Tag Archives: objections

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

by Kelley Robertson, www.fearless-selling.ca

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

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

1. Fear of rejection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ‘budget’ is one of the most ambiguous – and consequently, most frustrating- objections in the world of telephone sales.  If you can learn how to effectively master the budget objections you’ll close more sales, plain and simple.

Here’s the problem: there are several ways to interpret the “it’s not in the budget” objection:

  • Is your client saying, there’s budget available but your price exceeds that which has been allocated? Or,
  • Is your client saying, there is no budget for this particular item at all? Or,
  • Is your client saying, we’ve got budget – maybe lots of it- but wants to chisel the price down? Or
  • Is the client really saying, “I am not interested” but is being nice about it? Or,
  • Is the client hiding another objection behind the budget smokescreen?

Clearly you can’t tackle the budget objection without some clarification. There are 3 steps to get you started:

Step #1: Pause

This is a bit theatrical but very effective on the phone. When you hear the budget objection pause for a brief second. This will do two things for you. First, it buys you a little more time to formulate your response and second, it gets your clients attention; they hear the silent gap and zero in on your next string of words.

Step #2:  Acknowledge the Objection

After you’ve paused respond by saying , “I understand,” or “budgets are important” or something similar.  By doing so you’ve acknowledged you have heard the objection and that you’re not dismissing it. You legitimize it.  This reduces tension between the buyer and seller. It relaxes them and makes them open to further probing.

Step #3:  Clarify if budget is indeed the true objection.

Here are some ways you can clarify if the ‘budget’ is the real issue or something else:

“Chris, suppose budget was not an issue would my product/service provide the fit you’re looking for?”

“Pat, when you say budget do you mean that the price of (your product) exceeds the amount you have set aside for such a purchase?”

“Kelly, apart from budget is there anything else that would hold you back from purchasing?”

If Budget is not the objection….

Obviously what you are trying to do is determine if budget is truly the issue that is preventing the sale.  By isolating the budget the client must articulate further.  If there are other issues that are holding them back this is where they’ll crop up.  Usually you hear things like,

“Ah … well… you know…we’ve been buying from ABC for 15 years now and …”

“Well … I’d really have to check with my boss on that …”

“Budget’s important but we are really quite comfortable with our current system…”

“I …er… am a little concerned maybe it’s a little too much for what we need…”

The good news is that now you know it’s not really an issue of budget (or it might be budget PLUS something else).  At this stage you need to pursue a new line of questioning to determine if the latest objection is also a smokescreen. But whatever the case may be, you are beginning to peel back the onion and are getting down to the core objection.

If Budget is the true objection

If  your client pipes up that he/she loves the product and it would work wonders for them but the money is not there, you can respond in a couple of ways:

Budget Buster Option #1: Work Within Their Budget

Again, turn to questioning  to help you respond.  Go ahead and ask your client what they do have established as a budget.  You might frame it like this,

“Jeff, I’d like to see if there might be a solution here.  Let me ask, what do you typically budget for this type of product?”  (or, “What do you have budgeted for this project?”)  If the client is seriously interested in your offer they’ll usually cough up a number because they want a solution.

Once the number is out there you can try to work with it.  There are several ways to do just that:

–          Do you have a ‘lite’ version of your solution (same product but perhaps with less features, bells and whistle) that fits their budget?

–          Is there an alternative product (a different make or type ) that will do the same job?

–          Can you reduce the quantity to meet their immediate requirements?

Budget Buster Option #2: Find the Budget For Them

In this scenario, you act as a ‘consultant’ helping the client look for extra dollars or value.  Here are a few ideas;

–          Outline the additional benefits of your offer (i.e., show the value of the product; for instance,  the productive capacity is 18% greater which offsets the cost over the long run)

–          In a  similar manner, toss in something extra to ‘sweeten’ the deal  (which stretches the budget dollar further e.g., a warranty)

–          Ask if there are other departments or groups that can help with the budget (perhaps they derive some benefit as well?)

–          Ask about ‘contingency’ funds or special  reserves that most companies have for situations exactly like these

–          Offer financing to ‘ease the financial strain’ over a period of time

–          Determine if there is a ‘higher court of appeal’ i.e., find out who can approve the deal if there’s a case to be made

–          Perhaps offer a discount

Summary

Budget objections don’t have to be deal breakers.  If they are legitimate you can make a stab at overcoming them.  If they are not legitimate, you have another shot at finding out the true objection.  Either way, you are further ahead then you were.

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How to Avoid Sales Sinking Objections

Last week I was flicking through the channels on TV and stumbled across the movie “The Titanic”. The Titanic had just managed to avoid hitting the iceberg and had veered to port.  But of course, it was too late and we all know the rest of the story.

At that moment I couldn’t help but think of sales objections…Hidden Objections Can Sink Your Sales Ship

How so?

Objections are precisely like icebergs in that there are usually two parts. There’s the part that sits on the surface: the objection that is presented by the client; the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’.  But there’s also the part that lies treacherously below the surface: the hidden objection that is not expressed; the real ‘underlying’ objection. It is the big looming reason why a client might resist your offer and not buy.

The Titanic avoided the tip of the iceberg much like a sales rep might handle a surface objection like “your price is too high.” But the iceberg jutted out below the surface and ripped a 299 foot gash in the hull of the ship forty feet below the surface.

In sales, there are often objections that are not expressed for one reason or another that can cause an equivocal gash in your sales effort.  Some clients don’t give you the real objection because they haven’t articulated it yet in their own minds; some are simply resisting the urge to buy; others do it automatically.  The point is there can be any number of reasons.

3 steps to Avoiding “Objectionsbergs”

The process to avoid the ‘objectionsberg’ and keeping your sales ship afloat is to determine what lies below the surface.  There are 3 steps:

Step #1: Acknowledge

When the berg was sited the first thing the Titanic did was turn to port and stop engines.  In other words, it tried to slow down.  Same thing in sales. By acknowledging the objection you slow the objections process down; you buy time.  The best way to acknowledge the objection is to agree/acknowledge to it.

Suppose the client says, “E-mail me a proposal (or price list or quote or fact sheet or brochure or whatever).”  Pause for a moment and simply say, “I’ll be glad to.”  By doing the client feels the request has been heard and is being honoured.  This reduces their resistance and gives you a second or two to move onto step two.

Step #2: Clarify

The second step is to use questioning to clarify and determine if the objection posed is the authentic objection (and some are) or if there are other objections lurking deeper below the surface. You accomplish this by asking a question that gets the client to elaborate and provide you with additional information.  For instance, you might say,

“So that I can put that proposal together, let me ask you a few more questions.”

“So that I am not e-mailing a pile of irrelevant documents, let me ask you a couple of more questions.”

“So that I can present you with the best possible quote, let me ask you…”

“Before I send you a price list, I’d like to get a better feel for some of the products you typically use and the quantities of each…”

Your questions should delve deeper into a potential need or problem. You want the client to engage with you.  If he expands on the questions and provides good information, chances are the objection is real.  But if he is elusive and vague, it might well be a false objection.

Step #3:  Re-Verify

The final step is to re-verify.  This is a nifty little step that does two things. First, it provides added reassurance that the prospect is legitimate about the objection, and second it can help give you perspective on how to keep the sales cycle moving.

One of the best ways to do this is to create a hypothetical situation that gets the client to articulate the ‘next steps’ in the sales process.  Here are some examples,

“Jackson, if you like what you see on the proposal, explain to me what would happen next?”

“Cheri, let’s suppose the quote is in range, what would be the next steps in moving forward?”

“Kerrie, assuming the testimonials I send are satisfactory, how do you see us proceeding?”

 Summary

By identifying false objections you avoid a Titanic-like iceberg on two levels.  First, if you uncover the ‘real’ objection that lurks below the surface, you have an opportunity to address it.  In other words, you have an opportunity to proceed further in the sale because you are dealing with real issues, not false.

Second, while you might not proceed further with the sale, you do save yourself time and effort.  Taking time to write a proposal, send a quote, or forward information not to mention making countless follow up calls that are never returned takes away from the time you could be spending on legitimate clients.

Avoid objections icebergs by determining what lies beneath the surface.

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Buyers are Liars

by Invoke Selling

Okay, this may seem cynical – it may seem over the top.  I am not saying that buyers are bad people. I am not saying I’ve formed this opinion from bitterness.  I am certainly not saying you should jump down a buyer’s throat every time they tell you something.

However, Your ability to have the mindset that buyers are liars is vital to your success as a sales person.  Think about it this way – a good friend of yours, or even your spouse: You know when something is up, they have their tells that set your radar off and you realize something is not right.  You begin to probe and ask what’s going on or what’s wrong. You almost never get a real answer the first time – and typically you don’t get a real answer a couple questions in.  You try to make them comfortable, and console them – get them to trust that they can confide in you, perhaps even use a little comic relief.  Eventually they open up and tell you what’s really going on.  If you stopped  with “what’s wrong?” you would never find out their troubles and you wouldn’t be able to help.

People are people – buyers are no different.  They are not going to tell us the truth right away, they are going skim around the top of the problem.  It is you responsibility as the sales person to ask the right questions to dive to the heart of the problem.  Unless you are able to get the buyer to open up and share with you what’s really going on in their organization – you will not be able to win the business

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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 ABCs of Tele-Sales – 26 Powerful Tips for Tele-Sales Success

A is for “ask for the sale” or “advance the sale. Don’t leave a call lingering by NOT asking for the order.  Close it, for Pete’s sake.  Or if you have a longer sales cycle “advance” it by asking the client for some sort of action (accept a proposal, quote, attend a webinar etc.) and then getting a commitment for follow up DATE and Time.  Go here for more information (http://www.telesalesmaster.com/category/closing-and-advancing-the-sales/ )

B is for “body language.” In tele-sales there is no body language. The tone of your voice accounts for about 85% of your message. This means you must deliver your message with conviction.  People are more convinced by the depth of that conviction than the height of your logic. (Go here for more information:  http://www.telesalesmaster.com/892/uncategorized/)

C is for cross sell. Increase the average value of a sale on 20% of your orders by as much as 25% by offering a related item at the end of every call, when appropriate.  You’ll not only educate your customer you’ll put more change in your pocket.  (Go here for more information http://www.telesalesmaster.com/946/add-on-selling/)

D is for Discipline… especially when it comes to prospecting (cold calling). Schedule it. Then do it. When it’s time to dial, dial.  If your day starts at 8:30, start dialing at 8:30. Or earlier. Not 8:50. Not 8:45. Not 8:35. Arrive on time. Start on time. Stick to it. It is your diet to good sales.

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How Mr. Spock Would Plan and Prepare for a Follow Up Call

Mr. Spock, the venerable Vulcan from Star Trek would make a heck of a B2B telephone rep especially when it comes to making a follow up call to a prospect.

In many ways, a follow up call is more significant and critical than the initial cold call.  While the cold call may have initiated the sales cycle, the follow up call (or calls) completes it. It is here that the prospect turns into a customer … or at least takes another step down the path to becoming a customer.    Whether you are following up on a proposal or quote or webinar or whatever, making the most of the moment is the key to success.

Enter Spock.

Just in case you have never followed Star Trek,  Vulcans are a humanoid species that value and cherish logic above emotion.  They are trained from birth to think, analyze, and prepare for virtually every situation and event.  And that’s precisely why Spock would be magnificent with his follow up calls. His dedication to logic and planning would ensure a highly effective call and increase his chances for a sale.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be from another planet to be successful with your follow up. All you need to do is apply Spock-like principles to the planning and preparation of your call.  To help you with the process here is a downloadable call guide to get you thinking like a Vulcan.

Mr. Spock’s Tele-Prospecting Follow Up Call Guide

Spock’s tele-prospecting follow up guide is really nothing more than a job aid that you can use with each and every follow up call. It provides you with a 7-step process for organizing and planning your call.

1. Background Information and Assessment

The first step to a Spock-like call begins with a review of your last call to the prospect.  What was the key motivator that you uncovered? What were the hot buttons? Was there any personal information you can use to build rapport?  Note these items in the space provided on your guide.

Of course, all this really does is force you to pause and ponder.  It gets you to think before you dial. It takes only seconds but it will give you insights on how to proceed.

2. Objectives of the Call

It would not be logical for Spock to pick up the phone without having clearly defined objectives. Objectives force you to precisely determine what you want to achieve on the call.  Spock’s call guide forces you to prepare at least three objectives.

The prime objective (#1)  is the ultimate goal for that particular call. In a perfect world, this is THE NUMBER ONE thing you want to achieve.  In many cases, that objective is a sale but depending on the nature of the transaction, it might be something that moves the sale further through the cycle. Either way, it is definitively established.

But Spock’s approach  goes two steps further by getting you to establish at least two additional back up objectives. These are goals you would like to achieve in addition to the primary objective. Or they might goals you’d like to achieve if the primary goal is NOT met.  In other words, it is a means of salvaging the call should a sale or an advance not occur.

3. Opening Statement

Spock would never speak to the prospect without having prepared his opening statement because he would know that this is the most critical component toa follow up call. It is here, at this precise moment, that the prospect’s interest must be re-kindled and nurtured. Prospects are busy. They either forget what prompted them to agree to your follow up or, over  time, the sense of urgency has diminished.

Whatever the case may be, it is vital that you quickly bring the prospect up to speed to capture and keep their interest. Prepare your opener word for word and don’t wing it.

After introducing yourself and your company, take the prospect back to the prime motivator that was uncovered in the initial cold call AND the benefit that you could provide.  This gets the client engaged and actively listening! Secondly, provide an agenda of what you’d like to accomplish in the call. This primes the client for the remainder of the call. It creates focus and efficiency. For example,

“Hi Carson, It’s Mr. Spock calling from Trek Training.

Carson ,when we  last spoke on Monday you indicated that the average value of your sales were down and this was impacting your bottom line.  At that time I promised to send you some ideas on how add on selling training could help improve the average value of a sale by as much as 25%. I sent that on Tuesday.

What I’d like to do is explore your situation a little further,  review the proposal I sent and, if it makes sense, determine the next steps, if any, relative to training…”

4. Key Question, Key Points, Potential Objections

Bearing in mind your objectives, prepare three other elements to your follow up call.

First,  prepare a few ‘killer’ questions to gather more information and ‘build your case’ for a sale. Killer questions are those that get the prospect to THINK.  For instance, questions that get the prospect to quantify the ‘pain’ they’re experiencing . In turn, this magnifies the need for your solution.

Second, prepare a  list of 1-3 key selling points that support the solution that you’re offering.  Jotting these points down will  act as a prompt when you present.. It ensures you don’t forget!

Finally, Vulcans know all about contingency planning. Objections can derail your call in a New York minute.  Listing the typical objections that the prospect might toss helps ensure you’re not caught off guard.  It takes only seconds but it gets your mind oiled and greased.

5. Notes

Spock probably doesn’t need to take notes because he has a mind like a steel trap. But unless you have that Vulcan-like quality taking notes is a heck of a way to stay focused and to remember key points, objections or issues. Don’t argue. Just do it.

6. Actions Plans

Spock’s guide also provides space for you to list any actions that might ensue as a result of your call. Of course, a sale would be great but sometimes you need to take a few additional steps to move the cycle forward.  Whatever the case, note it.

7. Voice Mail Strategy

If Spock called and the prospect was not there at the appointed time,  he’d have his voice mail prepared and ready to go. He would not stutter and stumble and ramble about.  Do the same thing.

Summary

Spock’s call guide is not complex.  In fact, it is common sense.  Vulcans have common sense in abundance. Humans sales reps often don’t. Ultimately, the call guide creates a discipline process that trains your mind to thinking in a logical, step-by-step process. All it takes is a couple of minutes to complete. Peanuts.  Use this guide to provide structure, direction and focus. When you do, you’ll get better results.

Sell well and prosper!

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

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

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

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

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

Habit #1: Great Closer are Prepared for the Close

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

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

Objectives

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

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

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

The Strategy

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

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

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

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

The Close or the Advance

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

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

Summary

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

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How to Instantly Become a Better Listener in 5 Minutes or Less

One of the challenges with telephone selling is listening.

Listening is tough in a non-face-to-face situation because it is easy to get distracted and hard to stay focused especially if it’s the 23rd call of the day. The net result is that key points are missed, certain questions are not asked, important objections are never answered, follow up items are forgotten, and action items and details are lost.

And that is how YOU lose sales.

The Secret to Listening

The secret to improving your listening ability on the telephone is to listen with a pen in your hand and a pad of paper on your desk. Take notes.

Not a very exciting or sexy solution, is it? But it really is THAT basic, THAT fundamental and THAT effective. Taking notes in a journal or on a sheet of paper is common sense and has been around for about five or six centuries but in this ‘high tech’ age it seems to be a skill that has been lost or forgotten or ignored.

Taking notes may not  be new but it is still is a hela ‘uva way to improve your listening, become more attentive and make more sales.

10 Good Reasons Why You Should Take Handwritten Notes

1.       Taking notes forces your head down.  You can’t peer out the window. You can’t see the commotion around you.  You don’t notice your buddies goofing off.  You are less liable to get distracted or flustered. This creates greater focus and concentration!

2.       With a pen in your hand you can jot down questions that you want to ask the client without interrupting him or her.  If the client babbles on, you won’t forget them.

3.       When your client tosses out an objection or expresses a concern, you can note it. Put a star beside it, circle it or underline it.  And then, when appropriate, you can return to it and address the issue. It won’t fester.

4.       Taking notes is interactive.  You are using your ears AND your eyes AND your hand. You triple, your focus and triple your comprehension and retention.

5.       With notes, you can summarize your clients’ situation, problems or opportunities. They’ll be stunned, amazed and delighted with your thorough and comprehensive recap.   This will give them immense confidence in you and your abilities. Makes you look smart.  It gives you a competitive edge.

6.       Taking notes reduces the chance of errors in an order, quote or proposal.  This saves you time and hassle. And embarrassment.

7.       You can use the notes to thoroughly debrief your manager if you need to discuss an issue or an opportunity.

8.       Handwritten notes provide a permanent record that can be accessed anytime.  You can go back and review the discussion whenever necessary … for whatever reason.  Nice ‘insurance’ policy for any number of reasons.

9.       Notes allow you to gather important data such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, web sites, quantities, colors, sizes, …whatever.  Your accuracy improves.

10.   Note taking on paper allows you to group ideas and information.  For example, if the client expressed three concerns over a 3 minute dialog, you can group those three concerns together to ensure that they are covered.

Keying Data on Your Computer?

Sure, you can take notes on a computer.  But most people don’t type that well or that fast. They get fatigued trying to keep up… and so they quit.  Often there is little room for notes. Sometimes there’s no room for notes at all. Keying is not nearly as efficient or effective.

But here’s the important thing.  The notes you take by hand are not necessarily the notes you place in your customer profile.  The notes by hand are designed to get you listening and keep you focused. The information you put in the computer is the data you want permanently stored; data that others can see and use.  Don’t confuse the two.

Action Item and Summary

Go out and buy a proverbial black book; a binder; a journal; a ringed notebook … anything…something upon which to jot your notes.

Have the book open every time you make a call. Start take notes, become a better listener and become a better telesales rep.

Simple, eh?

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7 Ways to Use Silence to Sell More

Silence can be deafening, can’t it?

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

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

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

The Power of the Pause

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

7 Silent Applications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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1 Quick Question How to Overcome “Knee Jerk” Objections and Get the Prospect Talking

Are you frustrated with prospects that shut you down and brush you off after you’ve finished your opening statement?

You know the type of objection I am talking about: you barely utter your name and the prospect says, “We’re happy with our present supplier,” or “I’m in a meeting,” or “I am busy right now,” or “Just send me something in the mail,” or any number of other knee jerk objections. And just like that, the call is over.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can reduce the impact of knee jerk objections and speak to more decision makers if you apply a smart little technique called “1 Quick Question” (1QQ).

Knee Jerk Objections

As the name implies, a knee jerk objection is a reflexive objection that typically occurs at the beginning of a call. They occur because the prospect was not expecting your call and the automatic response is to toss out an objection.  They do so out of the compelling need to protect themselves “from being sold” and out of the desire to get rid of you as soon as possible. Most tele-sales reps oblige them by lamely mumbling an apology and hanging up. Sound familiar? Don’t be a victim.

How to Deal With the Knee Jerk

Three are three steps to dealing with the knee jerk type objections.

Step #1: Empathize

When you hear a knee jerk objection your first step is to empathize with the client. Say something like, “I understand,” or “I appreciate that.”  This does two things. First, it acknowledges the prospect’s objection. It shows you have listened to the remark and that you understand. Second, it buys you a second or two to collect your thoughts and respond.

Step #2: Ignore the Objection

Ignore what you hear. Don’t fall for the objection. It’s a mistruth. You know it’s a brush off and so does the prospect. Responding to the stated objection therefore a waste of time. So don’t honor it with a retort. Ignore it.

Step #3: Ask “1 Quick Question”

Apply the 1 Quick Question (1QQ) technique. The 1QQ is simply a way to forge ahead with the call before the prospect hangs up. It is extremely easy to apply. Here are some examples to give you a feel for how it works:

Example #1:

Prospect:         “I’m in a meeting right now!”

Rep:                “I understand completely. Just one quick question before I go…”

Example #2:

Prospect:         “I’m happy with our present supplier.”

Rep:               “I’m happy to hear that. Jeff, one quick question if you don’t mind…”

Example #3:

Prospect:         “We don’t need anything right now.”

Rep:                 “I appreciate that. Before I go one quick question.”

You can see the pattern. The rep empathizes but does not directly respond to the objection. Instead he uses the 1QQ technique. It works because the majority of prospects realize that they have been a bit dismissive and possibly rude. (This was their “knee jerk” response).  By politely asking ‘one quick question’, many prospects feel the need to soften up a bit and give you a quick answer before they terminate the call.

Now here’s the interesting thing. Depending on the nature of your question, one quick question often leads to two or three or more questions. Think of it as a wedge in the door. The better your question the greater the opportunity to get your prospect to open up further.

How to Create Your 1QQ

The key to making the 1QQ work for you is your question. Your first step to developing 1QQ is to identify a pain, a problem or a predicament that the prospect typically experiences and that you can solve.  You only have one shot at getting the wedge in the door so your question has to go directly to an issue that is significant to the average prospect.

Developing your 1QQ will take some time and thought but once you have it you’ll be able to use it with virtually every call. So think hard: what is the number one problem your clients experience?

For example, suppose you sell magazine subscriptions to educators that help the teachers plan their curriculum. The problem that many teachers experience is time and it takes to develop new, creative and effective class plans. Here’s one quick question that might work.

“Mr. Gunderson, one quick question before I go: do you find it frustrating and time consuming to prepare a daily curriculum for your classes?”

The second step is to have another question prepared. If possible create a question that quantifies the problem. For instance, if Gunderson does find it frustrating and time consuming to prepare a daily curriculum your next question might be:

“If I may, roughly how much time do you spend preparing…say, on a daily basis?”

By doing so, the prospect begins to see the magnitude of their problem and may get curious enough to let you continue.

The third step is to pursue your line of questioning, identify the need and proceed as you normally would.

Summary

The 1QQ technique gives you an edge by helping to create an opportunity. While not every client will answer your one quick question some will and that’s the strength of the technique.

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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.

Summary

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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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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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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