Top Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Producers (Part Two)

I’d like to thank many of you for your emails and comments regarding last week’s ezine article on the first characteristic of making a commitment to doing whatever it takes to be a top sales producer.

For those of you who are committed, you’ll find your sales and confidence will instantly go up when you practice the next characteristic:

Top Characteristic Number Two: Learn, practice and then automatically deliver the best responses and closes to 90% of the selling situations you run into day in and day out.

This is absolutely huge. The strange thing is though: 80% of sales people simply won’t take the time or make the effort to do it.

I’ve always said that the best thing about sales is that 80 to 90% of the objections, stalls, put offs and situations you run into day after the day are the same. The blow offs you got yesterday, are the same ones you got last month and that you’ll get next month – and next year.

Think about it: how many times do you hear this when you prospect or cold call:

From the gatekeeper:

“Will he know what this call is regarding?”

From the prospect:

“I wouldn’t be interested.”

“We already have someone who handles that.”

“Just email me something.”

Do any of these sound familiar? Of course they do! And I’ll bet you could add another five or seven, couldn’t you?

And how about when you close a sale? How about:

“We just aren’t ready to make a decision yet.”

“I’m going to have to talk to my partner/spouse/committee.”

“Your price isn’t in our budget.”

Are these sounding familiar? Of course they are! And, once again, you could easily come up with about five or seven more.

And here’s the point: There are only about seven or nine objections or stalls per selling situation per product or service. You keep getting them over and over and over again!

Now here’s the problem: Most sales reps don’t take the time to develop, script out, and then practice, drill and rehearse the most effective responses until they know them backward and forward and can deliver them automatically like a pro.

Instead, 80% of sales reps (and sales teams!) choose to ad-lib a different response – or worse, an ineffective response – each time they get one of these repeatable stalls or objections. This makes them uncomfortable when they get resistance, makes them give up easily, and makes them not want to cold call or call people back to close them (classic phone resistance).

It makes their sales lives a living nightmare…

The top producers, on the other hand, have taken the time to develop, memorize and then deliver effective responses to these objections, and so they easily handle and overcome them. They are not afraid of getting resistance, instead, they’re prepared for it. Knowing what’s coming and being prepared for it enables them to listen to what their prospect is saying, allows them to question the objection and find out what is really holding a prospect back.

And this makes them confident. This allows them to stay in the game and overcome stalls and objections when other sales reps fold and go away. This allows them to persevere and get the sale.

In addition, it allows them to do their job easily and without stress because they know in advance what’s coming, and they are prepared for it!

It’s like with the objection of: “I’m going to need to ask the boss.”

Eighty percent of sales reps handle this incorrectly by saying something like: “Well, when should I call you back?”

By doing it this way, they simply create a stall, and then they worry that when they finally do hear back from the prospect, the answer will be, “Well, the boss doesn’t want to do it.”

How many times does this happen to you?

A top producer, on the other hand, handles this very differently. She would say:

“I understand and let me ask you something. If your boss likes this and tells you to do whatever you think is best, based on what we’ve just gone over, what would you likely do?”

This is called isolating the objection, and based on what the prospect then says, the top producer will take the next effective steps.

This is what I mean by knowing what’s coming in advance, and then being able to effectively, confidently and easily handle it.

And that’s your assignment for this week. Start by making a list of all the stalls, put offs and objections you get with your sale during the various stages of contact. Then commit to learning, scripting and then practicing the best responses to them.

Once you’ve found the ones that work (and I recommend you script out three or four responses for each objection), spend the time practice, drill and rehearse those best practice responses until you can deliver them automatically.

I’m reminded of the importance of this when I recall an interview with Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins. He said that his players practice each move, each technique over and over again until they are automatic.

He said that if his players get into a game situation and have to think about what to do next, it’s too late. He said they had to be able to respond instantly, automatically with the best technique in every situation they get into.

It’s the same with you and sales.

If you are willing to do this – again, what 80% of your competition won’t take the time and effort to do – then soon you will enjoy closing more sales, making more money, and living a more confident and successful life as a sales professional.

The Top Characteristic of Top Sales Producers

If you’re reading this article right now, then chances are you want to perform better in your sales career. It shows that you’re willing to take the time to search out tips and techniques that will give you an edge over your competition. That’s a good thing.

But are you ready to really commit to doing the things that will catapult you into that rarified air of top sales producers?

And chance are, you know who these top producers are. They’re the ones who are always at or near the top of the sales production list every month, always winning the sales contests, and who always seem to be in a good mood. They’re positive, confident, and they have that feeling that no matter what happens to the leads or the economy or the company, they’ll find a way to succeed.

Years ago I heard a sales motivator say that if you are willing to the do the things that most sales reps aren’t willing to do, then soon you’ll be able to do and have and enjoy the things that most sales reps will never be able to.

When I heard that statement, I was a struggling sales rep, and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was at a crossroads in my career, and I was either going to find a different way of making a living, or I was going to go back to school and get out of sales altogether.

What I chose to do was commit to being one of the top producers. I heard another motivator say that if the grass looks greener on the other side, then you need to fertilize your lawn. He said that you don’t have to change where you are to succeed, but rather you can bloom where you’re planted.

And I had many examples of that in the company where I worked. There were 25 sales reps, and while most of them had varying levels of inconsistent success (I call those the 80% of the any sales team), there were also the top producers who consistently were at the top of the sales charts. They were the ones who made the most commissions, drove the nice cars, went on the fun vacations.

These top producers were also the ones who made it look easy. They never seemed to struggle; instead, they seemed to intuitively know what to do. It was inspiring and intimidating at the same time. It wasn’t until I finally made a commitment to be one of them that I saw how much time and discipline and effort they put into being the best.

While it did take time, money and lots of effort for me to go from where I was as a struggling sales rep, with commitment and determination I became the number one sales rep at the company in 90 days. And the habits I developed allowed me to be the number one rep out of five branch offices just nine months later.

And you can do it, too. The good news is that success leaves clues, and if you’re willing to invest the time, money and effort into completely changing your results, your life and your family’s life, then you can. You can bloom where you’re planted, and you can start enjoying the things that top producers take for granted – the things that most sales reps will never get to enjoy.

I guarantee that if you adopt this one characteristic, then nothing will stop you from succeeding….

Top Characteristic of Top Sales Producers: Make a commitment to doing whatever is required of you to be a top producer.

Let me illustrate this with a story. Earlier this year, I was asked to give a keynote speech for a company of a little over 100 sales reps. Before I do any of these kinds of talks, I always ask to do a phone interview with their top producers. I reached out to their top sales rep, a woman working in Canada who had been with the company for just 15 months.

What was interesting about this sales rep was that she had come from a completely different industry – not sales – and yet in the course of about a year, she had become the top sales rep for all of the U.S. and Canada. As you can imagine, I was anxious to speak to her.

What I found out is what I always find out about top producers. When she joined the company, the first thing she did was make a commitment to work harder than another any person there, and to learn and practice the top principles of qualifying and closing sales.

I asked her how long she worked and she told me she regularly worked ten to twelve hours a day. I asked her about her family and kids and she said that’s what weekends were for.

When asked how many cold calls she made in a day, she told me about 100. The average sales rep in the company made about 25. I asked how she could make so many calls and still run appointments, and she said she began early, and made calls throughout the day – while waiting for an appointment in the field, after and between appointments, and then she made some more in the evening when others have long left the office.

When we talked about the specifics of the sale and how she qualified, she told me she gave her pitch on the first appointment call, told the prospect that she would then show them exactly what she just described and that at the end she would ask for a yes or no. “Will you be able to make a decision at that time?” was her last question on the appointment call.

Once on site, if the prospect tried to delay making a decision, she reminded him/her that they promised to commit at that time – yes or no – and she then began closing for the sale using proven, scripted (memorized and delivered naturally) closes that worked the majority of the time.

If the prospect simply wouldn’t commit, then she asked them to have a decision made by the end of the day (or next morning if an evening appointment), and she then called back for the yes or no. If it’s a no, she moved on.

When you break down what this number one rep did (and continues to do) to be so successful, you’ll find that she does “what most sales reps are not willing to do.” First, she’s made a commitment to working harder and smarter than all of the other reps in the company. When most sales reps are still at home drinking coffee, she is making calls. When most sales reps are shuffling their leads or thinking about lunch, she’s still making calls.

When other sales reps are semi-qualifying their prospects and then showing up and hoping and praying someone will buy, she’s already asked for a buying decision before she even gets there. And when many sales reps are put off with a stall at the end, she begins closing when she gets an objection.

Because of this commitment to be the best, she closes more sales than any other rep in the company (again, of 100+ sales reps). And this enables her to make double what the average sales rep makes, and triple what a third of the struggling reps make.

When I was at this annual sales conference, the company was giving out the awards, the bonus checks, and the family vacations and other perks. This top producer got all of these rewards, accolades and pats on the back. The other top producers (nine of them) got various awards as well. The other 90 sales reps? They got increased quotas, increased pressure and after three days at the conference, they went back to their jobs to struggle along for another year….

The bottom line in any career or profession is that the top performers are committed to putting in the time and effort to be the best. They are willing to pay the price for success by staying after practice to keep working, by putting in the time for film study or playbook study, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to perform at the top of their game. This is true of top athletes like Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, etc., and for top concert musicians, professional dancers, and virtually any other professional.

As someone once said, “The extra mile is never crowded.”

If you will commit this one characteristic, then you will be able to live, have, enjoy and do the things that most sales people will never be able to have, enjoy and do.

The Three Times to Handle an Objection

Most sales reps hate getting objections. When they get them, their hands start to sweat, their heart takes the elevator down into the pit of the stomachs, and they start wishing they had gotten that graduate degree and avoided sales altogether.

This is how most sales reps react when they get objections, but not the top producers. Top producers view and react to objections very differently. To start with, because top producers thoroughly qualify their prospects up front they generally uncover and deal with many objections during the qualifying stage. Objections like, “I’ll have to show this to my partner,” and others are already known and dealt with.

In addition, top producers have taken the time, long in advance, of scripting out two or three different rebuttals to the objections they get, so when they do get them, they know exactly what to say to overcome them. In other words, they are rarely caught off guard, because they know what to say to deal with them.

Third, because top producers know what the objections or stalls are likely to be in advance, and since they are prepared for them with solid scripts and techniques to overcome them, they are able to take advantage of the timing of “when” to handle an objection. Unlike most sales reps who feel they have to handle an objection the moment they get one (and hence instantly lose control of the call), top producers realize that they have three options as to when to handle an objection. They are:

1) When it comes up. Again, because top producers know what to say and how to effectively deal with objections, they have the choice of handling the objection when it comes up or of postponing it for later.

The first choice may be to handle the objection when it comes up. This is usually good if the prospect is rejecting a product or service at the beginning of the pitch because they haven’t been through all the details (features and benefits) of the pitch yet.

The way to handle this is to use a script, of course. But the key is to handle the objection and then move back into the pitch. An example would be if a prospect objects to the price at the beginning. It might go like this:

Prospect: “This is out of our budget – the price is just too high.” (Or any other objection.)

Rep: “You know, it might seem that way now, but the price actually breaks down to about $2.00 per (lead, incident, etc.), and when you look at it that way, it becomes very affordable – especially when you see how much time and effort it saves you. Let me just show you a couple of things…”

In this example, the rep answered the objection but instead of checking in with the prospect to see how the close landed, they instead kept control of the call by continuing on with the pitch.

2) The second option to handling an objection is to postpone it till the end of the pitch. This is ideal if the prospect seems willing to keep listening but is stuck on an issue or two. The important thing is to acknowledge that you heard the objection and promise to handle that at the end. It goes like this:

Prospect: “This is out of our budget…,” (Or any other objection.)

Rep: “I can understand that but let’s do this. Before you make any decision on this, let’s talk about all the things this can do for you first, and then you’ll be in a much better position to decide if this is worth it for you. I even have some payment options that might make the decision easier for you as well.

But first, let me show you this…”

What you’re doing here is delaying answering the objection and thereby retaining control of the call. The nice thing about this is that by the end of your pitch, many times the prospect won’t even bring up the objection at all! You’d be amazed by how often that actually happens once you begin using this technique.

In addition to this, if you know what the objection(s) are at the beginning of the pitch – or in the middle – you can begin pitching and building value around the known problem area (objection).

Postponing answering the objection like this is a great way to get your pitch in, keep control of the call, and prepare yourself for what you know might be coming at the end.

3) The third time to answer an objection is…never! That’s right. So many time prospects will test you and try to put you off with many questions, stalls and objections that it’s just best to not respond at all. Here’s how you do that:

Prospect: “This is out of our budget…” (Or any other objection.)

Rep: “Some of our clients felt like that until they heard about…” (Now give a benefit or two and keep pitching).

This way you’ve acknowledged the objection but you remain positive and so sold on your solution that you let your enthusiasm drive the call – and often times your prospect’s mindset. It is said that enthusiasm sells, and that’s true in many cases. The problem with most sales reps is that as soon as they hear an objection they start to give up.

But by acknowledging, remaining positive, and continuing on with your pitch, you can often override any initial objection and get further into your pitch. In fact if you’ve done this before, then you’ll often find that the prospect changes to a different objection the next time they bring one up!

These three times to handle an objection also work for questions as well. The important thing to remember is that it is up to you as to when to break your rhythm and deal with an objection. The whole point is that you must remain in control of the call.

Try using the techniques and scripts above during your upcoming week of pitching your product or sale. You’ll be amazed by how much easier your sale becomes – and how many more deals you’ll get.

Voice Mail: 5 Proven Techniques That Get Your Calls Returned! (Part Two)

Last week I gave you the first Three Proven Techniques to help you increase your chances of getting your calls returned. Now let’s look at the final two:

Proven Technique Number Four: Combine your voice mails with an email campaign for maximum effectiveness. The number one law in all marketing is repetition. That’s why Coke-a-Cola still buys millions of dollars of ads every year.

It’s the same with getting your prospects to notice you. The most effective way is by using a two month long campaign that goes like this:

First: Try to reach someone for a couple of weeks without leaving a VM.
Week One: Leave one VM and follow it up with an email that same day. Then leave a second VM that same week.
Week Two: Send email #2, then leave a VM at the beginning of the week and on that Friday.
Week Three: Send an email at the beginning of the week and at the end. Leave a VM in between.
Week Four: Send another email on Tuesday, and leave a VM on the Thursday.
Month Two: Send either one email or leave one VM per week for four weeks.
Also: Call in between and don’t leave a message.

Anytime between week two and three, one of your emails needs to be the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” email. If you’ve not heard of this email, then your return contact rate is about to go up by 60%! It goes like this:

Your subject line is: (Prospect’s First Name) Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Body of email:

Dear _________,

I haven’t heard back from you and that tells me one of three things:

1) You don’t have a need at this time or you’ve already chosen another company for this.

2) You’re still interested but haven’t had the time to get back to me yet.

3) You’ve fallen and can’t get up, and in that case please let me know and I’ll call 911 for you…

Please let me know which one it is because I’m starting to worry.

Honestly, all kidding aside, I understand you’re really busy, and the last thing I want to do is be pain in the neck once a week. Whether your schedule has just been to demanding or you’ve gone another direction, I would appreciate it if you would take a second to let me know so I can follow up accordingly.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Kind Regards,

If you’re smiling from reading this, so will your prospect! Again, this is a high percentage email that gets a response about 60% of the time. Compare that to your current results.

Proven Technique Number Five: If your VM and email campaigns don’t work, then consider going that extra mile – as a top producer once said, “The extra mile is never crowded.” Even though a prospect may not be in the market now, as we all know, things change. And when they do, you want to be top of mind so they’re thinking about you when they are finally ready.

The most effective way to do this is by sending physical greeting cards. And the easiest way to do that is by using a company I use called Send Out Cards. (You can learn more about them here: www.SendOutCards.com/mrinsidesales )

I’ve been using SOC for years and they have made me a lot of money in sales to prospects I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t been drip marketing to them regularly. I love SOC for many reasons including:

1) It’s extremely affordable to send a high quality card with a real stamp
2) It’s easy and fast – you create the cards in advance and they send them automatically without you having to do anything!
3) You can build “campaigns” so you can send cards at any interval you choose (and you can build lots of campaigns).
4) Every card is completely customizable – you can choose from 15,000+ of theirs (and include your own message) or you can completely create your own with your own images.
5) It’s highly effective. In fact, did you know that the number one salesperson in the world – according to The Guinness Book of World Records – is a guy named Joe Girard? He was a car salesman and he sold an average of six new cars EVERY DAY! How did he do it? He sent a card to every customer and every prospect every month (and one for Christmas), 13 cards in all.

Joe was so successful, that people had to make appointments with him to buy a car!

The good news is that sending physical greeting cards works in your business as well. And www.SendOutCards.com/mrinsidesales can make it easy and effective for you.

So there you have it: The Five Proven Voice Mail Techniques to get your calls returned. Follow them and you’ll be much more successful than you are now. Don’t follow them and, well, you already know how that goes…

Voice Mail: 5 Proven Techniques That Get Your Calls Returned! (Part One)

If you’re struggling to get your voice mails returned, then you’re not alone. Industry stats show that less than 10% of voice mails to new prospects are returned. Because of this, finding the right voice mail message, and knowing a few proven techniques, can be the key to not only making contact with those hard to reach sales leads, but also in developing relationships and getting new accounts.

Here are five proven techniques that give you the best chance of getting your voice mail messages returned:

Proven Technique Number One: Don’t even leave a voice message! Sounds strange, huh? Well the truth is the best technique to follow when trying to reach a prospect for the first time is to persevere and call five or seven or even ten times first before leaving a message. Your goal is to catch them picking up the phone and having a conversation rather than leaving multiple unreturned voice mails.

Try calling at different times in the day, and even several times on Friday. Fridays are the most relaxed days and most people are getting ready for the weekend instead of gearing up for the week. The worst day to leave a voice mail? Monday.

One caveat: For those of you who are worried that when you do finally catch someone who picks up the phone and is upset that you didn’t leave a message (yet they saw you called several times), be prepared with a good script! Something like: “I didn’t want to bother you with several voice mail messages, so I decided to just try to catch you instead. Anyway, I’m glad I did….”

Persevering in this way is the best way to actually get someone on the phone and because most sales reps won’t do it, you’re going to be way ahead if you do.

Proven Technique Number Two: You must script out an effective voice mail message in advance. Nothing will get your message deleted faster than the sound of an unprepared and unprofessional message filled with um’s and uh’s.

As soon as a busy prospect hears that kind of message, especially from someone they do not know (and from a sales person on top of that!), they automatically reach for the delete button. Don’t you?

In addition, you want to make sure your scripted voice mail has these three elements:
1) Put the focus on your prospect – NOT on your product or service.
2) Don’t ever say, “I’d like to take some time to learn more about you…”
3) Leave your number SLOWLY and twice.

As you’ll see in the following examples, most sales reps leave a message that is all about them – this never works. Second, sometimes they think that by wanting to “learn more about how you handle..” they think that they are putting the prospect first. WRONG. All the prospect is thinking is they don’t want to take valuable time to educate you so you can sell them.

And three, the worst technique of all is leaving your phone number so quickly that you force your prospect to replay your message over and over again just to get your phone number. Yeah, right, like anybody is going to do that…

Here is an example of what to do and what not to do:

Proven Technique Number Three: Turn a bad VM message into an effective one:

The WRONG way to leave a VM (and unfortunately, how most people do it):

“Hi this is (Your Name) with (Your Company), and we offer shipping supplies and packaging for all your shipping needs. The reason I’m calling is to learn a little more about your business and to find out more about your shipping needs and see if we can save you some money. If you would call me back at (888) 555-1234 that would be great. Look forward to hearing from you soon.”

This message checks all the “do not do” boxes I’ve listed in technique number two. It’s all about the caller; it wants to take time from the prospect so they can “pitch” more, and the number was only left once.

Here is the RIGHT VM to leave:

“Hi (Prospect’s name) this is (Your Name) with (Your Company). We offer discounted shipping supplies and packaging, and if you’re like most companies we work with, then you’re probably paying too much! Our clients save between 10 to 15% each month and get better service guaranteed. To find out how much you can save, just give me a call at (SLOWLY Leave Your Phone Number.)

Once again, my name is (Your Name), and my toll free number is: (Leave Number Slowly Again). If I don’t hear back from you in the next couple of days, I’ll reach out to you again. If you’d prefer to be taken off our list, or if you’d prefer to get some information by email, just give me a ring and leave me a message. Talk to you soon!”

This VM is effective because first of all it is focused on the prospect and what’s in it for them (10 – 15% savings). The phone number was left two times slowly. But the magic technique was:

You gave your prospect a way out! You let them know that they can simply call you back, leave you a message (so they won’t have to speak with you nor be pitched when they call), and they can remove themselves from being called by you again if they aren’t interested! This is good for you, too, as you won’t waste your time with uninterested prospects.

One note: If you find the above message too long, then edit it! Script your VM the way you like it and then use it consistently. In fact, spend some time now reworking your existing voice mail message so that conforms to the rules above.

Techniques number four and five will be revealed in next week’s article!

Expert Interview Series: Mike Brooks of Mr. Inside Sales on Improving Sales Performance

Tell us about your leadership philosophy?

Lead by example has always been my guiding philosophy. If you want your team to arrive early and stay late, then you’d better be doing the same thing. If you want your team to follow a sales script, then you’d better lead the way. In fact, if you want your sales team to sell using a defined sales process, then pick up the phone and demonstrate how to do that.

People will always follow what they see. A great coach once said to his players: “I don’t hear what you say – I hear what you do.”

What leaders have taught you the most important lesson/lessons so far in your career?

My first sales manager, my brother Peter Brooks, taught me some of the most important lessons in sales, such as: Listen and Think B-4 Responding. He taught me to use my MUTE button so I didn’t talk over others. He taught me to treat others just as they are – as people.

My next mentor, Stan Billue, taught me to put in the time to be the best. To always do what others were not willing to do so I could enjoy the things that others would not be able to enjoy because they weren’t willing to work for it.

Finally, Bob Mowad, of The Edge Learning Institute, taught me to visualize the end result of what I wanted in any situation. He taught me the power of imagination and of the law of attraction. And it works!

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