Pick Up the Phone! It Won't Dial Itself!
Words and Phrases Not to Use During the Sales Process
Pitch - Do not PITCH nor use the word. Have a conversation. Gather information. The traditional sales person throws loads of information at a prospect all at one time before they have the chance to say no or hang up the phone. Treat your sales process as a two sided conversation. Ask questions instead of making too many statements.
“If someone is pitching to you, what are your options?” says Nancy Bleeke, president of Sales Pro Insider and author of Conversations That Sell published April 2013. “If you are pitched at, you either swing to bat it away or duck to avoid it. Neither of these works well in sales.”
Instead of using the word "pitch" use "recommendation" or "presentation" to let the prospect know you want to have a conversation and help them.
"Speaking to" - Instead use "Talking with", which implies a back and forth conversation and that you are not speaking to or at someone without caring about their response. In other words, you are going to "pitch" to them whether they like it or not.
"Decision Maker" - Instead ask "What is your decision making process?", not "Are you the decision maker." If you use "decision maker" it gives him/her the opportunity to say yes, even if they are not, just to void you away from their boss.
"Problem, Don't, etc..." - Try not to send negative vibes into the conversation whether they are meant to be negative or not. It's in our nature to instinctually pair words with our emotions.
"Maybe, Perhaps" - Don't sound "wishy-washy". Be confidant in your product or service as well as the benefits of a ten minute conversation you would like to have with this person. Instead say, "Let's schedule a time to talk in detail. When is best for you?" not "Perhaps we can set up a meeting?"
Use Your Cash Register!
Countless times over the course of my seasons as a sales professional selling different products and services I see the same mistakes over and over and over again. Sometimes, it's quite painful to watch. The biggest pet peave of mine are sales people who spend countless hours sending e-mails, but never picking up the phone! The "almighty telephone" should be viewed as your own personal cash register! I know, I know, old school right? With all the technology we have now, what reason is there to actually pick up the phone and speak to someone with your mouth instead of your fingers? Here is why...
1. It's Faster
You can spend an hour and cold e-mailing 15 people then wait on their response, if you even get one at all or you can spend an hour cold-calling 40 people and get your yes, no, or maybe right on the spot. If you can't get a live person on the phone, leave a voice message!
2. It's harder for the Prospect to Ignore You
The thing with cold e-mailing is they can ignore you! They see the e-mail, who it's from, then a long explaination of what you're trying to sell. They can easiliy delete the e-mail without reading and never respond. Get them on the phone and it's a bit harder to be avoided.
3. It's Simple
Sure, there are some more seasoned tricks you can pick up along the way. But, for the most part. Cold calling is easy. You could have the persuasion of a dry sponge, but as long as you are prepared and informed, you can still be a good sales person.
- Put together a list of numbers.
- If you really want to wow your prospect, do some research on their company before calling and learn about them instead of going in blind.
- Write a script.
- Call the numbers and use your script to talk to prospects.
- Set appointments
4. It's Impersonal
I guess what I'm trying to say is, people don't really give a damn about you or your company. They want to know if what you have will benefit them in anyway possible and if not, hit the road jack. Getting them on the phone will give you the opportunity to gain some sort of trust for them to believe your product or service is right for them. Cold E-mails usually tend to contain more information about YOU and your company rather than them and theirs.
5. It's a Fast and Reliable Research Tool
Never try to sell on a cold-call. You want to use a cold-call to find out about them, their company, and how they can benefit from your product or service. Make a point to set up a conference call or face to face meetings with yours and their collegues during a cold call rather than trying to dive in and sell. B2B sales is a process. Utilize it wisely. The purpose of a cold-call should be to build a relationship, gather information, and set appointments for more detailed discussion. When all is said and done, the end result should be a signed contract. So get them on the phone and make them giggle a bit, ask about THEM and THEIR goals, set up a meeting.
Leaving a Voicemail
You're not always going to get in touch with the the prospect on every phone call. More often than not, you will be leaving voicemails (don'tcha love caller ID?!). The simple fact that they are screening your call and making you leave a voicemails makes all the more sense as to why you need to leave an efficient voicemail enticing them to call you back.
- Keep it under 30 seconds! If you can achieve 15 seconds while maintaining articulation, even better!
- Don't start with your name. Nor your company name. You will likely be deleted before they get to the important part of the voicemail. Start with the reason you are calling and get them to pay attention to the value you bring instead of who you are, where you're from, and what you do. Again, they probably don't care.
- Don't sell anything! Voicemails are not the place to be selling your product, so stop trying. Keep that to a scheduled phone call or meeting.
- Be different. So many prospects have heard it all. Give them something they haven't heard before. Give them a taste of something they haven't aquired before. Make yourself stand out from the 50 other sales people who are calling them.
- "I've been trying to get in touch with you." Big No, No! Do not reference failed attempts. If they didn't care to respond to the first time you called, why in the world would they care the second or third time?
- Use low tones. High pitched tones in a voicemail do not set you apart from the rest. Leave a REAL voicemail like you are a REAL person. Not a robot. Not a high school cheerleader. A real person!
Basically, your voicemail should contain the same info as your cold e-mail. (See below "In the Event You Must Sent an E-mail" for a sample).
Don't Lie, Be Persuasive
Just be honest! At the end of the day lying to a prospect will build a bad rapport for you. They buy your product, it doesn't do what you said it would do, client is disappointed. Word of mouth gets around and before you know it you're the biggest doo doo head in the sales industry and you don't respect your clients.
Being a liar gets your nowhere. Being persuasive is effective. It's all about how you view your market and how the product or service can be utilized.
Ever hear of the 2 Shoe Salesmen in Africa? (Yes, I'm about to hit ya with a joke!)
After three days of being in Africa trying to sell shoes, one of the salesmen calls his boss and says, "I'm taking the next flight out. I can't sell shoes here, they all walk around barefoot!" at the same time the other salesman calls the factory and screems, "The prospects are unlimited! No one wears shoes!"
So you see, if you are able to interpret what you are selling into a valuable tool for the prospect, no matter what it is or if you think it will benefit them at all or even if they feel they don't need it, it's how you interpret your product or service. Make it seem valuable and emotionally necessary to your prospect. Be persuasive, but don't lie!
Believe it or not this goes a long way! I've learned a lot of my closed sales were obtained by just being myself! You don't have to be that loud, obnoxious, over powering sales person to make a lot of money. Just be honest and be yourself.
Now I'm not saying go into detail about the night before when you and your buddies went out and got all banged up. But if they mention they like cheese and you hate cheese but they ask you how you feel about cheese the correct response would be, "Eh it's not my thing but what's your favorite cheese to eat with a fine cabernet?" (Side note: The answer to this can also spark a convo and score you brownie points. Maybe after the sale buy them a wheel of cheese and a bottle of wine.) The incorrect response would be "Oh yes, I LOVE cheese! Specially the kind with the holes in it!"
Most people can smell fake from a mile away. If the client thinks your fake, they aren't going to believe you. If they don't believe you, they won't trust you. If they don't trust you, they won't work with you! Get it? Got it? Good!
Phone, E-mail, or Face-to-Face?
Which of the following sales methods do you prefer?
In the Event You Must Send an E-mail
There will be times where an e-mail must be sent. Here's a couple pointers on sending e-mails as a sales person trying to win over your prospect.
- Keep them short! No one wants to read a short story in an e-mail.
- Refrain from giving too much Info. Don't confuse your prospect. Choose 1 or 2 valuable points/facts about the product or service that would be beneficial to them. You don't need to list everything. Save that for the face to face meeting and your presentation.
- Stop talking about yourself. Too many times have I seen sales people make the mistake of using the words 'Me', 'I', 'We', and 'Our'. Limit the amount of talk about you and your company (to be honest, they really don't care about you) and talk about them and their company and why what you have would make thier lives easier.
- Don't seem spammy, get as personal as possible. Yes, spammy. Meaning, if your e-mail can noticeably show that it was the same e-mail sent out to hundreds of other companies, it's spammy. Use the same format, but add a little personalization. Maybe a detail you know abou their company that can trigger their attention. People enjoy getting personal e-mails, not spam.
- Give them a reason to respond! Again, giving out too much information is not something that is going to get you a call back. Give them a few points that sparks interest and encourage them to call you in order to recieve more info on how you can do the things you said you can do in your e-mail.
- Subject lines are important. Leave an exciting/interesting one that will spark enough interest for them to open instead of deleting the e-mail.
- Don't be stiff. Make it personal like you're sending an e-mail to your mom as a person-person, not a sales person.
- Don't demand a call-back. Instead, ask them to let you know what time works best for them!
- Proof is in the pudding. Give them a point of proof from one of your other client's experiences. Suggesting success from another company whom they have heard of before makes the offer seem more obtainable and realistic. Create a sense of experience and credibility.
- Keep it SImple!
Subject line: 10x [prospect's company's] traction in 10 minutes
Hello [first name],I have an idea (or service or product) that I can explain in 10 minutes that can get [company] its next 100 best customers. I recently used this idea to help [company/competitor] almost triple their monthly profit. [First name], I just need a few minutes of your time. Let's schedule a quick 10 minute call so I can share a few things with you. What day and time works best for you?
This e-mail can be tweeked anyway you eed to tweek it in order to fit your product or service. But keep the format and the hits will start rolling in. "If you build it, they will come!"
Don't Give Up - Common Sales Objections
Sales objection #1: "Send me an email"
You response should be soemthing like, "I certainly will, but so I know exactly what to include in my email, can you tell me...." followed up by your first qualifying question(are you the sole decision maker in your company? etc...)
Sales objection #2: "I don't have time to talk right now"
Very typical for someone who wants to get off of the phone.
"No problem, when is the best time to reach you for a few minute conversation? I want to see if we're even a good fit for you before we talk at any length. I wouldn't want to waste your time or mine."
Followed your statement with your "qualifying" questions.
This way you don't sound desperate and you let them know you only need a few minutes. More often than not they stay on the phone with you once they realize it won't be long.
Sales objection #3: "I can't make a decision right now, let's talk next month"
In many cases the person you're talking to can't make an immediate decision, committees are often involved in larger companies. This is fine, but you don't want to let them off the hook without a clear understanding of what needs to be done between now and the call next week.
Where will this meeting take place?
Can I be a part of that meeting? Conference call etc...?
I'll bring my Presentation.
Then let them know the remaining steps for the process and deadlines for the deal to move forward.
Objections can be anything. You just have to know your way around them. For example, Chris Farley in the movie 'Tommy Boy'. He tries to sell brake pads to a large company and the big kahoona keeps telling him no because Callahan does not post the stamp of "Guarantee" on the box. Tommy begins to explain but there are warranties, it's just not on the box. The gentleman again states, their may be warranties but it is not ON the box and that is what his customers want to see. A warranty on the box in there face so they know it's a reliable product. Tommy begins his sales process (quite hilarious actually) but his whole point was, why put a guarantee on a box? It's basically telling the customer it's a guaranteed P.O.S. Interpret the product in a way for the consumer to feel it is worth investing in! And now...for your viewing pleasure...I present to you...Tommy Boy...
Don't Be Scared! Ain't Nothing to Worry About!
What's worst they can say? 'No'??? We are naturally programmed to be afraid or uncomfortable of the unknown, rejection, and strangers! Just knowing that simple fact can help you gain confidance in your sales process. One of the first things I remind myself of before making a sales call is, "The worst thing they can say 'No', so if I don't try I'll never get a 'Yes'".
"Well, I feel like I might be bothering them....". Look at it this way...you are making a call to them at their place of WORK. They are WORKING, just like you are. Never be afraid to "bother" them. Their job, just like anyone else, is to contribute to the prosperity and positivety of their company and obtain all the resources necessary to obtain that career goal in order to succeed and basically not piss off their boss. You could potentially be that resource and/or open door to their prosperity and potential of scoring brownie points within the company. For example, if the decision maker you speak to isn't the CEO he has to impress the CEO and make good decisions for the company so that the CEO doesn't have to! So whatever decision he has to make in order to come out on top, he is likely to consider if you have what he needs.
The bottom line is, you never know what the circumstances may be. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone.
Sales is an Opportunity for Unlimited Success!
Being a sales person, in most cases, you have the opportunity to make as much money as you want! Stop complaining that you don't make enough money as a sales person. At the end of the day it's you that is making it complicated. Sales jobs are mostly structured on an hourly base pay PLUS commission percentages. There is never an excuse for little or no success in sales. Someone somewhere needs or wants your product. If you have to dig to find them, so be it. But this is why sales people reap bigger rewards than those guys in the Customer Service department. We have to work harder to make our ends meat! Make the right choices in your daily work load and you are golden. Here a few things to keep your cash flow surfing as a sales person...
- Opportuity never sleeps! No matter where you are, what you're doing, even on your day off, do not pass up an opportunity to network. You may be standing in line at the grocery store and the Operations Director of a fortune 500 company is standing in front of you. If the opportunity arises, talk to them!
- Carry business cards! Don't have you're own? Hand out the company cards and put your name on the back.
- Don't be afraid to use social media like Twitter and LinkedIn. Don't be afraid to send out connection requests before and after you've spoken to/closed a sale on a prospect. This is also a great point to bring up during your sales call, "Hey, aren't we connected on linked in? I thought your name looked familiar!" This immediately links you and the prospect in some form even if it is a social media simularity.
- Respect your clients. Showing respect is crucial. Don't shove your product in their face, don't talk to them like they are idiots, and treat them with the kind of respect you would want from them. Chances are they worked very hard to be where they are at and quite honestly probably don't need your stupid product. There are hundreds more out there to choose from. I'd rather my clients rumour by word of mouth to his collegues that, 'She was an honest and personable sales person and very pleasent to work with. Smooth sales process. We closed the deal and I'd definitely work with her again if the opportunity came about.'...instead of... 'Yeah, I bought the product because the company needed it and it was a good price over the competitor. But she was just a huge pain to work with. I should've went with the other guy." Don't make them regret their decision! Be patient, be kind my friends.
- Word of mouth is the best and most efficient way of marketing. If the prospect doesn't believe you, he'll believe his friends or other companies he's familiar with whom you currently work with. Build a positive reputation for yourself.
- Never Stop! Keep a list of follow up's. Always go back to them! Even if they tell you they are locked in a contract with another company for the next 6 months and won't be able to make any moved right now. In 6 months give that guy a call.
- Customer Service goes hand in hand with sales. You have to know how to interact with people and make them smile! Maybe keep a log of small facts a prospect had told you in conversation last time you spoke. Maybe like a wedding he had to attend during the summer. "Hey I'm glad you are doing well since we last spoke! How was that wedding?" Chances are he even forgot about the wedding he attended and the fact that he told you about it. It will blow his mind that you remembered. Brownie points to you, my friend!
- Keep your appointments and work hard! I don't care how hung over you are from the weekend! If you have a scheduled appointment with a client, pull yourself together, man! Jump in the shower, slap yourself a few times, grab a grande latte with extra espresso and get your butt to that appointment and sell something! If you can't handle the few hours necessary to make this happen, maybe next time you'll think twice about throwing back those shots all weekend knowing you have something very important to do on Monday morning or go back to working at McDonalds! Never cancel appointments, especially last minute, unless there are extreme circumstances making it necessary.
Let's be honest. We, as sales people, have the freedom to be as successful as we want. It takes hard work, dedication, long hours, and a hell of a lot of no's. But it is fun and rewarding! Don't screw it up and you'll be just fine!