Tag Archives: cold calling

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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How to Set Meaningful Follow Up Times

Gold is a scarce resource.

So are diamonds and platinum.

And so is time.

When you set a follow up time with your client, you are committing valuable time; time that ideally results in a return on investment.  When a customer or prospect  misses an appointment, you squander time and opportunity.  The trick, then, is to do the utmost to ensure that your follow up calls occur when it is supposed to.  The trick is to ensure your appointment is important and that it’s not forgotten or delayed. Here’s how:

Typical Appointment Setting

The vast majority of appointments, whether by phone or face to face tend to occur at the top and the bottom of the hour. For instance, we set up a follow up call at, say, 9:00 or 10:30, 1:30, 3:00 …you get the picture.

And on the surface, you might think that is fine but for two points.

First of all, virtually every sales rep sets appointments at the top and bottom of the hour. Your competitors do the same thing. In fact, virtually every organization has their meetings set at the top and bottom of the hour. It is traditional. It is routine.  Everyone follows the norm. It also means your time is not a scarce resource but rather a commodity.

And that’s precisely the problem.  The time you set for your appointment is part of the clutter and the noise at the top and bottom of the hour. It does not distinguish you.

The second point is a little more insidious but I’ll bet you’ll agree. More or less, corporate North America never starts a meeting on time. If a meeting is set for 10:00 people drift in sometime after.  By 10:15 or so, everyone is assembled.  It has become acceptable that meetings start late.  The preciseness of time has no real meaning anymore. So, what this means to you is that when you do set an appointment at the top or the bottom of the hour, most people feel that it is acceptable to be late. “It’s no big deal.”

In essence, they are saying your time can be squandered. Well, it is a big deal if you are in sales. Call it trite, call it a cliché, but TIME IS MONEY!

For every follow up you make, something else is put aside. For every time you play telephone tag, something else is delayed,  forgotten or lost. Opportunity lost. You don’t want to make a dozen follow up calls and waste your time.  You don’t want to play telephone tag. You want to maximize your time.

The last point is this:  because so many events occur at the top and the bottom of the hour, they are easily confused and forgotten. Clients blithely agree to an appointment without checking their calendars.  When your ‘sales appointment’ conflicts with an internal meeting event or appointment, guess which one wins out?  You bet! The sales appointment always drops to the bottom of the list.

Getting Through Appointment Clutter

So what can you do to eliminate or reduce the clutter and get more clients to be ready, willing and able to take your call at a given time?

  • Make time a valuable resource.
  • Position it as scarce.
  • Dole it out carefully.
  • Be chintzy.
  • Let your clients realize its importance.
6 Different Times

And how do you do that? The answer is to set a unique time; a time that catches your client’s attention; something that stands out; something that is not readily dismissed.

I recommend six different times in any given hour to set an appointment. These times are at 10, 15, 20, 40, 45 and 50 minutes after the hour. For example, instead of setting an appointment for ll:00 try setting it for 11:10, 11:15 or 11:20.  Or instead of 3:30, set if for 3:40,  3:45 or 3:50.

Putting it altogether, here are a couple of examples of what I mean:

“Ms. Trempe, I would be glad to e-mail this proposal to you tomorrow. And what I would like to recommend is that we set up Tuesday, the 21st, at 8:40 to review it in detail. How does your calendar look for 8:40?”

“Tim,  I’d like to set up an appointment to provide you with a demonstration on how the unit works and how it could reduce printing and binding costs. How are you set for tomorrow at 2:15? Do you have your schedule handy?”

(Incidentally, once you’ve established the date and time, be sure to send a meeting request reminder using Outlook. The audio message (above) combined with the visual message of an e-mail increase the odds of call occurring on time).

Why This Works

These times tend be more effective because they are slightly  unusual for the client. (NOTE: they are not bizarre. Setting weird times like 8:18, 1: 14 or 4:43 is bizarre…and ridiculous). Because they are unusual, they tend to be written (or typed) in their day planners; they tend to be remembered; and they tend to be honored more times than not. Ultimately, they place a value on time.

Apart from an unusual time, this technique tends to work because the client must reach for their calendar, or log into their Outlook or whatever.  They must interact with something. When they interact, they participate, and when they participate they are more likely to remember than to forget.

But there is more to it than meets the eye. By setting one of these times it implies you have other things on the go. It suggests you have other appointments.  It indicates that you are busy and remember, busy sales reps are very well regarded.

There is one other implication:  there is a suggestion that you have other appointments set within the half hour. Not only do you appear busy but it implies your call will be short and to the point. Clients like this. It seems fast, hassle free and painless. It just might be the thing that ensures that they are ready and able for a call.

In short, you have positioned time like a rare jewel.

Summary

Time is indeed money. Spend it wisely. Avoid squandering this precious resource.  By positioning your time to your client as important and valued, they are more apt to respect the times you set for appointments. You’ll move your sales cycle faster and further by using this little known technique.

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Want Better Tele-Prospecting Results Tomorrow? Try the Squeeze Play Today

If you struggle to reach decision makers, if your messages are rarely returned, and if you’re frustrated with your prospecting results, then try using one of the best-kept secrets of tele-prospecting.

The secret? Call as high up in the organization as you can AND THEN apply the “Squeeze Play.”  You’re gonna love this because it really works!

At first blush, this approach would seem to be just the opposite of what you would expect. Executives (VPs and C-Levels) are tough to reach and getting them to respond is even tougher. Protected by personal administrators and voice mail, the odds of speaking to an exec are slim. So how could that improve your prospecting results?

But that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to speak the executive for the Squeeze Play to work. All you need is a simple strategy.

The Executive Suite

When you call higher up, one of two things will happen. You will get lucky and reach the decision maker or, more likely, you will reach a personal assistant. Either way, you can leverage the moment.

The Executive Encounter

Unless you’re selling a strategic product or service, the chances that the executive actually makes the decision to buy is negligible. An underling usually handles those buying decisions and that’s what you are really looking for. Begin by identifying yourself, where you are calling from and the nature of your call. They key here is to acknowledge that the executive may not be the right person and ask for guidance,

“Ms. Bigge, I know you probably don’t handle this type of purchase but perhaps you could steer me in the right direction.”

You’ll find the vast majority of executives appreciate your candid nature and will give you the name of the person in charge, the ‘underling.’ Now here’s how you complete the call and set up the Squeeze Play,

“Thank you Ms. Bigge for your time. I’ll call ____ today and then I’ll let you know how it went by the end of the week. How does that sound?”

Either the executive will say yes to your suggestion or she’ll explain you don’t have to call back. It doesn’t matter. You’ve set the stage.

The Personal Admin Encounter

You can use the same tactic if you reach a personal secretary. They’ll be glad to refer you to the proper underling. Be sure to thank secretary and let her know you’ll give them an update by a specific date and time.

The Underling – Voice Mail Squeeze Play

Call the underling. If you encounter voice mail, leverage the call to the executive suite and induce the Squeeze Play. Leave the following message,

“Mr. Underling, I was just speaking to Ms. Bigge (or I was just speaking to Janet, Ms. Bigge’s assistant) and she suggested I give you a call with an idea we discussed on how to ___________ (fill in your benefits statement)

Would you please give me a call at ______ as soon as possible as I told Ms. Bigge I will get back to her on Friday at 2:00 p.m. regarding the results of our conversation.”

By telling the underling that you will get back to the executive by a given date and time creates the “squeeze play.” At this point, the underling doesn’t know a thing about you except that you have had a chat with the executive (or the executive office). So naturally enough, the underling feels compelled to respond and reply to you…just in case. Et voila!

The Underling – Live Squeeze Play

You can use the Squeeze Play live as well. In your opening statement, make reference to the discussion with the executive right off the bat,

“Mr. Underling, I spoke with Ms. Bigge regarding ______ (your benefit statement). I am to get back to Ms. Bigge by Friday with regard to our call so if I have caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if there might be a fit.”

As with the voice mail, the underling knows the executive is somehow involved and will likely feel obligated to answer your questions or set up a telephone appointment sometime before Friday. In this manner, you avoid the brush off objections that typically occur.

Keep Your Word

The beauty of the Squeeze Play is that it is legitimate. You have positioned your executive contact so that it maximizes the opportunity.

Key point: ALWAYS follow through and keep your word. Call the executive or admin back as you promised. This can work for you in two ways.

First, if the underling does not call back, you can call Ms. Bigge and explain you made a few attempts to reach Underling but that he has not gotten back to you. Explain further that you will continue to try and will continue to keep Ms. Bigge updated. In this manner, you are not really “tattling” but rather fulfilling a promise you made to the executive.

Second, if the underling does call you back you must STILL call Ms. Bigge. Regardless of whether or not you get a sale or an appointment or whatever, be sure to give the executive (or secretary) an update. It’s not so much they they really need to know but rather an issue of keeping your word and positioning yourself for future opportunities.

Summary

Try the Squeeze Play. It’s easy, it’s ethical and it’s a little edgy. Certainly, it’s different. Most of your competitors don’t use it. Above all, it works very well and that means more decision maker contacts. More opportunities typically mean more sales. Give it a shot

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To Hell With Cold Calling – 3 Steps to Warming Inactive Accounts

If cold calling is not one of your favorite pastimes try a different tack.

Try making “warmer” calls and watch your sales results improve. You do that by targeting “inactive accounts.” An inactive account is an account that has bought from you in the past but has not make a purchase in the past year or so.

3 Good Reasons

Here are some practical reasons why you should reactivate an inactive account:

  • You have a targeted list. The list is in house, you have ready access to it and it is targeted. This saves you money and time purchasing a list. You can start calling immediately.
  • You know them. Since you have a record of the past purchase(s) you have an idea of where to start when you make the call. You can see the size, quantity and frequency of past sales. This makes your pre call planning much easier.
  • They know you. Obviously, the account knows of you. They have some sort of history with your company even if it was a one time buy. But what this really means is that less time and effort is needed to help educate the client. It can help reduce the sales cycle.

When you put all these points together you have a call that is much easier to make compared to calling a complete stranger off a purchased list.

Why We Resist Inactive Accounts

Despite the benefits, many sales reps avoid calling inactive accounts. Most feel that the client has left for one of two reasons:

– the price was too high or,
–  there was a customer service problem.

The feeling is: “it is better to let a sleeping dog lie.”

Not so!

While price and customer service can be legitimate reasons for customers taking their business elsewhere, the number ONE reason why customers leave is simply due to neglect. A variety of studies reveal that as many as 68% of those customers who leave do so simply because they had no reason to stay.

Sixty eight percent!

Think about it. They have left because no one cultivated the relationship. The order was taken and that was it. The account was ignored. No one paid attention to it. The more positive implication is this: spend a little time and pay a little attention and you can probably reactivate some of these accounts.

The 3 Steps to Reactivating Inactive Accounts

Before the Call

Before picking up the phone take a moment or two to review the customer file. Take a look at the sales record and see what possible opportunities there might be. The file might be slim and meager but it is a start.

The Call – 3 Simple Rules

Here are three simple rules to guide you:

Rule #1:  Do make reference to past relationship.

While not all your accounts will remember the relationship, it is important that you leverage it. This is what helps make the call warmer. The client tends to be somewhat more receptive.

Rule #2:  Do not ask why they stopped buying.

This is a common mistake. By asking why a client has stopped buying one of two things can happen. First, you can unnecessarily open a can of worms. If the account does have a gripe, they will tell you. (More on that in a moment). Second, asking the question will often put your client on the spot. Many will feel defensive; some feel vaguely guilty and even embarrassed. Avoid this.

Rule #3:  Do a complete needs analysis; ask questions

Treat the account as thought it were brand new. Much can change in year or more. Ask the client questions to discover needs and opportunities. This also prevents you from pitching. Create a new beginning with this client  using a consultative sales approach.

Example

Mr./Ms._________ This is ___________ calling from ____________.

Mr./Ms.___________ We have worked with you in the past by providing you with _____. (list the product).  Of course, at this point in time I am not precisely certain of your needs but if I have caught you at a good time, I would like to ask you some questions to determine if we can help you (insert your benefit statement such as ‘cut the cost of delivery,’ ‘lower your prices,’ ‘source hard to find items’).

What types of _______ are you using now?”

What If…

But what if the client does have a problem or an issue from the past?

If the account refers to a problem ask what happened. Get the details. Many times the client simply feels the need to vent. It does not necessarily mean they will not buy more. Hear them out. Acknowledge their concern; express regret. Fix the problem if you can. But go on to say that you would like to start the relationship anew. What is the worst they can say?

What if the client references price issues?

Treat the price objection like you would with any other client. You need to question to determine if the issue is one of pure price or one of value. You need to probe to determine if there are opportunities for quantity discounts. You need to use negotiation skills.

What if they have a current supplier?

Big deal! Everyone has a supplier. You need to earn the business. This means nurturing the relationship.

Summary

Inactive accounts are easier to sell than cold prospects. This does not mean selling is a piece of cake. You still have work to do. But it does mean you have a bit of an edge.  Make sure you reactivate your inactive accounts!

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The Top 10 Things Every Field Rep Should Know About Tele-Prospecting

Many field reps are uncomfortable using the telephone when cold calling. Here are some tips to make the process of cold calling by phone easier and more effective.


1. It’s NOT a numbers game, it’s a results game

You’ll often hear this about cold calling especially from you boss: “It’s a numbers game.” Translated it means you have to make a zillion calls. No way. Don’t believe them.   Telephone cold calling is not about quantity, it’s about results.

Results come from smart tele-prospecting, not mindless dialing. Being smart means have the skills and techniques to make the most of the dials you make.  It means learning new processes and using job aids to convert more prospects into leads. It means being good at cold calling.

2. Use a verbal GPS (call guide)

A verbal GPS is a written ‘map’ to help guide your cold call.  Like a GPS, enter your destination (your primary objective), your starting point (your opening statement)  the sites you want to see along the way (your secondary objectives) and the route you want to take to get  there (your key questions, the key points you want to make).

Put this information on a green sheet of paper so that it sticks out on your desk or wall. Look at it before you call. Use it during the call to keep you on track. The mere process of writing these items down will increase you success rate by a minimum of 20%.

3. Script – yes, script- your opening statement

Most field reps would rather undergo a root canal than use a script. Instead of a script, field reps tend to ‘wing it’ and justify their behavior by saying, it sounds more ‘natural.’ The net result is that the cold call feels like a root canal.

If you were going to make dozens of cold calls to similar prospects regarding your products or services, why would you try to ‘wing’ it every time? Script your opening statement so you have the very best mix of words that entices the prospect to listen further.

4. Avoid Shooting Yourself in Both Feet by Avoiding these Killer Phrases

Cold calls quickly become lame when field sales reps inadvertently shoot themselves in both feet by using two killer phrases.  The first phrase is “How are you today?” In cold calling situations, the vast majority of prospects perceive this phase as trite and insincere. It instantly puts the prospect on guard; makes them skeptical and suspicious. Just eliminate it from your vocabulary.

The other killer phrase is “Did I catch you at a good time?” While polite, it gives your prospect a fast and easy way to ditch you. Instead, use this phrase, “If I caught you at a good time, what I would like to do is ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if we might be able to … (list a benefit).”  The prospect has the definite sense that permission was asked but the real question was not if he had the time but rather could questions be asked.” Big difference.

5. Know When and When NOT to Leave a Voice Mail – and Avoid Call Display

If you are never going to call this prospect again, leave a message. You have nothing to lose. Script – yes script- your message ahead of time and be prepared to leave it. If you are planning to recycle the list a few times, don’t leave a message. It warns them you’re coming. They use call display to screen your calls. Hang up. Take three or four shots at getting the client live.

6.  Anticipate Knee Jerk Objections

The majority of prospects are not sitting back and waiting for a call from a sales person. They are typically working and your call is an interruption. Many prospects will toss out an objection out of reflex not unlike what happens when a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.

Here’s what to do. List the typical knee jerk objections on a sheet of paper so you’re not caught off guard. When you hear an objection follow the “EIA Process.” First, empathize. Next, ignore the objection completely. It’s not legitimate anyway. Third, calmly ask ‘one quick question.’  (Example:  Prospect: “I am busy right now.” Rep: “I understand completely…Brian, while I have you, one quick question: do you…)

Amazingly, over half the prospects will answer your question and most they will continue to answer additional questions simply because their reflexive reaction has settled down.

7.  Ruthless Disqualify Your Prospects

Have your key qualifying questions prepared and get to them right off the bat. You do this to determine if the prospect is worth YOUR time. If not, ruthlessly disqualify them and move on to greener pastures.

8.  Script- yes, again, script- your offer

For most sales reps, the offer is a request for an appointment. At this point in the sales cycle,  your product is the appointment.  Therefore, script your request for their time word for word.  Explain what the appointment will entail. Most importantly, list the benefit the client will get by granting you thirty or so minutes of time. By having this prepared ahead of time you won’t fumble the opportunity.

9.  Forget About Sending Literature

Prospects can make mince meat of your efforts by getting you to send, fax or e-mail literature. This smokescreen objection is a classic, if not polite, way to blow you off. Don’t fall for it. If you do agree to send marketing material, get commitment by asking for a specific follow up date and time (e.g., Thursday at 3:15). No date and time, no literature. Move on.

10. Make your call like an Academy Award Winner

The telephone is an audio medium.  Your tone, rate of delivery and volume of your voice accounts for about 80% of the message. Too fast, too slow, or too monotone will destroy your cold call in less than ten seconds. What this really means to you is that you need to practice your opening statement so that it flows naturally. You need to practice following your verbal GPS so you can transition your prospect through the call.  Practice your ‘offer’ as if you’re Brad or Angelina. Get your words and tone down pat. Do that and you’ll be a tele-prospecting star.

Summary

Telephone cold calling for field sales reps can be easier and more effective by simply bearing these ten tips in mind. Implement them and watch your success grow.

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The 5 Worst Tele-Prospecting Questions – Are You Guilty?

Questioning a prospect is a good thing, right?

Questioning builds rapport, uncovers needs, gathers information, and identifies possible objections.  There are lots of benefits.

Or so it would seem.

But the truth of the matter is that there are some questions that telephone users should utterly avoid.  They annoy your prospects and they can threaten the success of your call. Here are the four most maddening questions of all time. Purge them from your calling process.

Worst Question #1: How are you today?

Nothing, absolutely nothing, puts a prospect on the defensive faster than this question!

While YOU might think it’s a real rapport builder the vast majority of your prospects think just the opposite.  When surveyed well over 90% of prospects felt that the question is trite and insincere.  They found it ‘wastes time’  but perhaps more significantly, it puts them on their guard because it creates a stereotypical (and negative) image of an invasive “telemarketer” who is trying to sell them something.

Look, the bottom line is this: you don’t really care how the prospect is, do you? You want a sale, lead or an appointment. And they KNOW that.  They know you don’t care. They know it’s a filler question.

So why would you use it?

It buys you absolutely nothing and it may cost you a lot. It may tarnish your ‘professional’ image.

Worst Question #2:  Did I catch you at a good time?

This question is a real sales killer. Hands down.

While asking a prospect ‘is now is a good time’ is polite and considerate, what it really does is provide a ready-made excuse to terminate the call.  Picture the scene: how many times have you asked that question and the prospect says, ‘Ya, sure…It’s a great time! I wasn’t doing anything important. In fact, I was just sitting here with my feet on the desk hoping that a sales rep would give me a call and pitch me?”

Rarely happens, right?

Of course, some prospects do say yes but the majority don’t.  At the moment they say ‘no’ you flounder and stumble around a bit and murmur something about calling later or ‘when is a good time.’  If the prospect does give you a time, they are never there when you make your follow up call. Waste of everyone’s time and energy.

I am all for polite and courteous tele-prospecting.  But instead of putting your call in the chopping block, try this,  “_____, If I have caught you at a good time what I would like to do is ask you a few questions, get a feel for you situation and see if there might be a way …(insert your benefit).’

Positioned this way, the client gets a feel or a sense that you have been polite about the ‘time’ thing but you are not really asking about the time; you’re asking about questions.  If you move seamlessly into your first question, your client will likely answer.

This subtle but extremely effective technique can dramatically change your contact rate and help you convert more contacts to sales or leads.  Use it.

Worst Question #3:  What do you like about your current supplier?

OMG! What a ridiculous question!

In effect, here’s what you are saying to the prospect, “Tell all the great things about your current vendor so that you will convince yourself not to make a change.  Remind yourself why you made this brilliant choice in the first place so that you can pat yourself on the back.”

Forgive the sarcasm.  But this question is definitely maddening. It does nothing to help your selling cause. It builds your competitor up and because the prospect is articulating their merits it’ll be awfully hard to knock them down.

Instead, ask the prospect what they like to see in a vendor.  Let the prospect tell you about the ideal service they would like to get.  See how you compare. Don’t even bother with the current competitor. Who cares? It’s not what they do, it’s what YOU do.

Worst Question #4: Is there anything you don’t like about your current vendor?

Think about this one for a moment. The prospect doesn’t know you from Adam or Eve and out of the blue you are asking him/her to divulge the faults and flaws of your competitor.  How often do you think that’s going to work?

It’s not.

Sure, if you get lucky you might find a flawed vendor and an annoyed prospect.  Even a blind squirrel finds a nut.  But in the vast majority of the calls you make, this question will get you a blunt “no.” Like Maddening Question #3, the prospect is reminded that there’s nothing wrong with their current supplier or, at best, better the devil they know then the devil they don’t. Net result? Resistance to change.

Stick with what they’d like to see in a vendor.  Determine what elements are the most important (price, delivery, selection, terms etc.)  Create a general question like, “Are you getting all those elements all the time?” Ask if they’ve ever been caught short? Ask what they do if there’s a delay or if a product is unavailable? Ask if they have a back up plan?

These questions can open doors, not close them.

Worst Question #5: what do I have to do to earn your business?

And finally…

This maddening question has been around for decades and has been driving your prospect nuts for just as long. In their mind what you are really saying is this, “Make this easy for me because I don’t really want to work at it. Tell me what you want so I don’t have to probe and find out.”

Prospects resent this. It’s lazy. And those that give you an answer often give you ridiculous answers like, “I want free shipping on every order over ten bucks…and oh…I want 120 days… oh… forget the days, how about consignment?”

Look, if you don’t know how to probe for needs, start learning now!

Summary

Questions can work for you or against you.  Think about your questions before you ask!

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2 MORE Not-So-Smart Questions to Avoid

Remember what your teachers used to say: “there’s no such think as a dumb question?”

Well maybe that’s true in most cases but in tele-sales there are some not-so-smart questions that you should avoid because they can act as real show stoppers.

Not-So-Smart Question #1: How are You Today?

Please, at all costs, avoid this question when you’re tele-prospecting. Please.

While YOU might think it’s a real  rapport builder the vast majority of your prospects think just the opposite.  When surveyed well over 90% of prospects feel that the question is trite and insincere.  They find it ‘wastes time’  and puts them on their guard because it creates a stereotypical (and negative) image of an invasive “telemarketer” who is trying to sell them something. Is this how you want to start your cold call?

Look, if the prospect is telling you NOT to use this question, don’t use it.  Simple as that.  It doesn’t buy you anything and it can certainly cost you a lot in terms of credibility.

Not-So-Smart Question #2: Did I Catch You at a Good Time?

Don’t use this question either.  Oh, I know the argument: it’s polite and not using it can be seen as presumptuous by the prospect.  But be honest here, how many times have you asked this question only to hear, “no, it’s not a good time.”  I’ll wager it occurs 99 times out of 100. When you ask if it is a good time you are giving your prospect a ready made excuse to terminate the call. Hey! Isn’t tele-prospecting and cold calling  hard enough without you fueling the fire?

Instead, say this, “Jim, if I caught you at a good time, what I would like to do is ask you some questions, get a feel for your situation and see if we might   (provide a benefit).  Let me ask…”

By doing this, the prospect gets a ‘sense’ that you are asking if it is a good time (which positions you as courteous and respectful)  but you aren’t really doing that. You’re asking if you can ask some questions.

Of course, the prospect can still object but you’ve made it just a bit harder to do so.  And that gives you a slight edge and slight edges are might all you need.

Summary

By avoiding these two not-so-smart questions your ‘image’ will be a little less tarnished and you’ll increase the number of times a prospect allows you to continue the call.

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Why Sales People Hate Cold Calling

This blog features sales expert Kelley Robertson.  Kelley is one of North America’s foremost experts in sales training and I think you’ll see why in this article. Enjoy!

Cold calling is a fact of life for most people in sales. Sure, the vast majority would prefer to rely on referrals, word-of-mouth, or some other lead source that reduces or eliminates their need to make cold calls. However, unless you deal with an established set of accounts, you will, at some time, be required to cold call in order to generate sufficient leads for your business.

Having said this, even the most seasoned sales professionals often resist this strategy unless they are poked, prodded and pushed by their manager. Excuses include:

“I don’t like the rejection.”

“I don’t want to come across like I’m desperate for business.”

“I don’t want to sound like a telemarketer.”

“I don’t like interrupting people at work.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

However, I believe that there is another dynamic at play that prevents people from embracing cold calling. It’s the need and desire for instant gratification. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The prize inside the box.

We know that cold calling seldom generates quick results. It takes a lot of dials to connect with live people. It takes finesse to deal with receptionists, gatekeepers and executive assistants. It takes a certain amount of creativity to deal with the barriers that get in our way. It takes multiple attempts and a bulldog sense of persistence to finally connect with decision makers. And, finally after all that work, we eventually manage to make contact with our prospect only to hear, “No, thanks.”

I once read that there are two types of people. People who are willing to wait for a reward and those who want the reward now even though the payoff may be higher if they wait. I suspect that people who have the ability to wait for a payoff also possess the ability to make more calls than individuals who need immediate gratification. Let’s face it. Capturing a sale is highly motivating and many people have a difficult time making call after call with little to show for it. Making fifty or sixty dials and not capturing a sale or being unable to connect with a buyer or decision maker can be extremely frustrating. Spending an entire day on the telephone is even more challenging and difficult.

Experts on this subject say that you need to recognize that every ‘no’ brings you one call closer to making an appointment or landing a sale. Some people say that you need to “go for the no” and to use those ‘no’s’ as a stepping stone to hearing a ‘yes.” While these philosophies are technically true, it takes much more than that.

It takes big picture thinking. It requires the ability to postpone the pleasure of getting the reward and developing the discipline to work through the pain and challenge of making dozens of calls with little to show for it.

So, here’s the $64,000 question: how do you develop this ability?

I’ll warn you; it’s not easy. In order to develop the ability to get used to a delayed payoff you actually have to make these calls, as painful and challenging as it is. You need to condition yourself that you will eventually get a reward for your efforts. I know, you were hoping for a magic answer or quick result. Unfortunately, the quick-fix solution exists only in infomercials, novels and movies.

Let’s take a look at this from a slightly different perspective. When you learn a new hobby, sport, language, etc., it takes time to just to become comfortable. It takes longer to develop a level of consistent proficiency. And, it takes even more time to develop your skill to the point of excellence. The same concept applies to cold calling. You can’t expect to make ten or fifteen calls and master the skill. In fact, that number of calls won’t even get you to the point of feeling comfortable. You need to block time in your schedule on a daily basis to make calls. The more calls you make, the easier it will get and the more proficient you will become. As your skill improves, so will your ability to generate leads and secure appointments. You will become more adept at dealing with receptionists and executive assistants. And this will eventually translate into sales.

I guarantee that it will be a grind at first. However, if you can push through your initial resistance you can develop the ability to postpone your need for instant gratification. And as you do this, your results will improve.

© MMXI Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Do you know what sales blunders are costing you money? Get a FREE audio program, Sales Blunders That Cost You Money and two other sales-boosting resources by subscribing to Kelley’s newsletter at www.Fearless-Selling.ca or email Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca

Kelley Robertson, author of The Secrets of Power Selling helps sales professionals close more sales at higher profits with less effort. Kelley conducts sales training workshops and speaks regularly at sales meetings and conferences. Contact him at 905-633-7750 or Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca.

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The Top 10 Most Annoying Traits of Tele-Prospectors – Are you guilty?

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Tele-prospecting is tough enough without engaging in self destructive tendencies. Here is a list of the 10 most annoying traits of tele-sales reps. Are you guilty of any of these traits? Not sure? Ask someone you trust.

#1: “How are you today?”

Prospects rank this as their #1 complaint of telephone reps. The overwhelming majority of those surveyed feel it is trite and insincere and a complete waste of time. It immediately makes them weary and defensive.  What a lousy way to start a call. Since they don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple.

#2: Butchering their name

Prospects hate it when you butcher their name. While it is true that some names are complex and the prospect is used to it, imagine how impressed they will be if you master the name. You do that by calling someone else in the company and asking them for the proper pronunciation. Practice. Write it phonetically. Practice some more. Get it right. Nail it.

3. Presenting in a monotone.

A lifeless and lack luster delivery of your opening statement is a one-way ticket to disaster. The prospect senses that you are bored or unprepared in a split second. Over 80% of your telephone communication is through the tone of your voice. Remember that! Be conscious of your tone before you pick up the phone. The three second you take to say to yourself “Stay up beat,” will pay dividends.

4. Beating around the bush.

Prospects say that many telephone reps fail to get to the point of the call quick enough; they beat around the bush. The prospect gets confused and impatient. The call becomes an intrusion. Get to the point. You do that by using this trigger phrase, “Sandy, the reason for my call is ….”  This simple phrase provides direction and focus in the clients mind. Subconsciously they are relieved because they understand.

Of course, you don’t have to be blunt and say, “The reason for my call is to sell you product X.” Be more subtle, “Sandy, the reason for my call is ask you some questions, get a feel for your situation, and see if there may be an opportunity to…”

5.  Not presenting a benefit.

While some reps are capable of getting to the point, many have failed to delineate the benefit to the client. The benefit is what gets the prospect to tune, listen and listen longer. This is the difference between a mediocre opening statement and great opening statement. If you can reduce expenses, say so. If your service will improve productivity, tell them up front.  If you can improve revenues, let them know.

To carry on with the example in #5 you might say, “…and to see if there might be an opportunity to reduce your acquisition costs.”

6.  Not getting the prospect involved.

No one likes or wants a monologue. The client needs to be engaged to feel part of the process. This means asking questions, getting agreement and seeking acknowledgement so that there is a two-way dialog. This is why it’s a heck of an idea to say the reason for you call is “to ask a few questions to get a feel for your situation…” It alerts the client that the call is about THEM and not you. Once you’ve provided your benefit, ask your first question. Get them involved early.

7.  Not answering a question.

Prospect despise it when they ask you a question or toss out an objection and you ignore it or you skate around by not answering the question directly.  They feel you are hiding something and the instantly, instantly distrust you.  Why risk that? Have your replies prepared.

8. Interrupting

Prospects complain about tele-sales reps who interrupt them with slick answers or more features. When your prospect talks, you listen. Don’t interrupt. Hear them out. Evaluate what they saying. Let them finish. Then, and only then, should you respond.

9. Sarcasm and Rhetoric

Tele-sales reps can blow a sales opportunity by the use of sarcasm or by the ridiculous use of rhetorical questions such as, “You want to save money, don’t you?” or “You’re a smart shopper, aren’t you?  Or “If I could show you a way to save 10% would you take a moment to listen…”Or, “Well, if you’re not interested in reducing the cost of your deliveries, that’s fine by me.” Further comment is unnecessary, right?

10. Not knowing when to quit.

In B to B (much less in B to C), most decision makers will cut you some slack because they know you are doing your job but do not push it. After the third ‘smokescreen objection’ (i.e., the objections seems patently false) you should probably cut you losses

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4 Vital Tips When Tele-Prospecting to C-Levels What Sales Reps Can Learn from Sport Casters

Sideline sportscasters are not unlike sales people. Their job is to ferret out the top athletes (key decision makers) or coaches (C-Level execs) and ask them a question or two to get their insights.

Unfortunately, like many sales people, sideline sportscasters typically blow the opportunity by being unprepared. Here are a couple of examples of some insipid questions asked recently while I watched NCAA football. In both cases, the sportscaster collared a big name player or coach and in front of millions of viewers, these were the questions asked:

“Charlie, this is the fifth game Notre Dame has lost this year. Tell us:  are you disappointed?

“Tim, how excited are you about playing in the SEC championship game against Alabama this year?

How sad! That’s the best the sideline announcer could come up with? Charlie and Tim rolled their eyes.  Because these questions were trite, the quality of information provided was equally as trite. No one benefited. It was a complete and utter waste of time for the viewing audience, the player/coach and the sport announcer.

Top executives, C-levels, and owners are no different from athletic celebrities.  They are hard to reach and their time is valuable. As a tele-prospector, you need to make the most of the moment. You cannot ask lame questions if you expect to get further into the sale.

Here are four ways to prevent “Sportscasteritis” with C-Level Excutives

1. Never ask a Question that Your Client Can’t Answer

Nothing stops a sale faster than asking a question that your prospect cannot answer. Top decision makers do not want to be placed on the spot. It’s embarrassing.

For example, if you’re talking with the CFO of a large company and you ask about an obscure piece of ledger software, chances are he’ll be stumped because he does not deal with that issue. Some underling handles it. All you have succeeded in doing is pointing out something the C-Level doesn’t know which does not endear you to her or him.

2. Prepare a single question that is pertinent to that prospect and his position

You can actually prepare more than one question but you need a single question that is the best of the best. It’s a question that will be most significant to you and your sales objective, and of course, it is a question that the executive can answer.

You ask this question first in case you don’t get any further. The higher you go up the executive food chain, strategic that question will be.  The lower you go, operational it will be.

3. Don’t waste their time.

When you get through to the C-Level, tell him you have only one question.  This is a brilliant tactic because they will usually let you proceed and ask it because the time and effort seems minimal. Additionally, they tend to listen more closely to what you have to say because they know it will not take long. If your question is good enough, they open up and usually let you continue further.

For example, suppose you are in capital leasing and you get through to the superstar CFO. Here is what you might ask,

“________, I know you are busy and I have one quick question: Are you planning any capital expenditures this year?”

The CFO will know the answer to this question. It is pertinent to his position. It is pertinent to your selling. It’s a good question.

4. Have your advance ready to go

Know precisely what you want from the call. Chances are it’s an appointment or a referral to an underling or maybe attendance at a webinar; objectives like that. Be prepared to quickly shift to your offer or request.  These executives are shakers and movers. They are used to getting to the point and expect others to do so.

In the above example, you might cut to the quick and say,

“We’re a capital leasing company that specializes in _________ and we’ve worked with ____.  Mr.________, Can you give me the name of the person who I should be speaking to regarding this project.”

This statement gives the CFO a quick overview of your company and what you do. He doesn’t need or want a lecture. You get directly to the point. If he wants to debate with you, he will.

Follow these four tips and be prepared when you encounter a superstar executive. Make the most of the moment.  See you on the sideline!

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The Top 10 Things Every Field Rep Should Know About Making Telephone Cold Calling

Many field reps are uncomfortable using the telephone when cold calling. Here are some tips to make the process of cold calling by phone easier and more effective.

1. It’s NOT a numbers game, it’s a results game

You’ll often hear this about cold calling especially from you boss: “It’s a numbers game.” Translated it means you have to make a zillion calls. No way. Don’t believe them.   Telephone cold calling is not about quantity, it’s about results.

Results come from smart tele-prospecting, not mindless dialing. Being smart means have the skills and techniques to make the most of the dials you make.  It means learning new processes and using job aids to convert more prospects into leads. It means being good at cold calling.

2. Use a verbal GPS (call guide)

A verbal GPS is a written ‘map’ to help guide your cold call.  Like a GPS, enter your destination (your primary objective), your starting point (your opening statement)  the sites you want to see along the way (your secondary objectives) and the route you want to take to get  there (your key questions, the key points you want to make).

Put this information on a green sheet of paper so that it sticks out on your desk or wall. Look at it before you call. Use it during the call to keep you on track. The mere process of writing these items down will increase you success rate by a minimum of 20%.

3. Script – yes, script- your opening statement

Most field reps would rather undergo a root canal than use a script. Instead of a script, field reps tend to ‘wing it’ and justify their behavior by saying, it sounds more ‘natural.’ The net result is that the cold call feels like a root canal.

If you were going to make dozens of cold calls to similar prospects regarding your products or services, why would you try to ‘wing’ it every time? Script your opening statement so you have the very best mix of words that entices the prospect to listen further.

4. Avoid Shooting Yourself in Both Feet by Avoiding these Killer Phrases

Cold calls quickly become lame when field sales reps inadvertently shoot themselves in both feet by using two killer phrases.  The first phrase is “How are you today?” In cold calling situations, the vast majority of prospects perceive this phase as trite and insincere. It instantly puts the prospect on guard; makes them skeptical and suspicious. Just eliminate it from your vocabulary.

The other killer phrase is “Did I catch you at a good time?” While polite, it gives your prospect a fast and easy way to ditch you. Instead, use this phrase, “If I caught you at a good time, what I would like to do is ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if we might be able to … (list a benefit).”  The prospect has the definite sense that permission was asked but the real question was not if he had the time but rather could questions be asked.” Big difference.

5. Know When and When NOT to Leave a Voice Mail – and Avoid Call Display

If you are never going to call this prospect again, leave a message. You have nothing to lose. Script – yes script- your message ahead of time and be prepared to leave it. If you are planning to recycle the list a few times, don’t leave a message. It warns them you’re coming. They use call display to screen your calls. Hang up. Take three or four shots at getting the client live.

6.  Anticipate Knee Jerk Objections

The majority of prospects are not sitting back and waiting for a call from a sales person. They are typically working and your call is an interruption. Many prospects will toss out an objection out of reflex not unlike what happens when a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.

Here’s what to do. List the typical knee jerk objections on a sheet of paper so you’re not caught off guard. When you hear an objection follow the “EIA Process.” First, empathize. Next, ignore the objection completely. It’s not legitimate anyway. Third, calmly ask ‘one quick question.’  (Example:  Prospect: “I am busy right now.” Rep: “I understand completely…Brian, while I have you, one quick question: do you…)

Amazingly, over half the prospects will answer your question and most they will continue to answer additional questions simply because their reflexive reaction has settled down.

7.  Ruthless Disqualify Your Prospects

Have your key qualifying questions prepared and get to them right off the bat. You do this to determine if the prospect is worth YOUR time. If not, ruthlessly disqualify them and move on to greener pastures.

8.  Script- yes, again, script- your offer

For most sales reps, the offer is a request for an appointment. At this point in the sales cycle,  your product is the appointment.  Therefore, script your request for their time word for word.  Explain what the appointment will entail. Most importantly, list the benefit the client will get by granting you thirty or so minutes of time. By having this prepared ahead of time you won’t fumble the opportunity.

9.  Forget About Sending Literature

Prospects can make mince meat of your efforts by getting you to send, fax or e-mail literature. This smokescreen objection is a classic, if not polite, way to blow you off. Don’t fall for it. If you do agree to send marketing material, get commitment by asking for a specific follow up date and time (e.g., Thursday at 3:15). No date and time, no literature. Move on.

10. Make your call like an Academy Award Winner

The telephone is an audio medium.  Your tone, rate of delivery and volume of your voice accounts for about 80% of the message. Too fast, too slow, or too monotone will destroy your cold call in less than ten seconds. What this really means to you is that you need to practice your opening statement so that it flows naturally. You need to practice following your verbal GPS so you can transition your prospect through the call.  Practice your ‘offer’ as if you’re Brad or Angelina. Get your words and tone down pat. Do that and you’ll be a tele-prospecting star.

Summary

Telephone cold calling for field sales reps can be easier and more effective by simply bearing these ten tips in mind. Implement them and watch your success grow.

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7 Cold Call Opening Statements From Hell

When cold calling, the opening statement is THE most critical element to your success. If you don’t nail the opener and get the prospect’s attention, you needn’t worry about the rest of the call. In short, you can’t afford to make a mistake.

Regrettably, mistakes are made but the troubling fact is that the SAME mistakes are made repeatedly, every day, by thousands of sales reps.  Here are seven cold call opening statements that illustrate the typical blunders tele-prospectors make.  Are you guilty?

Example #1: “Hey Pete, How are you today?  This is Jane Seamore calling for H8 Enterprises. Have you heard of us?”

Two points here. First, “how are you today” is insipid, trite and wastes precious time. Prospects don’t like it so don’t use it. Secondly, the hope is the prospect will say, “Why no, tell me more about your company because I have loads of time on my hand.” Of course, they don’t. They don’t have time for idle chit chat and irrelevant questions. Cut to the quick. Get to the point.

Example #2: “Katie? Henry Eighthly calling from Tower Transport Logistics in London.  Katie, the reason for my call is to follow up on an e-mail I sent you on how we can reduce your long halls shipping costs.  Did you get it?”

In this example, Henry just handed the prospect a bona fide objection on a silver platter. About 95% of the time the prospect will say “no” and ask you to send it again. They get rid of you in a New York minute and then  they’ll avoid your call like the plague when you follow up. Never ask if they got something or read something.

Example #3: “Oh hi. Is this the safety manager? Good. I’m Justin Kovalev calling from Senator Safety products. We specialize in safety communications programs. Did I catch you at a good time?”

Notice, the rep did not use the prospect’s name. Using the name helps get the prospects attention. Not using a name screams that you haven’t done your homework. Next, nothing will stop a cold call faster than asking if you have caught them at a good time. Sure, it’s polite but it’s never a good time. They’re busy and you’ve given them a great way to blow you off. Instead,  use this handy trigger phrase:  “If I have caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you some questions to get a feel for your situation…”

Example #4: “Ms. Harris, my name is Mary Worth and I’m a financial adviser who works with single moms who struggle to plan their financial future.  Let me ask you, what are some of the personal challenges you’re experiencing when it comes to planning for your kids’ education?

Aw shucks, this started so well! The unique proposition statement is great. However, the following question is a real cold call killer. Who in their right mind would open up to such an intimate and personal question in the OPENING statement? Never, ever make your first question something that is challenging, embarrassing, personal or awkward.  Sure, it’s a bold and enticing question but you haven’t earned the trust or the right to ask it at this moment. Start with an easy question to get a wedge in the door.

 Example #5:  “Hi, this is Mark Major from Mensa Medical. We specialize in a variety of hospital supplies.  I was wondering: what would it take to earn your business?”

This opener has been around since 1953. It was cheesy then and it is cheesy now. Translated, it is saying is this: “I don’t want to earn your business the old fashioned way through a needs analysis. I want you to make it easy for me, a stranger, and just tell me.” There is no attempt at rapport and there is certainly no benefit to the busy prospect.

Example #6:  “Antonio? My name is Brandon Mirovich calling from Vaststar Software.  We work with HR professionals helping them streamline their personnel review processes. Antonio, if I could show you a way to reduce the time it takes to write, conduct and complete a personnel review by 50%, would you take a moment to listen?”

This opener seems to offer a rich benefit. You’d think the prospect would be salivating. The trouble is, this opener has been overused for 27 years.  Every prospect has heard it at least seventeen or eighteen times in their career. And this has made them skeptical and cynical. High falutin’ promises and benefits are seen as slick and untrustworthy. So, when you offer your benefits, make them reasonable, not ridiculous.

Example #7:  “Dr. James, this is Tracie Hardie calling from Orbital Dental. We’re the dental specialists. Dr. James, we offer a wide range of  (insert a 600 word pitch) blah, blah, blah.”

Sadly, this is STILL the most common cold call opener: The telemarketing pitch. The idea is to vomit and spew out information and hope that something sticks. No one wants a monologue, sermon or speech. Your cold call opener must have your full name, company name, a reason for the call, a benefit as to why they should listen further, and finally a question that gets a dialog going.

Cold calling doesn’t have to a hellish experience. Give yourself an edge and make the process easier by avoiding these seven blunders.

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