5 Ways to Improve Your Teleprospecting Results

 

telesales

Sure it’s 2014 but the phone is still a big part of making sales.  In light of the internet, social media, and digital content, many products and services still require human interaction with the sales process.  If you have a product or service that requires lead generation through the use of teleprospecting here are 5 ways to improve your teleprospecting results:

  1. Write out your script.  I didn’t say read from a script, I said write it out.  Knowing what you need to say is important.  Making sure you have the salient points identified prior to a prospect answering the call is critical to your success.  Select your words carefully.  Forget the “$7 dollar Scrabble words”.  Focus on delivering a simple, clear message without the typical sales jargon.
  2. Practice the script.  Record your voice as you walk through your script.  Do it over, and over, and over again until it begins to sound natural as opposed to a forced message.  Get a mirror and watch yourself as you speak your pitch.  Try it sitting down and then standing up.  Often times you’ll be surprised as how much more relaxed you sound when your standing up.  Your diaphragm is elongated and your breathing and oxygen flow is much more streamlined than when sitting.
  3. Use tone and inflection strategically.  End your very first sentence on a high.  Be conscious not to end sentences on down tones.  When your voice drifts it comes across as boredom, lacking energy, or worse just plain unhappy.  Remember, when you’re on the phone your voice is your suit.  Since you’re not in front of someone you can’t wow them with your $2,000 Armani suit.  Instead you must have a $2,000 Armani voice.
  4. Have a list of client testimonials handy.  Referencing key clients or partners within the territory you are calling adds credibility to you, your product and your company.  You can be as general or specific as you’d like but be sure you have names to back you up.  “I work with more than X number of businesses (brokers, accountants, bankers, etc) in Philadelphia.”  If the prospect decides to challenge or question who you work with be ready with names.
  5. Set goals for calling.  A rule of thumb is 100 dials a day for teleprospecting, or 15 dials per hour.  This requires having a list ready that has this number of prospects on it.  Close your email, shut off your cell phone and start dialing.  Eliminate all possible distractions…just call.

Focus on these steps and watch how your productivity increases by 25% a month.  It really works.

 

What it Means to be Authentic

Authentic

You’re nervous, scared.  You’re breathing is shallow and you’re beginning to sweat.  Your mind is racing but you can’t seem to find an answer to your problem that makes you feel good.  In fact all you see in front of you are choices that are not so good and plain bad.  You start weighing the outcomes of each choice in terms of personal perception.  How will I be viewed if I make this decision or that decision?  How popular or unpopular will I be for making such a decision?  Will my boss support me?  How about my wife/husband, my friends, my parents, my kids?  Your emotions reach a crescendo and you feel you’re about to collapse.  What now?

Try this interesting test.  It’s a simple and fast test that requires answering just one question no matter how difficult the decision is you are facing.  It can serve as your decision starter.

What would I do if I didn’t have to worry about any one persons reaction or perception of me based upon the decision I make?  Sure this sounds unfair but if you begin every decision thinking first about what others will think of you then you’re likely to arrive at the wrong place.  Like politicians that look at polls before deciding on their personal stance on an issue, people who worry more about what others think rather than doing the right thing will ultimately experience a short life cycle as a leader.

Authentic leaders don’t worry about what others think.  Not that they set out to offend, hurt, or alienate themselves from others but they instead focus on being true to themselves first.  After all, that’s what makes an authentic leader so appealing to follow.  You always know where they stand on an issue today and tomorrow.  They don’t waiver or pander.  They simply establish their position, communicate it effectively and stick to it.  If they do change their position it is backed up by facts and tangible learnings that justify their change.  Not at all based upon opinion polls, or pressure from stakeholders or markets.

They have a sense of intelligent fearlessness.  They are smart enough to understand where the pitfalls are but effective enough to lead through, around, or over them.  They are mindful of cause and effect and focus on communicating both the why and the implications of their decisions.  They are often times seen as bold, courageous, and confidence.  They use their intelligence to assess the situation and select the best approach.  Their intelligence coupled with their confidence in conviction allow them to lead others fearlessly toward the goal.  This does not mean carelessly.  The difference here is that an authentic leader through their personal intellect and confidence are able to make tough decisions without fear, while leaders whose only strength is to pander to public opinion live in constant fear of being judged.  As such the leader who lives in fear is always looking to make the decision that allows them to place or shift blame elsewhere.  To have cover when the sky begins to fall.  Authentic leaders understand the risks and have no problems being held accountable to their decisions.

Recently Kathleen Sebelius was replaced as the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).  In the interviews that have followed since her removal from office she stated that they had got it (the website http://www.healthcare.gov) readiness wrong.  It should have never been promised to roll out in October 2013.  Yet video clip after clip shows Sebelius saying with conviction it will be ready.  It is ready.  It’s working.  It’s right.  So where was her authenticity as a leader?  Where was her courage?  Unfortunately like so many others in leadership positions she sacrificed her authenticity for popularity.  If only people would realize that popularity is fickle.  Eventually inauthentic decisions and the leaders who made them always show themselves but by that time both have been cast as failures.  If only we could stay true, stay firm, stay authentic from the start.

How Your Sales Team Really Feels About Social Media

socialmedia

Sales people are some of the brightest, most adaptive, and persistent personalities on the planet.  They thrive on ego and strive to be recognized from the highest levels of their organizations.  The best sales people focus on establishing strong relationships and broad networks of contacts.  But what most sales people dislike more than anything else is change, and social media represents one of the most sweeping changes to sales people since the invention of the fax machine.

To get your sales team on board and using social media to improve their results requires you to have a thorough understanding of what’s preventing them from getting involved to begin with.  Here are 3 things your sales team believes about social media but isn’t telling you.

  1. Social media isn’t up to me, it’s the company’s responsibility.   Reps believe that social media is an extension of advertising and thus is the sole responsibility of the company.  Communication, narratives, or messaging whether via social or traditional media outlets are the responsibility of the corporate marketing team.
  2. I don’t have time.  Reps see things as either-ors.  If I must do Thing A, than Thing B must be sidelined.  Something must come off the plate before something new is added.  Given most sales people feel they already work to their fullest capability and capacity, few see a way to add more to their daily routine.
  3. I’m afraid.  Ever hear the story of the sales rep over-promising what their product or service can do?  What about the rep who exaggerates, manipulates or misleads a prospect?  Reps fear putting things in writing which provides them little to no wiggle room if they need to dial-back a previously issued statement or comment.  Putting something on LinkedIn or Twitter creates a feeling of unease and discomfort for a sales rep.

How to overcome these 3 false-beliefs?

  1. Here’s just one reason social media is a joint endeavor between a company and its sales people:  branding.  There are 2 parts to every sale – the company’s brand reputation and the sales person’s brand reputation.  A buyer will not buy if they don’t believe in the company’s brand.  If its product is perceived to be irrelevant, or low quality the buyer will know and look for an alternative.  Likewise if the sales person’s reputation is in question no matter how good the company’s product is the sale will not be made…at least by that sales person.  Social media is a great way for sales people to build and expand their personal brand reputation and thought leadership.
  2. Social media can help a sales person become more productive by improving their efficiency.  Utilizing free apps like Zite, Hootsuite, USAToday, and Google Alerts can help keep a sales pro up-to-date and add value to their sales conversations with prospects and current customers.
  3. Show them.  As their leader you must be able and willing to demonstrate your involvement with social media.  How do you embrace social media?  How does it play into your day?  Is it a passing thing, or do you participate daily with social media?  How do you use it?  Can you provide examples?  Being able to walk the talk is critical to implementing any new initiative or change.  The sales team must see you doing it before they even consider it for themselves.

Try these approaches and let me know how it works.

 

3 Ways Selling Has Changed In The Last 10 Years

RotaryPhone

Most of us in Sales began our career with the Yellow Pages in hand.  Sales training consisted of two words – start dialing.  Call your family, then friends, and work your way down to those you didn’t know at all..  COLD!  You started with the “A”‘s and worked down to “Z” dialing the phone 150 – 175 times a day.  If you were lucky you spoke with a handful of potential buyers and perhaps made 1 sale.  Your success depending solely on a rapid fire approach.  Dialing as fast as you could, ending the calls that didn’t present an immediate opportunity and on to the next call.  No strategy.  No connection.  No value.

Today things have changed but many Sales organizations are still operating with a pre-80’s selling style.  They refuse to accept the reality that there is in fact a softer side of selling.  This side of selling acknowledges a great deal of strategy and includes the elements of education, communication, and value.  Here are 3 areas that have changed dramatically in the past decade with the flow of available information on the web:

  1. Gamesmanship versus Education.  Not more than 10 years ago a sales persons goal was to outplay or outmaneuver the prospect.  This is not to say that salespeople were bad people.  They did their jobs with the tools at their disposal and the direction given to them by their managers all of whom were trained the same way and advanced in their careers accordingly.   Given the scarcity of information buyers were completely reliant upon the salesperson.  While best case scenarios involved a sales person simply being viewed as pushy, worst case extremes included those sales people who mislead, misinformed, and misguided their prospects into making a poor purchasing decision.   Thankfully today there is an abundance of information available starting with the Web and including education content made available directly from companies selling their goods and services.
  2. Push versus Pull communication.  Remember direct mail with all those post cards that companies sent out through the U.S. Postal Service?  Or the letters that were sent out offering 3, 6, or 12 months free.  Urgency words and phrases like “For the first 100 callers”, or “in the next 90 days”, or how about “while supplies last”?  Sellers created a sense of urgency for the buyer that if they didn’t act quickly they would lose out on this incredible deal.  By stating the offer was only available to the first 100 callers, sellers attempted to manipulate prospective buyers into believing that there were swarms of ready-buyers who were crashing the gates to gobble up all product being offered for sale and soon there would be no more.  After all, we all need at least one if not two “gophers“.
  3. Discounts versus Value. Imagine Mercedes-Benz, ExxonMobil, Apple, or Goldman Sachs giving their work away at a heavy discount or even for free.  Premium brands only become premium by protecting their brand value.  Any offers that include give-a-ways do nothing more than diminish the value of your brand.  Think for a moment about your sales experience with a premium brand company.  You’re almost shaking with excitement to hand over your money just to say you own what they sell.  Remember your first iPod, iPad or Macbook?  You never complained that there were no discounts.  And what about the UGGs you bought?  Premium companies stand by the value of their brand, selling it for the price they believe is justified to not only make a profit but to also protect their brand’s value.

Respecting your prospect, your buyer, and your current customer is paramount to your continued growth and success in selling.  Taking the time to educate your prospective buyer through high-value communication will help position you as more than just a sales person.  The sales professional able to do this most effectively will be the one that the buyer can’t live without.  They will become an indispensable resource to the buyer and will become the go-to person for all their needs.  Said simply, the one who delivers the most value wins today, tomorrow, and the next.

The Secret to Leading a National Sales Team to Success? Communication.

Win

Vince Lombardi said, “Coaches who can outline a play on a blackboard are a dime a dozen.  The ones who win get inside their player and motivate.”  This insight from Coach Lombardi speaks to the necessity for all leaders to understand their players and instill confidence while inspiring a desire for to achieve greatness.

Running a national sales organization is difficult. There are numerous challenges that come into play that every leader must deal with on a regular basis.  Cultural differences, time zones, and competition are just a few of the most pressing items that every sales leader encounters.

While there are many critical characteristics that make up a great national sales leader one stands above the rest…communication.  Communication is both art and science.  At its most effective level communication is a two-way street.  A give and take.  A back and forth.  It requires research, listening, understanding and patience.  Good communicators know what to say.  Great communicators know how to say it and when.  The right message delivered at the wrong time, in the wrong venue, or with the wrong tone can be just as disastrous as delivering the wrong message.  Great leaders know their people.  They understand what drives them.  What makes them tick.  Because of their deep insight into their people they are able to communicate at a higher level than those leaders who don’t take the time to get to know their people.

To be a great communicator you must do these 6 things:

  1. Educate yourself in your area of expertise.  It always amazes me how some folks believe that because they’ve been “in the business” for 10, 15, or 20 plus years they just know it all.  Their arrogance has misled them providing a false sense of security.
  2. Get to know your team.  Really get to know them.  Spend one-on-one time with them to understand who they are, what’s important to them, where they want to go, and when they’d like to get there.  Listen to them and be sure to focus all your attention on them.  We’ve all had those meetings where the person we’re talking to has “wandering eyes” and you just know they’re not hearing you.
  3. Practice.  Use a mirror.  Even after more than 25 years of building and leading large teams I still practice my message in front of a mirror.  Facial expressions are just as important as your message.  If the two appear disconnected your credibility goes out the window.
  4. Show empathy.  As the saying goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Empathy can only be developed when you take a genuine interest in helping others.
  5. Do it often.  The more you communicate with the right message the more transparent you become.  After all that’s what people want…transparency.  The ability to know what to expect without surprises is what builds credibility.
  6. Be clear.  Say what you mean.  Minimize the buzz words, big words, and impressive phrases.  No one cares how smart you sound.  They’re only interested in whether what you do can help them meet their needs.

Give it a shot and let me know how it works!

5 Ways To Make Your Meetings More Effective

Improve

Another meeting?  Most days start with meetings and end with meetings.  We spend our days running from one to another, whether in person or via the infamous conference call.  Some companies can’t operate without having a meeting to discuss even the smallest of decisions or topics, while others work hard to minimize the number of meetings they schedule. It’s not that meetings are bad, it’s just that most of them are an ineffective use of time. Little is accomplished during these meetings other than wasting the time spent being in the meeting itself, as well as the time spent preparing for that meeting.

So how can you increase your level of meeting effectiveness?

Here are 5 things you should do before scheduling a meeting:

1. Create and include a clear meeting objective. Provide a brief summary of the purpose of the meeting. Be sure to state whether this meeting is meant to inform, solicit feedback, or make a decision.
2. Invite the right people. The key word here is “right”. Don’t get caught up inviting the entire company to make sure you’ve CYA’d yourself. Have the right people there. The type of meeting you have set will determine who you should invite.
3. Be clear on your time. If you need an hour then schedule an hour. If you believe that your topic may go over an hour then plan accordingly. People hate to attend meetings that consistently run over. You don’t want to create the perception that you’re a poor planner.
4. Provide materials in advance. Many people feel that meetings should be somewhat of a surprise. I can’t stand that approach. Time is valuable for everyone. Why wait until the meeting to drop a 20 page deck on people. Give them time to read through it and absorb it. Having the ability to formulate questions, thoughts, and opinions prior to the meeting is key to running an effective meeting.
5. Schedule critical meetings during the day before 4 pm. The fact is that human nature is such that most people find getting invited to a meeting that starts at 4 pm to be annoying. Hey I know you have to be in the office until 6 pm anyway but still in all, people look to the end of their day to wrap up items that were opened during the day. Many 4 pm meetings become nothing more than place holders to reschedule another meeting when people are prepared, ready, and engaged.

Try taking these 5 actions before scheduling your next meeting and see how much smoother your meeting runs.

Stop Closing and Start Opening

open door

Searching Amazon I found nearly 6,000 books written on “closing the sale”.  Hundreds of tips, techniques and in some cases – shhhh – secrets, about how to be a better closer.  The fact is that sales professionals should spend less time perfecting their closing skills and more time on their opening skills.

Most sales fall into 3 buckets:  sold, not sold, and pending sale.  That means about a third of the deals you’re working on will close regardless of what you do, a third will say no regardless of what you do or say, and the final third is really the only bucket you can influence.  How you influence, and how effective your ability is to influence others, rests solely on how well you build trust and rapport.  And when does that happen?  In the first stages of a sales encounter with a prospect, and over multiple encounters with your existing customers.

If you shift the time you spend on trying to become a better closer, and focus that time and energy on learning more about your customer, and prospect, your sales results will improve.  Not only do people still buy from other people but they buy from those they trust and respect.  Have you ever bought something from a sales rep you didn’t trust?  What was the last thing you bought from someone you didn’t respect?  My guess is you answered both of these questions with a resounding “never” response.  Let’s face it, the act of buying is an emotional process regardless if it’s B2B or B2C.  There is just as much personal risk in a B2B buying decision as there is in B2C and perhaps even more so since the buyers job could be on the line if they make a poor purchasing decision.

Invest your time getting to know your prospect and your customers.  What drives them?  How do they define success?  What risks keep them up at night?  Which aspects of their business are they keening focused on changing?  What areas are they worried about that they don’t fully understand?  How will their decision to buy or not buy from you affect them personally?  If your solution saves their business money they could be viewed a hero, but if the solution doesn’t deliver as advertised it could cost them dearly.

Tune in.  Listen to what your customer is telling you.  Be both observant and open-minded.  And forget looking for that magic pill that guarantees better close rates.  Really…if that were possible would we need 6,000 different books and authors offering to tell us how?  Remember, Sales is all about people.  And people buy from people.  Invest genuinely in developing relationships with people and watch as your results improve.

Supercharge Your Results With 3 Easy Steps

supercharge

A new year is around the corner and there’s no better time than now to start thinking about how to juice your performance in 2014. Whether this past year has been an incredible success, terrible failure, or plain old mediocre, in a matter of days you’ll receive a wonderful gift…the chance to do it all over again! And herein lies a choice you must make. Do things the same and most likely get the same results or mix things up and push for a different outcome. Hey, even if this past year was outstanding, and what you accomplished impressed even you, why let up? You can do more, accomplish greater results, and push yourself to new limits. Here’s how you can supercharge your results in 2014:

1. Pick 1 area or topic and go deep. If you’re in the B2B space brush up on healthcare reform, the unemployment numbers, or interest rates. If you’re in B2C think about what trends the Consumer Confidence Index suggests. The skies the limit.  Your competition is fierce and getting tougher by the day. They’re looking for ways to differentiate themselves from you, and your company, by adding value. If you simply focus on being the best salesperson, marketer, service manager, etc for your company, and not open your eyes to the world around you, soon you will be chasing the pack. Those that excel and reach the top will look different by acting differently.
2. Make 1 more call a day. Tap into your network and use it. Call one person from your network everyday. It doesn’t need to be an hour phone call. A short 15 minute check-in can provide insights, perspectives, and ideas. You should build your network to include a wide range of people within your industry, outside of your industry, blue-collar, white-collar, etc.  Just like your investment portfolio requires diversity, so does your network.  Make it one of your top priorities to meet people and develop relationships.
3. Spend 15 minutes of alone time each day. We all need time to think. Time to recharge, time to reflect, time to create. Taking a few minutes every day is critical to your success. The human brain is the fastest processor of information on the planet, however, unlike a computer that can run for an unlimited amount of time, human beings need to shut down to rest their brain. Just like an athlete requires “recovery” time for their muscles, we all need recovery time for our brains. Take the time, block it out, put it on your calendar and think…just think. Think about your goals, where you are relative to each of them, and the actions you’ve taken to get you this far. Think about where you want to go to next and some of the steps you may need to take to get there.

Try doing each of these activities and see how quickly your results improve. And when they do let me know!

The anatomy of a great Sales presentation

Over the years I’ve read hundreds of sales books.  I’ve attended countless sales training sessions with various philosophies from Spin Selling to Solution Selling, and Relationship Selling.  As I’ve sat through these courses as both a rep and ultimately as the head of Sales I began to watch expressions and reactions to the material being presented.  I have seen the excitement, and the hunger, in people’s eyes as they listened intently with the hope that “this will be the training that changes everything” for them, and that “this class will provide the silver bullet” that has eluded them throughout their career.   Most often times they’re wrong.

A recent article on training cited a statistic that 87% of sales training was forgotten within the first 30 days.  This begs the question, why?  Is it because the philosophies being taught are not good?  Are the different sales processes wrong?  Is it just bad information?  Is it because the rep tried it and it didn’t work?  I would offer that all of these sales methodologies have great aspects to them. They all offer tremendous insights and perspectives on various sales situations.  But there’s no such thing as one-size fits all when it comes to Sales training.  Why?  Because all people are different and as such react in different ways when they are being sold to.  That means it’s incumbent on the sales rep to be savvy enough to know what elements to apply in any given situation.

No Sales training methodology will work 100% every time.  The key is knowing what pieces to take from each perspective and incorporate them into your own style and process.  The best sales people know what to say, when to say it, when not to say anything, what questions to ask, how to ask them, and when to ask.

Recently I participated in a discussion on “What makes a great Sales Presentation?”  Some of the responses were very classroom-ish.  The fact is, the more complex you make something the less likely it will be tried, let alone followed.  As such I put together my own step-by-step recommendation for delivering consistent, high-quality sales presentations.

To get the most out of every Sales presentation follow the steps below:

1. Prepare – know the buyer persona you will be meeting with, your competition, your own products and services.

2. Be early. If you’re on time you’re late.

3. Dress the part. I can’t tell you how many sales presentations I’ve sat through where the reps tie was not straight or a blouse had one too many buttons undone. Attention to the small details says a lot about you.

4.SMILE – no one wants to spend time with a grouch or scary person!

5. Listen twice as much as you talk – that’s why we have 2 ears and one mouth.

6. If your product requires a formal presentation use an iPad and get theSlideshark app. It is a powerful tool and demonstrates your ability to “integrate” various tools into a process…the sales process.

7. Boil your presentation down to 3 salient points…be clear and concise but have back-up and detail should the buyer want to dive deeper.

8. Gain continuous buy-in. Throughout your presentation make sure you check in with the buyer to gain their continued approval and agreement. When you get to the end you can sum up your presentation by saying, “we agree this solution makes sense for your business so lets talk about next steps”

9. No matter what the outcome, shake hands, smile, thank them for their time and let them know you will keep in touch…then do it!

Give this a try for a month, or however long it takes you to do no less than 25 presentations.  Then let me know what your results were.  Remember, to be successful in Sales you MUST be a continuous learner, broadening, and deepening your perspective each and every day with each and every presentation you give.  Not even the 9 steps above are a silver bullet but they can certainly help you improve  your overall sales effectiveness.

Like this if it helped.

Happy Selling!