Tag Archives: closing

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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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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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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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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DON’T Always Be Closing (ABC). Please!

Can we agree that the phrase ABC- Always be Closing- isn’t always appropriate?

In fact, can we agree that it is very often inappropriate?

Regrettably,  the ABC phrase has taken on a bit of a cult status in many parts of the sales world. It’s like asking for the sale is the be all and end all of selling; a magical phrase, that when uttered produces a sale out of thin air.  It’s getting the sale at all cost. The focus is the sale, not the buyer.  There’s a heck of lot more to getting a sale then always closing.

Of course, I understand the spirit of the message.  The spirit of the message is to get the client to take some sort of action and move them through the sales cycle.  I’m okay with that.  But that message has evolved or morphed into something that’s unpleasant and even dangerous.  The real trouble is that some sales reps take the spirit of the message just a little too literally and are obsessive in the pursuit of the close. And therein lies the problem. The ABC mantra has created a little army of aggressive, cheesy  sales reps who are botching customer relationships and future sales.

Exposing the Reality of ABC

Be aware that ABC has a few implications.  For instance:

  • Asking too soon or too often puts the emphasis on YOU and not the prospect.  The sale must be about the prospect’s needs, not yours.
  • Asking too soon or too often makes the prospect leery and distrustful .  They see you as bullying them into a sale.  Who likes a bully?  Who buys from a bully? Oh, sure, you might find one or two prospects who will knuckle under but the vast majority will simply turn away.
  • Asking too soon or too often will virtually destroy any future sales with that prospect.  If your prospect feels like they have been railroaded into a sale, you can bet there will be resentment.  Don’t bank on future sales.
  • Asking too soon or too often will eventually shorten your sales career.  Aggressive selling is short term. It catches up to you. Fast. Wink of an eye. And you’ll be out of a job.

When to Close

There’s nothing WRONG with closing.  Closing is a good thing.  But here’s  the thing: closing is only one part of the sales process, usually the last part. Closing is about timing.  You can ‘always be closing’ when you’ve earned the right to close; when it is appropriate:

  • Close after you’ve clearly  identified the prospect’s wants and needs
  • Close after you’ve presented your solution and the benefits it provides to the prospect
  • Close after the prospect has expressed specific interest or desire for your product or service
  • Close after you’ve answered the prospect’s questions and/or objections to THEIR satisfaction
  • Close after they sound (or look) positive and enthusiastic
Close with Class – Test

You don’t have to beat the prospect over the head with a heavy handed close. You can build up to it using test close techniques throughout the call. For instance:

–          Is this of interest to you?

–          How would you apply the technique?

–          Do you think it would help you out?

–          Is this making sense to you?

–          Could this work in your office?

–          Do you see how  ____ might be of benefit to you?

These questions gauge the prospect’s thinking process.  They give indications of interest and intent.  Once you’ve determined the prospect’s state of mind you can ask for the sale.

Summary

Please, don’t always be closing.

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8 Sales Questions You Can’t Live (and sell) Without

Make no mistake about it questions are the key to good selling. Good questions will get you good information. Good information helps you sell and sell more. But the real question is “what’s a good question?”

Here are eight great questions that you simply can’t live and sell without. By no means are they the only questions you can ask but these will do you well in every selling situation.

1. The Who Question

Never, ever assume that the person you are speaking with is the decision maker i.e., the person that can ultimately say “yes” (and no) to your sale. Your contact might be only one of a number of individuals that can influence the sale. It is important you know the players so that you don’t get blind sided and so that you can prepare strategies and tactics to deal with them.

The challenge however is to find out if there are other participants in the decision without putting your contact ‘on the spot.”  If you’re too blunt, the prospect might mislead you. Here is a simple, easy to use question that you can’t live without. Use it every single time:

“Amanda, apart from yourself, who is involved in this decision?”

Or here’s a variation: “Kevin, in purchases like these, there are usually several people involved. Apart from yourself, who else would have a vested interest in the decision?”

 

2.  The When Question

I am amazed at how many reps ignore this powerful and insightful question:

“Kathy, when do you see the final decision being made and delivery taken?”

“Mr. Woods, if this were a go, when do you see it occurring?”

The ‘when’ questions is important because it helps assess urgency.  A decision that will be made within a week has a little more impact than a decision that will be made in three months.  Knowing when the sale might conclude helps you set priorities, determines the time and effort you devote and dictates your follow up strategy. All in all, the when question makes you a wiser sales rep.

3. The Scenario Question

Discovering a prospect’s needs can be challenging in the early stages of selling. Because prospects don’t know you they tend to be much more reserved in the information they provide. Many are not comfortable telling you about their “warts and blemishes” (i.e., their needs, challenges, weaknesses and concerns) until some rapport and comfort has been established.

One of the best ways around this hesitancy is with a scenario question. As the name implies, the scenario questions paints a scenario that addresses a problem or a concern but doesn’t put the prospect on the spot.  Here are a couple of examples:

 

“Ms. Bixby, much of our research with our clients shows that cash flow is sometimes an issue particularly with the fluctuating price of oil.  Let me ask you, what has been your experience with cash flow over the last year or so?”

 

“Scott, we are getting more and more feedback from IT Directors and managers from large corporations regarding the misuse licensing agreement. It’s creating some concerns about compliance. Let me ask you: what has been your experience with this so far?”

 

The scenario question is based on the premise that ‘misery loves company.’ You want the prospect to think “Gee, if others are experiencing the same thing then its okay for me to open up.” Master the scenario question and you’ll get to needs quicker which reduces the sales cycle which helps you convert more sales in less time.

4.  The Net Impact Question

Even if you use a scenario question and the client opens up to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the prospect’s need is strong enough to act upon. . .at least in the client’s mind.  One of the best questions you can ask to determine the “depth and breadth” of a need is “net impact” question. Here are two versions:

“So what’s the net impact on your firm when cash flow is tight?”

 

“What’s the possible net impact if licensing agreements are abused in your branch offices?”

This “net impact” forces your prospect to think about the rippling effect of a problem. It gets them to do some analysis. In effect, you want them to say “Gee, I never thought of it like that.” Suddenly, seemingly minor problems can be more significant.’ Or, you’ll learn the net impact is absolutely minor. That’s good too because it means you should not waste your time here. Move on. Because the question is opened end it gets your client to expand and elaborate. You get information and information is power. You simply can’t live without net impact questions.

5. The Explain Question

Do you want a versatile, ‘catch all’ question that can be used in many different scenarios?

If so, here it is. It is less a question and more of a directive. No matter how you slice it, it gets the client to open up. It enticingly invites your client to speak up, expand, pontificate, ruminate, elaborate and articulate. For instance, suppose the prospect tosses the classic price objection. Say this:

‘Eric, could you ‘explain’ to me what you mean by too high?”

What a great question! You’re asking for elaboration. Is the price too high relative to budget? Or relative to a competitive bid? Or is it a smokescreen? Regardless, the client must open up.

Suppose your client says “We’re not all that happy with flux modulators.”

“Wendi, could you explain to me why you’re not happy?”

How easy it that. This is a buying signal. Exploit it. Suppose the prospect say, “Well, I’d have to go to committee with that proposal.”

“I understand completely. Joel can explain to me how the committee operates and how they go about evaluating a proposal?”

 

Suppose you’re probing for needs. Here’s what you can say,

 

“Ms. Giuliani, explain to me the challenges you’re experiencing in penetrating the Canadian market.”

 

Dare I say you cannot possible sell without this question ready and waiting?

6. The Make Sense Question

You might want to call this a ‘trial close.’ Keep it handy because you’ve use it a lot.  Use this simple, close ended question during and after pitch your product or after you’ve tackled an objection. So, for example, suppose you have presented a financial planning strategy regarding mutual funds. Just ask,

“Does that make sense to you so far?”

“Am I making sense to you right now?”

Now, this question does a couple of things. First of all, it tosses the conversation back into your prospect’s lap. This creates ‘give and take’ dialog and forces you to relinquish control of the call. This is s a good thing because it stops you from rambling on.

The second thing is does it helps you gauge if the client is on board or not. To make this happen you’ve got to listen to the words and the tone of your client. If your prospect says, “Ya sure, I guess” but with a vague and uncertain tone, clearly it does not make sense. You need to stop right here and reverse gears by saying, “It sounds like I may have confused things a bit and I sense some hesitancy. Can you explain to me what you’re thinking?” (Notice the versatile “explain” question)

On the other hand, if the client gives you a positive and enthusiastic remark, “Ya, it makes total sense” they have, in effect, given you a buying signal which says, “Go on, I like what I hear?”

Don’t be afraid to liberally pepper your sales call with “make sense” type of questions. Variation include, “do you follow?” “How does that sound to you?” “Am I on the right track?”

Does that make sense to you?

7.  The Removal Question

Here’s a question that every rep should keep in their hip pocket and use when dealing with objections and concerns. The Removal Question simply and efficiently ‘removes’ the issue at hand and asks the client their thoughts based on that scenario.  Suppose a prospect says, “It’s really great but it’s just not in our budget.” You reply:

Fair enough Brandi. Let me ask, if budget was not an issue, would you proceed with the proposal as outlined.”

If Brandi says yes, then you can negotiate or come up with terms or arrange financing or do whatever because her objection is not a smokescreen but the real thing.  If she says, “Well, ya. . .but I am also a little concerned about maintenance program” you’ve discovered that it’s not a budgetary issue or that budget is only part of a number of issues.

Suppose the client says, “Well, I have to go to the buying group on this one.” You say, “I understand. Steve, suppose there wasn’t a buying group, what would be your decision?”  By removing the objection you can determine if Steve’s on board or not.

Either way, you are well on the way to handling the client’s issue.

8. The Try Question

It’s time to close the sale. One of ABSOLUTE THE best questions to close the sale is this:

“So, Angie, would you like to give it a try?” or

 

“Why not give it a try?”

I stole this question from Jeffrey Fox, author of “How to Become a Rainmaker.” He calls it a “killer sales question” and he’s right. I use it now and I cannot sell without.

Why?

Because, as Fox explains, to most people ‘try’ is a revocable act and a decision that can be reversed. It sounds and feels temporary or impermanent. Fox concludes that people feel that to try something is a sample or a test, not a commitment to buy. But in reality, they either buy or they don’t buy. There is no “try” buy.  But, psychologically the prospect has an easier time making the decision to say yes to the purchase.

It’s brilliant and it works!. Try it. You’ll like it. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Summary

These are eight of the best selling questions of all time. This is not because I say so but because millions of sales reps have gone before you and tried these. They are classic and they work. You will sell better and sell more when you use them.

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How to Increase 20% of Your Orders by 25% in 4 Easy Steps

“Would you like to sign up for our Barnes and Noble newsletter?”

“No.”
I watched this event occur twenty six times over a period of an hour while sitting in a big, comfy chair near the check out counter at Barnes and Noble bookstore in Tampa. Twenty six times the clerk presented her cross sell of a FREE newsletter and twenty six times she received a ‘no’. Man, talk about squandering some great opportunities!

Of course, I was hardly surprised. I have seen the same act played out with the same dismal results at Borders, at Chapters, at countless retail stores, on the telephone with the banks, with high tech re-sellers, distributors of office supplies and with communication companies … and the list goes on and on. They all attempt to cross sell but the vast majority get mediocre to poor results.

And it’s a crying shame too because cross selling is one of the simplest and easiest ways of increasing revenues and increasing customer satisfaction. It’s simply a matter of knowing how.

What is a Cross Sell?

Defined, a cross sell is the process of selling/offering a related item to complement the original purchase.

Perhaps the most famous retail cross sell of all occurs at McDonalds. Think about it. When you order a Big Mac you inevitably hear, “Would you like fries with that?”  That’s a classic cross sell. Not everyone buys but a lot of customers do. (Incidentally, guess where McDonalds makes the bulk of its profits???)

The 4 Top Reason Why You Should Cross Sell

Some reps see cross selling as intrusive. Get over it! It’s not. It is a highly effective selling tactic that when performed well is exceedingly profitable and beneficial to you AND your client. There are several reasons why you should cross sell.

1. It increases revenues

A cross sell makes you more money. BAM! It typically comes after a sale has been made. By offering a related item you increase the bottom line; your revenues increase.  If you are on a commission plan this puts money in your pocket. It also helps you achieve  and exceed your objectives. These are good things.

2. It increases value

Contrary to what you might think, most buyers like a cross sell if it is delivered professionally and with courtesy.  Most buyers like to know if there are special items available, if they can save money or if they take advantage of a certain situation.  In the case of Barnes and Noble, an avid reader could easily find benefit in signing up for a free e-newsletter or signing up for the Barnes and Noble discount card. Most feel they are getting something “extra” and most are delighted with it.

3. It works

You should also cross sell because it works. Here the psychology behind the cross sell: in a selling situation, the biggest hurdle is for the customer to actually make up his or her mind to spend money.  But once the hurdle has been cleared, the decision to part with additional funds is a lot easier. This makes sense. The customer is usually delighted that the purchase has been made and is receptive to any sales (or marketing) message that you might present.

This is important. There are two reasons why customers don’t buy more from you. First, they often do not know you have the item available. You might think they do but you would be surprised at how many clients simply don’t know the depth and breadth of you product offerings. Second, you don’t tell them. Or, more to the point, you don’t ask them for the sale.  If they don’t know and you don’t educate them of your products and services, it is little wonder why they don’t buy more.

4. It is profitable

In terms of time and money, the cost of cross selling is low. Remember that you have already made contact with the client and sold him or her. Your costs have been incurred. Any revenue over and above that transaction is, in essence, gravy.  The cost of a few additional seconds of phone time and effort is miniscule compared to the revenues generated. So, if margin is important to you, then consider the cross sell as a strategy.

Why Cross Selling Doesn’t Work

Cross selling is easy but sometimes we make it hard on ourselves.

The primary reason why it doesn’t work as effectively as it might is that the cross sell is usually incomplete. Take the example of Barnes and Noble: the clerk references the e-newsletter but the poor buyers have absolutely no idea why they should take the time to jot down an e-mail address. In short, they perceive no value and no benefit.

Herein lies the single biggest problem in cross selling: a failure to give the buyer a reason to buy more or take advantage of an offer (even a FREE offer).

4 Simple Steps to Cross Selling

Step #1: Complete the initial transaction
This is simple but vital to understand. Make sure you have satisfied the customer’s original request or order. That’s your primary objective. Don’t overload and annoy the customer with add on items prior to the purchase.

Step #2: Bridge to the Cross Sell
This, too, is simple but oh-so vital.

Introduce the cross sell by using a “verbal bridge.” A verbal bridge alerts the customer that you are adding something onto the conversion and there are two components to it.  First, use the client’s name.  The name gets the client’s attention and creates focus.  Second, the bridge itself is nothing more than a phrase that casually says, ‘one more quick thing.’  Clients tune in at this point because the call is nearing its completion.   Here are some simple examples.

“Thank you for your purchase Brian. Oh, by the way….”
“I’ll send that order right out to you Mr. Morin. Incidentally, while I have you…”
“Mary Ann, thank a lot for your order. Incidentally, did you know…”


Step #3: Describe the Cross Sell and Possible Benefit
A cross sell should be simple. It should not require extensive education of your customer therefore the message should be simple and straightforward.  For instance, with our book retailer:

“Oh by the way, would you like to sign up for our free e-newsletter? It is a monthly letter that lets you know of new book releases, advises you of  guest speakers, special deals, events, various discounts, and the like.”
Reaction will vary depending with each customer but in this case, the buyer at least knows how the newsletter can truly benefit him or her (save money, special deals, specials promotions etc.).  I suspect that the average buyer would be much more receptive to the offer because he or she now understands its value. Many will take the few extra moments to jot down their e-mail address.

Step #4: Close
Ask for the sale. Duh!

In the above example, the close was placed at the front of offer (Would you like to sign up for our free e-newsletter?) The rep then provided an explanation. At this stage, the sales rep should simply remain silent and let the customer respond.

Other methods of closing:

“By the way Andrea, did you know we have a special on HP printers cartridges this week? If you buy three your get the fourth one free. That’s a savings of 25%. Would you like me to add that to your order?”
“Thank you for your purchase Ms. Trempe. Incidentally, we have a 2 year warranty on the unit that covers both replacement parts and labor for any damage or malfunction. It is only $22.00. Would you like to take advantage of it?”

In these two examples, the close was direct and to the point.

Summary

There is a load of potential in every single call you make or take.  Cross selling is one HIGHLY EFFECTIVE method of increasing revenues and creating value. Give it a good honest try.

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The 7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-sales Reps (Habit #7: Wrapping Up)

The final habit that great closers employ to their advantage is the ‘wrap up.’

The ‘wrap up’ occurs after the “Thank you” (Habit #6).  It is there that the nitty gritty details are discussed and the sale is completed.  It is not a particularly glamorous part of closing but it is vitally important because little things, if ignored, can throw a wrench into the works. Good closers proactively take steps to avoid any nasty surprises that could cancel the deal or impact customer satisfaction down the line.

At this stage of the sale everyone is happy.  You are happy because you closed the deal and the client is happy that the decision has been made.  This is the perfect moment to quickly wrap up, handle the details and finish the call. There are four things that should occur:

Step #1: Explain what happens  next

Here is where you outline what will occur next relative to getting the sale completed. Be thorough. For example,

“Okay Tracie, I’ll process that order now and it’ll be shipped out _____ (tonight, tomorrow, whenever…)  by UPS Ground and you’ll get it by _______ at the latest.  I’ll send you the tracking number  by e-mail the moment the delivery is processed.”

It’s nothing elaborate and special, is it? But it covers all the bases.  Your ‘next steps’ might be a little more complex. Whatever. Be sure to detail it.  And another thing: even if you have processed similar sales to this one with the same client, continue to provide the details. (NOTE: ideally, you should go over the order/sale details; line by line. Not all clients want this and will tell you.  And of course, some orders might include multiple lines of product which makes the task rather onerous.  But where possible, review the details of the sale. It shows you listened and understood. It shows that you are a detailed individual.)

If you’re out of stock, if the client has missed the shipping deadline for today, if there’s ANYTHING that will impact the processing of the sale, NOW is the time to reveal it.  Goodwill is stronger at this point than any other time. Consequently, the client is more forgiving and accepting.  In short, practice full disclosure.

Step #2 Get Payment

Like duh! Don’t forget this step.  After you’ve given the client the ‘what’s next’ summary, conclude by giving the client the total price of the product or service.  You can include taxes if you want or you can say “plus taxes.”  Some people argue that there is a risk at this stage; that the client might shy away from the sale if they hear the total price; sticker shock or whatever.  I disagree. Better to ‘surprise’ the client now then when they get the invoice.  If they are surprised ‘after the fact’ they tend to get resentful.  Some will think you hoodwinked them.  Don’t risk it.  Again,  practice full disclosure.

Then say,

“All we need now  is to wrap up the payment.  How would you like to proceed?”

“ The only thing left to do Mark is tackle the payment. How will you be handling this?”

“Eva, to get us started I’ll simply need a deposit of 30% on the total price. That comes to $700.  How would you like to handle that?”

“Jenna, the way our billing works is this …”

Step #3: Add on Sell (if applicable)

The real difference between a good closer and a GREAT closer is the ability to leverage the moment further and increase the value of a sale through a cross sell or an up sell.

Mediocre closers are so glad they got a sale that they say no more.  What they don’t realize is that the client is in a positive frame of mind. Receptive.  The major decision of buying is already completed. In effect, the wallet is open.  Great closers know that it is easier for a client to say yes to an item that complements the original purchase or that provides greater value. Of course, not all products or services lend themselves to an Add On. Smart closers know this and utilize this step only when appropriate.

The trick to a good add on is to make the suggestion sound casual and easy.  This eliminates any sense of pressure or hype.  You do this by using  trigger phrases like this,

“Oh, Steve, before we wrap up, did you know you get a price break of 15% if you order 5 or more? You’re only two items away… would you like me to add those on?”

“Maria, I see that your order comes to $465.85.  Did you know you can get free shipping with orders of $500 or more.  Is there anything else you might like to add?”

“Gordon, before I enter this, do you need any sleeves or socks for those devices …just so you’re not caught short?”

“By the way Chantal, how does your stock look for test strips?  You haven’t order in awhile and it might save you some time and hassle to order now.”

Notice that these offers are consultative in nature and benefit oriented.  Good closers know that clients don’t see the effort as ‘salesy’ but rather as value added.  So they don’t hesitate to ask.  The worst a client can say is no but good closers are well aware that about 25% of buyers say yes.  Good odds.

Step #4: Say “Anything else?” and Good-Bye

Effective telephone closers ask one more question: “Anything else?”  The vast majority of the time, there is nothing else. But they ask because it is a quick   way to conclude the call and not draw out the conversation.  There’s nothing worse than strained, awkwardly polite chit-chat where overly grateful sales rep  sputters niceties. Meanwhile the client is anxious to get of the line.

Look,  if there’s nothing else, simply say, “Great, look forward to speaking to you again. Good bye.”

Summary

The final habit is a tidy habit. It cleanly completes the sale. It nips any potential problems in the bud.  It paves the way for future sales.

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The 7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sales Reps (Habit #6: Say Thank You)

Here’s a secret tip that highly effective tele-sales reps use to their advantage after the prospect has said ‘yes’ to the sale.

Great closers say “thank you.”

That’s it. That’s all.

Doesn’t seem like much,  does it? Seem like common sense, right?

But when was the last time YOU said thank you when you got the order? The fact of the matter is that most sales reps don’t say thank you.  It is not that they aren’t grateful for the sale, it’s just that they forget.  This might have been the fifth, sixth or seventh sale of the day. The thank you gets lost in the ‘busy-ness’ of the transaction or the day.

Others don’t say thank you because they don’t feel it is necessary; that the buyer has made this decision many times before with the sales rep and dozen like him/her.  In other words, it’s not all that important; part of the routine; no big deal.

But it is.

Why ‘Thank You’ is So Important

The best closers know that from a psychological point of view that the close is often the most critical phase of sale. They know that at some level – subconscious or otherwise- the buyer feels that he or she has ‘bestowed’ a sale on the rep. In an odd way, is not unlike a ‘gift.’  The buyer had a CHOICE. The choice was you and not someone else.

It doesn’t matter that this is business. It doesn’t matter that you had the best price, the best product or the best service.  At a gut level, the buyer is looking for something reciprocal; something that acknowledges the sale; something that balances the scale of the relationship.  It’s human nature.

A polite, sincere and quiet thank you is typically all it takes to even the scale.

Delivered well, it says to that buyer “I know you had a choice and I appreciate that you chose me.” It says,  “I don’t take you or the sale for granted.”  It says, “I’m  not complacent and I remember that YOU’RE the customer.”

Here’s another thing that highly effective closers know.  They know that the thank you is important for this sale, but they also know that it is extremely important for the next sale and the sale after that and the sale after that. And so it goes.

The Card

Here is one other thing that top closers do to make the NEXT sale easier to close.

Depending on the nature of the sale, a great closer will send a hand-written thank you card.  If the sale is the first with that account, a handwritten note and card is sent with a real stamp attached.  This small gesture shows the new client that you ‘took the time.’  This is a form of reciprocity. It is recognized and remembered.   If the sale is a large one from an existing client, savvy closers will send a card that acknowledges the moment.  They don’t whip off an e-mail. E-mails are fast and impersonal and easily forgotten. There is little value in an e-mail thank you. Don’t bother.

The Gift

Great closers will occasionally reward clients who have made multiple buys.  Sending a big package of Hersey Kisses or some other candy with a little note that says, “Thank you for all the business” is small and inexpensive but can pay huge dividends in future sales.  A pizza lunch, a bottle of BBQ spices, a coffee mug… any little gesture… can have a powerful effect on the relationship and on future closes.

Summary

Say thank you after each and every sale, big or small.  Be discrete, be sincere. Don’t overdo it. Don’t gush.  But do it. It’ll improve your closing rate down the line.

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The 7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sales Reps (Habit #4: Asking)

Okay, here’s where the rubber really hits the road.

After preparing for a call, after keeping an ear out for buying signals AND after using test closes to gauge client interest, top closers simply ASK for the sale.

It seems kind of ridiculous to hammer this point home because it’s so dang obvious but good closers ARE good closers because they unfailingly ask for the sale. They don’t sit on their hands and hope for a sale. They don’t wait for the client to raise their hand and volunteer to buy.

They seize the moment.

Here are five closing techniques that top closers use. Three are ‘classic’ closes and two are ‘nouveau’ closes.

3 Classic Closing Techniques

1.The Direct Close

The name says it all. The direct close is just that: direct and to the point. There is no confusion about what the tele-sales rep is asking. I find the very best closers tend to use direct closes most often. For instance,

“So, Mark, would you like to place that order now?”

“Bevin,  would you like to purchase the software?”

Because it is so ‘black and white,’ it gets the prospect to give a definitive answer one way or another.  It’s quick and easy.

2. The Assumptive Close

The assumptive close assumes the sale has been made, and the tele-rep closes on a smaller issue. The theory is that the client is not longer making a major ‘buying’ decision but rather a minor ‘administrative’ decision.  For example,

“Carson, how many would you like?”

“Okay Morgan, I can get those out on today’s truck.”

The assumptive close is probably the most popular closing technique. It doesn’t seem as ‘assertive’ as the direct close so it appeals to a broader base of tele-sales rep.  Who cares as long as it works?

4. The Choice Close

The choice close is really an assumptive close with options. Here again, the theory is the client is making a decision on two administrative points rather than on a major purchase:

‘Would you like to begin with the 3-pack or the 5-pack?’

“Would you like overnight delivery or 3-day ground?”

2 ‘Nouveau’ Closing Techniques

If you’re not French or ‘hip’, nouveau means “new.”  These two techniques seem to work exceptionally well in a tele-sales situation.

4. Give it a Shot Close

This close is simple but a highly effective close.  Assuming that you’ve presented your solution to their needs, you close by saying,

“So, Janis, would you like to give it a shot?

This colloquial, off-the-cuff close positions the sale as ‘no-big-deal.’  This makes the decision to buy seem easier. Giving something a shot implies that the decision can be rescinded and that it is not permanent.  Psychologically, the client feels there is a ‘way out’ if necessary.  It’s a bit of a mind game and that’s what makes this such an excellent close.  It’s my favorite.

5. Any Reason Why We Can’t Proceed Close

This close works exactly the way it looks. Again, presuming you’ve done your needs analysis and presented a solution, your closing remark is this,

“So, Carrie-Anne, is there any reason why we can’t proceed with the software installation?”

It does two things. First, it solicits any objection that might be lurking in the background.  Get rid of the objection and you get the sale. Secondly, it moves the client into the ‘closing mode.’ If you’ve presented well, this question is almost rhetorical because it implies that saying ‘yes’ is the only logical choice. Simply pause and let them reply.

Summary

Great closers always, always ask for the sale because it increases the closing rate. Period. What close you use is a matter of personal style.  If you’re more casual,  use the nouveau approach. If you’re a little more subtle, use the assumptive or choice. If you like to go for the brass ring, use the direct close. But use ONE of them.

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7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sales Reps (Habit #3: Trial Closes)

Highly effective and successful tele-sales reps routinely use trial closes in their selling conversations. Do you?

A trial close is a ‘test balloon’ that you float up during a sales call to gauge client interest, to ensure that you are on track and to determine if you can move to the final close.  On the telephone, a trial close is particularly critical because you do not have the visual clues  that you would normally get face to face.  The very best tele-sales reps fabricate those clues by using trial closes.

Passive Trial Closes

There are two kind of trial closes: passive and assertive. Both are valuable and service different purposes. A passive trial close is more ‘gauge-like’ and seeks to determine if the client is following your point. Passive trial closes are deliberate sign posts that you toss out to ensure you are going in the right direction.

For example, suppose you provide a feature and benefit about your product or service. At the conclusion, you might say, “Does that make sense?” or “Do you see how that might work for you?”

Questions like these assess client’s interest and comprehension. The moment after you ask, stop talking and listen closely. Listen not only to what the client says but the tone in which it is delivered. If the client sounds doubtful or uncertain, you need to stop, go back and clarify. For instance,

“Hey Jim, I hear a bit of doubt or uncertainty in your voice.  Is there something I can clear up?”

The trick to being more effective in closing in telesales is to liberally sprinkle these test closes throughout your conversation.

Assertive Trial Closes

The second trial close is the assertive close.  As the name implies the assertive close is much more directive and sales focused.  It seeks to determine if the interest to BUY is strong  or potentially strong. This type of trial close often uses a hypothetical question:

“Wendi, suppose we could provide 3-day delivery on this item , would this be something you’d consider purchasing?’

“Mark, putting price and budget aside for a moment, does the solution I am presenting sound like something you could work with?”

“Chris, let me ask you a hypothetical: if we could stock those items on a regular basis would you  move your business over to us?”

Note that these questions have a  “if/then” kind of approach.  They get the client to project or to imagine a certain scenario.  If that scenario is positive and the client agrees to it, the chances of closing the sale are much more significant.

Danger

Assertive trial closes can make some clients feel uncomfortable. Some can see the question as “cheesy”, “salesy”, “manipulative” or “pushy.”  (These are actual client remarks) The client can feel as those they are being painted into a corner and this can lead to strong resistance or resentment.

Mitigating the Risk – Softening Phrases

Despite the risk, assertive trial closes are extremely valuable because they gauge INTENT. The trick is to ask the question without being quite so blunt. And it’s easy to do. Here’s how:

“Chantal, I don’t mean to put the cart before the horse, but suppose for a moment that we could…”

“Yvon, I’m not sure where you are in the decision making process, but let me ask you a hypothetical question…”

“Maria, not to put you on the spot and not to be presumptuous, but I’m curious, if I was to …”

Notice how these trial closes are softened with the addition of a few words and phrases.  They acknowledge that the remark might be a bit bold.

Summary

Here’s the bottom line, highly effective closers keep track of client interest and concern throughout the entire sales conversation by asking questions that ‘test the waters.’  Depending on how the client responds, the good closer knows when to accelerate to the final close or when to slow down or even reverse.  Trial closes are vital. Use them and watch your sales grow.

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The 7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sales Reps (Habit #2: Recognizing Buying Signals)

Highly effective closers are acutely tuned into buying signals.

A buying signal is anything that a prospect says that indicates a legitimate interest in purchasing the product. Buying signals are sign posts that indicate if the call is on the right track.  Closers follow the signs.

Buying Signals 101

Okay, here’s the skinny on buying signals.  First of all, buying signals don’t necessarily occur at the end of the call.  Depending on the situation, a client can indicate interest at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the call. So what that really means is that you have to been tuned in 100% of the time. Missing a sign post at the beginning of a call may take you away from your final closing destination.  Following at buying signal at the beginning of a call may act like a secret path and take you to the close immediately

Next, buying signals come in hot, medium and mild.  In other words, some buying signals are stronger than others. When the client speaks as though she has already taken possession of the product, you have a hot signal. On the other hand, if the client simply says, “That’s interesting” in a non-committal manner, it’s mild. Highly effective closers understand this and can separate the two.

Third, a lack of a buying signal doesn’t necessarily mean the client is not interested but your spider senses should be tingling.  Great closers will actively solicit a buying signal to assess where they are on the trail.  (More on that in Habit #3: Trial Closes)

And finally, buying signals over the telephone fall into two categories:  verbal and tonal.

Verbal Buying Signals

Verbal buying signals are questions or statements from clients that indicate specific interest.

“Will that integrate with my current software?”

“So there is absolutely no charge for the trial?”

“That would be easy for us to implement…”

“What sort of support do you provide?”

“That sounds interesting…”

“That’s a neat feature!”

“Can it be leased?”

“How long does implementation typically take?”

Another verbal buying signal is when the client speaks as though he or she has already taken possession of the product or service.

“So, when we are ready, you’ll do the training, right?”

“How often will I get updates?”

“So, we’ll get unlimited access to the resource center, correct?”

“I’d need to speak to our IT guy to see if there’s room on the server.”

“So after you give the training you can show us how to coach?”

Tonal Buying Signals

Tonal verbal signals are “sounds” that prospective buyers make that indicate interest or value.  Unfortunately, trying to provide a tonal example in a written format such as this article is a bit of a challenge but I think you know what I am talking about, don’t you?

For example, suppose you make a key point and you hear a positive “Ohhh…”  This suggests a sense of delight or interest. It’s a buying signal.  Similarly, if you hear a thoughtful “hmmm…” chances are the prospect is contemplating the benefits of ownership.

The effective closer listens for these indicators because she doesn’t have the benefit of face-to-face contact.

Summary

Highly effective closers are keenly aware of buying signals. Of course, it is not enough to recognize a buying signal.  You need to do something with it. Leverage it. Shape it. Use it.  And that’s where the third habit kicks in.  A great closer uses trials closes to make the most of the signal. See the next article in the series.

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The 7 Closing Habits of Highly Effective Tele-Sale Reps (Habit #1: Be Prepared for a Close)

Ever notice that some tele-sales reps consistently out sell other reps?

Why is that? Why do some reps continuously lead the pack in terms of sales and revenues and others don’t?

Sure, knowledge and experience play a role in their success, but when you scratch the surface you quickly discover that highly effective tele-sales reps all have one thing in common:  they are exceptionally good closers.

They know precisely how to get the client to commit, take action and buy the product. This is not an accidental trait. It’s a habit they have formed.  In fact, there are seven closing habits that highly effective reps share.  Here is the first.

Habit #1: Great Closer are Prepared for the Close

Hide behind a corner in your office and watch a top closer.  Very rarely do you see them pick up the phone and start dialling and smiling. What you’ll see is that virtually every top closer takes a few extra seconds to plan out their call on a pad of paper.

A good closer begins by assuming a sale has been made and then works backwards from the point. They ask themselves, ‘what must be done to get me here?’  While each rep will have their own individual approach they all focus on three core components of the call:

Objectives

First, highly effective closers have two sets of well-defined objectives.

Primary objectives are those objectives that they want to achieve on that particular call. Depending on the situation, the primary objective is often to get the sale – dollars in the door.  But not always.  For example, the primary objective might be to get the prospect to attend a webinar . The primary close is not the monetary sale but rather the commitment to the webinar. The sale might come next. Whatever the case, the rep knows the end game of that call and writes it down.  This sets the tone for the rest of the planning.

Great closers also have secondary objectives.  A secondary objective could be a contingency objective. For example, the primary objective might be to close the monetary sales but failing that, a webinar might be the contingency objective.  A secondary objective might also be an action that the closer would like to accomplish in addition to the primary objective. Perhaps it is a cross sell or a referral.

The Strategy

Once the objectives are clear, the next step is defining a strategy. A strategy is nothing more than the ‘way’ the objective will be achieved.  Typically, a good closer will address three issues.

Questions – Prior to the call, a highly effective closer will have a handful of key questions that are designed to direct the client’s thinking. Almost like signposts, these pre-planned questions point to the challenges or the opportunities that a client might be experiencing. These are the motivators that must be tweaked if a successful close is to occur. Motivators are what gets a prospect to take action … and hence, buy.

Selling Points – An effective closer will jot down the key selling points that will have the strongest impact on the prospect.  Usually in bullet form, the selling points revolve around the ultimate benefits the prospect will derive. Writing them down on a sheet of paper ensures that they will not be forgotten or diluted when presented.

Objections – Finally, great closers are never caught off guard. They  will note the major objections that he or she is likely to encounter and are prepared to respond accordingly.

The Close or the Advance

The third area that closers focus upon when planning is the ‘close’ itself.  Top closers are not hesitant about writing down a closing phrase or two.  For instance, “Would you like to give it a shot,” or “When would you like to get started?” “How many do you need.”  The act of writing the close imprints the close on the mind of the rep and increases the likelihood that it will happen.

Similar to secondary objectives, highly effective closers prepare a back up ‘close’ – called an advance – that they can apply if closing the monetary sale is premature.  An advance is action that the client agrees to take (e.g., attending that webinar) by a given date and time.  Effective closers do not say, “Attend the webinar next week and I’ll give you a call later on.”  Effective closers say, “Let’s sign you up for the Webinar on Tuesday, the  9th at 11:00 a.m. , and I will give you a call to discuss the session and the next steps, later that afternoon…how does 2:15 look on your calendar?”

Summary

Highly effective closers begin with the ‘end in mind’ (as Stephen Covey might say). They know precisely what they want to achieve from the call and have a written plan on how they are going to achieve it.  Having a call road map is the first step to a higher closing rate.

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7 Ways to Use Silence to Sell More

Silence can be deafening, can’t it?

The telephone is an audio medium. It relies on the sounds you make with your words and with the tone of your voice to persuade the client.

However, just as powerful are the sounds you DON”T  make.

Used wisely and strategically, the pause – and the moment of silence it creates- can be used to your advantage when tele selling.

The Power of the Pause

The silent  pause in tele-selling has far more impact than the pause in field selling.  Because telephone selling is a non face-to-face medium and relies on audible clues, the pause gets greater attention because it creates a gap in the flow of a conversation. (Think of listening to the radio in your car. You’re  driving down the highway and suddenly the chatter stops for a moment or two. Immediately you notice it.)  Same thing in tele-sales.

7 Silent Applications

The silent pause draws attention and focus. Use  it with deliberate thought in these seven areas of your call.

1. After you use the client’s name. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of our names and when a client hears his or her name, he tends to listen closely to the next 15-20 words. It’s a habit that has been honed into us from birth. By pausing a second or so after using the person’s name you double the impact and benefit of the silence you created. Clients focus and listen carefully. This approach is particularly effective with opening statements.

2. After you ask a question. When you ask a question let the client respond. Sales trainers have taught this for ages but it particularly significant in tele-sales. Silence on the telephone is perceived as three to six times longer than it is compared to field sales. It creates a gap that can feel awkward and uncomfortable for the client – AND for you. The tendency is for either you or the client to fill that gap. You need to discipline yourself and keep ‘mum’ and you need the patience to let the customer fill the void.

3. After a trial close. Because you cannot see the client’s expression, you need to compensate by asking trial closes like, “Does that make sense?’ or “Are you following?” Then pause to allow the question to sink in and to let the client respond. Let the silence do its magic and listen closely to hear the tone of the client’s response. If it is hesitant and unsure, stop and go back by saying, “Jeannie, I hear some hesitancy there.”

4. After you hear an objection. Use the pause after the client tosses out an objection. By remaining silent for a second or two a couple of things are achieved. First, it gives you time to process the objection and develop an appropriate response strategy. Secondly, it suggests to the client that you are giving the objection fair analysis. They like that; makes them feel important while at the same time, it positions you as thoughtful and respectful; not slick and off the cuff.

5. After handling the objection. Similarly, briefly use silence after you answer an objection. If you respond to a price or product objection, conclude by asking, “Does that answer your question?” Pause. Wait for the response. Listen to the tone. Evaluate it. Respond accordingly.

6. After you make a key point. It is wise to use the pause after you mention a key feature or aspect of your product. This allows that feature, fact, or offer to sink in.  This creates a sense of significance. It’s kind of like verbal underlining. The pause will often get the client to comment further and reveal buying signals.

7. After you close. As a salesperson, you should know that the pause – the silence – after a close or an advance is powerful. The gap gives the client time to evaluate all that she has heard but the ensuing silence also creates that all-important tension whereby the client wants to ‘fill the gap.’ Let it work for you. File your nails or doodle but wait it out.

Summary

Silence – through the use of the pause – is the secret sauce of tele-selling, no question about it. It is a technique or tool that you can use deliberately to create an effect. It gets your client to listen, to open up, to respond, and to learn. Use it liberally on all your tele-sales calls.

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3 Simple Steps to Convert More Inquiries Into Sales

Every now and then an outbound tele-sales rep gets lucky.

Every now and then a rep is handed an opportunity gift wrapped as an inbound inquiry.  A prospect picks up the phone and calls about a product or service.  The trouble is, surprised by this unexpected turn of events, many tele-reps are caught completely off guard and unprepared.  Typically, they answer the inquiry and leave the caller dangling in the wind; expecting or hoping that the prospect will say, “I’ll buy it!”

What’s missing here?

What’s missing  is the call to action.  The close.

As obvious as this may appear to be, failing to ask for the sale is a daily occurrence.  Perhaps the rep believes it’s up to the prospect because he/she initiated the call. Who knows? But don’t let it happen to you.  Here are three simple steps to converting more inquiries into sales.

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Follow Up Calls: 28 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Be Politely Persistent and Follow Up With Your Prospects

Has this ever happened to you?

You’ve made the call. You generate interest. Maybe you send a proposal or quote. You make a follow up call and leave a message and wait for reply. And wait…Maybe you make another follow up…no reply.

In a short while you are convinced the client was stringing you along. Frustration sets in. Anxiety. Uncertainty. ‘Do I call again? Won’t I look like I am stalking? He’s not interested. If he were, he would have called right. Why waste my time? Forget about it. Let’s move on.”

This negative self-talk is repeated every day, every week by hundreds of reps. It gets easy to convince yourself not to make that extra follow up call.

The trouble is there can be any number of reasons why the prospect has yet to get back to you.  In fact, at last count there are 28 reasons why the prospect hasn’t returned your call. You should follow up because:

1.   The squeaky wheel often gets the oil

2.   The contact lost your number

3.   The contact inadvertently deleted your voice mail message

4.   The prospect/client simply forgot to call you back

5.   Your e-mail was sent to their SPAM folder and never seen

6.   Your e-mail was lost “in space” and never made it to the client.

7.   Your e-mail was lost, misplaced or forgotten in a pile of other e-mails received

8.   Your client is swamped with work and has been too busy to call

9.   The contact is putting out a major fire and her priorities, for the moment, have changed

10. Your prospect inverted a number or two when copying down your phone number and was not able to reach you

11. The client or prospect expects YOU to follow up and keep them on track

12. Your prospect or client is grotesquely disorganized and needs someone to keep them on track

13. Your contact figures if YOU don’t show interest in following up, you and your product can’t be all that important

14. Your prospect has had a minor delay and needs to someone (you) to get them on track

15. Your prospect has put the project on the back burner or has gone with another vendor and you need to find out to have closure and stop fretting

16. Your prospect figures the ball is in your court and is wondering why YOU haven’t made a further follow up.

17. You did not include a signature file with your contact information on it – and the client did not have it handy to make a quick call back

18. Your voice mail (and phone number) was delivered so rapid fire or slurred that the prospect gave up trying to decipher it

19. You accidentally sent your e-mail NOT to Brian Basanda but to Brian Adams when you used your Contact info in Outlook

20. Most of the other vendors calling your prospect fail to follow up … which gives you the competitive edge

21. Your contact may have a gatekeeper who erased your message

22. Your prospect has a wicked sense of humor and is waiting to see how many times you will call

23. Your voice mail script needs a re-write; it simply lacked ‘umph’

24. This could be the deal of your career – you’ll never know unless you call

25. Your prospect deleted you e-mail on their Blackberry by accident and there’s no “undo” feature

26. A poor, hungry and driven competitor will make the persistent follow up call that you didn’t make …and will get the business you should have got.

27. What do you have to lose?

28. What do you have to win?

So there you have it: 28 compelling reasons to pick up that phone and make a few follow up calls. Print this list on a bright yellow sheet of paper. Post it at your desk and refer to it whenever you hesitate about making that follow up call.  Do it now. And close more sales!

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Closing the Sale: 25 Compelling Reasons Why Prospects Might Say YES

Closing is often cited as the most difficult skill or technique for sales reps to master.  The primary reason for this reaction is the fear of hearing no. To many reps, the word ‘no’ is associated with rejection and with failure. This leads to frustration, discouragement and despair. Left unchecked, it could mean the loss of a job.

Mind Games

The fear of hearing ‘no’ is an insidious mind game. Consciously or subconsciously, sales reps tend to psych themselves out by conjuring up all sorts of reasons why a prospect would say no:  too expensive, bad economy, happy with current supplier, don’t need, don’t want it, don’t like it, don’t like you. Sound familiar? In effect, reps have prefabricated the ‘no’ they expect to receive. This type of negative thinking is destructive because it creates ‘so-why-bother-asking’ mentality.  Instead, the rep hopes –or prays- that the prospect will take the initiative and say, “I’ll buy it.”

Don’t be a victim of this type of this mind game!

Give your head a shake and reverse the situation.

Sure prospects say no, but a lot of them say yes. And that’s where your focus should lie. Give yourself a fighting chance by NOT focusing on why a prospect might say no and freaking out over it. Instead, focus on WHY a prospect might say YES. It is a simple but highly effective mental shift. By doing this you create a positive mindset and you begin to think of why you should ask instead of why you shouldn’t.  You’ll soon discover that the more you ask, the more you’ll get.

25 Reasons Why Your Prospects Might Say Yes:

Here is a quick list of 25 reasons why a prospect might say yes. Print and post this list somewhere visible. Read it two or three times a day, or whenever your spirit is lagging.

1. For whatever reason, the client likes you. People buy from people they like.

2. The client trusts you. Double whammy. People buy from people they like AND trust.

3. They see the value of your product or service.

4. You price is good. Maybe even great.

5. They want what you have.

6. The prospect doesn’t like your competitors.

7. The prospect doesn’t see any extra value in your competitors.

8. He/she is in a good mood and buys off the cuff.

9. The prospect is in a hurry and wants to save time.

10. The prospect is unhappy with their present supplier and wants a change.

11. The client wants to minimize his risk with the present supplier.

12. The prospect wants to send a “message” to their present supplier.

13. The prospect wants to make a change in product and try something new.

14. The prospect is a new buyer and has no allegiance to the existing vendor.

15. You sell well. You’re good at what you do.

16. The prospect doesn’t have a choice. You win by default.

17. They lack the courage to say “no.”

18. The decision to buy from you can make the prospect look good in the eyes of his boss.

19. You have a great offer. Why not?

20. You are politely persistent and the prospect admires your tenacity.

21. The prospect feels the need to reciprocate because you did or sent something of value (like an article, a card, a bottle of BBQ Spice).

22. They are worried they’ll get caught short.

23. The prospect wants to ‘test you out’ and see how you perform.

24. Your marketing material was persuasive.

25. It’s a mystic moment: Jupiter is aligned with Mars. You just get lucky.

Summary

There are probably 25 more reasons if you simply take the time to think.  Remember this: too many reps dwell too much on why a prospect might say ‘no’ and convince themselves not to ask for the sale.  The smart choice is to go into a sale thinking of all the reasons why a prospect might say yes.  This leads to a positive attitude that reflects in your demeanor and in what you say. It also leads to sales success. Plain and simple.

Think yes and sell more.

PS: Here’s a bonus reason (#26): Your competitor didn’t ask for the sale because he feared saying ‘no’…and you didn’t.

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The Test Drive Close – How to Use a Picture Words to Close More Sales by Phone

Selling over the telephone is like selling blind.  You cannot see the individual or the environment and they cannot see you.  It’s a major challenge and one of the reasons why telephone selling is so tough.

But it doesn’t have to be so debilitating. You can compensate for this rather barren selling environment by adding colorful imagery to your words and thoughts at certain key times in your discussion.  In effect, you want to paint vivid pictures in the clients mind in order help them understand your product or service and make it easier to buy.

One of the best ways to do that is to use a metaphor or an analogy. Metaphors and analogies are simply ways to conjure up images that makes your thoughts or suggestions easier to comprehend and understand.

The Test Drive Close

The trick to making them work for you is to have words and phrases prepared ahead of time for various parts of your selling conversation.  For instance, suppose your company provides a sample of a product.  It might be the use of a software package for a month or maybe short term subscription to a newsletter; anything that the client can try in order to get a feel for the value of the item.

Despite the fact that the item might be ‘free’ or of minimal charge, you will still find clients have to be enticed further because they may be uncertain, skeptical or even jaded. And since they can’t see you either, it is important to be as persuasive as possible. A way to position the offer is to call it a “test drive.”  For example,

“_____, to get you started I would like to recommend a “test drive.” In other words, I would like to recommend that you give the program a ‘spin’ around the block with three or four patients so you can get a feel how we work, how your patients respond and how the program benefits your practice. You can assess our effectiveness, see how things operate, compile any questions and evaluate it from bumper to bumper. If you like the drive – and I am certain it will- we can expand it as necessary. If it does not work well for you, well, you’ve risked nothing and we can retrieve the units.”

At a conscious or subconscious level, the test drive generates a harmless, ‘no-big-deal’ image of test driving a car before buying it. It is something everyone can immediately relate to and understand. We all know that test drives does not mean you have to buy the vehicle. We all know that it is meant to give you a feel for car, how it drives, handles, accelerates, even how it smells.  If you like the drive, you can proceed further down the sales path. If not, you park it on the lot and move on. There are no strings attached.

The metaphor simplifies your offer by relating it to an every day event. Everyone understands the test drive implication. At some level, this reduces the sense of risk and makes the decision to try the offer easier and more palatable. That’s the power of metaphors, analogies and colorful words or phrases.

What to Do Next

  • Think about your products or services. Is there anything to which you can compare them? Test the imagery. See how your clients respond.  Try other comparisons and see how they do.
  • Think of your product features and come up with images that make understanding them easier and more relevant ((“it’s no bigger than box of chocolates” or “This amount of memory is like have 10 million blank pages in a book”).
  • Think of the options you might offer. Can you draw a picture to help people differentiate those options ? (“In effect, our product is like taco sauce: it comes in hot, medium and mild”)
  • Use a metaphor to prompt the client and direct their thoughts. (“Doc, you know the type of patient I am looking for: the weekend warrior, the soccer mom, the walking wounded from a car accident”)
  • And the list goes on.

Summary

Using metaphors, analogies and colorful words or phrases is not a new concept.  But often they are used spontaneously rather than deliberately.  Words are powerful selling tools and many of them should be pre-planned and used with deliberation in order to maximize their effect.  In the blind world of telephone sales, this is doubly important. Give metaphors and analogies a test drive and see what you think.

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