Take Off Your Watch

Jul 28

cool watch

Let’s face it. Sales people don’t always get the respect they deserve and rightfully so sometimes.

If you read last week’s newsletter, you that some salespeople deliberately mislead prospects in order to get them on the phone or schedule a face-to-face meeting.

However, assuming this is not your approach and you are meeting with a new prospect for the first time, here is sure-fire way to not only capture their attention but to instantly earn their respect.

Take off you watch and place it on the table or desk in front of you. Then say, “Mike, I know your time is valuable and I don’t want to overstay my welcome. Do you still have 30 minutes allotted for this meeting?”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Look at it from a prospect’s perspective for a moment.

Most decision makers have been forced to endure long-running meetings where the salesperson droned on and on. I know I’ve been guilty of running overtime on a sales call or two and that behavior seriously affects our credibility.

I can practically guarantee that your competitors don’t do this which gives you a perfect opportunity to stand out from your competition.

BTW: if you don’t wear a watch, you can use the same approach with your smartphone.

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If You Need to Leave Voice Mails Like This Maybe it’s Time for a New Career

Jul 21

Caution Head

Last Thursday I was working in my office and received a voice mail message that said, “Hi it’s Dan. I was just looking at your website and I’m interested in learning about your training.”

As you can imagine, I returned that call pretty quickly and here’s how it played out…

“Hi, Dan speaking.”

“Dan, it’s Kelley Robertson returning your call.”

“Hey, thanks for getting back to me. I was on your website and saw that you do training. I work for (a company who provides online printing services) and wondered if you have heard of us.”

“Sure have. A couple of people from your company reached out to me last fall. So, would I be correct in assuming that you’re not actually interested in training but you want to sell me your services?”

“Yeah, are you interested in booking an online demo?”

Combined with the negative experience I had last fall with both sales people from the company (one missed the scheduled online demo and the other called me Rick in her voice mail and email) AND the fact that Dan had left that voice mail simply to get a return call, the rest of the call went downhill fast.

I despise sales people who use manipulative tactics to get appointments or return calls. It is individual’s like this that give professional sales people a bad reputation.

Misleading people to get them to return calls is not an effective long-term strategy. You might get the call-back but it’s going to be tough to earn your prospect’s trust and close the deal.

Do yourself a favor…be honest, open and direct in your prospect communications.

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When a Prospect Misses a Scheduled Telephone Appointment

Jul 14

Time?

Last week I wrote about how to eliminate the “I’m just following up” call. Not surprisingly, several people emailed me and asked, “What happens when my prospect misses that scheduled call?”

A tough dilemma and one that frequently happens to everyone in sales . Here’s what I do when this happens to me.

I hang up.

Wait two minutes.

Call again.

More often than not, my prospect answers the call and opens with an apology. “I’m sorry, I was on another call, my meeting ran late, I had someone in my office, I had a problem to deal with, etc.”

However, in the event I get their voice mail again, I leave a message.

“Mr. Smith, Kelley Robertson calling at 10:15 as promised (those last two words are critical and powerful).  I suspect that you’re dealing with an unexpected problem or that you’re tied up in a meeting so I will call you at 2:15 this afternoon.”

When I call back it is rare that I don’t connect with my prospect. But, if I hear their voice mail I leave another message similar to the first one with another day and time. However, I also add, “If this time doesn’t work for you, have your assistant (mention his or her name) give me a more convenient time.”

In the eight or nine years I have been using this approach I have dramatically increased my reconnection ratio with prospects. In the rare cases that I don’t, I usually find that that person isn’t interested in moving forward or that they have taken a different approach.

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The Secret to Eliminating the “I’m just following up” Call

Jul 10

sad telephone

A few weeks ago I was coaching a sales team and one of the senior reps asked, “How do I get someone to respond to my calls or emails? I’ve sent him information but now I can’t get in touch with him.”

The short answer…you don’t.

You can’t force anyone to reply to an email or return your call. However, if you set it up properly, you will never have to say, “I’m just following up.”

The key is to establish a day and time for a subsequent conversation BEFORE you send your prospect any information. And, just as a FYI, if you’re sending corporate brochures, you can disregard this post because this type of information seldom entices a prospect to make a buying decision.

Here’s the approach I have used to reconnect with my prospects after an initial call or subsequent discovery meeting. Before I end the call or meeting, I say something like, “John, I will get that proposal to you by close of business on Wednesday. When is a good day and time to review it with you?”

If they tell me to call later in the week or early the following week I politely press for a specific day and time.

“Does Friday at 10:15 am work for you?”

In most situations, they say yes or give me an alternate time. Then, immediately after the call–and this is critical–I send them an Outlook invite which places me on their calendar.

I have consistently found that this approach eliminates the “I’m just following up” call because now they are expecting my call and we have a specific reason to talk.

 

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Do This During Your Next Sales Call and Increase Your Credibility

Jun 30

Smart student writes formula

During a sales training workshop I co-facilitated last week, several participants expressed surprise when a colleague took notes during a practical application session (aka role play). During the debriefing, one of the individual’s said, “I had never thought about taking notes during my sales calls.”

I found that surprising especially since the average meeting for these sales reps ranges between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

Upon further investigation and discussion, a few reps acknowledged that they thought prospects and customers might feel awkward, uncomfortable or offended if they took notes so I asked, “Would YOU be offended if someone took notes during a sales call with you?”

Not one person said yes.

During all of the sales meetings I have had with customers and prospects, I have never had a person say, “Oh, you’re not taking notes, are you?”

No one ever gets offended, in fact, I have found the opposite…taking notes actually increases your credibility.

You see, when you rely strictly on remembering everything that was said during a sales call, it’s inevitable that you will miss or forget something. Unless, of course, you have a photographic memory.

Aside from being able to review key points, here’s the real benefit for you to take notes during a sales call…

You can accurately recap the other person’s objectives, goals, outcomes, challenges as well as the next steps. This simple, but powerful step will increase your credibility and earn your prospect’s respect…providing of course you have captured the information accurately.

It’s a simple concept but an effective one.

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Don’t Waste a Prospect’s Time with Stupid Questions

Jun 23

Stupid sales person

During the “Cracking the Buyers Code” webinar that was conducted last Thursday, the panelist of corporate decision makers and buyers shared some revealing insights for sellers.

They all stated that time is a precious commodity and that their schedules are jam-packed from morning until evening. In fact, one person said that he arrived at the office at 7:30 am and that he had already met with three salespeople that morning before the 11:00 am webinar.

Continuing on the “time is precious” thread, one of the panelists said, “Don’t waste my time with stupid, basic questions like; “Where are you located?” or “Are you the right person to speak with regarding…?”

The frustration in her voice as she said this clearly indicated that these types of questions were commonly asked by sales people wanting to sell her their product, service or solution.

The rest of the panel wholeheartedly agreed and unanimously said that proper preparation is critical if you want to get their attention and capture some of their valuable time.

Part of the preparation is understanding their business issues which means you MUST do some homework BEFORE you contact busy decision makers. From there you need to create thought-provoking questions that will help you stand out from your competitors.

Don’t waste a prospect’s time with basic questions that could be answered by spending five minutes on their website.

BYW: You can listen to the full webinar here. It is definitely worth your time.

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Don’t Ask If You Aren’t Going to Listen

Jun 09

During a sales training workshop I conducted last week, we explored the topic of asking questions during the discovery stage of the sales process and every single participant adamantly stated that they invested time asking their prospect questions.

As the program continued, we discussed the importance of summarizing their new-found knowledge BEFORE launching into their sales presentation.

At that point, one participant admitted that he didn’t really listen to the other person’s responses and that he simply went through the motions to give the impression that he was interested.

“I don’t care about the other guy, I just want to close the deal” were his words.

What shocked me is that several other people piped up and expressed the same sentiment!

If you find yourself guilty of not listening to your prospect I urge you to consider changing your approach.

If you’re going to invest the time asking a prospect questions about his business, goals, challenges and desired outcomes, but you don’t use that information then you will have to work much harder to capture that deal.

You will face more resistance. Hear more objections. Encounter more price resistance. Furthermore, you will sound just like every other sales person your prospect has encountered.

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Walk a Mile

Jun 02

During a sales training workshop I conducted last week, we were discussing how the challenges of getting prospects to make a buying decision.

One person (Jim) spoke up and shared an example of how NOT approach this topic with a prospect.

One of his prospects (Marty) had had some sample products in his possession for a few months…much longer than the standard allotted time of 4 weeks. Jim’s VP of Sales demanded that he either get the products back or a purchase order

So, Jim sent Marty an email that said something like, “Marty, you have had ample time to try our product and since you haven’t made a decision, it’s time for me to collect my toys and go home.”

Jim went on to tell the group that although he did get a PO, his prospect expressed his disappointment about the email. Marty said, “I know you’re under pressure to close deals but you really need to think twice about sending emails like that. You have no idea what I’m going through right now. I’m working with 50 percent fewer resources but I’m expected to achieve the same results I used to.”

There is no question that we’re under constant pressure to close deals faster in order to reach our sales targets and goals. However, at the same time it is critical to understand that our prospects have even more pressing problems that often prevent them from taking action on a particular buying decision.

Sometimes, we need to exercise more patience, empathy and understanding for our prospect’s situation.

We’re not the only person they are dealing with. They are juggling multiple projects at any given time. They often have competing priorities. And, most important, they are severely time-crunched.

Walk a mile (or kilometer in Canada) in their shoes and think about what you would want from a salesperson in that situation. Then adapt your approach accordingly.

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The New Sales Skill You Need to Succeed

May 26

Business Interview Skills.

ROI, P&L, acquisition cost, KPIs, EBITDA

Did your eyes glaze over as you read the words and acronyms in that line?

These are common business terms senior executives discuss, use and measure but I have consistently been surprised how many sales people get the “deer in the headlights” look anytime I mention them in sales training workshop.

Why is this important?

Today’s sales person needs to become more business focused. We need to think and act like business people, rather than someone hawking a product, service or solution.

What does this mean for you?

If you are already familiar with business terminology, jargon and acronyms, all you need to do is present this “business” understanding when you are dealing with key executives.

If this is a new concept, you have a bit more work ahead of you.

The first step is to become more familiar with business in general and you can do that by reading business publications. These can include newspapers, trade journals, blogs, and magazines such as INC, Fast Company, The Economist, Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fortune, Forbes, and Entrepreneur.

If you understand what is important to business people, and you can position your offering accordingly, you will stand out from your competition and improve your odds of closing the deal.

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6 Quick Tricks That Will Fix Your Sales

May 20

 

I’m going to be upfront right away…this newsletter/post does NOT contain 6 quick tricks that will fix your sales. However, it does outline a common practice that many companies and sales people use to try and capture a prospect’s attention.

 

Deception.

 

A few weeks ago I received a voice mail that stated, “Hi Kelley, it’s Raymond. I’m interested in training so please call me.”

 

When I called Raymond back, he launched into a sales pitch for his company’s product so I was a bit confused (it doesn’t take much, I’ll admit). I asked, “So, you aren’t actually interested in sales training, are you?”

 

Raymond laughed as he said, “No”.

 

“So your voice mail was just a tactic to get me to call you back.”

 

“Yeah, and it worked.”

 

“It did and I will never, ever consider buying anything from you or your company.” Click.

 

Some sales people send emails with deceptive subject lines believing that once their prospect reads the email, they will take action. However, today’s buyers are more sophisticated than that which means using deceptive tactics will actually work against you.

 

It is far more effective to use a call opener or subject line that will catch the prospect’s attention and intrigue them but not deliberately mislead them. Check out this post for some ideas.

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