Tag Archives: objections handling

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

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

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

The 2 Words

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

Word #1: You

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

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

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

How do you make the call about them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Word #2: Because

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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8 Things You Have in Common with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady

by Mark Hunter, www.thesaleshunter.com

If you’re in sales, what do you have in common with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady?

Don’t laugh, because you have more in common than you think. Let me give you 8 things:

1. You spend far more time preparing than you actually do selling or playing a game.

2. You can’t do your job without a sales plan or a playbook.

3. You can’t do your job without knowing something about your prospect or a scouting report.

4. You can’t do your job without feedback from your customers or your coaches.

5. You always face obstacles with the little things that get in the way or the fans who can annoy you.

6. You face objections each day just like they face tough defenses in every game.

7. You have bad sales calls you have to bounce back from quickly, just as they have bad games from which they have to bounce back.

8. You have amazing sales calls with amazing results, just as they can complete the pass no one expected.

Yes! You as a salesperson have far more in common with the great NFL quarterbacks than you maybe had first thought.  As much as we all have in common with them, there are a lot of differences.

The biggest difference between Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and a salesperson is probably the salary.  Sadly, another difference  worth looking closely at is commitment.

Aaron and Tom are committed to doing their job at a level that goes far beyond the level of commitment 99% of all salespeople have toward their job.

Let me leave you with one question.

How much more successful would you be if you were to increase your commitment level?  I’m not asking for it to go to the same level as Aaron and Tom give — I’m just asking, “What would happen if you stepped up your game?”

Only you know the answer.   It’s worth exploring.

Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunt” is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales and profitably build more long term customer relationships. To learn more visit his web site at www.thesaleshunter.com

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How to “Pitch’ Your Pitch

Here’s a nifty little way to position your presentation and your close: tell your client that you’re going to pitch them before you pitch them.

Much like a batter in baseball who is awaiting a pitch, your client knows your pitch is going to come at some point. The trick is to make  it easier for the client (and yourself) by giving your client a ‘verbal wind up’ so they are prepared for it. When they can ‘see’ the pitch coming they are more tuned in and listen more closely.   As such,  your client tends to better understand and evaluate your offer which in turn, reduces sales resistance in the form of smokescreen objections.  Of course, what it really does is increase your odds of making the sale.

So, like a pitcher on the mound, the idea is for you to go through a routine so that your  batter (client) know the ball is about to be thrown . The verbal wind up is easy and  consists of two elements.

Part I: Summarize & Verify

First, summarize the client’s situation and pain points that you uncovered in your questioning phase, and then verify summary to ensure that  the client agrees. For instance,

“Sandi, let me summarize your situation as I understand it .  You indicated that _______ (list your findings).  Is that correct?

Part II:  Tell Them You’re Going to Pitch

Second,  literally tell the client you’re going to pitch them  by using this trigger phrase:

“Okay…based on what you’ve told me here’s the pitch …<pause>.

Use these precise words.  Because it uses the baseball pitch metaphor, it tends to sound a little more casual and easy going; less business-like.  This tends to reduce buyer anxiety and makes the client a little more receptive to your message.  Be sure to pause for a second or two so your client can digest the thought.  Then present your product offer  and ask for the sale or appointment.

Too Simple?

Don’t be deceived by the  simplicity of the technique.  The verbal wind up is one of those persuasive and influential phrases that work exceedingly well  in any situation particularly in tele-sales.

Not only does your client benefit from its use but you do as well.  For most reps, there is a degree of anxiety at the moment of closing.  It  stems from a variety of reasons not the least of which is the fear of rejection. Using the pitch  as a quick preamble to your offer and close often helps relieve the anxiety. It removes the pretence of ‘selling.’   It provides an easy-going, no-nonsense method of letting the customer know what’s coming next. They know. You know.

Give it a shot!

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The 7 Little Lies Prospects Tell Telephone Sales Reps

One of the secrets for being more effective and successful in telephone sales is to know the types of objections you are likely to encounter.  When you do, you are never caught off guard because you are better prepared to deal with them.

For instance, here are the top 7 objections telephone reps typically encounter in the initial phase of a call; usually during or right after the opening statement.  I call them ‘white lies’ because the prospect tosses them out because they want to get rid of you not because they’re honest truths.

Lie #1: I’m in a meeting

When you hear this objection don’t you think, “Oh ya … then why did you answer the phone?”  This is a wonderful lie because it tends to make the caller feel slightly guilty that he/she interrupted.  It tends to work too.  Reps utter some sort of an vague apology and say they’ll call back.  Meanwhile, the lie worked in getting your call deflected.

Lie #2:  Call me back

This is a very clever lie because the prospect leaves you with the feeling of ‘hope.’  We kid ourselves into believing that she REALLY DOES want us to call back and so we fall for it. Sometimes we even suggest a time and a date to which they agree.  The only problem is the prospect is rarely there … thanks to call display and voice mail.

Lie #3:  Send me/e-mail me some Information

This is such a brush off.  Sort of a cousin to the ‘call me back’ lie, this objection creates a degree of hope.  I have watched reps gleefully stuff an envelope or spend 15 minutes composing a wonderful e-mail with 9 attachments, all the while confidently believing the prospect is waiting with baited breath.  Don’t hold your breath on this one either.  The grotesque majority don’t want your e-mail, letter or fax. They asked for it to get rid of you. Don’t fall for it.

Lie #4: I’m busy…

This is not really a lie but the net result is still the same.  Guiltily the telephone rep feels like he’s an intrusion and gets knocked off his game.  Quickly the valiant rep tries to recover by asking when would be a better time.  The prospect says, “There is no better time, you’ll have to just try later.”  The call comes to a grinding halt.

Lie #5: Don’t Need/Want Anything Right Now

Delivered politely, this little lie works like a charm almost every time.  The poor sales rep doesn’t want to appear pushy and aggressive so he or she backs off immediately. I mean if there’s no need then there’s no opportunity, right?  The call ends nicely with a promise by the rep to call back ‘in a few weeks.’  Meanwhile the prospect has dodged a sales bullet and goes on merrily with his day.

Lie #6: Send me a Quote /Proposal

Ouch! This is probably the nastiest of the white lies.  It’s nefarious because the prospect might well be wasting a lot of your time and effort getting you to do work that he or she will never seriously consider.  Proposals or quotes suggest that the client is serious about buying. Diligently and eagerly the rep takes the time to churn out a quote or proposal and makes countless follow up calls. Meanwhile, other, legitimate prospects are ignored or put aside.

Lie #7: Satisfied with Current Vendor

Like its friend, “Don’t Need Anything Right Now” this lie is usually based on a truth. It works because it deflates the eager drive of the unsuspecting sales rep.   We take the prospect at his word and dejectedly hang up.  The prospect may indeed be happy with his vendor but a whopping good offer or an exciting new product may turn his head.

 3 Steps to Managing Little White Lies

The trick to dealing with these lies/objections is not to cave in.  Use these three steps to get past the lie and get the client talking.

Step #1: Empathize.  No matter what the prospects throws at you simply pause and say, “I understand.”  It buys you some time to think and catches the prospect off guard a bit.

Step #2: Ignore it. It’s probably a lie (although in some cases it could well be the truth) anyway so trying to respond to it won’t solve the problem.

Step #3: Ask a compelling question.  Start with this trigger phrase, “Jim, one quick question before I let you go…”  Believe it or not, most prospects have a conscience. They know they mislead you and many of them feel slightly guilty. They will usually feel compelled to answer the question.

The trick is to ask a question that gets them thinking about a pain or a gain; a motivator; something that is compelling and out of the ordinary. For instance:

-A financial advisor might say, “Are you absolutely, 100% satisfied with your portfolio’s performance this year?” 

-A safety poster rep might ask, “Roughly how many man hours have you lost to industrial accidents over the last six months?”

-A sales trainer might inquire, “Are all your reps meeting and exceeding their sales quota for the year?”

– A TENS reps might ask a chiropractor, “Has the economic turn down had an impact on the revenues of your practise?”

Questions like these tend to give pause.  While they won’t always hook the prospect’s interest, some will.  If the question works, you can ask more because now the prospect is engaged. Mission accomplished.

This is where preparation and planning comes into play.  You KNOW with absolute and utter certainty that you’re going to encounter these seven little lies throughout your calling day.  If that’s true –and it is – then you need to have a strategy whereby you don’t fall for the lie and make a game of it by countering with a compelling thought, issue, concern, problem, opportunity.

Never be lied to again! Know the little white lies and have your counter question prepared.

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The 4 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

Good, effective tele-sales coaching is a process which means it’s a repeatable event that you can learn and master.

Here are the 4 steps to developing a meaningful coaching program that will get reps to modify their behavior, apply the feedback, and become better at selling.

SMAF Process

Coaching consists of four components referred to as SMAF: standards, monitoring, analyzing, and feedback

I. Standards

Perhaps the most important component of a good coaching program is setting the “standard.” The standard defines precisely what you expect from the tele-sales rep relative to the selling skills involved for the majority of the calls that are made.

For example, when your reps know what the ‘standard operating  procedure’ for opening a prospecting call or  handling knee jerk objections or qualifying a lead or  presenting a solution or closing  the sale etc.,  then there is no confusion. When you supply feedback relative to those standards, it’s not only objective it is anchored to a system or process. This fosters clarity and understanding. It makes compliance easier and more logical.

Sadly, most managers and companies haven’t identified their call standards. They let their reps wing it. And it explains why your feedback is lame and ineffective.

Do you have specified standards? Do your reps know what’s expected of them from a skills perspective?.

II. Monitor the Call

Monitoring the call means listening. Wander around and listen to what you hear on the floor. Or sit beside your rep and y-jack so you can hear both sides of the call. Or, if you can, record calls and listen closely. Better yet, do all three.

Monitor the call relative to the standard, not to what YOU think they should be saying. Monitor it to what they have been taught.

III. Analyze What You have Heard

After you have heard the call, stop and think before you provide feedback. Analyze what you have heard. Did the rep perform call to standard or not? So, for example, if you have defined 5 elements to an opening statement (e.g., full name, company name, reason for call, clearly defined benefit to the client, and a bridge to a question) ask yourself: did the rep implement the standard? If not, you have objective grounds for feedback.

If you have taught your rep that handling an objection requires four steps (Empathize, Clarify, Respond, Verify), you listen for those steps. If they are there, the process is ‘to standard’ and your feedback is not necessary (other than a pat on the back).

Take this time to craft how you want to present your feedback with each individual rep. Each of your reps has their own way of learning. Respect it and tailor your approach accordingly.

IV Provide the feedback

There are five steps to constructive feedback. First, ask your rep to provide feedback on how he/she though she did. Let he do the analysis first. Often the rep will  know precisely what needs ‘fixing’ in which case, she becomes  her own coach.

Second, concur with the rep or describe the behavior you observed. So  if  the rep is not aware of the non-standard performance, use questions to get them to focus e.g., “Janice, what were the 3-Steps we learned about handling knee jerk objections? And did you use the second step?”

Third, discuss ways to enhance, change or modify the behavior in question. “So Mark, what are some things you can do to remind yourself to add a benefit statement?”

Fourth, agree upon the action plan or task or idea to be implemented. So, if Mark though he should make a job aid  to hang from his wall to remind him of a process, agree to it.

Fifth, and maybe most important, acknowledge the improvement. At some point during the day, monitor a few calls and see if the changes are being made by your rep. Drift by the cubicle to see if the job aid has been hung from the wall. If improvements have been made, provide praise. If not, provide a reminder. Either way, the rep will begin to understand that you are serious about the feedback and they will begin the process of change.


Your role is to help your reps modify their behavior and make changes that will improve their skill sets.  In turn, this leads to more revenues.

The best feedback is objective based (hence, the standard) and interactive (hence, questions based).  Start your coaching program today and watch what happens to your sales results. You’ll be pleased and so will your reps!

For more information on how to be a better, more effective coach click here.

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Hidden Telephone Selling Gems – The 10 Best TelesalesMaster Articles of 2011

There’s over a hundred articles on this site. Pretty daunting, isn’t it? To make it easier for you, here are the 10 most popular articles on this site (and other sites!)

#1:  The ABCs of Tele-Sales – 26 Powerful Tips for Tele-Sales Success – In this article you’ll get even more links on variety of tele-sales skills and techniques.

#2:  7 Cold Call Opening Statements From Hell – If you don’t nail the cold call opener, you don’t have to worry about the rest of the call.  Here are 7 openers you want to avoid.

#3:  How to Leave a Killer Voice Mail Message (And Get Your Calls Returned) – Tired of a lack of response from your voice mail messages?  Try this one on for size.

#4:  How to Slay a Sales Slump in 15 Minutes or Less – We’ve all experienced a slump. This award winning article tells you how to manage it.

#5:  The 5 Voice Mail Messages From Hell -Are Your Guilty of One of These? – The reason why your voice mail messages aren’t being returned is probably because the messages are weak. Do you leave one of these messages?

#6:  8 Sales Questions You Can’t Live (and Sell) Without –  The key to telephone sales success is in the questions you ask.  Good questions mean good answers. Here are 8 good questions!

#7:  How Mr. Spock  Would Plan and Prepare for a Follow Up Call – This article not only provides you with practical tips but also a job aid that you can download and use to plan your next follow up call.

#8:  “I am not interested!”  Dealing with the Ultimate Brush Off Objection – We’ve all heard it and it’s a tough nut to crack.  This article provides a rather provocative strategy to dealing with it.

#9:  8 Tips on How to Make a Perfect Follow Up Call – By far and away, this has been the most read article I have ever written.  Thousands and thousands of hits around the world. Find out why.

#10: 5 Ways to Overcome the Dreaded “Let Me Think About It” Objection – Don’t be caught off guard when a prospect tosses out this objection.  Here are 5 ways to deal with it.

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How to Handle the EARLY “I’m Not Interested” Objection

This blog post  was written by Art Sobczak.  Visit his web site at www.businessbyphone.com or check out his #1 selling book Smart Calling.

When prospecting, even if you do everything I suggest in Smart Calling, point-by-point perfectly, and deliver what you feel is a tailored, value-packed opening statement, you will still get people who respond with some variation of “I’m not interested,” or, “We’re happy with what we’re doing.”

Expect it. Don’t be deterred by it. And prepare for it.

Resistance after hearing an opening statement from an unknown caller is a natural, conditioned reaction for many people. And it usually works in attempts to blow sales reps off the phone. Except you, of course; because you’ll have some conversational ways to get the prospect talking, which really is the key to keeping the call alive, and creating an opportunity.

Resistant Reflex Responses

I have a name for these kinds of inherent reactions that sales calls tend to elicit from prospects: Resistant Reflex Responses (RRR’s).

They simply are a natural reflex for many people; like ducking if an object is flying at your head. It’s instinctive. Not much thought goes into them; they just happen.

Trying to counter them with logic is tough, since, well, what would you be arguing against? We haven’t heard anything of substance yet other than the response.

And you don’t want to use a goofy retort that some sales books suggest: “Well of course you aren’t interested, I haven’t given you anything to be interested in yet!” Give me a break.

So what should you do?

Get them talking — which moves their mind away from their reflexive response and on to something of substance.

Use a “Pattern Interrupt”

A model of communication called Neuro Linguistic Programming that was popularized by many self-help gurus over the past 20 years (most notably Tony Robbins) espouses a theory and technique called a “pattern interrupt.” Without causing your eyes to glaze over in boredom, let me simplify it for our purposes:

When people do or say something automatically, it’s called a pattern. If you do something that stops that pattern and gets them talking or thinking about something else, then that is a pattern interrupt. In what city were you born?

That last question was a pattern interrupt. You were reading along, and I interrupted you with a question that likely caused you to think about the answer. (Or wonder if I had gone off the deep end.) Either way, using a pattern interrupt when you hear a Resistant Reflex Response, causes someone to answer a question.

For example,

Prospect: “I’m not interested.”

Sales rep: “I see. Where are you now getting your compressors?”

Here’s another:

Prospect: “We’re all set.”

Sales rep: “I understand. When is your next project coming up?”

One more:

Prospect: “We wouldn’t need that.”

Sales rep: “Oh. How are you now handling written-off receivables?”
This is not difficult to execute. You simply need to anticipate the RRRs you are likely to hear, or if you have placed calls for more than a day, you already know which ones you hear. Then you prepare your response.

Your tone plays a vital role in determining the success of your reply. Use a soft, almost surprised-maybe even disappointed–tone of voice.

By no means do you want to seem confrontational. We want them to open up and drop their shield — not feel threatened.

You might think that you’re likely to hear something like, “Look, what part of I’m not interested do you not understand?” after your response; and you would be right. This certainly won’t work every time; nothing does. However, you may at least be able to salvage some opportunities that you would not have gotten otherwise; possible sales you can cash in on either now or in the future. Your return on your tiny time investment is huge, and you have nothing to lose.

The Softening Statement

You might have noticed that before asking the question in each of the examples above, I used a few words such as “Oh,” “I see,” and “I understand” to diffuse tension and soften the question. I suggest you do the same.

Fellow sales trainer and founder of the prospecting system “Unlock the Game™” Ari Galper suggests a great softening statement: “That’s not a problem.” Then he recommends diffusing the tension with something like, “I’m not trying to replace your current vendor. Would you be open to some different ideas that you might not be using now?”

Encountering early resistance is a natural part of prospecting. Understanding it is not a real objection, and being prepared to respond will result in more opportunities for you.

Perhaps the most noted expert in the world of B2B tele-sales training  in North America (and beyond) Art Sobczak is president of Business by Phone (www.businessbyphone.com) Art  has been a friend, golf partner, mentor, publisher and BBQ buddy for over 26 years. Visit his web site, sign up for his newsletter, buy his books … his stuff is the best.

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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.


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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3 Steps to Building a More Powerful Tele-Sales Message

Do you oversell your product or service? Do you sometimes inundate your prospect with reams of features, facts and data?  You know what I mean: go overboard.

Or are you just the opposite?  Do you tend to undersell your product or service? Do you sometimes minimize and trim the details of your offer? You know what I mean here:  you skimp.

Most tele-sales reps fall into one or the other category.  But the real problem is how much information is too much and how little information is too little? It’s rather subjective.

The Rule of 3

In fact, it’s not.

It seems that the ideal ‘number’ of points to make when communicating to a client or prospect is three. Three is the magic number that strikes a fine balance between too little information and too much.

Why is this?

Well, naturally enough, there are three reasons.  First, making three points (e.g., providing three features, or three explanations, of three ideas) is an easy number for most listeners to absorb and comprehend. Three is a manageable amount of information that can be easily remembered.  Anything more than that gets confusing, cluttered and ultimately lost …left unremembered.  In fact, beyond three and clients tend to turnoff.  They are either bored or they sense it is too complex.

Second, three points or features or items create a sense of weight and value.  Think of weights being placed a scale: one… two…three.  The balance shifts and one gets a sense of significance to your offer.  Three feels and sounds important; hefty but not heavy.  While only one key point can be significant in selling and make a difference, two more points simply pads your bets.

Finally, three is a manageable number for you to remember and deliver with conviction and authority. This does not mean you should only know three key points about your product or service. There might be five, six, seven or more key points that you may have to haul out depending on the situation.  What it means is that you should only deliver three of those points at any one time.  This means you can streamline your sales message.  Your call is shorter and clearer.  Clients will like it and so will you.

The Secret of Great Speakers

Listen to some of the great speakers and communicators of our time.  Read speeches by great leaders.  You will notice that most of them will focus on three central points… no more.  These people understood their listener and human nature.  They understood that the average individual can only manage so much detail.  This is why their plans, strategies, suggestions and ideas are very often 3-point platforms.

3 Ways to Use the Rule of 3

Sales Messages

Use the rule of three when developing your sales message.  For example, if you have a unique feature regarding a software product that you sell, provide the buyer with three key points about that feature.  This makes the feature significant without making it confusing.  If your entire product is unique, build a case with three key selling points and/or three benefits.

Objections Handling

If your prospect says, ’why your product, why your company or why you’,  have a three point reply.  Simply say, “Good question. There are three reasons why you should consider us.”   If your prospect is curious about who uses your product or if they want references, give them three names.


One of the most effective ways to get a prospect engaged and listening is to say, “Mark, I have just three quick questions I would like to ask.”  Most prospects will grant you those three questions because they are manageable. But if they are GOOD questions – questions that have been well thought out- you’ll discover they will allow you more.  But if they don’t, at least you’ll have three good pieces of information.


Of course, what the Rule of 3 really does is it makes you THINK ahead of time. It gets you to PLAN and it forces you to be PREPARED when the moment arrives.  The Rule of 3 makes you more focused and articulate when selling. It literally will make you a better, more effective and successful sales person.  Use it.

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6 Ways to Avoid Being Duped by Your Prospect (how to handle smokescreen objections)

Are you being duped and mislead by your prospects?

Do you ever get that sinking feeling that the objections they are giving you are false? Or worse, do you suspect your prospects are dodging your follow up calls and ignoring your voice mails after you have send out literature or faxed a quote or e-mailed out a lengthy proposal?

If this sounds all too familiar you are not alone.

Everyday and everywhere tele-sales reps around the world are falling victim to the common smokescreen.  A smokescreen is a false objection or a misleading request uttered by your prospects in effort to slough you off and get you off the phone. But the real problem is this: a smokescreen is identical to a legitimate objection or request for action. Recognizing and handling a smokescreen and differentiating it from a legitimate objection can save you considerable time and effort and a whole lot of frustration.   Here’s how you do it.

Recognizing a Smokescreen

The first thing to understand is this: smokescreens occur at or near the end of the phone call usually when you are trying to close or advance the sale.  Because they occur at the end of the call there is often a strong belief that they are legitimate: after all, you got this far in the call, certainly the prospect is keen, right? Don’t fall for it. You need to determine if you’ve got the real thing or if you are being duped.

Vague Smokescreen

The second thing to understand is that there are two types of objections.  The first type is the ‘vague smokescreen’ and as the name implies, it is an objection that is elusive, unclear, odd or out of place; vague. It could well be legitimate but you kind of get the feeling it could be hiding something else. Here are some classic vague smokescreens:

“It’s too pricey”

“I need to think about it’

“It’s not in the budget”

“I need to speak to my partner/boss/co-workers”

Specific Smokescreen

The second type is the ‘specific smokescreen’ and it has all the earmarks of being the real thing because the prospect is seeking some sort of action from you; you have to DO something. And because you have to DO something, specific smokescreens are the worst because you need to invest time and effort.  Here are some classic specific smokescreens:

“Send me something in the mail”

“E-mail me a proposal and I’ll take a look at it”

“Fax me a quote and I will get back to you”

“Call me next month”

The 2 Step Process

There are two simple steps to determining if you have a smokescreen and if you are being duped: pause and clarify.

Step #1: Pause

The first step is easy. Simply pause after the prospect has tossed out the possible smokescreen. The primary reason for pausing is that it prevents you from responding too quickly (and perhaps too flippantly). It also buys you time to figure out what clarifying technique you will used to determine if you have a smokescreen.

Step #2: Clarify

The second step is to seek clarification. Your objective here is to get the prospect open up and explain and/or justify their vague or specific smokescreen. To do this you need to question your prospect.  Here are the 5 best clarification techniques for smokescreens:

6 Ways to Avoid Being Duped

1. The Deafening Silence Technique

Here is one of the most powerful techniques for smokescreens.  When the prospect tosses out a smokescreen don’t reply. Don’t say a single word. Let the silence do the talking.

On the telephone, silence is perceived as three to six times longer than it really is. You’ll feel awkward with the silence but so will your prospect.  When you don’t respond right away, it creates a noticeable vacuum in the conversation and that in turn creates a sense ‘discomfort’ with your prospect. They are not sure why there is silence and they feel the compelling need to fill the gap.  What usually happens is your prospect rushes to fill that empty space by elaborating on their initial smokescreen. Often you will get the real objection by sitting quietly.

2. The I-Am-Not-Sure-I-Understand Technique

This is a really wonderful technique to handle vague objections and requires only six words. When a prospect gives you a vague smokescreen, simply say,

“I am not sure I understand…”

Your tone is important here. You must sound like you are a bit confused, humble, hesitant and a bit surprised as though to say “your objection doesn’t make sense, help me out.” The prospect will pick up your uncertainty and most of them will seek to explain further.  By the way, this technique is extremely effective for the “I need to think about it” smokescreen. Just remember that after you utter those six little words, don’t say a thing. Let the silence do the talking.

3. The Advance Technique

The advance technique is superb for specific smokescreen because it forces the client to commit to an action in return for your action. For example, suppose the prospect says, “E-mail me a proposal and I will take a look at it.’  Your reply goes like this:

“Horatio, I would be glad to e-mail that proposal over to you. I can get that done by tomorrow afternoon and what I would like to recommend is that we set up Thursday – the day after tomorrow, to discuss it in detail and determine the next steps, if any. How does 8:40 on Thursday look on your calendar?”

The key to making the advance work is getting the client to commit to a follow up DATE and a follow up TIME.  If Horatio agrees to your date and time, you probably have a legitimate request. If he balks, offer an alternative date and time. If he balks yet again, ask him for a specific date and time within the NEXT week.  If Horatio can’t commit, you probably have a smokescreen.

If that’s the case, try drawing a line in the sand and say,

“Horatio, I am a little uncomfortable with preparing a proposal if we can’t commit to a follow up time and date. If now is not the time to quote on your needs, I understand, and what I would like to recommend is that I give you a call next quarter and assess your situation then. How does that sound?”

If your prospect agrees to a follow up sometime next quarter, great, you’ve just dodged the smokescreen.  Mission accomplished. And while you didn’t get the sale, you did avoid the time and effort in preparing the proposal and the time in effort in making follow up call after follow up call.

4. The Removal Technique

This technique is particularly good for vague smokescreens especially price and budget. The idea is to remove the objection and see how the prospect responds. For instance,

“Ms. Sidle, “I understand your concern about price (or budget). Let me ask, if price (or budget) was not an issue, would you proceed with the purchase?”

If the prospect says ‘yes, absolutely’ then you have any number of options available to you. For example, you could negotiate, you could offer special terms, you could research other places where funds might be available or you might defer payment…whatever. But if they balk at these suggestions or ideas, chances are you have a full blown smokescreen. It means something isn’t sitting right and it’s your job to figure out what’s the objection behind the objection.

5. The Are-You-Bought-In Technique

Here is a great clarification technique for the prospect who tosses out a vague objection like ‘I need to check with my boss.’ You reply,

“Mr. Wolfe, I recognize it is important to speak with your boss on this purchase but let me ask you: are you personally bought into the solution I have recommended.  Do I have your endorsement?”

Listen carefully here. If the prospects waffles or if he hums and haws or if he tosses out another concern, you’ve got a smokescreen. Most prospects don’t want to totally misrepresent themselves. If they have other concerns, they will often utter them and now you have a better idea of what is holding them back.

6. Call Their Bluff

This last technique is somewhat similar to the above because it calls for a little boldness. It works particularly well for specific objections.  Delivered sincerely it can quickly help decipher if the prospect is yanking your chain or not.  Suppose the prospect asks you to send literature (brochures, white papers, case studies etc.). Here’s how you might reply:

“Catherine, I will be more than happy to send all this material to you but let me ask you candidly: is this material something you’ll be seriously reviewing with an intent to purchase? If not, I understand, and I would be glad to follow up next quarter.


When you think you’ve uncovered a smokescreen, you need to question further to determine the true objection. Sometimes you need to back up and verify if there is truly a need and the urgency of that need. Whatever the case may be, don’t be duped by what the client says. Take the time to test the objection or the request for action.  What this will really do for you is help you focus your time and effort on those who are truly interested in purchasing.

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Are you Guilty? The Top 7 Mistakes B2B Tele-Sales Reps Make

Using the telephone to prospect and sell is tough enough without making matters worse.  Here is a little of the Top 7 mistakes the most B2B tele-sales reps typically make.  Are you guilty?

1. Not Having a Clearly Defined Call Objective

When calling there are two objectives: the prime objective and secondary objectives. The prime objective is the #1 thing you want to accomplish on this particular call. And no, the primary objective is not always to get the sale. The sale maybe three calls down the line. Primary objectives could be such things as determining if budget is available, identify ALL the key decision makers, spending time getting to know the client on a personal level, learning more about the company.  Primary objectives are what you MUST accomplish. Finish this phrase: at the end of this call I want to ________.

Secondary objectives are things you would like to accomplish. If you don’t achieve them, no problem; perhaps some other time. Secondary objectives are ‘nice to haves’ but not necessary to have.

Knowing your objectives provides you with focus and concentration. They dictate your opening, questioning, presenting, objections handling and advancing at the sale. They make you work smarter, faster and more successful.

2. Winging it – Not Having a Plan

Winging it refers to picking up the phone and hoping you have achieve your primary objective (if you have one).  Planning a call means knowing having a decent opening statement that engages the client, having questions prepared, listing key points you want to make, noting an objections you might encounter and having a close or an advance. It takes less than thirty seconds.

3. Poor Opening Statement

Most opening statements are lame and typically, uninspiring. A good opening statement features a benefit that intrigues the prospect (or the existing customer) to tune in and listen a little longer. A good opener differentiates your call and increases your chances of achieving your call objectives.

4. Surrendering to Objections

Whether they come at the beginning of a call or at the end of a call, objections are part of tele-sales and should not come as a surprise. Yet many reps respond as though they have never heard someone say, “I’m busy right now,” or “E-mail me something” or “Call me next week” and simply surrender to the comment. Don’t quit so easily. Learn how to respond to the classic objections by using questioning to determine if the objection is legitimate or false.

5. Failing to Ruthlessly Qualify

Some reps are so dang glad they’ve reached a live person who is willing to talk to them that they immediately jump to the pitch or the offer. They babble like brooks and hope that something they’ve flung out there will stick. Smart reps use questions to determine key information and whether it is worth their time and effort to pursue. Ruthlessly qualify and determine such critcal information such as is there a legitimate need, who are the decision makers, is budget available, when would a decision occur or whatever else you need to continue the sales cycle.

6. Failure to Get Firm Commitment

Some tele-sales reps make the mistake of failing to get commitment to the next step of the sales cycle.  For instance, the client agrees to reviewing a proposal and the reps says, “Great, I’ll call you next week.” That’s vague. Getting commitment means two things: getting the client to agree to some sort of actions (a webinar, a tele-seminar, review a proposal, examine a quote etc.) and agreeing to a date and time for the next step.  For instance, “Okay Mike, I’ll sign you up for tomorrow’s webinar and what I’d like to do is recommend we set up Thursday morning to review your thoughts and determine the next steps if any. How does 9:15 look on your calendar for then?”

7. Not Being Persistent in Following Up

About 87% of tele-sales reps give up after one attempt at cold calling or follow up. About 97% give up after the second attempt. To avoid this mistake, you need to go beyond one or two follow ups. Think three, four or five follow ups spaces about three days apart. Use voice mail and e-mail. Be polite but be persistent.

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