Tag Archives: voice mail

Voice Mail/E-Mail – What to Say and What to Write (Part 2 of 2)

If you want to increase the response rate from prospects then you need to integrate and harmonize e-mails with your voice mail. In effect, you want to leverage the strengths of the two mediums while minimizing the weaknesses.

(This is Part 2 of a series. See Part 1: How to Get More Response to Your Voice Mails by Using E-Mails)
Your Voice Mail

Your voice mail message needs to be short and intriguing. It needs to reference a problem or concern that your prospect might be experiencing but it should not pitch a solution.

Next, the prospect should know precisely what he or she must do once they’ve heard the message.

And finally, it should reference the e-mail that you sent which will get them to scan their inbox. By getting them to interact with their e-mail you tend to create a stronger impression of you and your offer.For instance, your voice mail might sound like this,

Hi ______, this is ______ calling from ________.

_______, the reason for my call is to share an idea with you that could possibly reduce the hassle and headache – and the cost – of recruiting quality sales reps at your firm. I have also sent you an e-mail.

In the mean time, my number is xxx xxx xxxx. Again, it’s _________ from __________.

Thanks, ____

Easy isn’t it? The message is quick and to the point. No infomercial here. A problem is cited (hassle, headache and cost) and a solution is implied without a pitch. Finally, there is the reference to the e-mail. You can bet that most recipients of this voice mail will check their e-mail if only to gather more information about you and your company.

Your E-Mail

Your e-mail should echo your voice mail so that the prospect quickly relates the two. It starts with the subject line. A nifty subject line is simply this:

                Subject:  Jim, regarding my voice mail

         Subject:  Joan, voice mail message

                Subject:  Pat, today’s voice mail

Notice, the e-mail features the prospect’s first name. Using the first name acts like an eye magnet for the prospect especially if they’re glancing at their smart phone. Once they see their name, they’ll then be reminded of the voice mail. If they haven’t checked their voice mail they almost certainly will after seeing the message. If they have heard the voice mail, they’ll be curious if there’s additional information and open it up. In either case, you’ve left an impression.

As for the content of your e-mail message, use the theme of your voice message,

“Hi _______,

This e-mail is a follow up to the voice mail I left you regarding an idea I have that might reduce the hassle, headache and perhaps even the cost of hiring a more effective and successful sales rep.

Could you squeeze my call in tomorrow morning or perhaps late afternoon?

Let me know what works best for yo

Kind regards

Look at how short and simple this message is! Whether the prospect reads this at his/her workstation or on their iPhone sitting on the couch, the message is compact and to the point. If a quality rep is an issue with the prospect, there is reason to call if only out of curiosity.

Notice there is no fancy, detailed pitch.

The action request is simple. The prospect could key in “Tmw 8:30” during a commercial break or on the commute from a bus or train or subway or wherever.

Summary

Sending out an e-mail after you’ve left a voice mail adds one more step to the selling process. It appears a little tedious. But the purpose of the effort is to improve RESULTS. More prospects will notice your message and remember it. A certain percentage will act upon it. And that means more selling opportunities.

So integrate e-mail to your voice mail and start selling more.

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How to Get More Response to Your Voice Mails by Using E-Mails (Part 1 of 2)

If you’re an inside sales rep, you are well aware of the challenges of getting prospects to respond to your voice mail messages. In fact, many telephone reps don’t leave voice mail messages simply because the return call rate is so low.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The fact of the matter is you can increase the volume of return calls simply by combining your voice mail message with an e-mail message.

Integrating voice mail and e-mail gives you a 1-2 punch in terms of messaging. You get the audio power of a voice mail message combined with the visual power of an e-mail message. This creates greater awareness and interest in you and your product/services. This article will show you why this works and how

The Trouble With Voice Mail Messages

As if you don’t know this already but the trouble with voice mail is that there are just too many messages being left with prospects. Every sales rep seems to leave one cluttering up the voice mail box. Worst of all, most of the messages aren’t very good. Consequently, prospects have become skeptical if not jaded. Many barely listen to the message; some ignore them completely. The net result is a low pay off for you.

Voice mails have some additional drawbacks to consider. Voice mail tends to be an 8:00a.m. to 5:00 p.m. medium. In other words, the majority of business people tend to access their e-mail only during business hours. Add to that, many decision makers are not at their desks but rather in meetings or off site so accessing voice mail isn’t always the most convenient of tasks. And let’s face it, very few are checking voice mails at 8:45 at night

Finally, responding to voice mails can be a bit of a pain. Often it means jotting down a number and calling you back. The prospect runs the very real risk that you’re on the line forcing them to play telephone tag and leaving a message. Who needs the hassle?

The Power of an E-Mail

In B2B, e-mail is still the darling of the business world. First off, e-mail provides a visual message. It is something prospects can SEE. It creates a degree of tangibility because it is on a screen or sometimes printed out on paper.

Increasingly, e-mail is becoming the preferred method of communication if only because it is fast and convenient.

Think about it. Most decision makers have a smart phone that they take EVERYWHERE. If they’re in a meeting they can and will quickly check their e-mails. If they’re stuck in traffic they check their e-mails. If they’re watching “Dancing With the Stars” or if they’re at their child’s hockey game, they can -and do-check their messages. This means your e-mail will at least be ‘seen.’

Of course, it can easily be deleted. Your prospect probably gets more e-mails than voice mails so they are adept at scanning and deleting more quickly.

But the point is obvious: an e-mail tags along; it follows and lingers; it’s instantly accessible; it’s easy to craft an instant response.

The next step is to provide your prospect with a visual and verbal message that compels them to take action or to be receptive to your follow up call.  See the next post  ( Voice Mail/E-Mail – What to Say and What to Write which will give you some specific tips.

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7 “Positive” Reasons Why Your Voice Mail Messages Are Not Being Returned

Do you get discouraged when your voice mail messages are not returned?

Most reps do and they beat themselves up about it.  They convince themselves that the prospects doesn’t care; or that they asked for a quote or proposal because they wanted to get rid of the telephone rep; or that they’ve gone with a competitor who had a better price etc.

It gets so easy to convince yourself that your calls are not being returned for negative reasons that it becomes nearly impossible to pick up the phone and make another attempt.  It gets far easier to quit rather than persist.  But what if all those negative things aren’t happening?  What if your prospect is positive about you and your company/products?  What if something has happened?

Here are just 7 “positive” reasons why your calls might not have been returned and why you should continue to follow up.

1. Your Messages Were Not Received

What if your message wasn’t received because there was some technical error? What if your client has lost his access code and can’t retrieve your message?  What if there was a problem with the voice mail system?  If you think that the message was not received you’ll be more inclined to make another attempt or two.

2. Your Prospect Simply Forgets

You know what? People forget.  Things come up. Minor or major emergencies crop up. Your call drops down the list. Maybe your prospect had every good intention and simply forgot. They’re human after all.

3. Your Message Was Confusing /Convoluted

To me there is nothing worse than a long rambling message.  Most prospects won’t listen to your entire saga of a message and consequently will miss or ignore your request for a call back.  Did you make your message ‘listener friendly?”  If not, call again.

4. You Delivered Your Phone Number so Fast the Prospect Didn’t Catch it

Early last week I had a message from an individual who might be interested in my training services or who might be trying to sell me something.  The message was vague but intriguing and I couldn’t really tell.   The only trouble is I cannot figure out the phone number.  She recited it so fast, so slick and so garbled that I cannot get all the digits despite listening to it several times.  I can’t call her and I haven’t received a follow up call.  She’s probably convinced herself that I’m not interested.  Too bad, because I am.

5. You or Your Prospect Inverted Your Phone Number

I think I am slightly dyslexic.  More times than I would like to admit I have inverted a number or two or three.  Maybe you inverted a number.  Or more likely, maybe your prospect inverted a number when they jot it down.  They called you back and discovered they had the wrong number.  Things like this happen.  So, call and leave another message.

6. Your Prospect  Expects You to Persist

Some prospects don’t make return calls for umpteen reasons. They expect you to do it. If you want their business you need to earn it the old fashion way: with a little effort.  Apply the effort a few more times. Impress them with your keen follow up.

7. Your Prospect is Swamped

Most prospects aren’t sitting back and doing nothing.  They’re busy.  The have a lot on their plate. They haven’t forgotten you they simply have more pressing issues.  They have prioritized their day. Nothing personal, simply business.  So that means you might have to push the envelope a little more and little harder.

Summary

There you have it: 7 ‘positive’ reasons why your prospect hasn’t called you back.  There is nothing nefarious behind their failure to call back but rather legitimate and benign reasons.  If you think that way, you’ll be more inclined to pursue the prospect. So pick up the phone and try again.

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Please… Return My Call

by Eric Slife www.salestrainingcentral.com.

Getting prospects to return your calls is one of the most frustrating problems you experience.

You can be 90% sure a deal will close in the next week and suddenly, silence. If you keep calling, you appear desperate and annoying, so what do you do?

Before you drive yourself completely crazy, take solace in the fact your competition faces the same problem. However, that alone won’t pay the bills. Before exploring some tactics that will help you get your calls returned, first ask yourself, “Why don’t prospects return my calls?”

Here are some of the more common reasons prospects don’t return calls:

  • Fear – Most people don’t like confrontation. They would rather completely avoid you, than deliver you bad news.
  • Too Busy – Prospects are bombarded by calls every day. Even though returning your call may only take 5 minutes, the thought of having to talk with a sales person when they have nothing new for you and a pile of work on their desk can seem like an hour. In addition, if they have 10 similar calls that day, it will take an hour.
  • Lack Urgency – If their problem hasn’t reached their pain threshold, they will lack a sense of urgency to fix it. Without pain, their problem isn’t a high priority.
  • No Value – If you are leaving messages that don’t provide additional value or specific reason for them to call you back, there is no point for them to call you. “I’m just calling to see if you got my brochure (or made a decision),” won’t stimulate someone to return your call.
  • Using You – If a company is just fishing for information, they will lose all interest once they receive what they want. Don’t give up information without getting something in return. If they want a price quote over the phone or a brochure, make them first agree to an appointment.

How do you get people to call you back?

Your first action with your prospect is to establish the ground rules and expectations. Your prospect needs to know it is okay to say, “No.”

For example: “Mr. or Ms. Prospect I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. At the end of today’s meeting, my goal is for us to establish if my product or service is a good fit for you and your company. In order to do this, I’d like to ask you some questions, so I better understand your business. Are you okay with this?”

If at any time during our conversation today or future conversations it becomes clear to you that we aren’t a good fit, or you decide to go in a different direction, are you comfortable with telling me, ‘No’? In addition, if at sometime I need you to return a call or reply to an email for additional information or to determine what you want next, what method do you prefer? Great, let’s get started.”

By doing this, you are laying the ground rules. If they don’t return your calls, politely remind them of this conversation. This doesn’t mean you email or call them every other day. Give them an opportunity to respond. I suggest at least 4 business days between contacts.

Let’s say, you’ve laid the ground work, and your calls still aren’t returned, here are some specific techniques you can do to reach your prospect.

  • Disengage Caller ID: Contact your phone company and ask them how to temporarily disengage your caller id. Let’s face it, we all screen our calls. If they still don’t pick up, don’t leave a message, but call back at a different time using the same technique.
  • Use Email: Many times if a prospect can’t be reached over the phone, an email is your best alternative. I’ll often include the following in the Subject Line: John, regarding your request about…
  • Fall on Your Sword: Don’t come across as upset or demanding. Take the opposite approach:

“Mr. or Ms. Prospect, unfortunately we’ve been unable to connect, and I’m starting to feel like I’m becoming an annoyance. I certainly don’t want to be a pain in your side, but I’m feeling like your situation has changed. Please let me know what’s changed, and how I should best follow up with you. This politely let’s them know they haven’t returned your calls, and they appreciate your graciousness.”

  • Contact The Receptionist: That’s right, call the receptionist. Let them know you have had trouble connecting. See if your prospect has been out of town. They may even have information that sheds light on the situation. You may uncover some important internal politics or changes that are happening.
  • Go Over Their Head: Sometimes, you may need to make an end run. One catch. Have your manager make the call to the person over your contact. This way you still may be able to save face with your prospect.

Call at Higher Levels: Most sales people think they are speaking with the decision maker, when in reality they aren’t. Many times sales people will ask, “Are you the decision maker?” Unfortunately, too many people don’t want to admit they aren’t the decision maker. To get a more accurate answer, ask them, “Who else besides yourself will be involved in the decision making process?”

If you start by calling the actual decision maker, you will receive more direct and honest answers. True decision makers don’t have time to play games. In addition, if they tell you to call someone lower in the organization, you can always use that as leverage if someone isn’t returning your calls. You might say something like:

“Mr. or Ms. Prospect I know you are busy. However, I promised _________ (their boss) I would provide them periodic updates, or information by this date. Unfortunately, I can’t provide them with this until I speak with you concerning…”

  • Fire Your Contact: If everything else has failed, it’s time to fish or cut bait. Reach out one last time, to inform them you are throwing away their file. Believe it or not, this will get some people to realize it’s time to make a decision. If it doesn’t work, walk away knowing you’re better off spending time with real prospects

One final thought. Sometimes deals fall through. In this case, the best thing you can do is to build top of mind awareness. Create your own drip marketing campaign, so when a company is prepared to purchase, you are at the top of their list, or at least number two. In addition, this is a great way to obtain referrals!

About The Author:
I started Slife Sales Training, Inc. with my wife Daphne in 1999. Since then, our company has evolved into one of the most extensive and affordable online sales training resources www.salestrainingcentral.com. Sign up for our newsletter today and receive Top 10 Voicemail Blunders for absolutely FREE.
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5 Ways to be Horrible at Cold Calling

by Michael Scott, www.invokeselling.com
The idea that you can pick up the phone, talk to the owner of a company you’ve never spoken with before, set a meeting and get his business is one of the most exciting things I do as a sales person.  The problem is – so many salespeople are just really bad at it, and it is a vicious cycle.  They think they are bad, so they are bad, then they hate doing it and they get no results. Sales consulting companies then feast on “never cold call again” campaigns because this is what some salespeople want to hear.  The fact of it is, cold calling is an integral part of any sales cook book to meet your goals.  If you are choosing to not cold call, you are making a big mistake.

Here are 5 items that make people bad at cold calling which wrongfully convinces themselves that cold calling does not work:

1) Say “Hi this is Jon Dough with abc company, can I talk to your head of operations?”

2) Leave a voice mail

3) Use a script

4) Use a gimmick like “Hi Jon, I’m calling for the appointment I set with you”

5) Sound “Salesy”

We will be coming out with articles on how you can be successful at cold calling and make a dedicated effort to utilize this tool as part of your sales plan to increase business.

For more great articles visit www.invokeselling.com

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How to Brand Yourself Using YOUR Voice Mail Box

When your clients or prospects call back and get your voice mail, what do they hear?

Do they hear a tired, dull voice asking them to leave a message? Or do they get some generic, dis-embodied message explaining you’re unavailable?  Or … or do they hear a message that has a unique flair and brands you as professional and distinctive?

If you’re in telephone sales or you use the phone to prospect and leave messages, chances are that sooner or later a prospect or customer is going to call you and encounter your voice mail.  What a splendid opportunity to position yourself as different, proficient, and creative!

The 5 Steps to Branding Yourself

It is easy to create a positive and professional impression every time a client hears your voice mail box message if you follow these five simple rules.

First, provide you full name and company name. This is not rocket science.  People want to know they’ve called the right person and company.  Everyone has this part figured out.

Second, provide today’s date. Okay, here’s the hard part. What this means is you have to change your message every single day and provide the current date. Why bother?  It shows that you interact with your voice mail.  It tells the caller that a message that is left will get heard.  It gives your caller piece of mind.  And the vast, vast majority of sales reps DON’T do this so it gives you a distinctive edge; makes you a little bit more memorable.  Like a brand.

Of course, there is a danger with this.  If you forget to change the date, callers remind you.  They’ll point it out.  Tell you point blank.  But that’s a good thing … because it tells you they were LISTENING.  Get into the routine of changing your voice mail first thing in the morning.

Third, explain where you are or what you’re doing. This part of your message can provide an explanation of where you are.  It could be as simple as “I am away from my desk or on another line” to something more elaborate such as “I am on a site visit with a client in San Antonia for today and tomorrow.”  Either way, it provides your caller with some detail and, if used properly, can position you and your job function.  Like a brand…sound familiar?

Fourth, tell the listener precisely what you’d like them to do. Usually this part of your message asks your caller to leave their name, number and a detailed message.

Fifth, thank them and tell them what you will do. Complete the circle. Assure them that leaving the message was the right thing to do and that you’ll respond within a given period of time.  If you’re an inside sales rep, response times could be within an hour or two.  If you’re on the road, maybe it’s with twenty four hours.  Either way, tell them.

4 Other Ways to Supercharge Your Voice Mail Box

Here are some additional ways to brand yourself through your voice mail box.

Watch your tone. You want to sound upbeat, positive, and polished.  If you fumble about and make a mistake simply re-record your message.  Another 17 seconds to create a positive impression. Peanuts.

Speak at a moderate rate of speech. The faster you deliver your message the less sincere it sounds. In fact, people equate fast talkers with those who are not trustworthy; someone trying to pull the wool over their eyes.  As your message gets routine it gets easier and easier to delivery it quickly. Slow down and be aware of the negative impact that pace can have.

Provide a mini-marketing message. While it is best to keep your message short, don’t be afraid to add a one liner at the end of the message. For instance, “Thank you for calling … and be sure to ask me about….”  Or you might want to lead them to your web site, “Thank you for calling … for more information please visit www.telesalesmaster.com”

Provide a quote.  Some reps have branded themselves by adding an inspirational quote at the end of their messages.  Some change the quote daily while others use the same quote.  Different. Unique. Branding.  Why not?

Summary

It takes about 17 seconds per day to change your message and brand yourself. Seventeen seconds! That’s amounts to about 1.4 minutes per week.   Changing your voice mail message is not a big step towards branding and marketing yourself but it is a STEP.  That so few reps don’t change their messages means you have a huge opportunity to make a difference.  Try it and see.

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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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Want Better Tele-Prospecting Results Tomorrow? Try the Squeeze Play Today

If you struggle to reach decision makers, if your messages are rarely returned, and if you’re frustrated with your prospecting results, then try using one of the best-kept secrets of tele-prospecting.

The secret? Call as high up in the organization as you can AND THEN apply the “Squeeze Play.”  You’re gonna love this because it really works!

At first blush, this approach would seem to be just the opposite of what you would expect. Executives (VPs and C-Levels) are tough to reach and getting them to respond is even tougher. Protected by personal administrators and voice mail, the odds of speaking to an exec are slim. So how could that improve your prospecting results?

But that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to speak the executive for the Squeeze Play to work. All you need is a simple strategy.

The Executive Suite

When you call higher up, one of two things will happen. You will get lucky and reach the decision maker or, more likely, you will reach a personal assistant. Either way, you can leverage the moment.

The Executive Encounter

Unless you’re selling a strategic product or service, the chances that the executive actually makes the decision to buy is negligible. An underling usually handles those buying decisions and that’s what you are really looking for. Begin by identifying yourself, where you are calling from and the nature of your call. They key here is to acknowledge that the executive may not be the right person and ask for guidance,

“Ms. Bigge, I know you probably don’t handle this type of purchase but perhaps you could steer me in the right direction.”

You’ll find the vast majority of executives appreciate your candid nature and will give you the name of the person in charge, the ‘underling.’ Now here’s how you complete the call and set up the Squeeze Play,

“Thank you Ms. Bigge for your time. I’ll call ____ today and then I’ll let you know how it went by the end of the week. How does that sound?”

Either the executive will say yes to your suggestion or she’ll explain you don’t have to call back. It doesn’t matter. You’ve set the stage.

The Personal Admin Encounter

You can use the same tactic if you reach a personal secretary. They’ll be glad to refer you to the proper underling. Be sure to thank secretary and let her know you’ll give them an update by a specific date and time.

The Underling – Voice Mail Squeeze Play

Call the underling. If you encounter voice mail, leverage the call to the executive suite and induce the Squeeze Play. Leave the following message,

“Mr. Underling, I was just speaking to Ms. Bigge (or I was just speaking to Janet, Ms. Bigge’s assistant) and she suggested I give you a call with an idea we discussed on how to ___________ (fill in your benefits statement)

Would you please give me a call at ______ as soon as possible as I told Ms. Bigge I will get back to her on Friday at 2:00 p.m. regarding the results of our conversation.”

By telling the underling that you will get back to the executive by a given date and time creates the “squeeze play.” At this point, the underling doesn’t know a thing about you except that you have had a chat with the executive (or the executive office). So naturally enough, the underling feels compelled to respond and reply to you…just in case. Et voila!

The Underling – Live Squeeze Play

You can use the Squeeze Play live as well. In your opening statement, make reference to the discussion with the executive right off the bat,

“Mr. Underling, I spoke with Ms. Bigge regarding ______ (your benefit statement). I am to get back to Ms. Bigge by Friday with regard to our call so if I have caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if there might be a fit.”

As with the voice mail, the underling knows the executive is somehow involved and will likely feel obligated to answer your questions or set up a telephone appointment sometime before Friday. In this manner, you avoid the brush off objections that typically occur.

Keep Your Word

The beauty of the Squeeze Play is that it is legitimate. You have positioned your executive contact so that it maximizes the opportunity.

Key point: ALWAYS follow through and keep your word. Call the executive or admin back as you promised. This can work for you in two ways.

First, if the underling does not call back, you can call Ms. Bigge and explain you made a few attempts to reach Underling but that he has not gotten back to you. Explain further that you will continue to try and will continue to keep Ms. Bigge updated. In this manner, you are not really “tattling” but rather fulfilling a promise you made to the executive.

Second, if the underling does call you back you must STILL call Ms. Bigge. Regardless of whether or not you get a sale or an appointment or whatever, be sure to give the executive (or secretary) an update. It’s not so much they they really need to know but rather an issue of keeping your word and positioning yourself for future opportunities.

Summary

Try the Squeeze Play. It’s easy, it’s ethical and it’s a little edgy. Certainly, it’s different. Most of your competitors don’t use it. Above all, it works very well and that means more decision maker contacts. More opportunities typically mean more sales. Give it a shot

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

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

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

Enter Spock.

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

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

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

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

1. Background Information and Assessment

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

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

2. Objectives of the Call

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

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

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

3. Opening Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Key Question, Key Points, Potential Objections

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

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

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

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

5. Notes

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

6. Actions Plans

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

7. Voice Mail Strategy

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

Summary

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

Sell well and prosper!

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The Top 10 Things Every Field Rep Should Know About Tele-Prospecting

Many field reps are uncomfortable using the telephone when cold calling. Here are some tips to make the process of cold calling by phone easier and more effective.


1. It’s NOT a numbers game, it’s a results game

You’ll often hear this about cold calling especially from you boss: “It’s a numbers game.” Translated it means you have to make a zillion calls. No way. Don’t believe them.   Telephone cold calling is not about quantity, it’s about results.

Results come from smart tele-prospecting, not mindless dialing. Being smart means have the skills and techniques to make the most of the dials you make.  It means learning new processes and using job aids to convert more prospects into leads. It means being good at cold calling.

2. Use a verbal GPS (call guide)

A verbal GPS is a written ‘map’ to help guide your cold call.  Like a GPS, enter your destination (your primary objective), your starting point (your opening statement)  the sites you want to see along the way (your secondary objectives) and the route you want to take to get  there (your key questions, the key points you want to make).

Put this information on a green sheet of paper so that it sticks out on your desk or wall. Look at it before you call. Use it during the call to keep you on track. The mere process of writing these items down will increase you success rate by a minimum of 20%.

3. Script – yes, script- your opening statement

Most field reps would rather undergo a root canal than use a script. Instead of a script, field reps tend to ‘wing it’ and justify their behavior by saying, it sounds more ‘natural.’ The net result is that the cold call feels like a root canal.

If you were going to make dozens of cold calls to similar prospects regarding your products or services, why would you try to ‘wing’ it every time? Script your opening statement so you have the very best mix of words that entices the prospect to listen further.

4. Avoid Shooting Yourself in Both Feet by Avoiding these Killer Phrases

Cold calls quickly become lame when field sales reps inadvertently shoot themselves in both feet by using two killer phrases.  The first phrase is “How are you today?” In cold calling situations, the vast majority of prospects perceive this phase as trite and insincere. It instantly puts the prospect on guard; makes them skeptical and suspicious. Just eliminate it from your vocabulary.

The other killer phrase is “Did I catch you at a good time?” While polite, it gives your prospect a fast and easy way to ditch you. Instead, use this phrase, “If I caught you at a good time, what I would like to do is ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if we might be able to … (list a benefit).”  The prospect has the definite sense that permission was asked but the real question was not if he had the time but rather could questions be asked.” Big difference.

5. Know When and When NOT to Leave a Voice Mail – and Avoid Call Display

If you are never going to call this prospect again, leave a message. You have nothing to lose. Script – yes script- your message ahead of time and be prepared to leave it. If you are planning to recycle the list a few times, don’t leave a message. It warns them you’re coming. They use call display to screen your calls. Hang up. Take three or four shots at getting the client live.

6.  Anticipate Knee Jerk Objections

The majority of prospects are not sitting back and waiting for a call from a sales person. They are typically working and your call is an interruption. Many prospects will toss out an objection out of reflex not unlike what happens when a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.

Here’s what to do. List the typical knee jerk objections on a sheet of paper so you’re not caught off guard. When you hear an objection follow the “EIA Process.” First, empathize. Next, ignore the objection completely. It’s not legitimate anyway. Third, calmly ask ‘one quick question.’  (Example:  Prospect: “I am busy right now.” Rep: “I understand completely…Brian, while I have you, one quick question: do you…)

Amazingly, over half the prospects will answer your question and most they will continue to answer additional questions simply because their reflexive reaction has settled down.

7.  Ruthless Disqualify Your Prospects

Have your key qualifying questions prepared and get to them right off the bat. You do this to determine if the prospect is worth YOUR time. If not, ruthlessly disqualify them and move on to greener pastures.

8.  Script- yes, again, script- your offer

For most sales reps, the offer is a request for an appointment. At this point in the sales cycle,  your product is the appointment.  Therefore, script your request for their time word for word.  Explain what the appointment will entail. Most importantly, list the benefit the client will get by granting you thirty or so minutes of time. By having this prepared ahead of time you won’t fumble the opportunity.

9.  Forget About Sending Literature

Prospects can make mince meat of your efforts by getting you to send, fax or e-mail literature. This smokescreen objection is a classic, if not polite, way to blow you off. Don’t fall for it. If you do agree to send marketing material, get commitment by asking for a specific follow up date and time (e.g., Thursday at 3:15). No date and time, no literature. Move on.

10. Make your call like an Academy Award Winner

The telephone is an audio medium.  Your tone, rate of delivery and volume of your voice accounts for about 80% of the message. Too fast, too slow, or too monotone will destroy your cold call in less than ten seconds. What this really means to you is that you need to practice your opening statement so that it flows naturally. You need to practice following your verbal GPS so you can transition your prospect through the call.  Practice your ‘offer’ as if you’re Brad or Angelina. Get your words and tone down pat. Do that and you’ll be a tele-prospecting star.

Summary

Telephone cold calling for field sales reps can be easier and more effective by simply bearing these ten tips in mind. Implement them and watch your success grow.

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

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

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

1. Create a Master List

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

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

2. Write Your Goals

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

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

3. Clear Your Desk

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

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

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

4. Clear Up Your E-Mails

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

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

5. Clear Up Your Voice Mails

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

6. Arrive 15 Minutes Earlier

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

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

7. Schedule Your First Call

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

Summary

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

Et voila.

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

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The 9-Word Voice Mail – That Gets Replies!

This morning my message light was flashing on my phone.

There was five.  Two were rotten messages from vendors and they were quickly deleted. Two were from clients.  The last message went like this:

“Jim, this is Bob Smith (not his real name). My number is ________”

So there I was clutching the receiver thinking : Who is Bob? What does he want? Probably a sales rep. But it could be a prospect. Maybe it was someone who attended one of my sessions.  I just sent out my newsletter, maybe it was a reader.  Could be those computer guys I called a while back.

My spider senses were tingling. Only 9 words. Hmmm… I sensed it was a sales rep.  But, dang, I was curious. I hemmed and hawed for about 22 seconds and then I called the number.  And sure enough it was a sales rep/consultant offering up a service.

I didn’t have a need and so the conversation was short.

But that’s not the point!

The point was his message worked. It got me to return his call. That’s what a good voice mail message should do.

Uncertainty

This message was highly effective.  Nine words! Short, simple, clear, directive.  It was delivered  succinctly and well.  And it created more that curiosity.  It created uncertainty.  I was uncertain about dismissing it, deleting it, or trashing it. It could have been  important. It could have been  a prospect; an opportunity. I did not want to risk ignoring and losing out.

5 Lessons Learned

First, the voice mail message did not try to sell me or pitch me.

Second, it did not identify the rep’s title, company or position. It gave me nothing to help me disqualify the message.

Third, it drove me mad wondering what it was about. It was like a pebble in my shoe.

Fourth, it indirectly played on one of the key motivators: fear (uncertainty).

Fifth, it got me to call back.

Summary

Nine words. So simple. So powerful. You couldn’t get much more of a basic voice mail, could you? But,  sometimes in our search for good solutions we become overly complex; we out think ourselves; or we try to be too clever.  Sometimes simple is the best. Try it and see.  Let me know  how it goes.

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The Top 10 Ways to Get Past Voice Mail and Reach More Decision Makers

If you make cold calls or follow up calls then you are probably well acquainted with voice mail.  Voice mail is a vicious sale stopper and it isn’t going to go away any time soon.  Knowing how to manage this electronic screen is vital for your calling success. The key is to leave a message only as a LAST resort. In the meantime, here are ten creative, proven and effective ways to get past voice mail and reach more decision makers.

1.  Find an Ally and Gather Intelligence

By doing some intelligence gathering before you call the decision maker can make voice mail a non-item.  One of the best tips is to call your prospect’s sales department and speak to a sales rep.  Ask for their help and explain that you are a sales rep and trying to reach a certain decision maker. Ask if they could give you the decision maker’s direct number, their e-mail address and most importantly, if they know a good time to reach that individual.  The sales rep is in the same boat as you and will empathize with you and understand your plight. You will be amazed at what you get.

2.  Use a Master List and Make a Pile of Calls

Get a yellow legal pad. List 25 or 30 contacts plus their numbers. Start at the top of list and dial. If you encounter voice mail hang up and go to the second name. And so on and so on, never leaving a message. The idea is to quickly dial until you reach a live person. If you complete the list, cycle it again.  No luck? Try it one more time. Call it elbow grease but you’ll be surprised at how many times you get through on the second or third go around.

3.  Listen and Learn

When you encounter voice mail take the time and listen carefully to the message. Sometimes you can get a good feel for the decision maker’s personality, which might be beneficial if you have to leave a voice mail message later on. Sometimes you learn the decision maker is out of the office. Don’t leave a message because it will be lost  with all the other accumulated messages. Another tip:  all back one or two days AFTER the decision maker has returned. They won’t be nearly as busy catching up and may have the time to take your call.

4.  Try Different Times

Try different times of the day. Top decision maker are typically in early so call then. Try late in the day and at lunch. The point is, do not leave a message without making several attempts at different times of the day.

5.  Call Different Departments

Often the real culprit is not voice mail but call display.  Try calling a different department before you call the decision maker. Call the customer service department or someone in sales or maybe the office of Chairman. Ask for your contact. Sometimes (but not always) when the call is transferred the decision maker will see “Chairman’s office” or some other internal department’s number instead of yours. If they are there, they’ll answer it.

6.  Try Neighboring Extensions

This is powerful tip. If your contact is at extension 110 try calling extension 109 or 111. Sometimes the extensions and offices are in sequence and you will get a neighbor.  The best thing about this tactic is that the neighbor can “see” if your contact is in their office. Ask the person if they could peak around the corner to see if your contact is available. They often do and then transfer the call.

7. Use Your Cell Phone

Again, if you suspect that call display is the reason why your call goes unanswered and into your contact’s mail box, try calling from your cell phone. The number will be unfamiliar and if the decision maker is there, chances are they will answer it. (You can also use *67 which screens your number but this is a pay for use feature. Check with you phone carrier).

8. Use a Pay Phone

Here’s another great idea. If you think your number is being screened find a coffee shop that has a public phone. Get yourself a triple grande latte, grab your master list and a handful of quarters and make some calls.  If the contact is there, he’ll probably see “pay phone” and answer. Heck who wouldn’t’? If they ask you about the tactic, don’t deny it. Say that you went for a coffee (true) and used the pay phone to make calls (also true).

9. Leverage Other Media

If you have an e-mail address, you can prime the contact that you will be calling. The e-mail is less intrusive and if you have a good subject line you might get noticed. Tell them  when you will be calling and that you ‘hope’ the contact will take the time to answer your call.  Another route to take, albeit more costly, is to use a dimensional mailer. Send a bulky package – e.g., sending a book- and attach a note to say you’ll call first thing in the morning.  Sometimes this will get your call answered if only because the contact wants to say thank you. But more significantly, if you have to leave a message, most contacts feel compelled to reciprocate your gesture by calling you back.

10. Last Resort- Leave a Message

If you have tried four or five of these tactics (or all of them) you have earned the right to leave a message. Make it short, benefit oriented, and polite. But be sure to follow up.  Wait three business days and leave another message.  Do this a couple of more times and wait three business days before leaving each message.  If there is no rely by then, discontinue the calling.

Summary

These are some creative ways to get past voice mail and it’s actually fun to see which one works best for you. Give them a shot before you ever leave a message. This will increase your odds of getting through and reaching more decision makers.

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How to Create the Perfect Voice Mail Message (How to Leave John Grisham-like Voice Mail)


A ‘perfect’ voice mail message is one that not only gets heard by your prospect but also gets a return call.  The perfect voice mail message has a few key features.

First and foremost, it must be as intriguing as a John Grisham thriller. An intriguing message teases and tempts the listener but never reveals the specific reason for the call.  It hints.  It implies.  You get to the end of the chapter and Grisham leaves you hanging. You’re exhausted and tired but you turn the page.

The same with a voice mail messages. Your listener should hear it and want to turn the page i.e., pick up the phone and return the call. For instance,  “John, the reason for my call is that I have an idea that might significantly impact the productivity of your sales team.”

This is a perfect message because it gets the listener curious: “What idea? What could impact the productivity of my reps? Hmmm…it’s true though…my reps certainly could improve their productivity…Hmmm…what idea? Maybe I should call back. ” The listener turns the page and dials the phone.

Perfect voice mail messages also contain or imply a benefit. The ‘idea’ creates intrigue but it is the benefit that makes it worth the time and effort to return the call. In this case, the sales rep uses productivity as the key benefit.  He picks at a sales scab; irritates it; gets the prospect to feel it! Like Grisham, the sales reps creates the mood.

Perfect voice mail messages are delivered with conviction and sincerity. They are believable and convincing.  They are also delivered at moderate speed so that they are understood. The return phone number is slowly spoken so that it is easy to  transcribe. It is repeated twice to make it ‘listener friendly’.

A perfect voice mail message is practiced by the rep. It is mastered. It is delivered flawless.

Take the time and craft a perfect voice mail message.

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The 5 Voice Mail Messages From Hell – Are you Guilty of One of These?

Here’s the bad news:The overwhelming majority of voice mails are not returned simply because they’re lousy. Period. Worse, every tele-sales rep is leaving the same tired and worn message over and over again. It is little wonder that your prospect erases your voice mail with 10-20 seconds.

Before you can leave a killer voice mail message it is important to know what prospects despise about the prospecting messages they receive.  By knowing what to avoid, it is easier to craft a compelling and intriguing message. Here are the five most annoying voice mail messages.

# 1 The Vomit

The vomit message is one where the sales rep throws up virtually everything about his company, services, results, unique selling propositions, success stories- you name it – in the hope  that something will ‘stick.’  Your busy prospects has neither the time nor the inclination to listen to your speech. Don’t waste your time or theirs. Stop the vomit,

#2 The Bland

The bland message is one that a rep has left for the last 23 prospects  It sounds tired, fatigued and ‘read.’ It screams, “I hate doing this and what’s the point?” With over 85% of your message delivered by the tone of you voice, this message will never inspire a return call.

# 3 The Race

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the ‘race’ message where the telephone rep zips through his script. Rushed and irritated because leaving messages has not produced a single call, this sales rep is simply going through the motions and getting the task over with.  Meanwhile, the prospect picks up every single annoying nuance and just as quickly deletes the message.

#4 The Cheesy

Cheesy messages use hype and exaggeration hoping to entice a return call,   “Hi Amybeth, this is Jim Day calling from ABC Recruiters. Amybeth, if I could reduce turnover by 20% or more a year, would you take a moment to call me back?”  Gag! While ‘benefit oriented’ cheesy messages NEVER get returned because the prospect knows perfectly well that results like that will never happen even  if  Jupiter is aligned with Mars. What they hear is “slick” and untrustworthy.

#5 The Incompetent

Sadly, the majority of messages are delivered incompetently due to a lack of preparation and practice. These message are filled with ‘ums…” and  “ahss…”; repeated phrases; stuttering; throat clearing; disjointed thoughts; poor grammar. You get the picture.

So…are you guilty of one of leaving one of these messages?

If so, go to the “voice mail” category on this blog and get some tips on how to leave a good voice mail message.

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How to Use E-Mail and Voice Mail to Get a Return Call From Your Prospects

Are you frustrated by the lack of response to your voice mails and the impact it has on your cold calling efforts?

You can increase your odds of getting a return call by integrating e-mails with your voice mails. Here is a simple, easy to use 3-Step combination that you can adapt and use in virtually any industry.  It combines polite persistence with a touch of humor to compel the prospect respond.

Step #1: 10 Minutes of Your Time Voice Mail and E-mail Combo

Assuming that you have made several attempts to reach your prospect live, the first step in the process is to leave a simple voice mail message using the template below. The key to the message is the request for a 10 minute chat:

“Hey Dan, This is Mike Wray calling from Logistical Shippers. We work with freight handlers who are frustrated with late and delayed shipments. Dan, the reason for my call is to arrange a brief, 10-minute chat to learn more about your situation and to see if we can reduce some of the hassle associated with shipping delays.  Please call me at ____. In the meantime, I’ll send you a brief e-mail.”

The subsequent e-mail you send echoes the voice mail message by providing a visual message to the  audio message you left.  It begins with a good subject line,

Re: Dan, request for 10 minutes of your time

The subject line contains the prospect’s name and references a ‘request’ for 10 minutes of time. It not only echoes the voice mail message it creates a degree of curiosity especially if the prospect has not yet heard of the voice mail i.e., ‘what request?’ ‘Did I miss something?’

The body of your e-mail should contain elements of your voice mail:

“Dan, as I mentioned in my voice mail, we work with freight handlers who are frustrated with the hassle that delayed shipments can cause. We have a simple solution that virtually eliminates these headaches.

Could we chat for about 10 minutes so that I can better understand your situation and needs, and to see if we might be able to make your job a heck of a lot easier?

My number is _______ or simply  reply with a time and date.”

The  e-mail provides a lot of ‘teasing copy.’ It references both the ‘pain motivator’ (frustrated and hassle) and the ‘gain’ motivator (a heck of a lot easier) without belaboring either.

Step #2: 8 Minutes of Your Time Voice Mail E-Mail Combo

Persistence is the key to make this process work. Wait three days for a response before leaving your second voice mail/e-mail combo. Three days courteously gives the prospect enough time to reply and helps avoid the “stalking syndrome” that typically occurs if you follow up too soon.

Hi Dan, Mike Wray calling from Logistical Shippers.  Dan, I am following up on the e-mail left about setting up a telephone appointment to review your freight handling needs. I asked for 10 minutes of your time but I suspect you’re busy – perhaps dealing with a late shipment or two. Kidding aside, how about 8 minutes of your time?

I’ll send you a quick e-mail with some additional information. In the meantime, my number is…”

It is vital that the tone of your voice is light and easy. Notice the request for time has diminished to 8 minutes. It’s a light hearted message that acknowledges the importance of the client’s time.  Also notice the fun little jest, “dealing with a late shipment or two.’ This is a brief reminder of a possible motivator.

The e-mail follow up continues the theme in the subject line:

“Dan, how about just 8 minutes of your time?”

As you can see, reduced time request is emphasized once again. This is deliberate. It’s what makes the message unique and catches the eye. It also has a playful ring to it. The body of the e-mail looks like this:

“Dan, I know how busy things are  in the freight business. I deal with handlers every day…so I’ll only ask for 8 minutes of your time instead of ten.

In that time, perhaps we might be able to explore some ways to help streamline freight tracking and delivery.

Sound reasonable?

In the meantime, my number is _____ or simply reply to this message.”

The message is very brief and colloquial in nature. “Sound reasonable?” is an incomplete sentence but it gives it that ‘off the cuff and no big deal’ flavor to the message.

Step # 3: 5 Minutes of Your Time Voice Mail/E-Mail Combo

The final step in the strategy is to wait another 3 business days and give the prospect time to respond. If that doesn’t happen your third voice mail/e-mail combo should follow the same pattern as the first two messages by making an easy quip about the time

required.

“Hi Dan, it’s Mike Wray calling from Logistical Shippers.

Okay, it sounds like you’re super busy so here’s my one last shot. How about 5 just minutes of your time AND I promise you it will be the best 5 minutes you spend this month. My number is…”

There are a three things at work here. First, is your persistence. You have made two sets of five follow up contacts spaced about six business days apart. By now the prospect will realize you are tenacious.

Second, you create ongoing interest – and maybe even amusement- by whittling away the time that you’re requesting.

Third, is the sincere promise of the chat being “the best 5 minutes you’ll spend this month.” Delivered with conviction, this is a bold and confident statement. Let the prospect hear it.

The follow up e-mail has the following as a subject line:

Re: Okay Dan, here’s my last shot: only 5 minutes of your time?”

If your prospect reads nothing else, he’ll read the subject line and rememberyou. But your subject line also reveals a graceful way of saying you won’t pursue himbeyond this message. This can help buy some good will and perhaps urge the prospect to respond.

The body of the message does not have to be elaborate but it should maintain the easy nature of your earlier messages.

“Dan, here’s my last kick at the can: 5 minutes of your time.

No more.

Promise.

But kidding aside, if you can spare just 5 minutes of your time there is a very good chance that we can help reduce or eliminate the hassle and headaches of delayed shipments.

Using a simple process, we take the checking and verifying out of your hands and put it into ours. It’s all we do. And that gives you time to work on other more significant matters.

5 minutes?

Please give me a call at ________ or simply reply to this e-mail. Otherwise I will call you next quarter.

Note the layout of the message. Short sentences. Lots of white space. Easy to quickly read and understand. The ‘look’ of your e-mail reflects what a quick 5-minute look might feel like.  Also take note that there is a reference to the solution you offer. It’s not a pitch but just a broad overview. And finally, the message points out that if there is no reply, you’ll call next quarter. In effect, you are saying this is the last chance they have to respond.

Summary

This process works. It’s been ‘borrowed’ from IT specialist Brian Borrows who explains that he gets a 30% response rate. This is not surprising.  The process combines persistence with creativity. It’s easy going, amusing, and gentle.  It creates a one-two punch by marrying the power of audio messages with the power of visual message. Because it is a process, you can use it repeatedly with virtually every prospect as long as you change the name. This saves you time and effort.

Take the time to adapt this process to your situation. It requires a little thought and effort but the return can be significant

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The Top 10 Things Every Field Rep Should Know About Making Telephone Cold Calling

Many field reps are uncomfortable using the telephone when cold calling. Here are some tips to make the process of cold calling by phone easier and more effective.

1. It’s NOT a numbers game, it’s a results game

You’ll often hear this about cold calling especially from you boss: “It’s a numbers game.” Translated it means you have to make a zillion calls. No way. Don’t believe them.   Telephone cold calling is not about quantity, it’s about results.

Results come from smart tele-prospecting, not mindless dialing. Being smart means have the skills and techniques to make the most of the dials you make.  It means learning new processes and using job aids to convert more prospects into leads. It means being good at cold calling.

2. Use a verbal GPS (call guide)

A verbal GPS is a written ‘map’ to help guide your cold call.  Like a GPS, enter your destination (your primary objective), your starting point (your opening statement)  the sites you want to see along the way (your secondary objectives) and the route you want to take to get  there (your key questions, the key points you want to make).

Put this information on a green sheet of paper so that it sticks out on your desk or wall. Look at it before you call. Use it during the call to keep you on track. The mere process of writing these items down will increase you success rate by a minimum of 20%.

3. Script – yes, script- your opening statement

Most field reps would rather undergo a root canal than use a script. Instead of a script, field reps tend to ‘wing it’ and justify their behavior by saying, it sounds more ‘natural.’ The net result is that the cold call feels like a root canal.

If you were going to make dozens of cold calls to similar prospects regarding your products or services, why would you try to ‘wing’ it every time? Script your opening statement so you have the very best mix of words that entices the prospect to listen further.

4. Avoid Shooting Yourself in Both Feet by Avoiding these Killer Phrases

Cold calls quickly become lame when field sales reps inadvertently shoot themselves in both feet by using two killer phrases.  The first phrase is “How are you today?” In cold calling situations, the vast majority of prospects perceive this phase as trite and insincere. It instantly puts the prospect on guard; makes them skeptical and suspicious. Just eliminate it from your vocabulary.

The other killer phrase is “Did I catch you at a good time?” While polite, it gives your prospect a fast and easy way to ditch you. Instead, use this phrase, “If I caught you at a good time, what I would like to do is ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if we might be able to … (list a benefit).”  The prospect has the definite sense that permission was asked but the real question was not if he had the time but rather could questions be asked.” Big difference.

5. Know When and When NOT to Leave a Voice Mail – and Avoid Call Display

If you are never going to call this prospect again, leave a message. You have nothing to lose. Script – yes script- your message ahead of time and be prepared to leave it. If you are planning to recycle the list a few times, don’t leave a message. It warns them you’re coming. They use call display to screen your calls. Hang up. Take three or four shots at getting the client live.

6.  Anticipate Knee Jerk Objections

The majority of prospects are not sitting back and waiting for a call from a sales person. They are typically working and your call is an interruption. Many prospects will toss out an objection out of reflex not unlike what happens when a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.

Here’s what to do. List the typical knee jerk objections on a sheet of paper so you’re not caught off guard. When you hear an objection follow the “EIA Process.” First, empathize. Next, ignore the objection completely. It’s not legitimate anyway. Third, calmly ask ‘one quick question.’  (Example:  Prospect: “I am busy right now.” Rep: “I understand completely…Brian, while I have you, one quick question: do you…)

Amazingly, over half the prospects will answer your question and most they will continue to answer additional questions simply because their reflexive reaction has settled down.

7.  Ruthless Disqualify Your Prospects

Have your key qualifying questions prepared and get to them right off the bat. You do this to determine if the prospect is worth YOUR time. If not, ruthlessly disqualify them and move on to greener pastures.

8.  Script- yes, again, script- your offer

For most sales reps, the offer is a request for an appointment. At this point in the sales cycle,  your product is the appointment.  Therefore, script your request for their time word for word.  Explain what the appointment will entail. Most importantly, list the benefit the client will get by granting you thirty or so minutes of time. By having this prepared ahead of time you won’t fumble the opportunity.

9.  Forget About Sending Literature

Prospects can make mince meat of your efforts by getting you to send, fax or e-mail literature. This smokescreen objection is a classic, if not polite, way to blow you off. Don’t fall for it. If you do agree to send marketing material, get commitment by asking for a specific follow up date and time (e.g., Thursday at 3:15). No date and time, no literature. Move on.

10. Make your call like an Academy Award Winner

The telephone is an audio medium.  Your tone, rate of delivery and volume of your voice accounts for about 80% of the message. Too fast, too slow, or too monotone will destroy your cold call in less than ten seconds. What this really means to you is that you need to practice your opening statement so that it flows naturally. You need to practice following your verbal GPS so you can transition your prospect through the call.  Practice your ‘offer’ as if you’re Brad or Angelina. Get your words and tone down pat. Do that and you’ll be a tele-prospecting star.

Summary

Telephone cold calling for field sales reps can be easier and more effective by simply bearing these ten tips in mind. Implement them and watch your success grow.

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How to Use LinkedIn to Plan and Prepare Your Tele-Prospecting Call

If you are not using LinkedIn when planning and preparing prospecting call, you are missing a huge opportunity to gather superb information that you can use to plan your call, build rapport, ask questions and advance the sale. Here are four simple steps to make Linked In work for you:

Step #1: Join Linked In

If you haven’t done so, join LinkedIn. It is the largest B-to-B social media-networking group in the world.

Step #2: Get the Names of Your Prospects

If you have a prospecting list with the names of decision makers, you can skip to Step #3. If not, the next step is to ensure you have the names of the decision makers. You do that the old-fashioned way: pick up the phone and call.

The best way to garner a name is by using this powerful trigger phrase when speaking to the receptionist, secretary or whoever you call to gather information. After identifying yourself, simply ask:

“Can you help me? Can you give me the name of the person who is responsible for _______?”

Two quick points. First, pause after you ask for help. This puts the ball in their court and almost invariably the answer is “yes” or ” I will try.” Not only is this polite, it changes the dynamic of the call.

Then, ask for the NAME of the individual. That’s it. You don’t want to speak with the decision maker at this stage. Once you get the name, thank the individual and terminate the call.

Follow this process and make a list of 25 or 30 prospects.

Step #3: Research the Prospect on LinkedIn

Armed with these names, log into LinkedIn and begin your research.

In the upper right hand corner, there is a search box with a pull down menu. Click on that and you’ll see six options (people, jobs, companies, answers, inbox, groups). Click on “people” and enter the prospect’s name.

Of course, not everyone belongs to Linked In so don’t expect a hit on every prospect you enter. But you’ll be surprised at how many match up.

LinkedIn will provide you a list of names that match your entry. Often you’ll see names identical to that of your prospect. Scan through the names and match the prospect name to the prospect company. This will ensure you have the right contact. You can narrow your search by using the filters on the left side of the page.

Once you’ve done that, click on the name and start exploring. Depending on your prospect, the volume of information can sometimes be staggering. Here are some areas to review:

* Look at their background. Most read like a resume and you’ll get an instant feel for the experience and knowledge of the prospect. Many times you’ll get their titles and responsibilities.

* Check the ‘groups’ section. Groups reveal specific areas of interest and affinity.

* Others will mention the schools they’ve attended. Maybe you’re both Florida Gators alumni.

* Many LinkedIn members will identify specific “interests” such as hobbies or sports.

* Some members provide a list of the books they are reading. Often you’ll see ‘recommendations’ by other members.

* Assess their writing style. Is it formal or informal, detailed or broad, humorous or serious?

Step 4: Plan your approach

You will be absolutely staggered by the information available to you. But contrary to popular belief, information is NOT power. It is only potential power. You need to leverage what you’ve learned to give yourself an edge.

This takes a little time, thought and effort. For example, maybe you could send the prospect something prior to your call. For example, you might send a recipe for a coffee/chili rub for a prospect who expressed an avid interest in barbequing. Attach a note and say, “Hey Art, thought this might spice up your day!” When you call make sure to reference the recipe. They’ll remember and they’ll listen.

If you’re an alumni of the same school, mention it in your opening statement. It builds a degree of affinity.

If the prospect is a Chicago Blackhawks fan, lather it on.

Suppose you encounter voice mail. Is there something you could reference that gives your message distinction? For example, “Mike, I see you recently won the Director of Year Award for ABC Co. Congratulations.” This ego stroke gets you remembered.

Using the prospect’s background, develop questions that relate to their area of responsibility. It will bring instant focus to the call and relevancy to your call.

Use the writing style of the prospect to tailor your presentation. If the prospect is analytical, use a more detailed approach. If there is humor, lighten your approach.

The list is endless.

Summary

LinkedIn is a valuable tool. Use it wisely to give yourself an edge and increase your odds of sales success

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How to Leave a Killer Voice Mail Message (And Get Your Calls Returned)

Are you getting a decent response when you leave a voice mail with a prospect or are you like the vast majority of tele-prospectors whose messages go unanswered?

Well over 70% of B-to-B calls encounter voice mail so it is imperative that you have a voice mail message that works for you and increases your odds of getting a call back.

Developing a ‘killer’ voice mail message that gets the attention of the prospect and gets your call returned doesn’t have to be a major challenge provided you use this simple template.

The “Only You” Killer Voice Mail Template

First things first, a voice mail message should only be used after you have made several attempts at a live contact with the prospect. Your best bet for success is always a live opportunity. The key point is this: don’t get lulled into believing that all you have to do is leave voice mail messages all day and your phone will start ringing off the hook. Even though this is a killer voice mail message, it comes as a last resort.

Example #1 (to a high tech director):

“Hi Brian, sorry I missed you. This is Katrina LaCorte calling from ABC Company.

Brian, I have a question that I understand only you can answer regarding your server capacities.

Could you please give me a call at _________’

Example #2 (to an engineer or an architect):

“Kim, sorry I missed you. This is Dave Potts calling from Red Laser.

Kim, I have a question that I understand only you can answer regarding the status of your continuing education credits.

Could you please give me a call at_________”

Example #3 (to a chiropractor or other healthcare professional)

“Dr. Roy, sorry I missed. This is Sheri Roland calling from ABC Healthcare.

Dr. Roy, I have a question that only you can answer about lower back pain relief.

Could you please give me a call at _________”

Analysis of a Killer Voice Mail Message

Here is precisely why this is a killer voice mail. First, notice that the prospect’s name is used twice. This is a deliberate ploy. Using a prospect’s name not only personalizes the message but it gets the prospect to focus on the next 10-15 words. In other words, they actually listen to the message rather than dismiss it out of hand.

Next, is the use of the phrase “sorry I missed you.” This seemingly insignificant mix of words almost inevitably draws further attention to your message. An apology about missing them implies a sense of disappointment and creates a “gee-I-wonder-what-this-is-about” sense of wonder.

Third, notice there is absolutely no sales pitch or lengthy explanation about you, your product or your company. Leaving a pitch is typically a waste of time. Not because your pitch was poor but because it lumps you in with every other person who has left a message that day. Think like your prospect! He or she will hear they have seven messages and will quickly want to separate the important from the irrelevant. The moment they start hearing a pitch is the moment they delete or skip your message to move on to items that matter to them. Your message must be distinctive so it doesn’t suffer the fate of deletion.

Here’s the thing: the objective of the voice mail is NOT to sell or market your company, product or service. The objective is to create curiosity and get the prospect to RETURN you call.

Fourth, the heart and soul of this killer voice mail message is the phrase “I have a question that I understand only you can answer.” Think about it: this phrase subtly (or not so subtly) appeals directly to the ego of the listener. It implies that your prospect is the ‘resident expert’ or has unique knowledge that is required by you. There is an air of importance and/or exclusivity to the message and hence, it is flattering and hard to resist. Ego is an extremely powerful motivator in getting prospects to take action and this message deliberately seeks to tweak that inner sense of pride.

(Of course, you need to do your homework and make certain the question is applicable. Naturally, when prospects returns your call (and a fair number will), you need to have ‘the’ question ready to go.)

The last portion of the message is a simple call to action. Ask the prospect to call you back and leave your number. No fuss, no muss.

How to Make it Work for You

Okay, now it’s your turn. Think: what is a vital question that only my prospect can answer. It has to be important and proprietary. Once you have that established you’ve got it made.

Next, follow the template. Don’t change much. Learn to master the template before editing, changing, and revamping your message.

Finally, practice. Practice. And practice again. So much of this message depends on the tone of your voice. You must be comfortable delivering it so it doesn’t sound ‘read.’ It must flow to be convincing.

Summary

This voice mail message is highly persuasive because it leverages the psychological factor. It appeals to the ego without pandering. It creates natural curiosity. It is short, to the point, easy to listen to and easy to understand. It’s a killer voice mail message. Use it and see for yourself

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Dodging Call Display How to Reach More Clients

When it comes to having your telephone calls screened, I am becoming more and more convinced that the real culprit is call display and not voice mail.  I suspect there are a lot of prospects and customers who quickly glance at their call display, realize who is calling  and completely avoid picking up the call. They let it ring to voice mail and there the call is screened and often, buried.

The trick is to get the client to answer by ‘disguising’ your particulars. Here is a collection of tips and techniques to avoid call display and get your call answered. Please note: use these techniques if, and only if, you have attempted to call the prospect or the customer several times using your usual process.  These ideas are reserved for those who you feel are “dodging” your call.

Try Internal Transfer

I love this technique and have used it successfully from time to time. It can work wonders for you. The idea is to call an extension other than your client’s extension and then have the person who answers transfer the call.  In some scenarios, your prospect or clients sees not your phone number but an internal extension.

Here are some interesting approaches.  Call the president’s office. Usually you will go through a receptionist or auto attendant, and in all likelihood you will reach an executive assistance. Never mislead or lie. Simply say,

“I am trying to reach Jenn Jones. Could you transfer me?”

If she is at her desk when  the call is transferred will see a call from the executive suite, not your name or number. At this point, what is she going to do? Ignore it? I doubt that. They tend to pick it up. Pronto.

Another effective route is to call the accounting department.  When a call come from accounting there is a compelling interest on the part of your prospect.  Typically it’s something like “Why the heck would accounting want me?”

You can use the same approach and call a customer service or sales department. One of the advantages here is that your call is almost always picked up by a live voice. (There’s always someone in sales looking to grab an order or a customer service rep available for an inquiry.)

It should be noted however, that some phone systems identify your number and it is transferred onto from call to call. In other words, you might try and deke through reception and another department but your name and number still get passed on.

Be prepared. Sometimes you’ll get a prospect or a client who might be a little annoyed that your call came internally. Again, you never, ever want to misrepresent yourself or mislead your prospect.  Integrity and honesty is the best policy. If asked, tell them the truth. For instance,

“Well Bob, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t having much luck in contacting you directly so I thought I would take a different approach. Now that I have you …”

Notice that the reply was direct and factual but don’t dwell on the matter or seek their feedback. Move onto a question, or the reason for your call.

Call from Another Location

If you suspect that your number and/or company name is flashed on your client’s call display regardless of the number of transfers, try calling from another location or phone. For instance, one simple method is to try using your cell phone and see if that increases your hit rate.

If you can, you may want to spend a morning or afternoon calling from your home. Your home number is unlikely to be recognizable to the client. You’ll be amazed at your contact rate from home compared to at work.  Caution: if you call the same number from your home (or cell) to often, the client can and will screen it out).

A third option is to use an old fashioned pay phone. I know pay phones are not always situated in the best locations and not always ideal for work, but some of your calls may warrant this approach. Sometimes call display will indicate that a pay phone is calling. Despite this, it can work in your favor in that it will likely create a degree of curiosity. Not many people get calls from a pay phone while at work. Try for a few of your toughest clients that you feel are avoiding your call.

Use *67 (Call Blocking)

Some phone systems or networks allow you to enter a code such as *67 which will block your phone number. There is often a charge for this so bare that in mind. Depending on the client’s phone system, it might show “call blocked” or “number unknown” on the call display. Clients can be suspicious of this and may avoid picking up.  Nevertheless, it is a technique you can use to help you reach your clients.

Summary

Some sales reps are uncomfortable using these approaches. Fine. Don’t use them. But at the end of the day, your job is to sell.  If the client playing hard ball and using technology to avoid your calls, you might need to play hard ball back. As long as you do not misrepresent yourself, these techniques are quite legitimate. Try them yourself and see.

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