Tag Archives: preparation

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 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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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 7 Little Lies Prospects Tell Telephone Sales Reps

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

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

Lie #1: I’m in a meeting

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

Lie #2:  Call me back

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

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

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

Lie #4: I’m busy…

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

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

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

Lie #6: Send me a Quote /Proposal

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

Lie #7: Satisfied with Current Vendor

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

 3 Steps to Managing Little White Lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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7 Steps to Better Listening …and Better Tele-Sales Results

The telephone has one major drawback when it comes to selling: you can’t see your client.

This makes communicating somewhat more challenging.  For example, with face to face selling, body language constitutes about 55% of the message. What this means to those of us who use the phone is that we MUST be a better listener. In effect, you need to overcompensate to pick up the nuances and details of the calls you make. Using the acronym SPECIAL here are 7steps to improving your listening skills

1. Stop – When you make or take a call, stop whatever you are doing and give 100% of your attention to that call. Stop overlapping. Stop toying with your computer. Stop finishing up that last proposal or quote. Turn your head away from the everyday distractions in the office and focus on the call. Period.

2. Prepare – Be prepared for the call. Complete a pre call planning sheet before you pick up the phone so you know precisely what you want to achieve and how. In particular, list key question that you want to ask. This simple step will help you listen more careful because you won’t be thinking “What do I ask, say or do next?”

3. Evaluate – On the phone clients communicate on two levels: the words they use and the tone they apply. In fact, on the phone tone accounts for about 84% of the message content. Listen and evaluate for interest (buying signals), listen for doubt or uncertainty (objection), listen for confusion or disinterest (pauses).

4. Concentrate – Actively listen. This means when you ask a question, zip it. Let the client answer. Let him elaborate. Don’t interrupt. Listen for the key points that he is making. Avoid the temptation of preparing your rebuttal in your mind. Avoid the temptation of developing your next question instead of hearing the answer that is being given.

5. Investigate – Interactively listen. This means asking questions AFTER you’ve heard the answer. Use questions to clarify, verify and confirm information. If you are not certain of something, ask about.

6. Acknowledge – One of the best ways to listen is to summarize what you’ve heard and repeat it back to the client. “So Greg, if I understood correctly your company is …” If you’ve got something wrong the client will tell you. If you are on track they’ll confirm it. Either way YOU look good and you’ll sell more.

7. Log it – Put another way: listen with a pen in hand. Take notes. Jot things down as you ‘actively’ listen so that you can go back and clarify. Note taking seems to be a lost art. Use a pad of paper or better yet, your pre-call planning sheet to record key point.

Listening is not that difficult if you follow these seven steps. And if you listen well, you’ll sell well. So just do it!

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