Tag Archives: planning

How to Get Your Telephone Selling Focus Back on Track

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

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

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

Why We Lose Sales Focus

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

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

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

How to Regain Your Focus – The 2MR

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

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

Deceptively simple, eh?

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

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

5 Steps to Making The 2MR Work for You

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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The 9 Reasons Why Telephone Prospectors Fail

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reason #2: Lack of Ambition/Drive

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

Reason #3: Lack of Self Discipline

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

Reason #4: Procrastination

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

Reason #5: Lack of Persistence

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

Reason #6: Negative Outlook/Attitude

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

Reason #7: Lack of Decisiveness

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

Reason #8: Lack of Risk

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

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

Reason #9: Poor Company

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question #1:  What happened today?

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

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

Question #2:  What did I learn ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question #3:  What needs communicating?

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

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

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

Implementation

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

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

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

Why 7 Minutes?

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

Summary

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

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

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

Tip #10: Propensity for Action

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

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

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

The Thick of Thin Things

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

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

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

Actions

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

Tip #8: Set Goals and Keep Scores

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

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

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

Keeping Score

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

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

It’s that simple.

Action Plans

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

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

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5 Steps to Achieving the Tele-Prospecting “Zone”

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

The Zone

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

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

The Tele-Prospecting Zone

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

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

5 Steps to Reach the Tele-Prospecting Zone

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

Step #1: Be Zone Ready

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

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

Step #2: Create a Zone Friendly Environment

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

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

Step #3: Be Zone Wise

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

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

Step #4: Have Goals and Deadlines

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

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

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

Step #5: Just Do It

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Question #1:  What did I do right?

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

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

Question #2:  What did I not do?

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

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

Question #3:  What should I have done?

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

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

Question #4: What will I do going forward?

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

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

Summary

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

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

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14 Things Sales Reps Should Never Stop Doing

The following  article is by training expert Kelley Robertson.This article was awarded the silver medal for “Article of the Year” at the 2011 Top Sales and Marketing Awards!

Selling for a living is challenging. There are many highs and frequent lows. Constant pressure to reach sales targets, customer and prospects that are more demanding, and changes in the marketplace all make sales a tough career.

If you are serious about maintaining a long-term career and increasing your sales, here are 14 things you should never stop doing. If by chance, you haven’t started doing some of these, I suggest that you do start…the sooner, the better.

1.   Prospect. If you do nothing else but prospect for new business every day the chances are you will always be busy and seldom, if ever, experience peaks and valleys in your sales.

2.   Improve your skill. Professionals in many industries require regular upgrading up skills. Selling is no different. The marketplace has changed and what worked five years ago is no longer relevant. Make the time and invest in regular self-improvement programs (workshops, conferences, books, audio programs, etc).

3.   Listen more than you talk. People who listen more, learn more. The more you learn the more effectively you can position your solution or offering. Enough said.

4.   Establish clear call objectives. Whether it’s a face-to-face meeting or telephone call, you need to have a clear objective of what you want to accomplish. Closing the sale is NOT an objective.

5.   Create plans (yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly). I know very few sales people who actually create a business plan for the entire year. What sales do you want to achieve? How will you reach those targets? What daily, weekly and monthly activities do you need to execute to achieve your goals?

6.   Study your products. How much time do you spend studying and learning your products? Do you know the key differences between similar products? Do you know how each product will actually benefit a customer?

7.   Network. Effective sales networking means attending the events that your key prospects attend. A friend of mine deals with high-ranking executives so he attends high-profile fundraising dinners. The cost of entry can be expensive but the return can be excellent.

8.   Ask awesome questions. I’ve mentioned this…more than once! But the ability to ask great questions, tough probing questions, penetrating questions, is one of the most effective ways to increase your sales.

9.   Deliver great presentations. Don’t confuse this with the ability to stand up in front of several hundred people and deliver a keynote presentation. The key to delivering a great sales presentation is ensuring that it addresses your prospect’s key issues and that it focuses on their needs and objectives, not your agenda.

10.  Adapt your approach. Do you ever consider the personality style of the other person when planning your sales presentation? Do you know if your prospect prefers correspondence via email, texting, face-to-face or telephone? Is your prospect a 35,000 foot view person or do they like to know every detail?

11.  Set high goals. People with the highest goals tend to achieve the most. Are your goals challenging and motivating? Do you even set your own goals or do you simply take what’s given to you by your boss?

12.  Be persistent. Four or five years ago it would take an average of seven calls to connect with a new prospect. Now it’s a safe bet to say that it can take as many as twelve or more, just to make that first contact. You need to be diligent and persistence.

13.  Forge relationships. Developing and maintaining great relationships with prospects, customers, friends and other people in your network is one activity that will ALWAYS pay off.

14.  Show respect. I have seen, firsthand, how poorly some sales people treat gatekeepers and receptionists and it always disappoints me because I am a firm believer in treating people with respect and dignity. Yes, that person may only be the receptionist in your eyes but they often hold the key to the Presidential Suite. Treat them accordingly.

If you consistently apply and execute these strategies you will definitely see an increase in your sales.

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

 

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The Top 18 Traits of Lucky Tele-Sales Reps

Let’s face it, some telephone reps seem to be consistently luckier than others.   The stars always seem to be aligned for them and they forever seem to get more sales … and bigger sales, to boot.

But scratch the surface of these so-called lucky tele-reps and you’ll discover a number of common traits.  Coincidence?  Not likely.  Lucky reps are lucky because they consistently DO things that other reps do not. Put another way, lucky reps MAKE their own luck. They draw opportunities to themselves like magnets.

Here are 18 traits of lucky reps.  See how you compare.

#1. The number one trait of lucky reps is personal accountability. Lucky reps know that at the end of the day they are personally responsible for their success or lack thereof. They don’t blame or point fingers at their manager or prospect  list or their products and prices or customer  service department or their competitors.  They depend on no one. They are never, ever victims. When faced with a challenge they simply say, “So what am I going to do about it?”

#2. Lucky reps believe they are lucky.  Maybe because they take personal responsibility and are masters of their own fate, lucky reps have positive attitudes.  They seize the day. They are optimistic. They see the positives of their activities and thrive on small victories.  They genuinely believe they are lucky and good things will happen.  Because they feel fortunate they ARE fortunate

#3. Lucky reps fail.  In other words, lucky reps will take risks, try new things and look for angles. Sometimes they fail.  But to paraphrase basketball great Michael Jordan, they succeed because they fail.  As a result of the risk they took, they know what works and what doesn’t work.  And because of that, they’re always ahead of the pack.

#4. Lucky reps are clever little thieves.  They steal good ideas and tactics that help them in selling. They are open and willing to try a new technique or approach. They are flexible and adaptable. They change and adjust. Dust does not settle on lucky reps.  They don’t dismiss anything that might give them an edge

#5. Lucky reps absolutely avoid “dementors” and naysayers.  They don’t hang out with negative people who can drag their spirits down. They don’t huddle together and whine and complain. Lucky reps know negative talk saps energy and effort.  While others lament, they prospect and sell.

#6. Lucky reps typically arrive a little earlier for work. It’s a simple thing: they get started a little sooner and as a result, create more opportunities for themselves.  Not luck, just a little bit of elbow grease.  Harder work.

#7. Lucky reps almost always stay a little later at work. Not long. Just enough to clear up e-mails and clean off their desk. Seems small but the next day the rep can start with the important stuff: prospecting and selling. There’s no clutter; no distraction.

#8.Lucky reps are network builders.  They tend to develop “Luck Lists” of individuals from all walks of life (associates, former coaches, bosses, teachers, vendors, friends, customers etc.) who can help in them in their business and personal lives. Call them mentors or guides, these people can act as resources with their expertise, knowledge, experience, savvy and insights or they can act as centers of influence and refer business.

#9. Lucky reps are builders of relationships.  Lucky reps intuitively know that it is not enough to have a ‘lucky list.’  That network of individuals needs to be groomed and nurtured.  Consequently, they build equity with their list by staying in touch. Sometimes it’s a card or an e-mail or a phone call. Sometimes they send an article or link.  Whatever it might be, lucky reps communicate and build value on a regular and continuous basis.

#10. Lucky reps have a built-in compass.  The luckiest of reps have written goals for the year that guide them; give them focus, direction.  They break their goals down by quarter, by month, by week and by day.  Their work efforts emanate from these goals; dictates their priorities. They know where they stand at any given moment. They’re always gauging and monitoring and adjusting their course.

#11. Lucky reps talk less, question more and listen closely .  By effectively using questions, lucky reps get the client to open up, share more information, be more candid, identify their problems or concerns or opportunities.  And because they are better at understanding the needs of the client, they sell more.

#12. Lucky reps prospect daily.  Prospecting is like a good exercise program: it keeps them sales fit.  What looks like luck is simply an unrelenting adherence to business development so that their funnel is forever being filled.  What looks like luck is really just fundamentals in action.

#13. Lucky reps have a propensity for action.  Lucky telephone selling reps are doers.  They don’t procrastinate. They would rather do something –anything – than nothing.  And because they DO things instead of sitting around on their butts and waiting, things happen.  They take steps to initiate ‘luck.’

#14. Lucky reps are invariably process driven.  This means they look for processes and methods that making them a little more efficient and a little more effective.  They know that other successful reps have gone before them and develop steps that make selling faster and easier.

#15. A lucky rep is a good planner.  Maybe it stems from goal setting but ask a top rep what he or she has planned for the day and they’ll give you an itemized list of what and when.  They schedule their time for prospecting, relationship building, follow up and paperwork. When it comes to a phone call they have a game plan: objectives defined, opening statements prepared, questions to be asked etc.  When they hang up they have the next 3 or 4 steps already figured out in order to move the sale ahead.

#16. Lucky reps invest in themselves.  Lucky reps will buy books and magazines to help them sell. They do homework. They’ll buy thank you cards. They’ll purchase on-line products.  They’ll research a little more. They’ll occasionally send small gifts to their luck list.  They use their own time and money. They get some skin in the game. When they invest in themselves they push a little harder to get an ROI.  And to think, some call them lucky…

#17. Lucky reps say thanks.  When a lucky telephone rep gets a sale, a lead or referral they go out of their way to say thank you.  Often it’s with a personal card; something that shows they took the time and effort to show appreciation.  Put another way, lucky reps don’t take for granted the help they get and the good fortune they derive.

#18. Lucky reps don’t quit.  They’re politely persistent.  They don’t give up easily.  They take a few more shots than most. They’re not always successful but when they do land a big sale with their dogged persistence, we say their lucky.  But they know better.

So, based on these 18 traits how do you stack up?  Are you a luck magnet?  Chances are you have some of these traits but probably not all.  Work on them. Implement them. Practice them.  Make your own luck!

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5 Steps to Overcoming the Fear of Cold Calling

Do you dread the thought of picking up the phone and making a cold call?

Join the crowd. Whether it is because of the fear of rejection or the worry of being seen as too aggressive or some other deep rooted psychological reason, most sales reps would rather gnaw off a body part than pick up the phone and make an unsolicited call to a complete stranger.

But in as much as you may hate cold calling, chances are you can’t avoid it. It’s a necessary requirement for most reps. If that’s the case, you might as well come to grips with it and deal with your fears head on. Here are five steps you can take to make cold calling less intimidating and more effective.

Step #1: Build Your Knowledge Level

Call it common sense but one of the BEST ways to overcome the fear of cold calling is to become a ‘resident expert.’ Knowledge truly is power. The more you know about your product or service, the more confident you will become. Prospects hear that confidence in your voice and tend to be far more receptive to your call.

Become a resident expert by doing your homework. Read the manuals of top products. Learn the specs. Visit web sites. Subscribe to relevant industry newsletters. Memorize Q & A sheets. Ask existing customers what they like best. Determine how (and why) they use your products. Get examples. Hear the success stories. Take notes.

The simple act of learning more about your product and services enhances your confidence and significantly reduces the fear factor.

Step #2: Get Better a Selling

Cold calling isn’t all that hard. Really! Most sales reps falter because they have not honed their prospecting skills and techniques to a fine edge.

For example, is it any wonder that you get rejected when you open a call with a self-serving pitch delivered in a listless monotone? Do you really expect to engage prospects when you fail to ask questions that identify possible needs? Are you the least bit surprised when the prospect terminates the call because your long winded presentation is long on features but short on benefits?

If you haven’t had formal cold calling skills training, get it. Ask your manager. Get coaching. Buy book on cold calling. Surf the internet. Find sites dedicated to cold calling. Subscribe to newsletters. Download special reports. Order some DVDs. Listen to peers who excel. Take notes. Keep a ‘black book’ of tips. Learn (or re-learn) how to deal with objections. You know the drill. Just do it and take control of your destiny.

(For 26 great selling tips see the article below)

Tip #3: Spend More Time Preparing

Most cold callers are not adequately prepared for cold calling. They grab a list, sit down and wing it or they use a script that worked well for their boss in 1992.

Start by creating a call guide, not a script. A call guide is like a road map that provides you with a step-by-step approach to each part of the call. The trick with a call guide is to avoid scripting it word-for-word. A script forces you to ‘read’ and that can make you sound ‘canned’ or phony (no pun intended …okay… maybe a little one). The more conscious you are of ‘reading a script’ the more self conscious you become and the more awkward you feel.

Instead, use bullet points and short phrases for your opening statement, questions and offer. This will provide you with ‘flexible structure.’ In other words, a framework to help you stay on track but the freedom to sound more natural by varying the message. Psychologically, it does wonders.

Prepare job aids for product descriptions and for objections. Print these job aids on colored sheets of paper and posted them so they are visible and handy. Don’t be shy.

Call guides and job aids are support tools – cheat sheets, it you like- that will help make your call less intimidating.

Step #4: Drill, Practice and Rehearse

Preparing calling guides and job aids isn’t particularly new but what is not nearly so commonplace is drilling, practising and rehearing. If there truly is a secret to overcoming the fear of cold calling, this is it.

Every sales rep knows about role playing and its benefits but most avoid it like the plague. Practicing your call with a co-worker, buddy or spouse just isn’t ‘cool.’ It exposes our weaknesses. It lays bare all our faults and misuses. It makes us conscious of how incompetent we think we sound. We get embarrassed, bury our heads in the sand and avoid it completely.

Get over it. Practising your ‘lines’ is like practising your swing in golf, your slap shot in hockey, your forehand in tennis or your jump shot in basketball, or your sonata on the piano. It’s how you get better and it is where confidence it built.

Find someone and role play until you’re blue in the face. (Or, at the very least, rehearse your call in the shower, the car, the elevator …somewhere.) Use your call guide and learn your ‘lines.’ Get used to the rhythm and flow of the call. Reference your job aids. Practice objections. Nothing will increase your comfort (and confidence) level more than this.

Step #5: Build Your Endurance

Here’s the last step: build your endurance to cold calling.

First off, make your cold calls every day of the week. Whatever you do, don’t try to cram all your cold calling in a half or full day. To overcome the fear of cold calling treat the process as a sprint and not a marathon. A cold calling marathon will beat you down, frustrate you and burn you out. It will also augment your fear and loathing of picking up the phone and dialing another prospect.

Schedule your calls daily and make them first thing in the morning, the earlier the better. When you call earlier you’ll not only reach more prospects but you’ll also find them more receptive and tolerant because their day hasn’t heated up. But more significantly, you’ll get your cold calling out of the way so it doesn’t hang over your head like a dark cloud for the rest of the day.

If you can, start off by cold calling 45 minutes a day which is a manageable and tolerable time frame. Do that for the first week then move to 60 minutes a day the next week. That’s only 15 more minutes a day. You’ll discover that’s a walk in the park. Depending on your needs you may have to hike up the time you spend on cold calling but by then by you’ll have built your endurance.

Summary

These 5 steps are nothing more than an action plan. A plan, when implemented, gives you direction and momentum. By following a plan you take control. You feel less “victimized” because you have focus. Start implementing these ‘secrets’ today and watch your fears dissolve.

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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 Many Times Should You Make a Follow Up Call?

Answer: how long is a piece of string?

A piece of string is as long as you cut it. Follow up calls are as long and as many as you make them.  To be effective and successful in following up leads, you need to know when to cut the string. You need to know when to cut it short or when to cut it long.

Too Short

Bottom line? Most sales reps cut their string far too short.

Far, far too short.

They give up far too easily.

I have seen several studies that indicate that any where from 68% to 87% of sales reps give up after their first attempt. I believe it.  Let’s round it off a bit and split the difference and say 80% of sales reps quite after one follow up attempt. One!

One.

On single, solitary attempt.

Too Long

Opposite extreme: can there be such a thing as too many follow up calls?  Can there be strings that are cut too long?

Ya, you betcha there can.

Let’s clear something up right here and now.  There are those out there who talk about persistence and how it is the key to getting the sale. They advocate follow up until the prospect says no.

That’s a load of bull.

Two points:

First of all, it can annoy…gravely annoy your prospect. Far from admiring your pigheaded persistence, you will anger them. You will NOT endear yourself to them. Trust me.

Second, and maybe this is more important, making a series of follow up calls is a waste of time. If I were a sales manager, it would scare the wits out of me if I found a sales rep making ten or twelve follow up calls to each of his prospects.   I would seriously question their common sense.

Granted persistence to the degree I am talking about can pay off. But the number of times you convert the lead is simply not worth the “opportunity cost.” The opportunity cost refers to all the opportunities you forfeited while attempting to call a client who is clearly not interested.

The Magic Number for Follow Up Calls – The Rule of 4

So now we’ve put bookends on the issue and bracketed the string.  So what’s the magic number?

I call it: The Rule of Four.

4

Quatre.

IV.

Quatro.

You make four follow up calls.

Why?

  • Because as many as 90% of  sales reps give up after one call.
  • Because about 95-97% of sales reps give up after the second call.
  • Because four is a manageable number.
  • Because four is persistent without being a pain
  • Because precious few (the “vital few”) make four calls
  • Because it can pay off

That’s why.

4 X  3 Timing

Your follow up ‘string’ is all a matter of timing. It is not just making four calls, it is knowing how far to space those calls apart.

Here’s the formula.

You make four calls and space them 3 business days apart from each other.  So if you call  Thursday.  If you haven’t heard from the prospect you make your next call on the following Tuesday and then again on the Friday. Use some sort of planning system – calendar, Outlook, Goldmine…whatever- to schedule the calls.

Why three days?

Because three days gives your prospect enough time to make a call back.  Three days also displays persistence without being overly annoying.  It’s a simple as that.

Exception to the Rule of 4

Are there exceptions?

Of course there are!  If you have spoken with a prospect and it looks like a possible lead, you may want to persist in your follow up…make your string of contacts longer. But you can do so with other mediums to show persistence with some variance (see Volume 3 Issues 25 and 26).  This lessens the annoyance factor. But remember to spread your contacts out.  A daily call or two is the kiss of death.

Summary

There are far too many short strings out there.  Manage your string and watch your sales grow.

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Want Better Tele-Sales Results Tomorrow? Do These 7 Things Tonight

If you want to improve your tele-sales results tomorrow start by preparing today.

Here are seven actions you can take tonight that will help make you more productive and effective tomorrow.

1. Create a Master List

Before you leave your office tonight prepare a ‘master list’ of the top 20-30 clients or prospects that you plan to call tomorrow. Put the names and numbers on a spread sheet or a legal pad so that when you arrive in the morning they are there, in front of you, ready to go.

This simple act gets you going; gets you dialing; get’s you DOING.  The trouble with tele-sales or tele-prospecting is that it gets easy to avoid picking up the phone. We find ways to avoid it (as you’ll see below) and consequently, many reps pick up the phone 30 or 40 or more minutes after they arrive.  Similarly, turning on the computer and beginning the day by ‘searching’ the database for prospects or clients can take considerable time.  Don’t squander that time. Have those names ready to go for the morning.

2. Write Your Goals

After you have completed your master list, write your goals for the next day.  This is a classic ‘time management’ technique and no less important now than it was twenty five years ago.  Take the time to write down key goals such as dials, connects, leads generated, presentations made, sales made, revenue objectives, profit goals …whatever.

When you arrive in the morning knowing precisely what you want to accomplish, you increase your odds of making it happen.  Written goals bring clarity and focus. Waltzing in with a vague idea of what you want to achieve typically yields vague results. Be precise. Be laser like.

3. Clear Your Desk

How tempting is it to start your day by organizing your desk, clearing papers, and ‘getting ready’ for calling?  It’s a task that can easily take 20 ‘delicious’ minutes away from having to pick up the phone.  From another perspective, a chaotic desk in the morning often contributes to a chaotic approach to calling.  You search for a pen, paper, marketing material, notes … whatever. You can’t focus on a call because there is always something to pull you away.

A clean desk is refreshing. Because it’s not cluttered, your mind is less cluttered. That means more focus and attention to the calls you are about to make. Clear off your desk the night before. The only thing on your desk should be your Master List and Goals for the Day Sheet.

Seriously, a simple thing like clearing your desk can have a SIGNIFICANT  impact on your bottom line results.

4. Clear Up Your E-Mails

E-mails are an absolutely wonderful way to procrastinate, aren’t they?  You waltz in, crank up the computer and check your messages.  Invariably there are messages from the day before that ‘absolutely need’ a response (or so you think).  So you review your messages, compose replies, edit them and send them out.  And of course, there’s always a message or two from a friend, and a newsletter you should read, a web site link that you can’t resist, and before you know it, 40 minutes have past.

Don’t let the lure of e-mails distract you from your prime objective: to make calls, reach clients and sell or prospect. Answer your e-mails the day before so they are not lingering the next day.  When you do get in, resist the urge to check them until after you’ve called your Master List.

5. Clear Up Your Voice Mails

Voice mails are the audible equivalent to e-mails. Clear them up the night before. Make your return calls before you leave for the day.  Leave messages for those who you don’t reach.  Call them back later the next morning but ONLY AFTER you’ve done an hour of calling.

6. Arrive 15 Minutes Earlier

Want better results almost instantly? Get in 15 minutes early. That’s it. Get in and start working  15 minutes earlier. Do the math.  In a week that amounts to an additional 1.25 hours of dialing.  In a month, that’s five additional hours. In a year that equates to 60 more hours or 7.5 days of additional calling!  It cannot help but increase your results!

Arriving 15 minutes early reduces distraction because there are fewer people around you.  When your co-workers arrive they’ll see you on phone. They’ll be less likely to talk about what they did the night before.  In the meantime, you’ll have a sale or a lead or an appointment before they ever switch on their computer!

7. Schedule Your First Call

Schedule your first call for the VERY first thing in the morning. In fact, block out an hour or more for calling. Treat it as an appointment with yourself and your success.  To make this happen, create an appointment or alarm in Outlook (or whatever you use) so that it pops up on your screen the moment your turn your computer on.  You’ll have an instant reminder.

Summary

Assuming you arrive 15 minutes early to a clean desk with a Master List in plain sight, sit down, turn on your computer, and dial the first name on your list.

Et voila.

You’ve started the day off right. You’ll get more sales, leads or appointments if only because you have purpose, direction, and focus with no niggling little distractions.

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How to be the “Coca Cola” of Tele-Sales- 7 Ways to Brand Yourself

People – buyers, prospects, customers- remember brands. Brands create trust because they are perceived as reliable and valuable. A good brand makes for good sales.

So why don’t you become the most trusted brand of tele-sales rep in your industry? Here are 7 ways to do just that:

Strategy #1: Become a Business Resource

To be a strong brand, it is not enough to simply be a source of information (source of brochures, promotional literature, products, prices, offers, services etc.), you’ve got to be a “resource.”  A resource is someone who supplies prospects and clients with ‘extras’ that go beyond pitching a product or service. A resource provides unsolicited Special Reports and White Papers to add value. Resources scan industry magazines and rip out articles that they share with clients. They provide links to web sites that can help the client work better, smarter and faster. They send independent newsletters and data that their competitors would never think of doing.

Becoming a resource means you have to do more homework and become the industry expert; the product guru; or the ‘go-to’ guy when clients have a question.  Resources do more. Extra. They create value.

2.  Build Stronger Personal Relationships

All things being equal, people will buy from people they know, like and trust.  In fact, all things being relatively unequal, people will still buy from people they know, like and trust.  How well do you know your clients? How well do they know you? What have you done to create likability and trust?

You see, that’s the difference between a transaction and a relationship.  Customers can transact business with any company/sales rep that is relatively decent and competent.  But they would prefer to do business with people who not only add the value (See Strategy #1) but who are interesting, likeable and ‘worthy’ of the business.

Even in B2B situations, there is still an element of emotion in the buying process.

To brand yourself, you need to tap into this emotional stream. It is planned and purposeful. That means sending thank you cards every now then. It means remembering a birthday or that their son plays hockey or their daughter plays volleyball. It means sending a Memphis Dry Rub recipe to an avid BBQer; it means sending an article from Golf Digest on chipping; it means finding memorable quotes; it might mean sending a cartoon; it could mean gentle teasing about Notre Dame losing to Michigan.

Building a relationship could mean sending homemade cookies, chocolates, or candy.  Maybe donuts. Anything that solidifies the personal side of the selling equation.

3. Plan and Prepare More

Look, with the glut of competitors calling the same target markets, your call NEEDS to be well planned and prepared if you expect your clients to listen and perceive value. What this means is having a well- defined primary objective supported by secondary objectives.  Once you know your objectives, you can define your step-by-step approach to the call itself.  Think of the questions you should ask, the points you should make, and the objections you might encounter. Figure out how to leverage your relationship. Create a pre-text for calling. Craft your opening statement so it conveys a benefit to your customer or prospect. Rehearse if you need to.

Well planned call is a welcomed call. It wastes no one’s time. It’s clean, crisp and professional.

4. Get Better at E-mail Communications and Selling

Today’s top ‘brand’ of B2B tele-sales reps must communicate at two levels. FACT: you will not achieve superior sales results if you cannot effectively use the telephone to prospect or sell if you cannot effectively craft a superb e-mail. The telephone provides audio messages (via direct contact and voice mail) and e-mail provides visual messages. In today’s marketplace, the two go together like peas and carrots.  The trouble is most reps do not know how to compose an effective e-mail that is persuasive and interesting. They write ponderous copy with a dozen sentences. The e-mail is crammed with self-serving propaganda. The grammar is questionable at best.

Learn how to write a good e-mail that LOOKS good and the READS good.  And if you don’t know how to do that, drop me an e-mail and I’ll send you a report or two.

5. Practice Add On Selling

Over 70% of calls to clients and prospects end up in voice mail.  What this means is that you must make the absolute most of the 30% or so calls that reach a live decision maker. Add on selling (AOS) is a means to squeeze, leverage and extract every single ounce of potential from the calls that you make in a professional, value added manner.

In practical terms, that means cross selling or up selling in a manner that educates the client and makes them want to listen and learn. For you that means additional revenue, usually at a better margin and typically, that means a better, bigger commission. AOS means asking for referrals because a good referral closes at a rate of 75%. AOS means getting curious and asking questions that gather ‘market intelligence’ by ‘picking’ your clients brains to get their thoughts, feeling and suggestions.

6. Work Just a Little Bit Harder

Do you want to quickly get a good name for yourself internally or externally? Then simply work harder. The top brands – products or people- did not become the top brand by sitting on the sideline watching their competitors waltz by.  Top brands worked hard to achieve the #1 spot.  It doesn’t have to be 14 hour days. Translated, working hard means cranking out a few more calls in a day or arriving a little bit early – even fifteen minutes or staying late every now and then, and doing some work from home. It means searching for value added articles or recipes or thank you cards to send to clients to build personal relationships. It means learning your products inside and out. Break a sweat now and then.

7. Invest in Yourself

Invest a few bucks in yourself. Buy a book. Order some DVDs. Pay for a download. Sign up for a Send Out Cards program.  Attend a webinar or conference and do it on your own dime. Invest in yourself and you invest in your brand by making it better, sharper, more professional.  The moment YOU take some financial risk is the moment you’ll want a greater ROI. You’ll push yourself. You’ll work harder because of it (see above).  You’ll buy those thank you cards and use them. You’ll follow up a little more closely.

Summary

Are your ready to take advantage of the changing marketplace? Becoming your own brand and being the tops in your department, market or industry is not terribly difficult.  But it does take focus and discipline. Follow these seven steps and you’ll be the best ‘brand’ in the business.

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Do This Today

Quick, before the month is out, do this:

Make a list of your top fifteen or twenty clients.  Then go out and buy a box of plain, ordinary “Thank You” cards and a roll of stamps.  Hand write a thank you note to each and every one of those top clients.

Make your note simple.  Say something like,

“Eva, I just wanted to say thank you for all the business that you have given me (us) over the past year.  I am well aware that you have a choice of vendors and I appreciate your confidence. I look forward to continue working with you this year. Kind Regards…”

Then hand write the envelop. (Whatever you do, DON’T use a label!)  Put a stamp on each envelop. (Do NOT use a postage meter).  The card must be personal; from you. It cannot have a hint of ‘corporate’ marketing.  And then send out the cards.

This small effort does several things.

  • First, it is an unexpected gesture of appreciation. At some level, your customers will experience a degree of delight.  It will ‘wow’ them.  It will make them feel good.
  • Second, because you took the TIME to hand write the card and the envelop, it shows a degree of  personal effort.
  • Third, the vast majority of vendors – including your competitors- don’t send a thank you card; certainly not at the beginning of the year. This differentiates you.  Customers often remember these gestures. It can sometimes tip the scales in your favor in a tight selling situation.
  • Fourth, it tells your client that you don’t take them for granted; that you appreciate their patronage; and that you’ll work to keep it.
  • Finally, this is a heck of way to kick off the selling year.

Sometime we get so caught up in generating leads, selling products and meeting our objectives that we forget about the people who really make it happen: the customer.

Show them you care.

Do this fine gesture today.

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Why Secondary Objectives are More Important Than Primary Objectives

Before you ever lift the receiver to make a customer call or a cold call you need to established not one, two objectives.

By doing so you’ll increase your volume of sales/leads and reduce your level of frustration. While both objectives are extremely important, one is more significant than the other.

The Primary Objective

Whether it’s a call to an existing client or a prospect, take a few seconds to think about and establish your primary objective.  In a perfect selling world, the primary objective is the ideal goal you would like achieve.  It the ultimate result.  A primary objective does not necessarily need to be a ‘sale.’  Depending on the nature of your calling, a primary objective could be an appointment, or gathering a key piece of information, or a commitment to the next, or attendance at a webinar, or agreeing to review a proposal or whatever you decide you want from that particular call.

Write that goal down somewhere even if it is in the column of a sheet of paper. Studies reveal that writing a goal increases the chances of it being achieved compared to a goal that is not written. It seems that the ‘mind’s eye’ become more fixated on the attainment of goal and tends to drive behaviour to that outcome.

Of course, primary objective is important. It is vital. But curiously, it is not necessarily the more important of the two.

The Secondary Objectives

You see, most sales reps ‘get’ the concept primary objectives.  They are kind of obvious and intuitive.

But what many reps don’t ‘get’ is the concept of secondary objectives, and regrettably, they tend to ignore them completely.  But it’s these little puppies that often produce the best results because they maximize the moment. This is precisely why secondary objectives are more important the primary objectives.

Secondary objectives are ‘back up’ objectives; things you’d like to accomplish if you don’t achieve your primary objective or things you’d like to accomplish in addition to achieving the primary objective. They are the little extras; the nice-to-haves. Hidden gems. Diamonds in the ruff. They are the items that leverage your telephone contact and help make the very most of the moment.  Put another way, secondary objective can act as catalysts that help “synergize” the net result of your call.

Secondary objectives can be any number of things. For instance, they might include:

  • a cross sell,
  • a request for a referral or a testimonial,
  • an up sell,
  • a piece “market intelligence”,
  • a query about an ongoing project,
  • a strategic question,
  • an e-mail address of another contact,
  • a request for more information,
  • the mention of a new product,
  • the best time to reach someone
  • … virtually anything over and above your primary objective.

Here’s the other thing about secondary objectives. Suppose you don’t achieve your primary objective. It can be discouraging especially when prospecting. But a secondary objective helps you salvage a portion of that call. It gives you the feeling of achievement; a psychological edge. It helps combat frustration and burnout. You hang up feeling that the call wasn’t a complete waste of time and effort. And of course, if you do achieve your primary objective, anything over and above that is pure gravy.

Like primary objectives, write them down. This will help you remember them as well as improve the likelihood of achieving them. It is that simple. Period. Do it!

Summary

Getting a hold of a client or a prospect by phone is tough at the best of times. And often you only have a minute or two of their busy time.  Make the absolute MOSTof those minutes and seconds by being prepared. Think of your primary and secondary objectives, jot them down and seek to achieve them.  Your results will improve dramatically.

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What’s Important to You is Not Important to Them

Here’s the thing: selling something is far more important to you than it is to your prospect or your client.  Think about this for a moment because it is rather profound and it often dictates your approach to a buyer.

Your job is to sell product, to make a commission, to achieve your objectives, to keep your boss happy. And so with single minded focus off you go into the world of tele-sales. I get that.

The trouble is, your client or prospect doesn’t get that. They don’t give a flyin’  fig.

They could care less about you. They don’t care about your quota. They couldn’t give two hoots if you are lagging behind in sales or leading the pack. They don’t give a damn if  your boss is on your back.  They simply don’t CARE.

They care about one thing and one thing only.

Themselves.

They care about their needs, wants, desires, goals aspirations, opportunities, problems, concerns, issues and worries. Can you blame them?

And therein lies the inevitable clash.

When you call a prospect and put your interests, needs and desires at the forefront there an immediate disconnect.  At a conscious or subconscious level, the prospect puts up a shield of indifference or annoyance because it is abundantly clear that the call is not about him or her, but about you. They see it. As clear as glass.

So here’s the point: make your call about them. Shape your call around them.

Before you pick up the phone, make absolutely certain that your opening statement focuses on the benefits a client can possibly achieve, not about your latest software upgrade or  your hot mutual fund or special offer on wiper blades.  When you engage your client, question them about their situation, their problems, their opportunities. DON”T tell, explain, pontificate, brag, lecture or preach about your products, your services, your unique selling proposition or your special offer.

This is SO simple yet it is ignored daily by tele-sales reps (and field reps) across the continent.

THINK before you dial. PLAN before you dial.

The make your call and make it about them.

Because that’s what’s important.

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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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