increase your comfort (and confidence) level more than this.

Step #5: Build Your Endurance

Here’s the last step: build your endurance to cold calling.

First off, make your cold calls every day of the week. Whatever you do, don’t try to cram all your cold calling in a half or full day. To overcome the fear of cold calling treat the process as a sprint and not a marathon. A cold calling marathon will beat you down, frustrate you and burn you out. It will also augment your fear and loathing of picking up the phone and dialing another prospect.

Schedule your calls daily and make them first thing in the morning, the earlier the better. When you call earlier you’ll not only reach more prospects but you’ll also find them more receptive and tolerant because their day hasn’t heated up. But more significantly, you’ll get your cold calling out of the way so it doesn’t hang over your head like a dark cloud for the rest of the day.

If you can, start off by cold calling 45 minutes a day which is a manageable and tolerable time frame. Do that for the first week then move to 60 minutes a day the next week. That’s only 15 more minutes a day. You’ll discover that’s a walk in the park. Depending on your needs you may have to hike up the time you spend on cold calling but by then by you’ll have built your endurance.

Summary

These 5 steps are nothing more than an action plan. A plan, when implemented, gives you direction and momentum. By following a plan you take control. You feel less “victimized” because you have focus. Start implementing these ‘secrets’ today and watch your fears dissolve.

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5 Ways to be Horrible at Cold Calling

by Michael Scott, www.invokeselling.com
The idea that you can pick up the phone, talk to the owner of a company you’ve never spoken with before, set a meeting and get his business is one of the most exciting things I do as a sales person.  The problem is – so many salespeople are just really bad at it, and it is a vicious cycle.  They think they are bad, so they are bad, then they hate doing it and they get no results. Sales consulting companies then feast on “never cold call again” campaigns because this is what some salespeople want to hear.  The fact of it is, cold calling is an integral part of any sales cook book to meet your goals.  If you are choosing to not cold call, you are making a big mistake.

Here are 5 items that make people bad at cold calling which wrongfully convinces themselves that cold calling does not work:

1) Say “Hi this is Jon Dough with abc company, can I talk to your head of operations?”

2) Leave a voice mail

3) Use a script

4) Use a gimmick like “Hi Jon, I’m calling for the appointment I set with you”

5) Sound “Salesy”

We will be coming out with articles on how you can be successful at cold calling and make a dedicated effort to utilize this tool as part of your sales plan to increase business.

For more great articles visit www.invokeselling.com

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6 Things Coaching is Definitely NOT

If you think coaching is one of these six activities, give your head a shake.

1. Coaching is NOT a Personal Anecdote

I’m sure you’ve had a manager or two whose approach to coaching was to tell you their war stories from their days in sales trenches. They dredge up all sorts of colorful anecdotes of how they tackled this objection or that objection, of the flawless presentation, of countless hours of preparation and of their ability to close on a dime and make the sale. Ad nauseum.

While some of the ‘good old day’ anecdotes may have even been interesting they cannot be mistaken for coaching. The stories might provide a useful tip or two. They might even illustrate a point which in moderation has a degree of value. But as an effective means to modify and change selling behavior, the stories have limited value.

The reason?

First of all, they are often of questionable relevance. Anecdotes tell of a different product, a different time (maybe even a different era), a different market, and a different customer. The telephone sales rep has to somehow extrapolate the similarities to the present, if any, and apply it to the situation

Second, personal anecdotes are not based on an objective standard. This means they cannot be used in a consistent manner. One rep can interpret the story one way while another rep may see it another. As a means of modifying behavior, anecdotes only have validity if they support a technique or skills that has been taught.

2. Coaching is NOT Rah, Rah, Sis, Boom Bah

Coaching is not a Vince Lombardi-like locker room speech. You see this type of coaching style in manages who are ex-athletes. They act as cheerleaders trying to pump up their reps, get them hyped, and excite them into selling more.

A good speech can help create a motivating environment. A good speech can possibly get a rep to push a little harder and make a few more dials. But however inspirational a speech might be, it does not teach a rep to sell smarter or more effectively. It does not modify or change or alter skills sets.

3. Coaching is NOT Training

A good training program is like a good foundation for a house. The better the foundation the more you can build and expand. Training is the formal presentation of knowledge.  Training is the basis for coaching. If done properly, skills training should set the standards for all parts of the call.

But training is not coaching. Coaching is the process of supporting what was learned in training. If your reps learn how to create an effective opening statement using a five step process in a classroom setting, coaching should support those five steps. Coaching helps remind he rep to use the steps. It encourages the reps to stick to the plan.

Coaching takes a few seconds; maybe a couple of minutes. Training can take hours.

4. Coaching is NOT an Open Door Policy

Some managers think that coaching is telling your reps, “If you having a problem or difficulty, come and see me. My door is always open.”

That’s nice but what a cop out. Sure, some inside sales reps will knock on the door and say ‘boss, I need your help,” but many if not most, won’t. Some won’t because they don’t want to be embarrassed by raising their hand as saying “Heh, I don’t know how to close.”

Others, and this is the tragic part, won’t rush to the door for help simply because they don’t know they need help. Blithely, they go on calling not realizing they have strayed from the processes and standards that have been set until one day they are so far behind in their sales objectives that they give up or you give up on them.

Coaching is proactive. It means you actively work with your reps ensuring that the skills and techniques are being used. It means you preempt any problems or difficulties.

5. Coaching is NOT a Personnel Review

Personnel reviews are formal meeting between the manager and the tele-sales rep. Ostensibly they are used to provide feedback to the rep on how they are doing, what they need to be doing and so forth. Conducting a personnel review that includes feedback on quarterly or even a monthly basis is kind of like closing the barn door after the cows have wandered off.

As a communications process, personnel reviews are great but they are not the forum for coaching. If the sales rep is stumbling over objections at the beginning of June, you don’t need to wait to the 30th to address the issue.

6. Coaching is NOT a Group Meeting

I have worked with several clients who claim that their morning ‘get together’ acts or is their means of coaching.  They use the time to share techniques, tips, and suggestions. Problems are dealt with. An idea or two is bounced around.

These meeting are great for communicating. Undoubtedly, there is a nugget or two of wisdom. But they don’t always apply to everyone every time. And that’s the problem, it isn’t always applicable.

Coaching is a one to one process between you and the rep. A group session might be training but it is not coaching.

Summary

Don’t misunderstand: these six items play a role in disseminating information and imparting knowledge. A good story can illustrate a point and a good speech can motivate a rep to use a technique or skill.  Similarly, reps should know they can come to your door at any time and any feedback any time can be of value. But these situations are not consistent and effective means of getting reps to change and modify their behavior for better results.

PS  Want to learn more about coaching, go here.

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6 Reasons Why Companies and Managers Don’t Coach

Can we all agree for a moment that good coaching will help your sales reps to sell smarter and not just harder?

And that in selling smarter, they will consistently sell more products/services in less time?

Okay, if we’re in agreement with this fundamental truth then why it is that so few companies actively coach their reps?

I’m not talking about “my door is always open and I am available to help you out” kind of coaching. I am talking about scheduled, 1 to 1 coaching on a consistent basis. You know what I mean:   the ‘sleeves-rolled-up-hunkered-down-beside-your-rep-in-their-cubicle’ kind of coaching.

Why don’t we coach? It boils down to six fundamental reasons. Do any of these apply to you?

1. No time

When honest and when pressed to be perfectly candid, most sales managers acknowledge that they simply do not have the time to proactively coach their sales reps; they’re busy.  The real question is this: busy at what? At meetings? Working on spreadsheets? Important projects? Strategy sessions and planning? Time sheets? Verifying expenses? Scheduling? Hiring?

Here’s a moment of truth: while all these tasks and activities have merit and are legitimate they do NOT directly contribute to bottom line sales revenue!

To provide some additional perspective, answer the following questions (honestly):

–         Who plans and organizes a call?

–         Who picks up the phone and dials the prospect?

–         Who qualifies and questions the prospect?

–         Who presents your product or service?

–         Who tackles the objections?

–         Who asks for the sale?

–         Who follows up on leads?

–         Who interfaces with your existing customers?

–         Who generates the sale and the revenue?

Last time I checked, a completed spread sheet does not bring dollars in the door. And as near as I can figure it, a meeting hasn’t resulted in a breakthrough revenue month.

Your sales reps generate the revenue. Help them get better at doing just that. The better they are the more they’ll sell.  You HAVE the time. You’re just not spending it effectively. This is understandable. Coaching is one of those “important not urgent” activities.  Look after the important and the urgent will take care of itself.

Find the time. Every single day. About 20% of your day should be devoted to this task. Yes: twenty percent. Do it and watch your sales grow and sustain itself.

2. Sales reps don’t like it

There is no question about it: some sales reps don’t like the idea of coaching. They don’t want a “big brother” monitoring their calls beside them or from a remote location.

Tough.

Unless they ‘re blowing the doors off their sales objectives tell them to get used to it. They will if you do it right.

It’s simple: what sales reps don’t like is a poor coach; a coach who criticizes but does precious little to develop their skill set. Someone who wastes their time. Sales reps don’t want a manager who says, “Here’s what I would have said,” or “Back in my day, here’s how I handled that objection” or words to that effect. That’s subjective, ad hoc coaching. They might be interesting war stories but they do precious little to develop and nurture a skill set.

Sales reps want an objective, unbiased assessment of their call and selling approach. They want constructive feedback. They want information that will make them more successful.

Of course, what this really means is that for reps to enjoy coaching and benefit from it, then YOU had better be good at it. If you’re not, learn how. (See #6)

3. Sales managers don’t like it

No argument here. Most sales managers don’t like burrowing down and monitoring and analyzing taped calls or y-jacking themselves to a rep at their workstation.  I can understand and appreciate this.

Why?  Because it’s tough work. Quite frankly, it can sometimes be tedious and boring.  And there are so many other things the manager could be doing.  (Like working on a spread sheet or attending the fourth meeting of the day.)

Tough.

Get used to it.

Never, ever forget that your career and/or financial success are directly linked to the sales rep in the chair in the cubicle with a telephone in their hand. If you can’t spend the time there then you shouldn’t be a manager. It’s as simple as that. Period. End of sentence.

Learn to like it. Or don’t learn to like it and do it anyway.

4. Don’t need to coach

Some companies don’t coach because they say they don’t need to coach. Why? Because they hire experienced reps.

What a bunch of malarkey.

Experienced sales reps do not necessarily make successful sales reps. Some reps take longer to learn; some struggle with new target markets; some are just plain confused; some are experienced and lousy.

A couple of months ago I watched Tiger Woods win about a billion dollars in some match. He’s an experienced golfer!  He doesn’t need a coach, right?

Oh wait, he has one.  Beside him was his objective coach who helped him re-engineer his swing. Tiger will earn about a gazillion dollars this year because he knows the value of the coach to his game.  Understand this, experience counts for nothing until the dollars flow in and flow in consistently each and every month. Everyone needs a coach. Some more than others. But everyone needs one. If you don’t agree with that you’re kidding yourself.

5. Don’t know the value

Some companies and some managers don’t coach because they don’t understand the value of the process. Usually these are situations occur when companies provide intense and thorough training. They feel the training should suffice.

It doesn’t.

Here’s what happens. The day sales reps leave the training rooms is the day their knowledge begins to decline. They begin to forget 56 seconds after the training stops.  Training is like shoveling ten pounds of sand into a five pound bag. At some point, no more sand can enter and it uselessly flows off to the side.

It’s the same with sales skills and product knowledge training. Companies cram a ton of information into the heads of their sales reps not realizing their reps forget or confuse it. Coaching helps reinforce the good that was taught. Coaching helps modify and change bad that develops. Coaches serve and act as cheerleaders. Coaches’ serve and act like consciences reminding their team members to stay the course. Coaching protects the training investment. It’s valuable. Priceless, in fact.

6. Don’t know how

Some managers don’t coach because they don’t know how.  Thank the stars for this refreshing bit of honesty.  It’s perfectly okay it you don’t know how. It’s not okay if you remain blissfully ignorant.

If you don’t know how to coach do something about it. Buy some books or get some DVDs or whatever. Take a course. Visit my web site and learn about my coaching workshops. Or call me. Or go to one of my competitors. I really don’t care. But do SOMETHING!

And even if you do coach, are you a good coach? How do you know?  Could you be a better coach? Go here if you want to be a better coach.

Summary

Okay, are guilty of any of these?

If so, give your head a shake. Start proactively coaching. Don’t wait. Nothing will bring BETTER and more sustained sales results than coaching. Nothing. Not  a good incentive program, not a good contest and not a great spiff. These activities may get your reps to work harder (for a while) but not smarter. Smarter selling means bigger sales. You’ll be hero.

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10 Great Tips on Hiring the Perfect Tele-Sales Rep

Are you concerned about the turnover rate of your tele-sales reps?  Is it higher than you’d like? Are you frustrated with the time, effort and cost involved with turnover?

Maybe the problem is your selection and recruitment process. Telephone selling can be extremely tough and quite frankly the majority of candidates you interview won’t have the right stuff to be successful.  Surprisingly, many companies do NOT have a selection process geared to finding candidates who can sell over the telephone.

The real trick is to either identify good candidates or weed out the bad during the selection process and save yourself the hassle and headache-not to mention the cost- down the line. Here are 10 great tips that can help you find the perfect tele-sales rep or at least, reduce the odds of hiring a dud.

Tip #1: Review and/or create an accurate job description.

I am forever staggered by the number of companies who do not have a job description for their tele-sales reps or if they do, it’s lame and inaccurate. If you cannot clearly and concisely define the responsibilities, tasks and activities of your tele-sales reps you’ve got a problem.

A job description does two things for you. First, it forces YOU to think about what the job entails and that helps you build a profile (see below). Second, you can use the job description as tool to help candidates qualify or disqualify themselves. Be thorough, be detailed, be honest.

Tip #2: Build a job profile

This is simple but critical step is often ignored. Take a few moments and think about your products or services, your target market, pricing strategy, sales cycle and the nature of your sale (transactional, complex?). Think of your newly renovated job description.

How ask yourself: Ideally, what kind of person do I need to do the job? Is your sale so simple that you can hire a student fresh out of college or university or do you need someone with more sales maturity and savvy? Do you want someone who sounds older and more ‘established’ because your target market is a C-Level executive or do you need someone who sounds youthful and enthusiastic because they are calling mid level managers, purchasers etc.? Profiling gives you focus and perspective and makes the rest of the hiring process simpler. It helps you write your job ad and it helps you with your interview questions.

Tip #3: Be candid in your recruitment ad

I could write pages on building a job ad but for the moment let’s focus on one important element: tell them that the job is telephone based. Please.  By all means, give the tele-sales position an attractive title like “business development rep” or “marketing consultant” or whatever you like. But make certain that somewhere you state “uses the telephone as the primary means of initiating contact with customers/prospects.” Misleading a candidate achieves nothing in the long run except headaches, frustration and discouragement.

Tip #4: Cull the resumes against your profile

Most companies and most tele-sales managers have their own methods for reviewing and culling resumes: past sales experience, telephone selling experience, education, number of jobs, longevity at each job, spelling etc.  These are all fine but add one more step:  scan the resumes you receive and if possible, compare it to the profile you have created.

Tip #5: Conduct a 2 minute interview

Here’s a really big tip that can save you a ton of time and effort.  Once you have a list of candidates, call them and conduct a brief 1-2 minute interview. Your one and only objective on this call is to evaluate their voice.  Simply say, “Tell me about yourself.” Then stop and listen. Telephone selling is an auditory based medium so evaluate the sound of their voice, their grammar, diction, pace, inflection, everything. If they stumble and bumble, slur their words, and cannot string four words together then it’s not a match. End of story, end of candidate.

Tip #6: Have the reps call you for a longer interview

Assuming you like what you hear, arrange to have the rep call you back at a specific date and time. Always choose an odd times like 10:15 or 1:20 or 3:40.  Why? You want to see if the rep listened to your instructions and you want to see if they call at the specified time. You’ll be surprised at how many call 10 or 15 or 20 minutes late. Not a great beginning, is it?

There are three objectives at this stage. First, did they indeed call on time?  If they cannot effectively follow up on something that impacts their career and their life, you can bet they won’t follow up on your clients and prospects. Second, continue to evaluate their voice. This is a longer interview. Can they maintain an engaging tone; are they consistent? Finally, go through their resume as you normally would. Ask whatever questions you need to qualify them or get more comfortable.

Tip #7: Have the rep call you for an appointment

If the candidate meets your requirements tell them that you need to call some more candidates and that you want them to call back later that day to set up a face to face appointment.   Give them an odd time once again. (In effect, retest them regarding listening and follow up).  But what you’re really doing at this stage is testing their perseverance and patience. Isn’t that what tele-sales is all about?

Tip #8: Conduct a Face to Face interview

Assuming the candidate calls on time, simply set up a convenient date for a face to face meeting.  Do whatever you normally do during an interview.  But at this stage you are probably 90% sure this is a good candidate. The face to face interview is simply to give you additional peace of mind and to do one more thing (see the next tip.)

Tip #9: Let them spend an hour or two with one of your reps

After the interview is completed have the candidate spend some time with one of your better reps. Have the rep show  her around. And then have the candidate sit with the rep and monitor calls. Let him see and hear the job in all its glory and splendor. If it scares him away, fine, you’ve dodged a turnover bullet.

Tip #10: Present your offer and provide full disclosure

Last tip: present your job offer after the visit with the rep. Make it formal on paper to avoid any confusion and misunderstanding. Make sure to tell them about your compensation package etc.  But do two more things. First, give them the job description. Let them read it so they understand the job from stem to stern.

And second be sure to tell them precisely what you expect in terms of dials, connects, presentations and dollars. This includes the training phase and then when they hit the phones full time.  Don’t hide anything back.  Again, if you scare them away, so be it.

Summary

This process takes considerably less time than you would think because the phone is far quicker and more efficient. In fact, it takes less time than face to face interviews. But the real point is, it is a selection process that seeks to identify candidates who can cut it in the world of telephone selling.  You’ll reduce turnover and get better sales results by employing these tips. Give them a try.

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Tele-Sales Managers: How to Get Your Reps to Take More Personal Accountability and Sell More!

Here’s a quick, extremely effective way to get your tele-sales reps to take great ownership for their results (or lack of results).

It’s called a FLASH Report and I stole the idea from Becky Cruise, a former tele-sales director in Iowa.

Put simply, it is one the BEST ways to get reps to kick it up a notch or two. And the best thing is that FLASH reports are easy to implement and they make your job a whole lot easier.

The Verbal Conscience – The FLASH Report

A FLASH Report is a process of getting reps to collect their call data and to publicly report that data  on daily basis.  This creates a ‘verbal conscience’ whereby the reps must take personal responsibility and accountability for their results in front of  their peers and you.

How it Works

In a nutshell, Becky began process of personal accountability by having her reps keep a “DSR” -Daily Sales Report.  Each rep kept track of key indicators by manually tracking outbound dials, customer, contacts, inbound calls, direct sales, indirect sales, etc. Thus, at any given time of the day, the rep knows how he or she is doing and what needs to be done to achieve objective. Call it old fashioned but it forces the rep to take note of what they have achieved.

Every morning before dialing begins,  Becky had her FLASH Meeting (which is stand up affair) with of all the reps in her office. It would take only 15 minutes and each rep reports their individual results. For example,
” I had 20 calls for the day (their average is 37 so Becky knows the call count is low), 80 minutes on the phone (when the average is 140) with a average sale of $00 (compared to $353 average) and I made 4 sales (compared to the average of 9).  New product or promote sales of 10% total dollars (versus 20%) and no sales for the daily double.”

What FLASH Does – the Benefits

By publicly declaring their results in front of their boss and peers a number of benefits occur.

First and foremost, if the rep has had a lousy day it creates a degree of discomfort having to share the results with everyone else; but  the stress is ‘good stress’ because it tends to motivate the rep to work harder or smarter for the up coming day; no one want to report poor results two days in a row!

Second, if the rep had a good day, it is an opportunity for them to shine and grab a few ‘high fives’;  it appeals to their ego and pushes them to continue to perform well

Third and interestingly, when reps have had a bad day, their teammates tend to rally around them and give them verbal encouragement. They’ve all been there and they know what it is like; so, in effect, it builds team spirit.

Next, at any given moment the rep knows exactly what is important, what is expected and precisely where he or she stands; the results are big, bold and brassy. There’s not running or hiding. There is no pretending the result were mediocre or poor.

Fifth,  the manager immediately identifies good, mediocre or poor results for the previous day; there is no waiting for a weekly report; its saves every one time and energy.

And finally, the manager can immediately develop a plan of action for that individual; maybe it is coaching or maybe it is training; but the point is, something can be done before the rep spirals  and is lost

Bonus Benefit. Becky also attaches some sort of recognition or reward program with the FLASH sessions. For instance, she has slips of paper each of which has a key statistic written on it ( e.g., dials, contacts, # of sales, highest sale, average value of sale).   A draw is made and the person with the highest number in the selected category wins a small prize.  This means everyone has a chance of being a winner even if the rep had a bad day.

Summary

FLASH is such a simple process to implement but in all my years of consulting I have discovered that this is one of the MOST effective ways to get your reps focused and on track. It’s a wake up call every morning and reminds reps of what they must DO in order to be successful. Implement FLASH now and see results tomorrow.

(The above article was taken from Telesales Coaching: the Ultimate Guide to Helping Your Inside Sales Team Sell Smarter, Sell Better and Sell MORE.  Go here for more information)

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10 Ways to Integrate Field Sales with Inside Sales and Reduce Departmental Tension

Do your field and inside sales team work harmoniously with one another or do they operate unto themselves in separate kingdoms?

Unfortunately many inside and outside sales teams exist in open conflict with one another vying over accounts, sales and territories. The time and effort it requires to handle the subterfuge is simply not worth it. Not only does it impact the morale of your reps (and your company), it affects the relationships and perceptions of your customers and prospects, not to mention your sales revenues.

Inside sales and outside sales can and should work in unison to produce stellar results. Here are 10 ways to bring these two powerful sales teams together and maximize their results.

1. Report to a Single Executive

If the field sales team reports to a sales executive and the inside sales team reports to a customer service or operations executive (as it often does), conflict is inevitable. Each department has different priorities and there are bound to be clashes. But the moment a single sales executive is made directly accountable for the results both teams is the moment that the squabbling ends and entire department begins to fire on all cylinders.

2. Develop Blistering Clear Plans & Communicate

The biggest battle with inside and outside sales teams is ‘who handles this and who gets credits for that.’ While there will never be perfect division of accounts and territories take the time to think and plan your approach. Marginal, inactive and geographical remote accounts are perfect for your tele-sales team and will force you field sales team to focus on priority accounts.

Explain the rationale in writing so it is indelible to them and to you! If accounts are given up or traded, reduce sensitivities by paying double commissions for three or four months. This step will save you hours of needless conflict and help make the transition smoother.

3. Compensate and Motivate in Like Manner

You do not have to pay your inside sales team exactly the same as your field sales reps but you must pay in ‘like’ manner. If your field sales comp program includes base, commission and bonus so too should your inside sales team on a proportionate basis. This strategy reduces the ‘have’ and ‘have not’ mentality.

If there is a sales contest, make certain inside sales is an active participant and ‘mind the gap.’ Avoid the temptation of offering lavish rewards (e.g., the trip to Vegas or Hawaii) for field sales and offering pathetic rewards (toaster ovens or movies passes) for inside sales. If the recognition gap is so vast- and it often is- it sends a resounding and discouraging message to your inside sales team.

4. Create an In-to-Out Career Path

One of the best strategies is to develop a career path where you inside reps can be promoted to outside reps; a farm system. This will do several things. First, your inside team works harder and smarter for a chance at achieving an outside sales position. Second, the cost of recruiting and selecting a field rep is reduced dramatically. Third, the customer barely notices the transition because they get an experienced, knowledgeable rep. Finally, once the inside rep becomes an outside rep, the integration process becomes much more complete.

5. Attend Conferences, Trade Shows and Other Event, Together

Tension, frustration and confusion are reduced dramatically when the sales teams meet together at the same events, conferences and trade shows. Typically they have to work as a team on the trade floor. They begin to bond at lunch and dinner. They ‘play’ together in evening. It works if for no other reason then they get to know one another.

6. Attend Sales Meeting Together

This is so obvious that it is very often overlooked. Integrate inside and field sales by having them attend the same sales meetings. Have them participate, present results and be held accountable to one another. If the team is geographically spread out, have a conference call so that communication is fostered. If you have a sales rally or president’s club, make absolutely certain that both attend.

7. Train in Exact Manner

If training is required train the teams together. For example, ‘boot camp’ training is a great way to get reps to bond together from the get-go. If you have skills or knowledge training sessions throughout the year, pull your teams together. Do NOT train inside and outside teams separately.

8. The Day in/Day Out program

Here’s one of the best tips to pull your teams together. Every quarter or every six months have the outside reps spend a day on the phone with the inside rep. Have the inside rep spend a day on the road with the field rep. In short order, each rep will have a great appreciation of the job and one another.

9. Do Not Tolerate, Excuse or Permit Saboteurs

Here’s the cold hard truth: depending on your situation and environment, you can expect that some reps will seek to sabotage the efforts of others. A saboteur is a rep who subconsciously and often consciously, seeks to wreck, dilute or cheat the policies you have established.

For example, a field rep might say to customers, “I can’t deal with you any more. You’re stuck with an inside rep” and thus taint the entire program. Equally, an inside rep might remark, “Your field reps never visited you in the first place, so I’m your new account rep” which simply shows the customer that your sales team is on shaky ground.

Sentiments like these will lose you customers in a heartbeat. Deal with these saboteurs quickly, efficiently and if necessary, brutally. Stick to the policies. Do not tolerate belligerence because it will fester and spread.

10. Be Vigilant and Keep Your Word

Continuously monitor the integration of your teams. If you get wind of dissension, act fast and deal with it. Get your managers together and talk. Don’t ignore the situation.

Above all, keep your word. Beware the temptation to change the rules as you go because it will have a significant impact on sales results, morale and customer satisfaction. Walk the walk.

Summary

Integrating inside and outside is really a matter of common sense. The ultimate key to making the integration program work for you is to have the WILL to stay the course. There will be a brief struggle as reps learn to change and adjust but if you follow these tips you’ll weather the storm and your sales will grow.

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Tele-Sales Managers:The Single Most Important Key to YOUR Tele-Sales Success

What’s the secret to blowing the lid off your sales and revenue objectives?

It’s really not that hard to figure out. But to provide you with some perspective, answer these questions:

  • Who plans and organizes the telephone call?
  • Who picks up the phone and dials the number?
  • Who battles past gatekeepers to reach decision makers?
  • Who has to penetrate voice mail and call display to speak to the buyer?
  • Who presents the opening statement that gets the client or prospect listening?
  • Who does the questioning to identify needs?
  • Who presents the appropriate solution?
  • Who handles the inevitable objections?
  • Who advances the sales cycle?
  • Who closes the sale?
  • Who cross sells and up sells?
  • Who generates the revenue?
  • Who helps make the margin?
  • Whose job is it to meet or exceed their sales objectives?
  • Who can make you look good?
  • And who can make you look bad?

 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out… and it’s not the customer or the prospect. The answer is obvious:

The tele-sales rep.

If you don’t have a sales rep beating the bushes and making sales, you don’t have to worry about the customer. You won’t have them around. The tele-sales rep is the key to the success of you and your company because it is the sales rep that brings home the bacon. Without them, without the revenues they produce, nothing else really matters.

So, here’s the BIG question: if the tele-sales reps is so important where do YOU spend your time? Wait! let me guess:

– “important” meetings

– working on complex spread sheets

– implementing a creative project

– crafting a brand new sales strategy

– discussing ways to increase sales with your boss

Okay, here comes the perspective:

-Does a spreadsheet generate a single dime of revenue?

-How much revenue did your last staff meeting make for the company?

-What was the net margin on that last project?

-How many new customers did that meeting with your boss produce?

Get Your Priorities Right

There is certainly no question that managers have to attend meeting, put out fires, deal with accounting and tackle various projects. The issue is priority.

The tele-sales rep is the conduit for sales, customer growth, revenue and margin and if your time is not proportionately spent with those who make the sales then you’ve got your priorities wrong. Dead wrong. There is simply no delicate way to put it.

Give your head a shake right now. Give up a meeting or two. Say no to a project. Skip “American Idol” tonight and finish up your report at home. Come in early and study your spread sheet. I don’t care what you do, but make time for those who are going to make YOU successful

What Should You Do?

There are two things you must do to keep your ‘sales engine’ running smoothly and effectively: constantly provide your rep with training, and constantly support that training with ‘hands on’ coaching.

Simple, logical and effective … if you do it right

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How to Coach Your Tele-Sales Reps Without Being There: The 10-2-5 Chart

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.

The 10-2-5 chart is one of those ideas. It is a way to not only monitor the activities of your tele-sales team but also a way to get your tele-sales reps to monitor themselves and become more accountable for their results.

(The following is taken from a superb book on coaching: “Tele-Sales Coaching: The Ultimate Guide to Helping Your Inside Sales Team, Sell Smarter, Sell Better and Sell More.  Go here for more information)

What is it?

A 10-2-5 Chart is typically a large dry erase board that is prominently displayed within your tele-sales department. It features the names of your tele-sales reps and it features key indicators regarding productivity and sales.  For example, dials, connects, number of sales, value of sales, average value of sales etc.  Whatever you decide is critical.

There’s nothing new about a display chart but what makes the 10-2-5 unique is that at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. your tele-sales reps have to get up from their desks and  walk over to the chart and enter their stats. What this does is provide a “real time” look at sales activities throughout the day. It is big, bold and brassy; there for everyone in the department and the company to see.

What this Does For the Rep

– it creates a sense of personal accountability for success
– it creates a degree of pressure to perform if the numbers are low
– it creates a sense of pride and achievement if the numbers are high
– it creates a sense of good competition to drive the reps to work harder or smarter

What it Does for You – The Manager/Owner/ Executive

-it provides you with a real time pulse of what is going on within your department and allows you to respond accordingly
-it acts as an “early warning system” for reps who may be faltering; in effect, you can nip an issue in the bud before it becomes major
-it tells others in your company precisely what your department is doing
– because it does all this, it holds YOU accountable too!

5 Steps to Making the 10-2-5 Chart  Work For You

There are some subtle – call them psychological, if you like- elements at work with the 10-2-5 Chart and you want to leverage them. Here’s how to make this simple idea yield bigger results.

1. Communicate the Purpose of the Chart. Don’t hold back. Tell your reps you ARE creating personal accountability and that you WILL be using it as a coaching tool. Emphasize the benefits. Explain that you won’t clobber someone if the numbers are down – that’s part of selling – but that you will positively respond if numbers stay down. Make sure they see how the chart can help them!

2. Make the chart large. Buy a large, huge, gigantic dry erase board. Or buy two and plunk them together.  The chart must be obnoxiously visible for all to see. This means the stats that the rep enters will be blatantly evident to everyone from a great distance. Believe me, a rep who may have been slacking will be conscious of the results and he or she WILL work harder. A reps who is doing well will beam with pride.

3. Make Sure the Reps Report to the Chart on Time.
The idea is to pull the reps together at specified time so it creates a group session. A jury of your peers so to speak.They can cheer good results. They can feel pride if the numbers are great. They can feel sheepish, angry, or competitive if they are not so great. Be tenacious about this.  This is not an optional exercise. It tells EVERYONE that activity and results is IMPORTANT.

4. Use the Chart for Motivation or Incentives. Create a prize for the top performers at 10, 2 and 5. Something small. A trophy. Have some fun with it. Or create a prize for the biggest % increase between each time.  Use the information from  the chart to target and direct activities.

5. Monitor the Chart. The chart is there for you too. Remember that. Glance at it every time you walk buy. Make sure your reps are complying. If there are dips,  note them or check in with the rep. If you see a trend, respond accordingly. Monitor calls, begin the feedback process. Let your team know that you use the chart too.

Summary

The 10-2-5 Chart is one of the most EFFECTIVE recommendations I make with clients. It is so deceptively simple that it is almost too easy to dismiss. Don’t be fooled. When implemented properly, it is a powerful driver of sales behavior. Use it

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The 4 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

Good, effective tele-sales coaching is a process which means it’s a repeatable event that you can learn and master.

Here are the 4 steps to developing a meaningful coaching program that will get reps to modify their behavior, apply the feedback, and become better at selling.

SMAF Process

Coaching consists of four components referred to as SMAF: standards, monitoring, analyzing, and feedback

I. Standards

Perhaps the most important component of a good coaching program is setting the “standard.” The standard defines precisely what you expect from the tele-sales rep relative to the selling skills involved for the majority of the calls that are made.

For example, when your reps know what the ‘standard operating  procedure’ for opening a prospecting call or  handling knee jerk objections or qualifying a lead or  presenting a solution or closing  the sale etc.,  then there is no confusion. When you supply feedback relative to those standards, it’s not only objective it is anchored to a system or process. This fosters clarity and understanding. It makes compliance easier and more logical.

Sadly, most managers and companies haven’t identified their call standards. They let their reps wing it. And it explains why your feedback is lame and ineffective.

Do you have specified standards? Do your reps know what’s expected of them from a skills perspective?.

II. Monitor the Call

Monitoring the call means listening. Wander around and listen to what you hear on the floor. Or sit beside your rep and y-jack so you can hear both sides of the call. Or, if you can, record calls and listen closely. Better yet, do all three.

Monitor the call relative to the standard, not to what YOU think they should be saying. Monitor it to what they have been taught.

III. Analyze What You have Heard

After you have heard the call, stop and think before you provide feedback. Analyze what you have heard. Did the rep perform call to standard or not? So, for example, if you have defined 5 elements to an opening statement (e.g., full name, company name, reason for call, clearly defined benefit to the client, and a bridge to a question) ask yourself: did the rep implement the standard? If not, you have objective grounds for feedback.

If you have taught your rep that handling an objection requires four steps (Empathize, Clarify, Respond, Verify), you listen for those steps. If they are there, the process is ‘to standard’ and your feedback is not necessary (other than a pat on the back).

Take this time to craft how you want to present your feedback with each individual rep. Each of your reps has their own way of learning. Respect it and tailor your approach accordingly.

IV Provide the feedback

There are five steps to constructive feedback. First, ask your rep to provide feedback on how he/she though she did. Let he do the analysis first. Often the rep will  know precisely what needs ‘fixing’ in which case, she becomes  her own coach.

Second, concur with the rep or describe the behavior you observed. So  if  the rep is not aware of the non-standard performance, use questions to get them to focus e.g., “Janice, what were the 3-Steps we learned about handling knee jerk objections? And did you use the second step?”

Third, discuss ways to enhance, change or modify the behavior in question. “So Mark, what are some things you can do to remind yourself to add a benefit statement?”

Fourth, agree upon the action plan or task or idea to be implemented. So, if Mark though he should make a job aid  to hang from his wall to remind him of a process, agree to it.

Fifth, and maybe most important, acknowledge the improvement. At some point during the day, monitor a few calls and see if the changes are being made by your rep. Drift by the cubicle to see if the job aid has been hung from the wall. If improvements have been made, provide praise. If not, provide a reminder. Either way, the rep will begin to understand that you are serious about the feedback and they will begin the process of change.

Summary

Your role is to help your reps modify their behavior and make changes that will improve their skill sets.  In turn, this leads to more revenues.

The best feedback is objective based (hence, the standard) and interactive (hence, questions based).  Start your coaching program today and watch what happens to your sales results. You’ll be pleased and so will your reps!

For more information on how to be a better, more effective coach click here.

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7 Ways to Increase Sales in 4 Simple Steps: The ECHO Principle

If you’re looking for ways to increase sales and exceed your sales objectives your reps must learn to squeeze, extract and wring every ounce of opportunity from every contact they make or take.

it’s called the “ECHO Principle.” ECHO stands for “every contact has opportunity.”

You can leverage every contact with a very simple process called “Add On Selling” (AOS).  AOS is the systematic process of leveraging a customer/prospect contact by generating additional revenues or by generating a marketing opportunity.  It is a way to maximize every dialog you have with a client and make the most of the opportunity. As the name implies AOS is something that you “add” at the end of a call or visit with a client. It occurs after you have achieved your initial objective had been completed.

7 Opportunities

There are seven AOS opportunities that can be applied. Five of these are revenue producers and two are marketing opportunities.  Here is a quick look at each application.

1. Selling on an Inquiry. Here’s  one of the simplest ways to increase sales: ask for the sale on virtual any inquiry. Various studies reveal that about 30% of clients who call or visit your company with an inquiry, will actually buy.  Far too often the customer service or sales reps simply provide the information requested by the client but fail to actually ask for the sale. This is regrettable and costly. Play the odds. At the end of the sale “add on” a close.

2. Cross Selling. Cross selling is the process of selling a related item. It is one of the most powerful ways to generate additional revenue from a customer contact but it is a technique that is strangely ignored by most reps.  You must understand this simple buying dynamic: there are two reasons why customers and prospects do not buy more from you. First, the majority of your clients do not know what additional products/services you have to offer, and second, you don’t tell them.  A cross sell is a highly effective method of  not only educating your client base but also increasing the average value of a sale because the decision to buy has already been made. The client is typically receptive to suggestions that complement the purchase.

3. Up Selling. Up selling is a close cousin of cross selling and is defined as the process of increasing the quantity or quality of a sale. It is easy to implement. If you offer discounts for those who buy in larger amounts, make sure to tell the client. Most of your clients are unaware of your discounts.  Many times, particularly if it is a commodity, they will buy more because it makes economical sense to do so.  In a similar manner, you can upgrade the quality of a product depending on the clients needs. For example, if you sell computers, you might upgrade the amount of memory in the system based on the customer’s requirement.

4. Converting a Complaint into a Sale. Yes, believe it or not, you can sell on a complaint. In fact, the odds are pretty decent. When clients complain, they want resolution. When they get it, they tend to be very receptive to add on selling.  It makes sense: if you resolved the problem, most clients are grateful. Naturally, you must be sensitive to the moment but there are often clear opportunities to sell. Sometimes, the way to resolve a problem is to offer an additional product or service. Take for example, a client gets a virus on his computer two days after the purchase. Unaware of the problem, he calls to complain. After doing an analysis you discover the virus. The solution? Sell an anti-virus software package.

5. Converting a cancellation. Some companies have subscription based products or services such as memberships, book clubs, lawn care services etc. When clients call to cancel you need to proactively determine why they are canceling instead of meekly accepting their request. Like complaints, cancellations sometimes occur due to misunderstandings or because of a change of needs. Perhaps you can resolve the issue and maintain the subscription. Or perhaps you can offer an alternative product or service that better meets the client’s current needs.  Whatever it may be, don’t simply surrender.

6.  Getting a referral. If you are in sales, virtually every contact you have with a prospect or customer can and should end by adding on a request for a referral.  This is huge a marketing opportunity for you because good referrals tend to close at a much higher rate than cold calls. When you call the referral you will discover that they are more apt to listen to you because you have a common bond. If you are not asking for referral, start now, this very moment. There should be absolutely no excuses one this application. Use it!

7. Gathering market intelligence. Here is another powerful marketing opportunity that you can add on at any time. Market intelligence means gathering data on products, competitors, market conditions, virtually, anything. You name it. For instance, you might want to gather information on why your client buys from another supplier. Create three or four questions and add these on to the end of your call or visit. Do this over a period of a week or two and you will have substantial information on which to make competitive assessment. You might discover a way to get a ‘wedge in the door’ and win the client over. Call is a very cheap form of market research.

4 Step Process

Add on selling is an easy 4-step process:

Step #1:  Handle the primary objective first.

Add on selling comes after your initial objective has been met or attempted.  For instance, you would handle an inquiry first before asking for the sale or asking for a referral.  Cross selling or up selling comes after the initial order. In short, ‘get the bird in the hand before going for the two in the bush.’

Step #2:  Bridge to the Add On

This is a very simple and highly effective step to making add on selling work for you. You introduce the add on by using a verbal bridge such as “Oh, by the way”, or “while I have you” or “did you know.” These verbal ‘triggers’ alert the client that something else is being added to conversation. It catches their attention. They focus in on your next two or three sentences. In short, they listen!

Step #3: Provide the Add On

The third step is where you provide your offer or your request.  It should be brief and to the point.  Because it is an “add on”, long explanations should not be necessary. The client should be able to make a quick decision. For example, here is an up sell:  “Mr. Clancy, while I have you: did you know you get a 20% discount if you order six. You are only two units away right now.” Here is a referral example, “By the way, Sarah, can you give me the name of someone who might benefit from our services like you have.” A cross sell might look like this, “Jerry, if you have a moment, we have Norton Utilities on sale right now. It’s a great way to protect your investment.”  A cancellation might take this form, “I understand why the preschool books no longer apply now that your children are in grade school. Incidentally, did you know we have grade school reading and writing books to support young school children.”

Notice that each example has a direct or implied benefit for the client. This is important and is often neglected by those who attempt add ons. You must explain what the offer means to the client. Of course, what it really means is that you have to think and plan your offers ahead of time so that they flow easily and smoothly.

Step #4:  Close

The last step is obvious. Ask for the sale. The best approach is to be direct. For example, “Can I add the software to your order,” or “Would you like me to change your subscription from pre-school books to grade school books.” You ask for the sale to create action. The client will either say yes or no. In either case, it is fast and easy.

Summary

Remember ECHO: every contact has opportunity.  Clients are hard to reach. When you do, you must be prepared to make the most of the opportunity. You must leverage the moment. Use add on selling and you’ll increase your sales success

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A Good Question to Ask Your Prospects

When prospecting, beware of taking information from your prospect at it’s face value.

It is important to pause and verify the veracity of the information by inspecting it from another angle. In other words, dig a bit deeper and get the prospect to elaborate. By doing so, you’ll not only position yourself as consultative, you’ll avoid making assumptions that lead you down the wrong paths.

Bottom line? Better sales results.

Misguided Information

Read the quotes below and ask yourself what are the implications. Assume the prospect is providing you with the information:

  • “Our sales are up 20%!”
  • “We’ve reduced shipping costs by 15% over the last quarter.”
  • “Our top rep got 68 sales last year. The next highest rep got 65.”
  • “We’ve increase our production of lancets by 400 units a week by adding another machine operator.”
  • “I get about 15 new patients every month.”
  • “We have about 5-6 accidents per year.”

You would probably agree that the way the information is presented in these examples makes the information appear positive.  And herein lays the trouble. Taken at its face value the information can be misleading and dangerous from a selling perspective. The problem is that the above statements lack any perspective whatsoever. For instance:

  • “Sales are up by 20%” sounds impressive but compared to what?
  • Is the fact that shipping costs are down by 15% really good or really poor?
  • The top rep got 68 sales but was the company expecting him to get 100?
  • Is the cost of adding a machine operator covered by the production of 400 units?
  • When a chiropractor states that he gets 15 new patients per month, is he happy with this?
  • Is 5 -6 accidents per year something to celebrate?
A Good Question

How do you get perspective? How do you assess this information to determine its relevancy?  You do this by asking one simple question:

“How do you feel about that?”

For example:

Prospect:    “Sales are up 20%”

Rep:            “That’s interesting. How do you feel about that?”

Prospect:    “That’s a good question. And the answer is not good at all. While they are trending up we are significantly behind on our objectives.”
Because we hear that sales are “up” the inclination is to believe this is good news but in this example, the prospect is not happy. Left unchecked, this statement could skew your entire approach to a sale.

Similarly, because we hear a decision maker say that costs are “down by 15%” we get the impression that the prospect has got a grip on cost cutting. But the opposite may be true. Without verifying this statement further you run the risk of missing a huge selling point.

The same applies for the other examples. Asking the client “How do you feel about that” will clarify each statement one way or another.

Why it Works

The beauty of  “How do you feel about that” is twofold. First, it is an open ended question. By their very nature, open ended questions get people to “open