Tag Archives: questioning

7 Tips on Conducting a Better Needs Analysis

Want to know the secret for significantly improving your sales results, generating more revenues and making more commissions or bonus?

Get better at conducting a needs analysis.

Depending on your target market and the product or service you sell, a needs analysis is quite possibly the most important activity in which you can engage.   Needs analysis help you AND your prospect identify areas of opportunity and areas of challenge. Done correctly, an effective needs analysis can also quantify those areas and ultimately determine if there is a need that your product/service can fulfill.   In other words, it is the key to sale.

Here are 7 tips to help you improve your approach to analyzing a prospect’s need:

Tip #1: Write out every single question you can possibly imagine

Here’s the toughest part but it’s worth the time and effort. Think of every single, solitary question you could ask your client relative to your product/service application. Everything: big or small, significant or insignificant.

And then write every one of those questions down on a sheet of paper.

I know. It’s tedious. But here’s what happens. First of all, this exercise gets you to stop and think. It makes you more thorough in your thought process because you have the time. Second, and maybe more significantly, this exercise begins to imprint the questions on your conscious or subconscious mind. It will help you remember them and conjure them up when conducting your needs analysis.

Tip #2: Group your questions into categories

You can do this step in conjunction with Tip #1. Where possible, group your questions into categories. This makes them less random, easy to access and easier to remember. Categories create another level of focus for you and help with the imprinting process.

For instance, you might have a category called “situational questions” which might be questions that ask about the prospect’s current situation or environment. These might be fundamentals such as number of employees, number of locations, types of niche markets, the machinery they use, the processes they follow, the software applications etc.

Another category might be ‘motivator questions’ i.e., those that explore possible challenges, problems and issues or opportunities, enhancements and improvements that your client might be experiencing relative to your product/service solution. Of course, these are important questions because they uncover needs and motivators.

A third category might be ‘analysis’ questions which are questions that get the prospect to quantify and elaborate upon a problem or an opportunity.

Tip #3: Ask yourself, “Why am I asking this question?”

By now, you should have a pile of questions. Now it’s time to cull and refine that list. Review each question and ask yourself “why am I asking this?” Is it vital information you absolutely NEED or is it nice to have?

Re-write those questions that you absolutely need to have answered on another sheet of paper. Write these in RED. They are ‘must haves.’ This is your “master list.” These questions go to the heart of needs analysis. Keep them in their categories.

In blue or black ink, below your master list, have your ‘nice to have questions.’ You can ask these questions if they are relevant or helpful to you and/or the prospect.

Tip #4: Ask yourself, “How will asking this question make my prospect feel? What will he/she think?”

Review your revised list and think about how your prospect might feel when asked. Some questions, particularly questions that probe for problems and concerns can be sensitive in nature. Some might feel defensive. Others might feel embarrassed. Others might be a bit hostile because you seem so ‘nosy.’ Think about this from THEIR perspective.

Identify the sensitive questions and then move on to Tip #5

Tip #5: Ask yourself, “What is the best way to ask this question?”

If you have a question that might make a prospect feel awkward, embarrassed, cautious, defensive or hostile, use a ‘softening trigger phrase’ before asking. A ‘softener’ is phrase that can take the ‘sting’ out of asking a sensitive question and make the prospect more receptive to replying.

For example, “Jim, some of the safety directors I have spoken to have expressed concern over the new OSHA ruling on … Let me ask, you what are your thoughts…” In this case, the prospect recognizes that he is not alone, that others have concerns, and that it’s ‘okay’ to speak up. He becomes less self conscious.

Here’s another one: “Debbie, hypothetically speaking, if you could improve production by 10%, what would be the net impact on profitability?” In this case, Debbie is not being held to specifics and not necessarily being held accountable for the estimate. In other words, she is not putting herself at risk because the question is creating a ‘make believe’ scenario. This makes it easier to truthfully answer.

Here’s one more: “Pat, sometimes clients see this as a sensitive question but I ask because it goes to the heart of what we can solve. We are finding that…” In this case, the softener trigger phrase warns the prospect that a potentially awkward question is coming up. In this manner, he/she is not caught off guard. In addition, the phrase explains why the question is being asked and implies a benefit for the prospect.

Tip # 6: Create a needs analysis cheat sheet

Once you have created your list of questions including softener trigger phrases, create a ‘cheat sheet’ or job aid. Use colored paper, use colored ink. Use large font. Hand write it or use Word and cut and paste. Put you questions on an 11 x17 sheet so there’s plenty of room. If required, paste two 11 x 17 sheets together. Make your needs analysis sheet big, bold and brassy. No one can see it but you. Post it where it is easily accessible and visible so you can reference it.

Tip #7: Drill, practice and rehearse asking your questions.

The last tip is to drill, practice and rehearse your needs analysis. You could do this with your manager, or a co-worker, friend or spouse. You can rehearse it in your mind. The idea is to familiarize yourself with the questions and get comfortable with them. Use your cheat sheet and get comfortable with it too.

IMPORTANT!

The objective of this entire process is NOT to ask every single solitary question, one by one, like conducting a survey. The idea is to ask the appropriate questions when required. You might begin with a few situational questions, then segue into a motivator question, then back to a situational question or two, and then move on to an analysis questions.

No one can teach you the flow of questioning. That is a factor of the client and the information that he or she gives you. But KNOWING the questions ahead of time ( having them imprinted on your mind) makes asking the appropriate question at the appropriate time much easier.

Summary

Good needs analysis differentiates you from your competition. Your prospects tend to see you as more consultative. You will get better, more relevant information. This gives you a distinct opportunity to sell more. Take the time and do it right

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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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6 Ways to Impress a Prospect

By Kelley Robertson, www.fearless-selling.ca

In today’s ultra-competitive business world it is becoming more difficult to stand out from the crowd and impress new prospects. However, there are a few things you can do to achieve this and start increasing your sales.

1 – Do your homework

Before you pick up the telephone and dial for dollars invest a few minutes to research the company or person you are calling. You don’t need to spend hours on this, simply do enough homework that you can speak intelligently about their potential issues.

A friend of mine was cold calling a company and he read through their recent annual report—which was available on their website. During his conversation he referenced a point from the report and his prospect said, “You know more than I do!”

2 – Be punctual

I have heard sales people proclaim, “Why can’t my prospect see me; I’m only 10 minutes late?”

Late is late! You are either on time or you aren’t.

If you say you will call someone at 2:30 make sure you follow through. Allow plenty of time for travel when meeting face-to-face with prospects. Road construction, an accident or other unexpected delays shouldn’t cause you to be late.

Key decision makers are too busy to wait for you so be punctual and on time. It’s a little thing but it makes a big difference.

3 – Get to the point

Don’t waste a lot of time on small talk or social chit-chat—unless your prospect initiates this type of conversation. Instead, get to the reason for the meeting. Your prospect will respect you and you will stand out from your competition.

An effective to open is to verify the time available, “Mrs. Prospect, when we spoke last we allotted 60 minutes for today’s meeting; is that still good?” This ensures that you and your contact are both on the same page with respect to scheduling.

4 – Recap

Just before you launch into your sales presentation, recap your understanding of your prospect’s situation, problems or concerns. This bullet-point summary demonstrates to your prospect that you have a handle on their issues and captures their attention immediately. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to modify the presentation of your offering if your prospect’s situation has changed since your last conversation.

5 – Focus on them

Instead of talking about your company, your client list, your products and services, how long you have been in business or anything else that focuses the attention on you and your company, concentrate on showing your prospect how your offering will help them and/or their organization.

Prospects are not interested in hearing the self-puffery details that your marketing department so desperately wants you to share. They want to know how you can help them solve a potential problem. The more your presentation focuses on this, the longer you will your prospect’s attention and the greater the likelihood you will move the sales process forward.

6 – Don’t overstay your welcome

Unfortunately, many sales calls and meetings go into overtime which disrupts the decision makers’ already jam-packed schedule. I have personally been on the receiving end of sales call that was supposed to take 30 minutes but quickly stretched to 40 and would have gone on longer had I not cut it short.

Just because you have 60 minutes allotted for your meeting does not mean you have to use it all. You can impress a prospect by wrapping up early and giving them a few minutes of “free” time. You will never hear a prospect say, “Wait…we had 60 minutes scheduled for this meeting and we’re only at fifty. Keep talking for another ten minutes.”

These six steps will help you impress your prospects and stand out from the competition.

What others can you think of?

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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Buyers are Liars

by Invoke Selling

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

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

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

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Tele-Sales Managers: 4 Reasons to Hate Scripts and 5 Reasons to Love Them

To borrow from Shakespeare: to script or not to script, that is the question.

In the world of B to B tele-sales, minor wars have been raged on whether or not to script the call.  There are those who love scripts and they have some compelling arguments to support their claim.  Others would rather chew off a body part than script a call and have some rather convincing reasons in their favor.

The truth is scripts can work for and against you. Knowing how and when to use them or avoid them is the key to better sales results. Regardless of where you sit on the scripting fence, here is a definitive look at scripts and the ultimate solution to help you maximize your calling opportunities.

The Case Against the Script

1. Scripts Lack Flexibility

Because scripts are highly structured, it assumes your client based is a homogenous mass that thinks, acts and responds in the same manner. You know and I know that just isn’t true. Certainly in a B to B setting, a script tends to lack the flexibility that is needed in a client dialog.  A sales rep has to be able to react and respond to the client depending on the situation and circumstances.  Scripts don’t allow that and that severely limits their effectiveness.

2. It Sounds Canned

For the most part, scripts tend to sound ‘canned:’ awkward, stiff, stilted, insincere, mechanical, belabored, rote, bored, lacking conviction and the list goes on. Unless your sales rep is a particularly good actor who can call effectively delivery his lines, the script rarely comes off as natural.  Your clients pick this up immediately. They don’t have the time or the inclination to suffer through a droning pitch.  Put more simply, prospect know when a script is being read and don’t like it.  And rarely do they buy.

3. It Burns Out Reps

Look at a script from your sales rep’s perspective. In fact, why not give it a try yourself. Recite a script thirty or forty times a day, five days a week and four weeks a month and you’ll clearly understand the impact it has on your rep. Mind numbing repetition will frustrate your reps in record time which leads to burnout which leads to turnover. And that costs you money.

4. Dependency

Once a script is in place and up and running, sales reps become hooked or dependent on them. It becomes difficult if not impossible for them to think out of the box when the client doesn’t follow the script you’ve set. They recite; they don’t think.  Of course what this really means is that you can and will lose selling opportunities.

The Case for a Script

1. Creates Consistency

A script ensures that “everyone is singing from the same hymn book.”  In turn, consistency helps ensure call quality. This gives you peace of mind that your client base is hearing the same thing from all reps all of the time.

2. Shortens the learning curve

A script is easy to learn. Plunk it down on paper and you have a training document. In short order, your rep can be on the phone making calls and making money.

3. Reduces call lengths and increases productivity

A well written script gets rid of useless clutter that often accompanies a sales call. Because it is focused and structured, it gets to the point more quickly; messages are more succinct and better understood.  This efficiency can carve seconds or even minutes off a call. Multiple those by the volume of calls and the number of reps and you have economies of scale.

4. Provides a Standard by which you can coach

But perhaps one of the most significant benefits of a script is that it creates a standard by which a manager can coach. A standard is specific way something should be said or delivered. If a rep knows precisely what is expected, it becomes easier to support it through coaching and coaching is the key to sustained sales results.

5. Allows you to test

Finally, one of the strongest features of scripting is that it allows you to test various components of a call. For example, you could create two or three opening statements and test one against the other to determine which gets the higher response rate. You can do the same thing with offers.  Does offer A out pull offer B?  Because you can control the variables of a call, you can isolate and test one component at a time. In this manner you can determine the best mix of words to get the highest return on investment.

The Solution?

So there you have it: a partial list of the pros and the cons.  What’s the solution?

It’s simple. Create a hybrid. Take the best of both worlds. Combine the good of a script and toss out the bad.

The trick is to use “scripts’ in certain key parts of the call. For example, the opening statement should be scripted. Think about it: your reps are making sixty cold calls per day to the same target market. This part of the call should never have to change because your initial message should be the same from call to call. Scripting the opening statement creates a call standard.  It creates a consistent message that can be coached and supported by you. Best of all, if your reps are using the same opener you can start to test variations and figure out what works best in garnering the client’s attention.

Questioning, on the other hand, is something that cannot be scripted. Oh sure, you can have a list of questions that should be asked but once questioning begins the client can take you all over the map. Your rep needs the flexibility to move where the conversation goes. He needs to “think out of the box.” Don’t script questioning.

Voice mails can and should be scripted. Why? Because you can see what works and what doesn’t work in getting a client to respond.  And dare I say it: test!

If you are using offers as part of the selling process, they can and should be scripted. The offer typically doesn’t change so why change the words? If you allow too much flexibility and free form at this stage you’ll discover that sometimes your reps are eloquent and sometimes they sound like the village idiot. Don’t risk it. The offer is the ultimate hook. Make it a standard, coach to it and watch it work. Or test it. Get half your sales team to present the offer in one manner and get the other half to present the offer in another.

Objections are a more troublesome. The problem is smokescreens: i.e., false objections. For instance, you can have all the right words and phrases to deal with a price objection but if that’s just an excuse to get rid of the rep, then a script doesn’t help, it hinders. Instead, you can develop a ‘call guide” for handling objections. A call guide is a process for a given situation. For example, you could teach your reps a 4 steps process to handling an objection (emphasize, verify/isolate, respond and confirm) which would give you structure of a script but the flexibility of free form.

When providing a solution in a complex sale, your rep will likely need to have the flexibility of  tailoring the message to a particular client. This is hard to script. However, like objections, a call guide can be used to craft a message that provides the client with key features supported by clear explanations and topped off with a benefit or two.

Script the close. You can have 10 different scripted closing lines if you want but you must ensure that the sales rep uses ONE of them.  If you do that, you increase the chances that the sale will close.

Summary

The fact of the matter is this: most B to B tele-sales departments typically don’t use scripting in the management of their calls. They give their reps license to do as they please because of the negative perceptions about scripts. Rest assured, sales and opportunities are being lost because a modicum of structure is not being applied. Script certain key parts of your call and you’ll have added a degree of ‘science’ to the ‘art’ of selling.

And if you’re not a script writer, find one. (see article below) The reps will learn faster, apply the knowledge more consistently and sell more. Period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Find and Sell the REAL Buyer When You Get an RFP

by Geoff Alexander  www.alextrain.com

Have you ever received a Request for Proposal (RFP) that came from a purchasing agent (or buyer) from a company with which you are not familiar?

If so, do you do all the hard work to complete the request, then follow up with the buyer, or do you call first?

And if you do call, do you start with the buyer?

If you use my sales techniques to address this issue, you either will stand a very good chance of getting the business, or won’t bother wasting your time responding to an RFP that you can’t win.

The RFP may be legitimate, or you may be in a situation in which your competition has already gotten the business, and the buyer is using your response to gain ammunition to lower the price he or she will pay to your competitor.  I used to be a Purchasing Agent myself, and spun  the wheels of endless numbers of salespeople before I became a salesperson.  I’m going to show you how NOT to get scammed, using the same techniques I teach in my negotiation training course.

First Steps

When you get an inbound RFP, immediately go to your sales database, and see if there has ever been previous contact with your company. If you have previous historical contacts, begin by calling the contact with the highest title on the list, and begin your calling by asking if he or she has generated an RFP. By asking this question, you’ll be opening the discussion to determine what solutions are being discussed, and if a final decision has been made.

If there are no same-company contacts in your database, begin by calling high, usually to the C-Level whose responsibility falls within the solution you offer.  Mention that you’ve gotten an RFP from the company, and you need to get a few answers before you can respond.  In most cases, you’ll be referred down to someone at the Director level who is generating the initiative.

So why not start with the purchasing agent?

Because, in most cases, unless you’re dealing in commodities like pork bellies or sorghum, the buyer can’t give you the business.  Only the corporate sponsor can.

Will you be offending the buyer?

Not if you do your job well, and stay consultative.

When I was a purchasing agent myself, I routinely sent out RFPs when I needed to grind down my prime vendor on pricing.  I used to drive those poor salespeople through hoops and none of them ever bothered calling my Program Manager (who made most of the real decisions).  If they had, there’s a very good chance they could have swayed the Program Manager to change the decision, provided they had  superior solutions.

Only start your sales process with the purchasing agent if you’ve exhausted the techniques I’ve described above.  And then begin your call by telling the buyer that you need to talk with one of the sponsors of the RFP in order to craft an adequate response.  I’ve told buyers that there are technical questions I need to have answered before I can craft  a response otherwise I might be proposing the wrong solution. I’ve had good success with this technique, but I guarantee that the purchasing agent will not refer you if the final vendor decision has already been made.  And that’s why it’s so important to call the other people in the company first.

And if you get a purchasing agent angry at you for what you’ve done, simply state your company always talks with sponsors before filling out RFPs, and you do this to prevent selling a solution to the company that will prove inadequate.  Believe me, this works, because I have been a purchasing agent.

Summary

Use these techniques to take control of each and every RFP situation, talk to the people that are really making the decision and be wary of taking your valuable time  in responding to spurious RFPs.  Add them to your Best Practises playbook.

(This article is by Geoff Alexander who specializes in B2B inside sales consulting and training, teaching high-level concepts, appropriate for both senior and junior telesales reps.  Phone him at 408 292 3593 or visit www.alextrain.com.  Article taken from Art Sobczak’s,  The Telephone Prospecting and Selling, Report, February 2009. Visit www.businessbyphone.com  for more information)

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3 Questioning Techniques from Dr. Phil That Every Tele-Prospector Should Know

Can you imagine if Dr. Phil was a tele-sales rep?

He’d be utterly fantastic!  There is a reason why Dr. Phil has such a popular show. He’s a master at getting his guests to open up and discuss the core issue of a problem or a situation. Once the real issues are on the table, the therapy can begin.

When you think about it, tele-sales reps should be doing the same thing. Your approach should be more ‘therapeutic’ with the aim of getting the client to open up and discuss the core issue of a problem or a situation.

You can be the ‘Dr. Phil’ of tele-sales if you follow these three questioning tips:

1. Use Therapeutic Questions

Dr. Phil knows that it takes his quests a little time to get ‘warmed up’ when he questions them on his show.  Their initial responses to his questions are very often general, vague or superficial. It is not necessarily that they are hiding something but rather because it is human nature to be reticent with information when speaking with people we don’t really know.

Kind of like selling, isn’t it?  Prospects typically don’t open up and blossom like a flower right away when questioned by a sales rep.  Prospects hold their answers close to their chests like playing cards simply because they don’t know you and don’t trust you. Knowing this Dr. Phil has a couple of questions that always get to the heart of the matter.

“How Do You Feel About That?”

Asking a prospect how he ‘feels’ about situation or event is brilliant because the question seeks to tap into the ’emotional’ side of selling. At some level, even in B to B, buying is an emotional event. How a prospect ‘feels’ about a situation often directs his or her buying behavior.

For example, suppose you ask a client about their sales growth over the last quarter and the client replies, “Twenty per cent.” That sounds good, doesn’t it? But is it?  Dr. Phil knows there might be more to this answer than meets the eye (ear?) so he would ask, “How do you feel about it?”

“Are you kidding me?” says the client, “In this market and with this product we, should be nailing 30-35%!” Instead of assuming that the current sales growth is good, the sales rep discovers it’s a source of angst.  Whole new ball game in terms of an approach.

“How’s that working for you?”

Here is another question that Dr. Phil would use if he were a sales rep: “How’s that working for you?”  It’s a superb question because it is not only open-ended but it casually asks for an evaluation; it gets the client to elaborate, expand and explain.

For example, if the client says, “I am getting my yearly accreditation at a weekend seminar in Tampa,” Dr. Phil would say, “Oh ya, and how’s that working for you?” as a means to get the client to evaluate the process. He wants their opinions and thoughts and this question helps elicit them.

So, if the client says, “It’s a royal pain in the backside. I lose the weekend and I have to drive 75 miles there and back on Saturday and Sunday,”  you know precisely how it’s NOT working for him. The devil is in the details and this question helps get you the details you often need to evaluate the client’s situation.

2.  Watch Your Delivery

Delivery of these therapeutic questions is critical. Dr. Phil knows that the manner in which he presents a question can influence the quality and the nature of the response from the client.

If you watch him, you will notice that his tone is neutral and non-threatening.  He does not want to give away a bias one way or the other. He doesn’t want to appear too intrusive and too direct because he knows that will put the guest on the defensive.

In the world of tele-sales, your delivery is important for precisely the same reasons. You must ensure that you are not giving your prospect the sense that she is being interrogated.

3. Let them Answer

But what Dr. Phil does best is that he lets guest answer the question. He does not interrupt. He does blather on.  He waits patiently as the client formulates the answer and responds.

Some reps have learned to keep silence but many are not evaluating what they hear but rather they are waiting for their turn to speak or they are waiting to ask the next question regardless of what was said. Dr. Phil would NOT do that. Instead, he listens and evaluates what he hears and based on this analysis he can ask more questions or provide feedback as appropriate.  In short, he is flexible in his approach to question and goes with the flow of the response.

You can do the same. Let your clients answer and tune in to what they are saying and how they are responding to that question. Does it make sense to you? Does it need more elaboration? Does it create other avenues to explore? Think and proceed just like Dr. Phil.

Summary

Wear your Dr. Phil hat the next time you question a client or prospect. Follow these three tips …and let me know how it’s working for you and how you feel about it.

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

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

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

3 Good Reasons

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

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

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

Why We Resist Inactive Accounts

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

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

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

Not so!

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

Sixty eight percent!

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

The 3 Steps to Reactivating Inactive Accounts

Before the Call

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

The Call – 3 Simple Rules

Here are three simple rules to guide you:

Rule #1:  Do make reference to past relationship.

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

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

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

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

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

Example

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

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

What types of _______ are you using now?”

What If…

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

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

What if the client references price issues?

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

What if they have a current supplier?

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

Summary

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

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8 Sales Questions You Can’t Live (and sell) Without

Make no mistake about it questions are the key to good selling. Good questions will get you good information. Good information helps you sell and sell more. But the real question is “what’s a good question?”

Here are eight great questions that you simply can’t live and sell without. By no means are they the only questions you can ask but these will do you well in every selling situation.

1. The Who Question

Never, ever assume that the person you are speaking with is the decision maker i.e., the person that can ultimately say “yes” (and no) to your sale. Your contact might be only one of a number of individuals that can influence the sale. It is important you know the players so that you don’t get blind sided and so that you can prepare strategies and tactics to deal with them.

The challenge however is to find out if there are other participants in the decision without putting your contact ‘on the spot.”  If you’re too blunt, the prospect might mislead you. Here is a simple, easy to use question that you can’t live without. Use it every single time:

“Amanda, apart from yourself, who is involved in this decision?”

Or here’s a variation: “Kevin, in purchases like these, there are usually several people involved. Apart from yourself, who else would have a vested interest in the decision?”

 

2.  The When Question

I am amazed at how many reps ignore this powerful and insightful question:

“Kathy, when do you see the final decision being made and delivery taken?”

“Mr. Woods, if this were a go, when do you see it occurring?”

The ‘when’ questions is important because it helps assess urgency.  A decision that will be made within a week has a little more impact than a decision that will be made in three months.  Knowing when the sale might conclude helps you set priorities, determines the time and effort you devote and dictates your follow up strategy. All in all, the when question makes you a wiser sales rep.

3. The Scenario Question

Discovering a prospect’s needs can be challenging in the early stages of selling. Because prospects don’t know you they tend to be much more reserved in the information they provide. Many are not comfortable telling you about their “warts and blemishes” (i.e., their needs, challenges, weaknesses and concerns) until some rapport and comfort has been established.

One of the best ways around this hesitancy is with a scenario question. As the name implies, the scenario questions paints a scenario that addresses a problem or a concern but doesn’t put the prospect on the spot.  Here are a couple of examples:

 

“Ms. Bixby, much of our research with our clients shows that cash flow is sometimes an issue particularly with the fluctuating price of oil.  Let me ask you, what has been your experience with cash flow over the last year or so?”

 

“Scott, we are getting more and more feedback from IT Directors and managers from large corporations regarding the misuse licensing agreement. It’s creating some concerns about compliance. Let me ask you: what has been your experience with this so far?”

 

The scenario question is based on the premise that ‘misery loves company.’ You want the prospect to think “Gee, if others are experiencing the same thing then its okay for me to open up.” Master the scenario question and you’ll get to needs quicker which reduces the sales cycle which helps you convert more sales in less time.

4.  The Net Impact Question

Even if you use a scenario question and the client opens up to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the prospect’s need is strong enough to act upon. . .at least in the client’s mind.  One of the best questions you can ask to determine the “depth and breadth” of a need is “net impact” question. Here are two versions:

“So what’s the net impact on your firm when cash flow is tight?”

 

“What’s the possible net impact if licensing agreements are abused in your branch offices?”

This “net impact” forces your prospect to think about the rippling effect of a problem. It gets them to do some analysis. In effect, you want them to say “Gee, I never thought of it like that.” Suddenly, seemingly minor problems can be more significant.’ Or, you’ll learn the net impact is absolutely minor. That’s good too because it means you should not waste your time here. Move on. Because the question is opened end it gets your client to expand and elaborate. You get information and information is power. You simply can’t live without net impact questions.

5. The Explain Question

Do you want a versatile, ‘catch all’ question that can be used in many different scenarios?

If so, here it is. It is less a question and more of a directive. No matter how you slice it, it gets the client to open up. It enticingly invites your client to speak up, expand, pontificate, ruminate, elaborate and articulate. For instance, suppose the prospect tosses the classic price objection. Say this:

‘Eric, could you ‘explain’ to me what you mean by too high?”

What a great question! You’re asking for elaboration. Is the price too high relative to budget? Or relative to a competitive bid? Or is it a smokescreen? Regardless, the client must open up.

Suppose your client says “We’re not all that happy with flux modulators.”

“Wendi, could you explain to me why you’re not happy?”

How easy it that. This is a buying signal. Exploit it. Suppose the prospect say, “Well, I’d have to go to committee with that proposal.”

“I understand completely. Joel can explain to me how the committee operates and how they go about evaluating a proposal?”

 

Suppose you’re probing for needs. Here’s what you can say,

 

“Ms. Giuliani, explain to me the challenges you’re experiencing in penetrating the Canadian market.”

 

Dare I say you cannot possible sell without this question ready and waiting?

6. The Make Sense Question

You might want to call this a ‘trial close.’ Keep it handy because you’ve use it a lot.  Use this simple, close ended question during and after pitch your product or after you’ve tackled an objection. So, for example, suppose you have presented a financial planning strategy regarding mutual funds. Just ask,

“Does that make sense to you so far?”

“Am I making sense to you right now?”

Now, this question does a couple of things. First of all, it tosses the conversation back into your prospect’s lap. This creates ‘give and take’ dialog and forces you to relinquish control of the call. This is s a good thing because it stops you from rambling on.

The second thing is does it helps you gauge if the client is on board or not. To make this happen you’ve got to listen to the words and the tone of your client. If your prospect says, “Ya sure, I guess” but with a vague and uncertain tone, clearly it does not make sense. You need to stop right here and reverse gears by saying, “It sounds like I may have confused things a bit and I sense some hesitancy. Can you explain to me what you’re thinking?” (Notice the versatile “explain” question)

On the other hand, if the client gives you a positive and enthusiastic remark, “Ya, it makes total sense” they have, in effect, given you a buying signal which says, “Go on, I like what I hear?”

Don’t be afraid to liberally pepper your sales call with “make sense” type of questions. Variation include, “do you follow?” “How does that sound to you?” “Am I on the right track?”

Does that make sense to you?

7.  The Removal Question

Here’s a question that every rep should keep in their hip pocket and use when dealing with objections and concerns. The Removal Question simply and efficiently ‘removes’ the issue at hand and asks the client their thoughts based on that scenario.  Suppose a prospect says, “It’s really great but it’s just not in our budget.” You reply:

Fair enough Brandi. Let me ask, if budget was not an issue, would you proceed with the proposal as outlined.”

If Brandi says yes, then you can negotiate or come up with terms or arrange financing or do whatever because her objection is not a smokescreen but the real thing.  If she says, “Well, ya. . .but I am also a little concerned about maintenance program” you’ve discovered that it’s not a budgetary issue or that budget is only part of a number of issues.

Suppose the client says, “Well, I have to go to the buying group on this one.” You say, “I understand. Steve, suppose there wasn’t a buying group, what would be your decision?”  By removing the objection you can determine if Steve’s on board or not.

Either way, you are well on the way to handling the client’s issue.

8. The Try Question

It’s time to close the sale. One of ABSOLUTE THE best questions to close the sale is this:

“So, Angie, would you like to give it a try?” or

 

“Why not give it a try?”

I stole this question from Jeffrey Fox, author of “How to Become a Rainmaker.” He calls it a “killer sales question” and he’s right. I use it now and I cannot sell without.

Why?

Because, as Fox explains, to most people ‘try’ is a revocable act and a decision that can be reversed. It sounds and feels temporary or impermanent. Fox concludes that people feel that to try something is a sample or a test, not a commitment to buy. But in reality, they either buy or they don’t buy. There is no “try” buy.  But, psychologically the prospect has an easier time making the decision to say yes to the purchase.

It’s brilliant and it works!. Try it. You’ll like it. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Summary

These are eight of the best selling questions of all time. This is not because I say so but because millions of sales reps have gone before you and tried these. They are classic and they work. You will sell better and sell more when you use them.

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

Questioning a prospect is a good thing, right?

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

Or so it would seem.

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

Worst Question #1: How are you today?

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

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

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

So why would you use it?

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

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

This question is a real sales killer. Hands down.

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

Rarely happens, right?

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

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

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

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

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

OMG! What a ridiculous question!

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not.

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

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

These questions can open doors, not close them.

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

And finally…

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Habit #1: Great Closer are Prepared for the Close

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

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

Objectives

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

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

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

The Strategy

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

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

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

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

The Close or the Advance

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

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

Summary

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

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Make Friends with Closed Ended Questions

Closed ended questions are much maligned and it just isn’t fair!

How many times have you heard sales trainers and managers harp on the inadequacies of closed ended questions? They tell you that they don’t invite 2-way dialog, that the client feels interrogated, that it can lead to too many no’s.

Sure, if used incorrectly, a closed ended question can be detrimental to a sales conversation.  But used incorrectly, an open ended question can be equally have a negative impact on a call.  They can annoy the client, make them impatient, make them wonder about the relevance and tarnish the professionalism of the tele-sales rep.

So it’s not the question, it’s the questioner.

Having said that, let’s look at fundamentals of closed ended questions.

The 2 Types of Closed Ended Questions

For the sake of clarity, closed ended questions are short answer questions, not just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. If you ask a prospect how many printers they have, you are asking for a definitive answer not for makes and models. Having said that, there are two fundamental types of close ended questions

The Fact Confirmation Questions

Fact confirmation questions are designed to gather specific data or facts.  They help clarify, confirm or verify information.  For instance,

How many printers do you have?

Are they color or black and white?

Do you use electro medical devices in your practice?

How many patients do you have?

Do you have an assistant?

Who is your current supplier?

Have you completed your continuing education credits for this year?

How much time do you spend preparing?

Will you ask your IT people about that?

Would you care to attend our webinar?

Are you finding that challenging?

Depending on your industry or your situation, these are dang good questions to ask!  They give perspective and help you evaluate the situation.  So go ahead and ask them.

But what you don’t want to do is ask more than three of them in a row.  When you ask three consecutive questions, people get uncomfortable because they are not fully participating.  When you ask five consecutive closed ended questions they ARE uncomfortable.  Beyond that they are disengaged and will typically terminate the conversations.

So here’s the thing: be conscious of this fact.  Think before you ask.

The Directed Questions

The second type of closed ended question is that which directs the client’s thinking.  For the most part, they are designed to elicit a ‘yes’ response. For example,

That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

That’s a fair assessment, correct?

That’s easy, right?

Doesn’t it make sense to give it a try?

Isn’t it time consuming to …?

Wouldn’t you like the system to run faster?

More passive income makes sense, doesn’t it?

These can be highly effective questions because, if used correctly, they illicit a positive response.  They are almost rhetorical in nature but they get the client to see the obvious or reasonable nature of a comment. It gets the client to acknowledge the logic of your statement.

But there is an added bonus; they act as a trial close.  It tells the questioner if they are on track. Listen carefully to the reply. If there is a trace of doubt or scepticism, deal with it right then and there. Say something like, “John, I hear a little uncertainty in your voice.  Can I clarify something for you?” (Nice closed ended question, eh?)

Of course, directed questions can be abused as well. For instance, “you want to save money don’t you?” Everyone wants to save money. If delivered carelessly, this question can sound patronizing. So watch your tone.  And too many directed questions can trivialize your point by simplifying things…

Summary

Closed ended questions used smartly can garner information. Closed ended questions can direct a sales call to a positive conclusion. So don’t avoid them.  Make friends with closed ended questions today.

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7 Ways to Use Silence to Sell More

Silence can be deafening, can’t it?

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

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

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

The Power of the Pause

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

7 Silent Applications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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2 MORE Not-So-Smart Questions to Avoid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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The 2 Most Stupid Questions in Tele-selling

Is there such a thing as a stupid question in tele-sales?

You bet your bottom dollar there is! Absolutely!

Questions are not unlike tools. You select the right tool for the right job. The wrong tool can make a mess of things. For example, using pliers to hammer a nail is an exercise in futility and self destruction.

It’s the same with questions. Use the wrong question and you can make a complete and utter mess of the sale. Here are the two stupidest questions to ask in tele-sales:

Stupid Question #1:Tell me what you like about your present supplier?

You might argue that this is a good question. Reps tell me that they learn what a client is looking for in a supplier. This is good information, they say.

Are you kidding me?!

Look at this question from another angle. When you ask a prospect what he or she likes about their present supplier, you get them to bask in the glow all the positives.  In doing so, they are reminded of the good relationship they’ve established. They are reminded of all the benefits they get from doing business with this firm. In some cases, you remind the buyer of all the reason he used to justified the use of this supplier.

So how can you possible get a wedge in the door when you’ve helped them articulate how fantastic their supplier is? You can’t. You’ve helped make them bullet proof. The best you can do is match them on benefits but in a ‘tie’, the incumbent always wins. Always.

Stupid Question #2: Is there anything you don’t like about your present supplier?

The logic here is that the prospect is going to gift wrap a problem and place it on your lap.

Like that’s going to happen!

It’s not. In a prospecting situation, rarely- very rarely- will anyone open up and tell you about a problem they are having. Look at it this way,  by admitting there’s a problem with the current supplier, the prospect might be admitting a mistake that she or he made. Who wants to do that? By admitting there is a problem suggests they haven’t done anything about it?

One more thing: no one wants to acknowledge warts and blemishes in their buying decisions or actions because it may reflect on them personally. Even if there are some problems, most clients will cover them up. And only in extreme cases will they raise their hand and tell you.

What to do Instead

To find out what the prospect might want in a supplier ask this simple question:

‘Tell me, great what are you looking for in a supplier, apart from a competitive price?”

Deal with the price issue right up front by tossing it aside. Now you’ve got the client thinking about availability, delivery, guarantees, selection and other value items where you might have some comparative muscle. Other good questions include: who are you using; how long have you worked with them; and do they use alternative suppliers for other products of a similar nature?

Summary

There are many questions that will provide good information that can lend perspective. Think before you ask but above all,  avoid asking these two stupid questions!

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How NOT to Question Your Prospects – 5 Lessons from the Obama/O’Reilly Super Bowl Interview

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News might be a feisty TV journalist but he would make a lousy sales rep.

O’Reilly interviewed President Obama on Sunday prior to the Super Bowl.  That interview helps to illustrate what you should NOT do as a sales rep when questioning a client or prospect.

Lesson #1: Beware The Interrogative Style

For the most part O’Reilly grilled the President. His tone and approach to questioning was aggressive and intimidating.  Part of this is O’Reilly’s style and character and it probably serves him well in the world of political journalism.  But in a selling situation, prospects will often feel intimated with rapid fire questions delivered like a cop interrogating a suspect.  Watch your tone.  Be careful of the number of consecutive closed ended questions you use. Balance them with open ended questions. If you don’t,  they’ll feel badgered and will clam up.

Lesson #2: Don’t Interrupt

Did you notice this? O’Reilly interrupted Obama about twenty times in the fifteen minute interview.  This is not an exaggeration. Watch the interview and see for yourself.  http://www.politicsdaily.com/2011/02/06/foxs-bill-oreilly-interviews-president-obama-before-super-bowl/

From a selling perspective, constant interruptions impact the flow of information. The content becomes fragmented and disjointed.  It is difficult to evaluate an answer when that answer is incomplete.  Regrettably, sales reps tend to interrupt a good deal which suggests they are less interested in the answers and more interested in going through the motions of questioning.

At another level, constant interruptions are disrespectful and rude. It says to the prospect, “I really don’t care about your reply.”  How Obama managed to stay polite and not snap at O’Reilly is beyond me.  A prospect would simply have hung up.

Lesson #3: Learn to Listen to the Content

Even without the interruptions, I am not certain if O’Reilly was really listening to Obama’s answers.  O’Reilly seemed more intent on asking his questions for the sake of asking his questions than for the information Obama provided in return. It was as though he had the questions written on his clip board and he was going to ask them no matter what the reply.  Survey-like. The answers were really not of interest.

This is very typical in sales situations. Some sales reps will ask a question, stop speaking, and then simply wait for their turn to speak again.  Instead of processing what they have heard and then responding accordingly, they plough onto to the next question whether it is appropriate or not.

In selling it is easy enough to ask questions but it is not so easy to evaluate the answers.  Effective questioning must be fluid and dynamic.  The answers provided by the client should determine the next question.  While it is important to have questions prepared, you must flexible to the moment and adjust to the information provided.

Lesson #4: Speak Less

It was also obvious that O’Reilly was positioning himself as a hard-nosed journalist by asking tough questions. No problem with that. But at times, O’Reilly was inserting his opinions and views. It seemed to be less about Obama and his policies and administration and more about O’Reilly’s need to be seen as a tough no-nonsense  guy.

I understand that too but in the world of selling your commentary is not needed nor wanted. Speak less. Listen more. Learn more. Understand more.  Only when your client is speaking will you gather insights, knowledge and perspective. Everything you need to sell lies deep inside your client. When you are speaking, they are not. It’s hard to discover needs when your mouth gets in the way.  Let them articulate. Let them expound.  You can make that happen by zipping your lips.

Lesson #5: Understand the value questioning

What was the net result of the interview?

I don’t know about you but by the end of interview I doubt if anyone (the viewing audience and O’Reilly) was further ahead.  What possible value did the TV viewers really derive?

All we got was fragmented sound bytes from Obama. I, for one , certainly did not get a comprehensive feel for anything from the Middle East to healthcare or to the Super Bowl game.  If this were a selling situation, the sales rep would NOT have been any further ahead.  In fact, he would have probably been further behind because the questioning process was a disaster.

You see, the whole point of questioning is to build rapport, to gain an understanding of your buyer, of the needs and requirements.  It should create value for you and it should create value for your client.

Summary

NOTE:  I am a Canadian so I have no political interest in the interview one way or the other. I could care less.   I have no ‘agenda ‘ except  to use the interview as a learning lesson.   Here’s the lesson: questioning is the MOST important skill you can possess when it comes to selling.  Learn from these lessons and don’t  blow your opportunities.

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

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

#1: “How are you today?”

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

#2: Butchering their name

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

3. Presenting in a monotone.

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

4. Beating around the bush.

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

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

5.  Not presenting a benefit.

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

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

6.  Not getting the prospect involved.

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

7.  Not answering a question.

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

8. Interrupting

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

9. Sarcasm and Rhetoric

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

10. Not knowing when to quit.

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

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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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