Two Killer Questions to Open & Close a Sale

close a sale better by asking the right questions

I was having breakfast with a client in Denver before a training program I was giving, and we were talking about the importance of asking questions and listening. He told me that a few years ago he was working for a company selling an IT solution, and that while dealing with the Director of IT, he suddenly had an opportunity to meet the new CFO. This was unexpected and he had to think fast!

Here’s what happened:

As he was leaving, and right after meeting with the IT Director, he asked him how he could get in front of the new CFO (knowing that the CFO was the ultimate decision maker). Just as he asked this question, an executive was walking down the hall toward them. The Director said, “That’s the new CFO right there. Let me introduce you to him.”

As he was introduced, my client asked the CFO, “I’d love to spend a few minutes with you and wondered when we could get some time on your calendar to do that?” To his surprise, the CFO said, “I have about 10 minutes right now, come on into my office.”

He followed the CFO into his office, sat down across the desk and the CFO said, “So, what’s on your mind?” My client’s mind went blank, and he just sat there for a moment. He hadn’t expected to be here at this time and found himself unprepared.

Luckily, that didn’t last too long and before he knew it he said, “I have just two questions for you. First, when a client of yours leaves you and buys from someone else, what is the main reason for that? And second, what is the main reason a new client goes with you rather than your competition?”

After that, my client opened his laptop and waited to take notes.

And waited.  And waited…

After nearly five full minutes (a nerve racking five minutes to be sure), the CFO finally began to speak. “That’s a great question, and I’m going to have to think carefully about that. In fact, no one has ever asked me that before…”

The CFO then went on to give his thoughts about this, and, after he was done, he thanked him and promised to follow up with more information—which he did. After a few weeks, the CFO then followed up again and made a purchase from my client and his company.

He said of the interaction: “The two questions you asked me were the best two questions I’ve ever been asked. They forced me to evaluate the only two things that really matter—what means the most to our clients.”

My client was obviously pleased with how this turned out, but he told me that the real lesson he learned from the interaction is just how long some prospects take to think about questions they are asked.

He told me, “Since I was there when I asked the question, I could see he was carefully thinking about my questions. Since I could see that, I didn’t interrupt him—instead I just shut up and let him think.

He continued: “This situation revealed the real challenge we face as inside sales reps.  When we ask questions over the phone and don’t get an immediate response, we tend to keep talking. This is the worst thing we can do. We absolutely have to train ourselves to ask questions and then remain quiet and listen.”

When I asked him the best way to teach reps to do this, he said that using the mute button was the easiest and best way.

If you have read any of my articles or books, then you know my favorite four words are, “Shut up and listen.” You also know that I think the mute button is the most important button on your phone.

To prove this to yourself, make a commitment today to asking questions and using the mute button to let your prospect answer you. You’ll be surprised by what your prospects will reveal and how much easier it is to close sales.

How to Handle: I looked it over and not interested

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately from readers who are getting blown off when they call a prospect back.

To help with this, I’ve been asked to give some scripts to handle this initial blow off before a close.

So here are three proven scripts you can use the next time your prospect tells you “I looked it over and I’m not interested…”

Response #1:

“I understand, and that’s perfectly OK. At first a lot of people I speak with don’t fully understand all the ins and outs of this and that’s why I’m here. Before you make a decision though, let’s do this. It will take just a couple of minutes to explain how this might help you, and if, after you understand it, you still think it’s not for you, we’ll part friends. Do you have that information handy?”

[Must end by directing them to take an action…]

Response #2: 

“I didn’t expect you to be interested; heck, our marketing department hasn’t yet figured out a way to get our prospects to call us back—and that’s why they hired me!

But seriously, {first name}, this (product/service/investment) has some great features that aren’t readily available in the (demo/material/information) I sent you, and it’ll only take a couple of minutes to find out if they would be a fit or benefit for you.

Tell you what, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes with me to find out how and if this would be right for you. Grab the information/quote/brochure and let me cover a few things – do you have it handy?

Response #3:

“I understand, and believe me, I get that a lot. In fact, some of my best clients said that at the beginning as well. But I’m sure you’d agree that any decision you make, whether it’s a yes or a no—and I can take either one—is best made once you understand all the facts, isn’t that right?

Well {first name}, I’m here to help you learn those, so do yourself a favor and grab that information, and let’s briefly go over it. If at the end it’s not for you, we’ll part friends. Do you have it handy?”

Now, take some time and reword them slightly to fit your personality, your product or service. Then get in the habit of using them over and over again. What you’ll find is that more and more prospects will actually let you pitch them, and some of those will buy!

One Powerful Way to Learn More About a Prospect

Let’s start with the obvious: Sales reps talk too much. Whether it’s nervousness, fear, inexperience, or just the conviction that if they stop talking the prospect will say “Not interested” and hang up, it doesn’t matter.

If you listen to calls from your sales reps, you’ll find that they simply talk past the close. They talk over their prospects. They talk after they ask a question (and don’t even let their prospect answer).

And then they talk some more…

The dangers of talking so much are many. Often times, when talking past the close, sales reps will actually introduce objections. This is a common problem and one entirely of their own making.

Another problem is they talk over their prospects and so appear rude and give the impression that they don’t care about what the prospect has to say. This makes them seem pushy and salesy, and makes the prospect want to disconnect with them.

As if all these problems aren’t enough, by talking so much they aren’t learning anything about the prospect, their needs, their pain, or about what they would like help with. I have always taught that the prospect has all the answers: why they’ll buy, why they won’t buy, what you need to say to sell them, etc. But if you aren’t listening, you’ll never hear any of this.

And that means you’re tempted to just keep talking and pitching…

The good news is that there is a powerful way to learn more about a prospect. When I give this to you, it’ll appear simple—and it is—but it is difficult to practice because most sales reps are so invested in talking.

Here’s what it is: At any point in a conversation with a prospect, if they either give you what appears to be an objection (like, “We wouldn’t be interested…”) or are just not volunteering much information, all you have to do is say:

“Oh?”

And then shut up and hit your MUTE button.

When you say it, say it in a way that expresses a question—let your tone of voice rise slightly. Practice it now: “OH??”

Do not disregard this as being silly or too simple to have much effect. It’s one of the most advanced and powerful tools a real closer has in his/her arsenal.

This week I challenge you to talk less and listen more. And the technique you’ll use is the “Oh?” technique. Try it and see for yourself how much more you learn from your prospects. Remember, they have all the answers…

Three Customer Service Secrets—True or False?

How would you rate your cell phone company’s customer service? To get the answers to these questions, we conducted a survey and here are some of the words consumers used most often:

Dread
Frustrated
Angry
Hopeful

I’ll bet you can add some of your own words to that list, but the end result would probably be more negative ones than positive.

Customer service basics are a part of all inside sales positions. How are you at these crucial skills?

Take the following quiz yourself and see how many you and your team get right:

True or False: You either have the right personality or disposition to be a good customer service rep or you don’t.

Answer: False. Good customer service isn’t as much about personality as it is about learning and consistently using a set of proven skills. Anyone who wants to get better at meeting and exceeding the needs of customers can learn and then apply—consistently—a set of skills that includes the proper opening, middle and ending of a customer service call.

The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough people with the right personality out there, it’s that most of the customer service reps operating today haven’t been given the right training, nor the right follow up coaching, to be consistently good at exceeding the needs of their customers.

True or False: Customer services reps with the most product and service training will result in the best experience for the customer.

Answer: False. Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on product and service training hoping to put the most educated customer service reps on the phones for their customers. The sad truth is that this doesn’t always translate into a positive or entirely satisfied experience for the customer.

We have all had an experience where the attitude and tone of the customer service rep overpowered the knowledge or help they were able to offer, and we also have had the opposite experience of dealing with a pleasant customer service rep who was eager to help. Which would you rather deal with?

While product or service training seems more direct and measurable, basic customer service skill training is just as, if not more, important for the overall customer experience.

True or False: It is hard to find and train good customer service reps.

Answer: True AND False! Let’s face it—good help is still hard to find.

Finding good people to hire can be a time consuming and difficult process. The saying “It’s a numbers game,” is an accurate way to describe this process. There are a number of variables that come into play in finding good candidates including your location (city, part of the country, etc.), your company and pay scale, the available talent pool of candidates, etc. While it is true that finding these candidates is sometimes hard to do, training them doesn’t have to be.

Training people to excel at giving great customer service is possible if you focus on providing people with the skills it takes to exceed your customers expectations and if you then coach adherence to those skill sets. Unfortunately, this is where many companies fall short.

While there are many good resources and training available to teach these skills, many companies still focus on product and service training. Hopefully, after a careful review of your own customer service team’s skills, you’ll decide to provide the kind of training that gives your customers the kind of experience that will keep them coming back.

If you or your company are interested in learning the kind of skills that enable your customer service reps to consistently give GREAT customer service, then visit our website: http://mrinsidesales.com/ or call us at: (919) 267-4202. We look forward to helping you soon!

Pitching the Gatekeeper Won’t Get You to the DM

One of the biggest mistakes I still hear sales reps making is pitching the gatekeeper or receptionist in hopes of them being so impressed that they will put them through to the Decision Maker (DM).

Yeah, right.

I mean, how often does that happen for you? Truth is, the more you “pitch” the gatekeeper, the more you just identify yourself as a sales person and the more the gatekeeper is alerted to screen you out…

Here’s what you need to know:

The gatekeeper’s job is to route calls. The information they need to route the call is your full name and the name of your company.

That’s it.

If you use an instructional statement, and are polite, you will be put through without any additional screening.

Here’s your perfect opening:

You: “Hi is {first name} in please?”

Gatekeeper: “Can I tell him/her who is calling?”

You: “Yes, please tell {first name} that {Your first & last name} with {Your company name} is holding, please.”

If you deliver that exact line with a smile in your voice, warm and friendly, over 60% of the time they will not only just put you through, they will say, “Hold please.”

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself all this week.

Remember, what you don’t want to do when they ask you “who is calling?” is reply with a portion of your pitch:

“Yeah, I’m calling with (company name) and what we do is…blah, blah, blah….”

That will get you screened out every time.

Just Email Me Something….

What do you say when you get this objection while prospecting?

If you’re like many sales reps, you accept this stall and become a willing participant in the follow up drama that ensues. And you know how frustrating that is.

Let’s face it: This blow off is just a variation that prospects have been using for years. It used to be: “Can you send me something in the mail?” or “Just send me a brochure,” etc. Then email started and guess what? A new stall was born.

So, what’s the best way of handling it? The first thing you want to do is find out whether it is a blow off (80% of the time it is), or whether your prospect is truly interested in what you have and wants to know just a little bit more before they speak with you.

There is an easy way to find out.

All you have to do is have an email already prepared while you’re prospecting. If someone tells you to email them something, simply ask them what their email address is and the send it! Right then!

Simply say:

“Okay, I’ve just sent it to you. Let me know when it pops up, and I’ll show you a couple of links you’ll want to explore later.

“Meantime let me ask you…”

And then ask a qualifying question. The point here is whether or not your prospect will:

1) Give you the time to speak further with them. (If not, they weren’t going to open your email anyway, and if they will, then you know there is a legitimate chance they are interested.)
2) Actually open the email. (This tells you how cooperative your prospect is, and so how cooperative they will be throughout the sales cycle.)
3) Blow you off with another objection. (This is actually great because it tells you that you won’t need to follow up on the email—they aren’t buying!)
4) Allow you to set a definite follow up appointment. (Which is what you want.)

Any of these responses will get you a lot further—and give you the intel you need as to how to pursue this lead—than sending an email after you hang up and then putting this prospect into your follow up queue.

Try it this week, and watch your leads get more qualified as you put less “wood” into your pipeline. And then watch as more deals roll out of it!

Book Mike Now for Your 2019 Sales Kickoff!

Sales Event, Sales Kickoff, Sales Keynote, Sales Keynote Speaker, Professional Speaker, Sales Conference, Sales Speaker, Sales Event Speaker, Breakout Speaker, Breakouts, Sales Breakout Sessions, Breakout Sessions Speaker, Event Speaker, Sales Roundup, Sales Roundup Speaker, January Kickoff Speaker, Motivational Speaker, Motivation, Inspirational Sales Speaker, Top Sales Speakers, Sales guru speakers, Motivational sales speakers, Sales training speakers, Speakers 2019, Sales speakers 2019, Sales Speakers for Sales Events,

Looking for a dynamic speaker for your sales kickoff event? Book Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, early to ensure your 2019 sales kickoff gives your team both the motivation and the sales skills they need to make next year your best year yet!

Click here to watch the video and forward to those in your company who are planning your 2019 sales kickoff or convention!

Description: If you’re looking for a sales speaker who will deliver not only a motivational sales keynote session (or breakout session), but will also give your team actionable, and effective sales techniques they can use the moment they get back to their office, then consider booking Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales.

I customize all keynotes and kick-off sessions so they resonate with your sales team. They will receive proven scripts and effective responses to the sales objections and situations they get into over and over again. Here are just some of the topics I can cover for your team:

  • Proven prospecting tips
  • Building rapport with decision makers (so you don’t sound like a sales person calling)
  • Qualifying without interrogating
  • Setting appointment calls that actually show up!

And for closing sales:

  • How to open the presentation call the right way
  • The importance of building a “Yes” momentum
  • The proper use of trial closes
  • How to ask for the sales–multiple times
  • Overcoming common objections with confidence

The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals has had me out to speak at their largest convention of the year: The Leadership Summit, two years in a row. The AA-ISP has also awarded our company the “Service Provider of the Year Award”.

Visit the links below to learn more about me and to see interviews with me:

Interview: http://mrinsidesales.com/script-playbooks/

Home: http://mrinsidesales.com/

Sales Philosophy: http://mrinsidesales.com/blog/

Interested? Reach out to us here: (919) 267-4202 or email me to set up an appointment to speak: info@mrinsidesales.com.

I look forward to speaking with you and helping make your sales kickoff event the best yet!

Mike Brooks

Mr. Inside Sales

Best Phone Sales Prospecting & Cold Calling Techniques Tips & Tools

You’ve Got 5 Seconds to Make a Good Impression
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

best effective phone sales techniques including successful cold calling business prospecting, outbound telemarketing, professional telephone calls process, and other opening selling skills, tools, methods, tips and ideas

Learn the best effective phone sales techniques including successful cold calling business prospecting, outbound telemarketing, professional telephone calls process, and other opening selling skills, tools, methods, tips and ideas.

Years ago, they used to say you had just a couple of minutes to make a good impression when selling over the phone.

As the Internet got popular and email lost its luster, they said you had just a minute to grab someone’s attention and earn the right to continue your pitch.

Then as texting became the new mode of personal communication, that one minute shrunk to about 30 seconds….

These days, as even texting is being ignored, you’ve got about 5 seconds to diffuse the myriad of emotions and reactions your prospects have to yet another sales person calling them. And you can hear these emotions in their voices: some are annoyed that you caught them picking up their phones; some are irritated that the receptionist put through another sales calls; some are angry and even mildly aggressive as you begin your pitch.

On the other hand, some are willing to talk, ask you how you’re doing, and actually seem interested in conversing with you.

The key to successfully making that good impression is how you react to the tone of their voice—and the resulting emotion behind it—in the first 5 seconds.

Here’s what not to do:

The mistake many sales reps make is not acknowledging if someone is in a bad mood or if they are annoyed that you caught them. While most reps hear it in their prospect’s voice, they just carry on and pitch as if they were oblivious to it.

Not a good idea and this never ends well.

Worse, is when a prospect is in a good mood and willing to connect with you. Again, many sales rep just steamroll over their prospect’s receptiveness and just go into their pitch…

By doing this, you are missing a BIG opportunity to build rapport, and you are actually alienating a good prospect.

Here’s what you should do:

Always react to what you’re hearing from a prospect. There is a phrase in football that says an offense should always “take what the defense gives you.” In sales, I like to say: “Take what the prospect is giving you.”

So, if you hear the annoyance or frustration from your prospect, then address that by saying something like:

“Sounds like you’re busy, so I’ll be brief…

And if you hear that someone is willing to speak with you, for example, asks you how you’re doing in response to you asking how they are, always take a minute and build that rapport before charging into your pitch! Say:

“Thanks for asking, you know, I’m having a really good day today. By the way, how’s the weather where you are?”

By stopping and taking the time to make this connection, you’ll be laying the ground work for a good conversation.

So, how do you build good rapport in 5 seconds or less?

Listen to what – and how – your prospect responds to your call, and then take what they give you.

Sales Prospecting & Cold Calling Tips Techniques Tools Ideas & Methods

Why You’re Turning Off Your Prospects
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

best cold calling and sales prospecting tips, ideas, techniques, strategies, tools and methods on how to make effective successful business calls for sales that really work

Learn the best cold calling and sales prospecting tips, ideas, techniques, strategies, tools and methods on how to make effective successful business calls for sales.

It happened just now. Phone rang at our office and I picked it up. It was a guy who read my latest book, Power Phone Scripts, and wanted to know how to handle a situation/objection he was getting. Call went like this:

Me: “Mike Brooks here, how can I help you?”

Caller: “I just read your book (no hello, or nice to actually speak with you, nothing) and I’m getting an objection I don’t know how to handle. Ah, let me just tell you my pitch. Mr. Prospect, my name is….and I’m calling with….and briefly what I do is….blah, blah, blah….

“Blah, blah, blah……”

Seriously? Just pitch, pitch, pitch at me? Unfortunately, yes, and that’s how most sales reps do it these days…

In fact three of the current clients I’m working with right now are having the exact same problem: As soon as their sales reps get someone on the phone, they spew their pitch all over them, hardly taking a breath, not connecting at all, and not even attempting to build rapport.

It’s no wonder people hate getting phone calls and why sales reps and teams are so frustrated.

What ever happened to the give and take of conversation? Has texting and emailing made real communicating obsolete? If so, then inside sales is in big trouble…

Luckily, there is an easy fix: Just imagine how you would act, what you would say, and how respectful you would be if you were face to face with someone. You certainly wouldn’t just dive into a monologue, would you? Of course not.

So, your assignment this week is to re-write your pitch to include some rapport building questions. Practice hitting your MUTE button to give your prospect a chance to fully respond to your questions. Try asking someone how they are and actually listening to, and responding to, what they say. Don’t just use it as a segway into your pitch…

One more thing: I know what some of you are thinking: “But Mike, most prospects don’t have time for me and can’t wait to get me off the phone. I have to pitch really hard in the beginning just to have a chance to get my story in…”

Two answers to that:

1: Guess what? Most prospects you talk to aren’t qualified and aren’t buying anyway. So, if you attempt to connect with them and they aren’t interested, thank them and Move On.

2: Even those prospects who might be interested are turned off by your desperate pitching approach, so Stop It!

Treat people with respect, be genuinely interested in them, make a connection, and then engage in a give and take while pitching/qualifying and seeing how/if you can help them.

Bottom line: Stop pitching and start connecting with and respecting your prospects. You’ll be happier—and they’ll be happier—and you will be more successful.

Open Ended Sales Probing Questions for Qualifying Prospective Clients

A Simple Lesson From the NFL to Close More Business
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

top strategies, ideas, ways and examples on how to increase sales qualified leads with the best open ended sales probing discovery questions for qualifying prospective clients

Learn the top strategies, ideas, ways and examples on how to increase sales qualified leads with the top open ended sales probing discovery questions for qualifying prospective clients.

Ahhhhh….. The NFL is back! Teams have played a couple of games, and coaches are watching game film and teaching players how to improve every week. I once read a piece by Peter King from SI.com about his conversation with Ellis Hobbs—former cornerback with the New England Patriots. He was talking about how much respect he had for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Ellis said, “Early in my career, Bill called me into his office, and we sat there, for a long time, studying game film. He taught me to look for the simple things, and not to make football so complicated. I got better. I was with one of the best coaches of all time, and he helped me become a better player.”

In inside sales, too, you can become a better sales producer if you concentrate on the simple things and doing them better. Here are two things you can do starting today to increase your closing ratio and make more money:

#1: Keep a record of the reasons your prospects don’t close and then concentrate on qualifying on these issues up front with your next prospects. This was one of the simplest and most effective habits I developed early on to get better.

I kept a notebook with all my prospects in it and every time they didn’t buy, I’d put in red ink the reason why not. I even boiled it down to three codes: NI, for No Interest; NM for No Money; and NC for Not Cooperative.

And then throughout the days and weeks I’d go back through my notebook and look for patterns and ask myself, “What do I need to focus on during the qualification stage?”

If too many prospects were not buying because they simply weren’t ready to buy right then, then “No Interest” needed to be addressed during the qualifying call. I’d start by asking more direct questions like:

“_______, if you find that this would work for you, what is your time frame for moving ahead with it?”

And so on. Bottom line—if you don’t get it right during the qualifying call then you’ll never increase your closing ratio.

(Want more scripts? Click Here for over 500 of them!)

#2: Ask for bigger orders on every close. Oh, I know, you’ve heard this before, right? But how often do you actually do it?

So many sales reps are afraid to ask for too much and are just happy to get a minimum order. I know because I used to be that way…

But my career turned around when I began asking for bigger orders on every single call. And what I learned is that you never know how much a person or company can handle. You can always go down (in price, quantity, etc.), but you can never go up.

The truth is, it’s all the same amount of work anyway, so why not ask for two times, or three times the minimum order and see what you get? If only two in ten of your prospects buy the increased amount, how much more money would that mean to you?

In addition, the good part about consistently asking for more is that you’ll end up getting more—and every time you do, you reinforce the habit to do it. And as soon as you get a taste of closing bigger deals, you begin looking for and expecting them. Try it and you’ll see for yourself. It’s one of the simplest things you can do to make a lot more money.

So there you have it—two simple ways of closing more business and making more money. Just remember, as you’re reading this, NFL players and coaches are working on the simple things to improve.

You should be doing so, too!