Seven Things to Say when Prospects Don’t Have the Time for Your Presentation

Young business dressed woman working at office desk.We’ve all been there – you call your prospect back at the appointed time for your presentation and they tell you any of the following:

This isn’t a good time, OR
They only have a few minutes, OR
They ask you in an exasperated tone, “How long will this take?” OR
They tell you they have a meeting in 10 minutes, can you give them the information anyway?
Or any other put off that will cut short the 30 minute comprehensive presentation you had planned.

Most sales reps respond to these objection-like receptions by asking if they would prefer to set another time. That response might be appropriate with the first put off – the “This isn’t a good time,” – but with any of the others, I have a better technique for you.

Let’s start at the beginning. First, when you get this kind of response from a prospect you qualified a week or so ago, don’t be surprised! Face it: it’s a law in all sales – Leads Never Get Better! If you sent out the hottest lead ever, a “10” on a scale of 1 – 10, then when you call them back, have you ever noticed that now they’re about a “7”?

And of course since most sales reps don’t qualify thoroughly enough, most of the leads they stuff into their pipeline are made up of sixes and sevens. And you can imagine how they are when reps reach them. So expect that your leads are going to drop in interest and receptiveness when you call them back, and then be prepared with a best practice approach to handling them. Here’s what to do:

Whenever a prospect responds to your call to do a presentation with one of the responses above – the “How long will this take?” – kind of response, don’t offer to call them back later, rather, get them to reveal their true level of interest to you and get them to tell you exactly how to pitch them to get the deal. Here are a number of statements you can use to do just that:

Responses:

“Sure, I can take as long or little as you need. Let’s do this: why don’t you tell me the top three things you were hoping to learn about this, and I’ll drill right down and cover those areas for you. What’s number one for you?”

OR

“Absolutely, we can do this pretty quickly. Tell me, what would you like to know most about how this might work in your environment?”

OR

“I understand, sounds like I caught you at a bad time. Let’s do this: If you needed to see or learn just one thing about this to determine if it might actually work for you, what would that be?”

OR

“No problem. Our presentation is pretty in depth, but I can do this. Go ahead and tell me two things that are absolute deal breakers for you, and I’ll see if we pass the test. And then if we do, we’ll schedule some more time later to go into detail on how the rest works, fair enough?”

OR

“In ten minutes, I can show you some things that will help you determine whether or not you’d like to spend more time with me later. In the meantime, let me ask you – what would you need to see the most to say yes to this?”

OR

“I understand, we’re all busy. Let me just ask you: has anything changed from when we last spoke?” (Now REALLY listen…)

OR

“Tell you what: let’s reschedule something for later when you have more time, but in the ten minutes we do have, let me ask you some questions to determine whether this would still be a good fit for you…” (Now thoroughly re-qualify your prospect)

As you can see, the responses above are all aimed at getting your prospect to reveal to you both their level of interest and what it is going to take to sell them – or whether or not they are still a good prospect for you. Have some fun with these; customize them to fit your personality or the personality of the person you’re speaking with. Find your favorites and then, as always, practice, drill and rehearse until they become your automatic response when your prospect tells you they don’t have time for your presentation.

How to Stay Organized (and Efficient!)

Time-Management-Tips-4How are you at organizing your day? Do you find that the “small things” like organizing your office, organizing your laptop, checking in with old customers just to see how they’re doing, distract you from what you know you need to be doing to make more money – i.e., cold call, follow up on leads, call prospects back who are on the fence, etc.?

If you’re like most inside sales reps, then there are many distractions which seem to scream out for your time and attention. There’s checking and responding to emails, organizing your calling campaign and leads, keeping your leads and notes together and up to date in Salesforce, calling on existing customers to follow up on sales, there’s meetings, social network research, etc. And on top of all that, when it’s finally time to prospect for new business, there’s that dang organizing again!

And on top of all of that (or perhaps at the bottom of it all), there’s the real dread of making those outbound prospecting calls, you know, call reluctance. So what are you going to do?

You’re going to use the proven time management technique known as “The Top Three Priorities.” Here’s how it works: First, before you go home for the day, make a list and identify the three most important things you need to do the next day to accomplish your most important goal: Making sales. These things might be:

1)   Call the hottest prospects in your pipeline – those most likely to buy that day.
2)   Make a definite number of cold calls to keep your pipeline full.
3)   Follow up with recent orders to upsell them.
4)   Reach a certain number of existing clients to look for upsell opportunities.
5)   Put together proposals or quotes.
6)   Follow up on proposals or quotes.
7)   Check in with prospects or leads in your pipeline
8)   Etc…

Once you’ve picked out the THREE most important things that you can do the next day, again, the three most important things that are going to lead to sales that day, then write these down in order of importance and leave them on your desk for the next morning…

By the way, making this list the night before is crucial as it allows your subconscious mind to begin to devise ways of accomplishing them for you. Whether you know it or believe it or not, what you write down and intend to do sends a powerful message to your subconscious mind, and it will work hard during the evening and night, preparing you to accomplish your goals the next day.

Now here’s the key to the whole process of identifying your “Top Three Priorities”: when you get in the next day, start working on one priority at a time and work it through to completion before you move on to the next one. In other words, resist the temptation to multi-task these three items. As you know, if you begin doing too many things at once, you end up not completing any of them.

The key to this powerful time-management technique is to pick out the most important priority you’ve identified, then complete it and then move on the next one, complete that one, and then move on to the next one and complete that as well. If something comes up – like an inbound customer call, or an urgent email you need to address – then certainly handle that, but then get back to the priority you are working on.

While I know that many other things will vie for your attention, and some of them might even need to be done, sticking with and accomplishing your “Three Top Priorities” will not only make you ultra-efficient, but it will relieve a lot of anxiety for you as well. Let me give you a brief example:

Years ago when I decided to become a full time consultant, I had a lot or work to do on my business. I had to create the website, write all the copy for the pages, create downloadable ebooks for my initial product, find hosting sites, shopping carts, write ezines and create opt in pages and links, deal with my webmaster several times a day, proof all the pages endlessly, and much, much more. While all these projects were crucial for me to begin my consulting practice (and I enjoyed doing them), what I found after a while was that I had stopped doing the things that brought me the capital (money) I needed to pay my mortgage and my webmaster, etc.. In other words, I had stopped cold calling and selling.

The solution to this was to create my “Top Three Priorities” and make sure that I worked through them, one by one, before I responded to my webmaster, before I began proofing pages or writing copy, before I created another web page, etc…

I started by making 35 cold calls each day. I took all the time I needed to make these calls, and only when I was done did I then follow up with any leads I had (priority number two). When I finished that, then I moved on to my next priority – which was to call five people in my network to prospect for work or to get other leads from. Only after I completed all three of these priorities did I dive into my work on the business. And what I found reinforced the importance and effectiveness of this time management technique.

The first benefit was that as I took care of the important and difficult things – like cold calling – I felt a great relief because a big pressure was lifted from me. Second, as I completed the next priority, I gained confidence and hope as I scheduled meetings and moved closer to closing deals. Finally, as I worked through the last priority, I felt a tremendous sense of freedom and accomplishment because I knew that the things that would have nagged at me all day were finally complete. I was now free to handle the other important things guilt free!

Another benefit started showing up as well: I started closing deals and making money. As the saying goes: “Sales solves everything,” and it did indeed make all the work on the business and website so much easier. As I continued to set three priorities and complete them one by one each day, I made significant progress both on my career and on my website. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But it all started by setting and working through each of my three priorities, one by one, before I moved on to all the other important things in my day. If you’re struggling to take back control of your day, then pull out a piece of paper and start writing down your “Top Three Priorities” right now. Remember to organize them around your most important goal for each day: making sales. This one technique is the most important time management strategy I’ve learned, and I guarantee that once you begin using it, you, too, will feel more confident, become more efficient and make more sales.

If the Prospect Only takes Emails, What to Do?

I received an email from a reader who said that he sometimes gets the objection from the gatekeeper of, “I am sorry but he/she does not take outside calls, he/she only responds to emails.” He asked if there is a way to get around this, and my answer is: sometimes. Let’s start at the beginning:

First of all, my question to the sales rep who sent me this email would be, “How did the gatekeeper know you were an “outside” call,” rather than a client, prospect or friend?” The first thing a sales rep needs to do when prospecting is to use the please, please, please technique that I’ve written about earlier and to be as assumptive, yet polite, as possible. This generally eliminates 60 – 85% of the screening you’re likely to get.

If you still get the screening of, “What’s this call in regards to,” once again, you need to use the assumptive, directive approach I teach, combined with a please at the end. Something like, “Yes, please tell her it’s about her lead processing, and I’ll be happy to hold please.” This will work in most instances. Once again, you must use the openings as I recommend them to avoid the screening that occurs naturally.

If you have used both of these openings and still get the objection, “She only responds to email,” then you can try the following statements which may sometimes work:

“I have emailed in the past, and I think they may be getting stuck in her spam folder. Could you please tell her I need just a minute to confirm this please?”

OR

“I’d love to email her my information, but I’m not sure which brochure to send. Would you mind if I had just a 2 minute conversation to see what would be appropriate, please?”

OR

“And how do I reach her if I don’t hear back from my email?”

OR

“I understand, but this is important, could I speak with her supervisor, please?”

OR

“I understand she may be busy, who is her manager, please?” Then: “Could you please connect me with ________ please?”

OR

“I know what that’s like, we have a similar policy here as well. But after three email attempts, the caller is to be put through. Could you tell her I’m holding, please?”

OR

“Question for you: if I haven’t heard back from my previous emails, how would you recommend I reach her?”

OR

“If I end up not being able to reach her, who can you connect me to?”

OR

“My email is down right now, do you might putting me through for a quick question?”

OR

“Could I speak to your supervisor, please?”

OR

“What happened the last time you put someone through to her?”

OR

“I’m not allowed to email anyone I don’t already have in my data base. Do you mind letting her know I’m holding, please?”

OR

“Who can you put me through to?”

OR

“Could I have customer service, please?” (And then just go through them to be put through to your prospect)

OR

“What would you recommend is the best way to reach her by phone?”

OR

“No problem, for next time, what is her extension, please?”

These are a variety of responses you can use to get past the gatekeeper and on to your decision maker. Pick the ones that work best for your sale and your personality. If you find that you absolutely cannot get through, then try reaching out to your prospect through LinkedIn or other social media.

If you exhaust all of the above and still find you can’t get through to a prospect, then consider them disqualified for your product or service and move on. There are plenty of other deals waiting your call…

The Right Way to Open a Closing Call

How do you open your closing presentation calls? Have you scripted out the best opening, or do you wing it? Do you let your prospect take the lead, by asking if this is still a good time for them, or do you confidently and enthusiastically assume the opening and set the pace for the rest of the call? The way you open your closing call often determines how the presentation will go, and many sales reps set themselves up for stalls by opening a closing call weakly. Here’s the right way and the wrong way to open your closing calls:

The Wrong Opening #1:

“Oh hi, this is _______ _______ with _________, and we had an appointment right now to go over the presentation, is this still a good time for you?”

Now I know that it seems to make sense to check in with your prospect before just launching into your presentation, but giving them an out right at the beginning isn’t the way to go. When you use the opening I recommend below, if the time isn’t right for your prospect they’ll let you know. But don’t open your call by giving them an out…

The Wrong Opening #2:

“Oh hi, this is _______ _______ with _________, and I was just checking in with you to see if you needed anything today?”

Although this may immediately sound weak to you (and it is), you’d be shocked by how many calls I listen to that sound just this way! This kind of opening might as well be restated as, “Ah, you wouldn’t want to buy anything today, would you?” Once again, the cure is to script out an assumptive opening that offers them a choice of products or specials as you’ll read below.

The Wrong Opening #3:

“Hi, this is _______ _______ with _________, how are you today?”

Nothing telegraphs a sales call more than those four overused words: “How are you today?” Be different! Be engaging! Use an opening that signals that you’re different and that what they’re going to experience with you is more than just a worn out sales pitch…

The Right Opening #1:

“Hi _________, this is _______ _______ with ________, how’s your Friday going?

[Listen and react accordingly]

_________, I’ve been looking forward to speaking with you today because I have some updates that you’ll be particularly interested in. I’m sure you’re in front of a computer, so do me a favor and go to….”

Once again, if this isn’t a good time for your prospect (but it should be because you did send out reminder emails, right?), then they will tell you. But the power of this opening is that you are opening with some exciting news, you’re directing them into the presentation and you’re taking control of the call. And that’s what you should always be doing.

The Right Opening #2:

“Hi _________, this is _______ _______ with ________, how’s your Friday going?

Great! _________, I’m glad I reached you today, and after you hear about some of the specials we have going on today, you’ll be glad I called. Now the last time we spoke you told me you were (heavy users of/always on the look-out for/usually in need of…), and the good news is that today we have (X at $…..) and they are flying out the door. How many of these could I ship out to you today?”

Assumptive, assumptive, assumptive. Now, are they always going to buy? Of course not! But when you assume the sale and lead in with a couple of specials that you know they could be interested in, and then when you ask for an order like that, those prospects who might be interested in what you have will likely take the bait and either order or begin asking you buying questions. And that’s what you’re looking for, right?

The Right Opening #3:

“Hi _________, this is _______ _______ with ________, how’s your Friday going?”

Again, throw away the old, tired opening of “How are you today?” and replace it with a different and engaging opening that anchors your prospect into the day and actually gets them thinking about how their Friday (or Monday, or Tuesday, etc.,) is actually going. I’ve already added it to the above two openings, and you can see how much better they flow. By using it, you’ll be building a lot more rapport by asking this, and I encourage you to try it and see for yourself how effective it is.

When you combine these openings with the requalifying scripts I wrote about earlier, you’ll have the most effective and comprehensive opening possible. And it’s this type of opening that will give you the edge over your competition and get you further into a qualified presentation. And that will equal more closed sales.