Phone Sales & Business Prospecting Calls Tools Tips Methods & Ideas

Avoid This One Error when Prospecting by Phone
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

best creative, effective phone business prospecting scripts, tools, tips, process, methods and ideas to help you successfully close more sales

Learn about the best creative, effective phone business prospecting scripts, tools, tips, process, methods and ideas to help you successfully close more sales.

On Facebook last week, there was a very brave soul who was making cold calls live. I clicked over to hear him doing it (he sells SEO services), and as I watched I noticed he was making one crucial error that was leading to him not getting very far with prospects. I want to share with you what this common prospecting error is and how to immediately fix it.

Before I do, I just want to acknowledge the guts it took to put himself out there, live, for all the world to see. Good for you! After hearing him, and watching him be so courageous, I wanted to help him. So I contacted him and offered to do a complimentary coaching session with him to help correct this fundamental error. Prior to the call, I asked this sales rep to send over recordings, so I could play and point out exactly what he was doing wrong.

OK, so here’s what it is: He was calling prospects and his pitch went like this:

“Hi, this is {first & last name} with {his company}, and I know you’re probably busy, so I just want to ask you a quick question to see if it makes sense for us to talk…

“If you could wave a magic wand and change two things about your online marketing, what would they be?”

The responses he got were generally negative, along the lines of, “Look, I’m in the middle of something right now and can’t talk to you…”

As you read this article, can you identify what the mistake in this approach is?

When I was coaching this rep, I told him that the problem was that he wasn’t making any connection in the beginning and wasn’t allowing his prospect to engage with him at all. Instead, he was barging in on someone’s day and asking a question that required the prospect to stop doing what he was doing and then give a ton of information he probably didn’t want to give.

I said it was analogous to saying, “Hey, you don’t know me, but give me your time and tell me how to sell you.”

I also told him that my reaction as a business owner would have been, “Who are you, and how dare you ask me to tell you that!”

What was missing was the common courtesy of human interaction to set up the call. Plus, what was missing was a value statement of what might be in it for the prospect. I suggested he revise his opening to:

“Hi, this is {first & last name} with {his company}, how’s your day going?”

[Wait and respond accordingly—engage!]

“{first name}, I know you’re probably busy, so I’ll be brief. The reason for the call is that we provide affordable SEO services to small companies like yours so you can have a big footprint on the Internet and drive more qualified leads.

“Question: how are you going about doing that right now?”

Note: this is just one of many different qualifying questions I would ask based on how they sounded to me. The point is to 1) Make a connection first, 2) Give the reason for your call—your value statement, 3) Ask an appropriate, quick qualifying question. This is the best practice approach.

After our coaching session, I received an email the next day from this rep. He said he listened to the recording of the session several times and something clicked. He told me that he attends many face to face networking events, and he realized he would never use his phone prospecting script with anyone in person. It would be inappropriate and even rude!

Instead, he said, he would make conversation first, connect and interact with someone. He figured it would probably be true in sales over the phone as well. I told him that was the perfect analogy! I couldn’t have said it any better.

So, for all you inside reps and companies that are making outbound prospecting calls, just ask yourself: Would your technique work face to face? If not, then change it so it would. You’ll do much better when you do.

Secrets & Techniques of Closing the Sale & Handling Price Objections

Five Hidden Secrets behind the Price Objection
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

top secrets of closing the sale with proven training, techniques, rebuttals, responses and tips of effectively handling and overcoming the most common price objections

Learn the top secrets of closing the sale with proven training, techniques, rebuttals, responses and tips of effectively handling and overcoming the most common price objections.

Of all the objections sales reps get, the price objection is still number one on the list. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean think about your own buying decisions – whether you’re in the market for a new car, a new house, or even a dinner out with the family – what’s the one common component of your own decisions? Budget and price, right?

So, it makes sense that all of your prospects have a price consideration as well. But be careful because the price objection doesn’t always mean that your prospect can’t afford it. In fact, the price objection is often the biggest smokescreen objection of all—meaning that prospects throw it out to hide what the real objection is. And the reason they use it is because it works: again, everyone understands budget concerns because we all have them…

Top producers know how to go beyond this smokescreen objection and uncover what the real objection is. And once you understand what the price objection really means, you will gain a unique insight into how to deal with and overcome it. Here are five ‘hidden meanings’ your prospect doesn’t want to reveal when they tell you that your price is too high—and what you should do about them:

1) They think they can get it cheaper somewhere else. With the Internet making your solution available to nearly anyone—or a solution your prospect thinks is the same—it’s difficult to compete on price only…

Solution: The solution here is uncovering that your prospect has another option in mind and then doing the straight forward comparison of “services for services.” This used to be called an “apples to apples” close and it’s still highly effective—if it’s presented correctly. The key, however, is to be able to determine whether that is the real issue and then use a properly worded script do the comparison.

2) They actually can get it cheaper somewhere else. This can seem difficult at first to handle, because after all if they can get it cheaper somewhere else, why wouldn’t they do it?

Solution: To answer this question, just ask yourself what motivates you to pay a premium for a product or service you know you could get less expensively elsewhere. Reasons can include:

a. Getting it from a more well-known source often means that handling any problems, questions or returns is easier. (It’s why I still take my car to the dealership…)
b. Buying something from a person or company you respect or like is often another reason to go with a higher priced item.
c. Convenience: Sometimes it’s easier or less time consuming to buy a product or service from a source you know and trust—even if you have to pay a bit more.
d. Quality of product. Often times a knock off or generic product is available, but those sometimes don’t come with all the support, instructions, warranty, etc., that you can get by paying a bit more from the manufacturer.
e. You. The only place your customer can get you—your knowledge, your customer support, your belief and your desire to stand behind your product and make any problems right—is by buying it from your company and doing business with you. This is a powerful buying reason and one sales reps routinely underestimate.

3) Price is just a smokescreen hiding other objections. Often times prospects are not ready or willing to move forward with a purchase for a host of different reasons. If they are a business, then initiatives can change, or personnel changes, timing, scheduling, etc., also affect purchases. Or, for both individuals and companies, there can be multiple decision makers with different objectives, or prospects decide to keep looking or delay or postpone the decision for many other reasons as well.

When prospects don’t want to reveal what is really stopping them from making a buying decision, they will often just throw out the price objection because it works. Revealing anything else would require an explanation, but saying it costs to much, or that they simply can’t afford it, usually gets sales people off their back.

Solution: The key here is to find a way to get your prospects to reveal what is really behind their decision not to buy and then effectively deal with that.

4) They actually can’t afford it. Sometimes the price objection is just as it sounds: your prospect can’t afford—or chooses not to afford—your product or service. If this turns out to be the case, then it’s something you should have addressed during qualifying.

Solution: Top producers always qualify for budget, among five other things, and they know in advance if a prospect can afford their solution. If you have qualified correctly in the beginning, and you still get the price objection, then you can be sure it’s a smokescreen hiding items one through three above.

5) They don’t see the value in what you are selling. Often when a prospect tells you that the price is too high, what they’re really saying is that based on what you’re telling them they’re getting, they don’t feel the “spend” is justified. This often means that you either:

a. Didn’t completely understand their buying motives and so didn’t show how your solution addresses them, or:
b. You didn’t build enough value in the results they are going to get as a result of making the purchase.

Solution: After you’ve clarified that this indeed the case, then it is up to you to go back and build that value by pitching specific points and tying them down after each one to make sure your prospect sees and buys into the value.

As you can see, the price objection isn’t always about the price, but rather, it often means something else. Your job as a closer is to be prepared with a scripted approach to find out exactly what the real reason is, and so position yourself to overcome it.

Handling & Overcoming Common Objections in Phone Cold Call Prospecting

Avoid Rejection While Prospecting with this One Technique
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

sales training with best tips, rebuttal techniques and responses on how to go about handling and overcoming most common objections in phone cold call prospecting

Discover sales training with best tips, rebuttal techniques and responses on how to go about handling and overcoming most common objections in phone cold call prospecting.

Prospecting by phone can be hard—gatekeepers screening you out, decision makers don’t want to talk to you, etc.—but it doesn’t have to be. I’m going to give you one proven sales technique to use that will allow you to overcome many of the sales objections you’re getting now.

In fact, if you just take a few days to memorize this scripted sales technique, and then use it on each and every call for a week, you’ll be amazed by how much easier prospecting (or cold calling) becomes.

Before I give you this sales prospecting technique, let me tell you how you’ll use it. This technique will help you overcome objections from:

1) Gatekeepers
2) Decision makers
3) Assistants
4) Influencers, etc.

And, this technique will work with any of the following sales objections or sales stalls like:

1) We wouldn’t be interested
2) We already have a company that handles that
3) We’re happy with who we’re using
4) We aren’t doing anything until next quarter/year/never…
5) We don’t take unsolicited calls
6) I’ll have to check with my boss to see if we’re interested…

As you can see, the following proven sales technique will work on the most common, frustrating sales objections and sales blow offs you’re getting now.

One last thing before I give you this proven sales script: This sales technique is meant to allow you to get around the sales stalls and sales objections above. The last thing you want to do is try to overcome these stalls or objections. Instead, your goal is to get past this initial resistance and back into your qualifying.

OK, here it is: Whenever you get any of the above sales objections or sales stalls, you simply reply:

“That’s perfectly OK, and just know that I’m not trying to sell you anything today. Instead, I just want to provide you with a proven resource you might be able to use down the road should you find you ever need… (Pick from one of the following that best suits the objection you’re getting):

• This product or service, or
• A new vendor for different services, or
• To compare quotes and services with a different vendor, or
• See what else is available to you, or
• In case you do need to reach out to someone else for whatever reason…

(And I’m sure you can think of some of your own, right?)

And then get right into a qualifying question, like:

• “So let me ask you: how often do you use XYZ?” or
• “When was the last time you checked…” or
• “How many quotes do you normally get when you need…?”
• “How do you get involved in…?”

Again, I’m sure you can come up with other sales qualifying questions here. The point is to A) side step the sales objection using the technique above, and then B) engage your prospect by asking a qualifying question.

If you master this one technique, you will instantly avoid many of the sales objections and stalls you’re getting now. Having a proven response like this to handle the selling situations you get into, over and over again, is what will change your prospecting experience and allow you to speak with more qualified and potential sales leads.

And this is what will lead to more sales success. So, get to work: adapt the sales script and questions above to suit your selling situation and use it, master it, over the next week. And then watch your meaningful sales conversations and sales results soar.

A Proven Approach to Handle the “I’m Not Interested” Objection

There has been a lot of talk recently about “Objections.” What they are, how to prevent them, how to deal with them. That’s great, but you may be asking yourself: What do I actually say or do to overcome or get around them?

For those of you who have been reading my blog for years know, I’m all about giving you and your team proven, word-for-word scripts and talk tracks so you can successfully deal with the common objections and resistance statements you get, day in and day out.

Today’s blog will give you the best practice approach to one of the most common objections you get while prospecting or cold calling, the: “I’m/we’re not interested,” blow-off. Today’s response will also work for variations on this objection like:

“We’re all set,” or

“We already have a vendor for that,” or

“We don’t need anything at this time,” etc.

Before I give you the scripted response, let me remind you of a few things:

Whenever you get one of these initial resistance statements, remember that these aren’t objections. You haven’t pitched anything yet, so there isn’t anything for a prospect to object to.

Instead, these are just blow-offs to avoid being pitched. It’s the same as when you walk into a department store and tell the sales rep you’re “just looking.” The reason prospects use this line on sales reps is because it works! Most sales reps stumble over it and usually go away discouraged.

That will change with you today.

Also, remember this: when you get this (or any other) initial resistance statement, your goal isn’t to ask why they aren’t interested (that would only feed into their blow-off), instead, it’s to acknowledge that you heard it, then disarm them with a non-threatening, non-salesy statement, and move back into qualifying your prospect.

Here’s how you do that:

Prospect: “We wouldn’t be interested…”

You: “That’s perfectly okay, I’m not calling to sell you anything today. Instead, I just wanted to give you a resource so that the next time you did need this, you’ll know who to call to check your options.

“Let me ask you…” (Choose a good open-ended question to engage your prospect here.)

It’s that simple.

Now: Will this response work all the time? Of course not—no response will. But it will do something more important: It will uncover real, potential buyers because these prospects will answer and engage with you, and you can now have a meaningful (sometimes short) conversation with them. Your goal is to script out good, quick questions and then set appropriate next steps.

And for those who don’t engage? Use one or two more proven statements or questions to get them to open up. (Don’t have a list of those at your fingertips? What were you thinking! Click Here to get over 500 word-for-word proven scripts, questions, and phrases to open and close more sales.).

As with any technique or script, you’ll need to use this for at least two weeks straight before it becomes a habit. But once it does, you can kiss this blow-off statement goodbye.

And soon, if you use all the scripts I suggest, you’ll have licked the objection problem once and for all…

The Sooner You Lose the Sale, the Better

Last week I was speaking with a service provider who wanted to joint venture with me. They have a CRM solution they wanted to me to market to my list of subscribers. After the initial conversation, next steps were outlined and they sent me more in-depth info on their product to evaluate.

After exploring their solution, I decided they weren’t a good match for my vertical. So before we went through all the trouble of sending even more information or sitting through a demo, I emailed them and declined. The email I got back was brilliant. They thanked me for my time and then simply said:

“We always like to lose early.”

Now that’s a response from a company who understands the value of disqualifying. Unfortunately, most sales reps operate the exact opposite way. Here’s how most sales reps do it:

Most sales reps act with desperation to put anyone into their pipeline that will take their information. They are then happy to call these very shaky prospects back and waste their time sending information or revising documents or whatever else they are asked to do. And after this long and frustrating process, the majority of these prospects end up not being a sale. In fact:

The industry wide closing average is 2 or 3 out of ten prospects!

Think about that for just a moment. Think about all the time, energy, phone calls, voice messages, emails, chasing, and disappointment you have to go through pursuing 7 or 8 prospects through a sales cycle only to have them finally tell you no.

That’s why the response, “We always like to lose early” is so brilliant. By losing the sale early in the process—as a direct result of an intensive, first qualifying call, by the way—we both saved ourselves a lot of work, a lot of time in following up, and the disappointment of a lost deal at the end of it all.

What this all comes down to is the concept of “disqualifying” your leads rather than qualifying them just enough to get them into your pipeline. What this allows you to do is spend less time pitching unqualified leads that steal your valuable time. And I’m sure you know who I’m talking about…

In order to identify non-buyers early on, get into the habit of asking these types of qualifying questions during the initial call:

“I know we’re at the very early stages of this but please give me an idea of your time frame for making a decision on something like this.”

OR

“If you like what you see in our demo, what would be the next steps for you?”

AND

“What would hold you back from making a decision to move forward on something like this in the next two weeks?”

AND

“Besides yourself, who would be making the final decision on this?”

Then layer:

“And what insight do you have on where they are leaning right now?”

And finally,

“From what I’ve been describing so far, what are your initial thoughts on this?”

If any of these questions reveal that your prospect might not be a good fit or won’t buy at this time for any reason, then make a solid note of that and don’t become a pest by trying to persuade them to move earlier! The less time you spend pitching bad leads who aren’t going to buy, the more time you can spend finding the real buyers.

This is a big point, so here it is again:

Top 20% producers spend more time disqualifying out the non-buyers and so less time stuffing unqualified leads into their pipeline hoping they will close. They would rather lose early because it frees them up to find and spend more time with buyers later on. And this is what makes them top producers. 

I challenge you to start losing more sales earlier in your sales process, so you can spend more time winning bigger deals more often.

Legal Intake: The Key to Increasing Conversion Rates

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know I work in a variety of industries and with many different companies in those industries. At first, when new companies are going to engage with me, some will ask what kind of experience I have in their specific vertical. My answer is always the same: sales skills and best practice selling techniques are transferrable. Core inside sales skills and strategies work in all industries (that is why they are foundational) and can be adapted to work effectively in other industry.

And this is especially true in the legal field. For over a year now, I’ve been training some of the largest and most successful legal firms in the country and helping their intake teams dramatically increase their conversion percentage of inbound leads.

The clients I have worked with have seen as much as a 30% increase and more in conversion percentages using the proven inside sales skills and techniques I’ve perfected over the last 30 years. I’m going to list three of those techniques below, and I want you to ask yourself how many of these techniques and skills you (or your team) currently use when selling your product or service over the phone.

Skill One: Build rapid rapport with your prospect. In the legal industry, the calls are inbound—for the most part—and while you might think this would make them easy to handle, for some reason many of the intake specialists handling these leads treat them very much like a cop who pulls you over would. “It’s all about the facts, mam.”

You’ll hear many intakes start with, “And what is your name?” “Address?” “Phone number?” “And what happened?” etc.

The first thing I recommend to the teams I work with is to get on a first name basis with the caller. It starts with, “And may I call you by your first name? Great. And my name again is….”

Getting personal as soon as possible builds a bond with the caller and this instills trust. And trust is crucial for converting any sale.

In addition, there is a surprising lack of ongoing warm, of empathy, and genuine concern. Just little phrases I introduce make a huge difference in the overall feeling of the call and, more importantly, in getting buy-in from the caller. Things like:

“I’m so sorry you had to go through that!” And:

“Well you’ve called the right firm today, and I’m going to do everything I can to take care of you. Now let me ask you…”

These—and many other phrases and statements—instantly build rapport and trust, and this sets the tone for building investment throughout the call.

Skill Two: Getting the caller to act during the intake to increase their investment in the intake process.

This is an important component in any sale, but especially true in intake. The more things you have the caller do, the more invested in the intake and in your firm, they are.

Some of the things I recommend are:

  • Getting the prospect to take down your name and phone number early in the call.
  • Getting your prospect to send you any pictures of the accident or any paperwork they have.
  • Having your prospect commit to directing any calls from an insurance company to their attorney at your firm.

These, and many other things, add up to making your prospect feel like they are already a client by the time you direct them to sign up with your firm.

For those of you in other industries, how many things do you ask your prospect to do? How can you invest them during your call or presentation?

Skill Three: Being prepared for the inevitable questions and objections at the end of the intake. As those of you who have read my latest book know, the secret to sales is knowing and being prepared for the stalls and objections that come at the end of your presentation. And it’s no different in intake.

Common objections and reasons that callers use not to sign right then include:

  • I want to think about it.
  • I want to talk to my spouse.
  • Your fees are too high.
  • I’m at work and can’t sign right now.
  • Etc.

Sound familiar? They should because these are the same objections all sales reps get at the end of their presentations!

The way I help legal intake teams crush their competition is the same way I help other industries succeed: by developing best practice scripts to deal with these objections and stalls. And they work!

There are a lot of other techniques and skills I teach in my intake training, including solid customer service skills (it’s amazing how poorly intake reps handle the little things like putting people on hold!), building value in the law firm, creating trust and confidence, getting buy-in and investing the prospect during the intake process, disqualifying cases so as not to waste time on cases they don’t even want, and many others.

But the bottom line is still the same for the legal industry as well as any other: Sales is a set of skills that can be learned, and, if applied consistently, dramatically increase the conversion of leads.

And isn’t that what we’re all after?

** If you have a law firm—or know of one that needs help in maximizing their conversion percentage—then visit my website that is specific for the legal vertical: http://intakemastery.com/

Or call our office: (919) 267-4202.

I look forward to working with your team in converting more leads—regardless of the industry!

Cold Calling Sucks—But Only if You Suck at It

There is a lot of talk these days about how cold calling sucks. And I agree—it can be brutal. When I started my career in the financial industry, I had to make more than 150 cold calls every day. Sometimes, I’d be so beaten up by 11 am that I just wanted to go to lunch and never come back!

I knew that if I continued like that, I wouldn’t make it in sales, and I knew that something needed to change. What I finally figured out was that the top reps in the company didn’t mind cold calling. In fact, they actually “smiled and dialed.” I soon learned that cold calling sucked because I sucked at it. And I became determined to change that…

What I learned, and part of what I teach now, is that to get good at cold calling—or prospecting, or whatever you want to call it—you have to invest some time and energy and, yes, even some money. Here are three things you can begin doing now to get better at prospecting:

Number One: Invest in some sales material to help you instantly get better. Face it: you’re not alone in having to prospect for a living, and many others have been there and done that. Why not leverage what they have discovered to make calling easier?

There are plenty of good books on theory out there, but if you want to actually get better on your next phone call, you’re going to need actual word-for-word scripts. Best place to start?

Power Phone Scripts: 500 Word-For-Word Questions, Phrases, And Conversations To Open And Close More Sales. Get it here.

Number Two: Start thinking about helping people rather than selling them. I learned years ago that the people I was calling were actually just people—just like me. Once I took a genuine interest in building rapport with them, learning about them, listening to them, and making a connection, I did much, much better. And I enjoyed my work more.

Take a hint I’ve given people over and over again and record yourself. When you listen to yourself, ask: how well do you actually listen to people? If you’re like many sales reps, you may be talking over people, or just waiting for them to take a pause so you can start pitching. Nothing will turn someone off quicker than that. People can tell when it’s all about you or if you’re truly interested in them.

Learn to use your MUTE button when someone is talking, and force yourself to pause after you think they are done talking. Use the “1,2,3 alligator” pause after they finish talking before you begin.

Listening is the most important thing you can do to get better—start practicing this today.

Number Three: Put a smile on your face. Get a mirror and look into it before you pick up the phone. People can tell if you’re smiling, and you’ll transfer that energy to your prospect. People can also tell if you are tense, angry, or in a hurry to pitch.

I know it sounds corny, but trust me: the $4 you’ll spend on a mirror will go a long way to improving your phone presence while prospecting…

Don’t underestimate the impact these three tips will have in improving your cold calling. If you think prospecting sucks, then I’ll wager that you kind of suck at it. That can change if you’re committed to getting better. If you’re in sales, then I hope you are, because you’re going to be making a ton of prospecting calls over the life of your career.

So what are you waiting for? Get busy. Order a book of phone scripts, get a mirror at CVS at lunch, and listen to a phone call on your afternoon break. If you do these things, you’ll be better at cold calling by tomorrow.

Why People Hate Cold Calling – And What to Do About It

The words “cold calling” still make sales people sweat.

I was on the phone with a client just a moment ago, while writing this, and he told me the biggest problem with his sales team is call reluctance. When I asked him why they won’t make more calls, he said they hated being rejected.

Here are two things you can do about cold calling to instantly make you, and your team, more effective at overcoming the “objections” they get:

Number One: Recognize that objections while cold calling aren’t really objections – they are just resistance statements.

It’s like when you go into a store and are asked, “Can I help you?” and you automatically reply, “No, just looking.” You aren’t really just looking—you’re usually looking for something specific (why else would you be there?). But you don’t want to deal with a sales rep so you give them resistance.

This usually makes them go away, but when you can’t find something, you seek them out – just like your clients do when they need you.

Number Two: Script out effective ways to deal with this resistance so you can get around it and start qualifying.

Here are some effective ways to do that with the resistance statement: “I’m/we’re not interested.”

If you make “warm” calls to someone who has filled out a web lead and you have to call them back and get “Not Interested” then say: 

“That’s perfectly okay, _________, you’ve probably forgotten that you (filled in a form, requested info, etc.) so I don’t expect you to be interested in what you must think is a cold call.

“But just to remind you – on (date/time) you (visited our website/dropped by our booth/filled out a form, etc.)—just out of curiosity, what were you looking for at that time?”

For inactive accounts or people you’ve not spoken to in a while:

“I’m not interested”

Response:

“That’s fine _________, and I’m simply calling to update your account information for our records. Quick question: Are you still the right contact person who handles ordering the ________ for your company?”

Or

“Oh that’s okay, I’m not calling to sell you anything today. Just want to make sure you still know we’re here in case you do need something down the road. By the way, do you guys still carry/use/order ________?”

For cold calling or prospecting calls:

“I’m not interested”

Response:

“Quick question: Does that mean you’re not interested at this moment, but in a few months things could change, and I should keep in touch?”

Or

“I’m with you—quick question though: are you the right contact for this, or is there another department (or person) I should check with?”

Or

“I understand. What would have to change for you to be more open to something like this in the future?”

This is how you get better at cold calling (or prospecting or whatever you call it). You will be much more confident if you take the time to prepare yourself for the resistance statements you get over and over again. Once you do, and once you begin getting past your prospect’s defensive barriers, you – and your team – will make more calls and begin closing more deals.

Building Rapport – It’s the Little Things That Matter Most

We’ve all been there: you’re in the middle of something and your phone rings and it’s a sales person calling. You know instantly how the call is going to go just based on the first few sentences the sales rep utters. And if you listen for just 2 minutes longer, your hunch is confirmed – it’s either a “good” call or a “used car salesman” call. And unfortunately, many calls these days sound like the latter.

So what can you do to instantly make your calls better? It all starts with focusing on building rapport. Rapport is simply defined as making a true connection with the person you are speaking with, rather than treating them as a prospect you can sell your product or services to. Ultimately, it’s about treating your prospect with respect, you know, the way you would like to be treated.

So how do you do it? It’s easier than you think if you concentrate on the little things. Below you’ll find a quick list of things that may not seem that important, but that make a giant difference in the way you are perceived as a caller. As you read through the list, ask yourself how many of these things you do regularly, and what you can begin doing better on your next call.

Working with the gatekeeper: The most important thing you can do when speaking with the gatekeeper or receptionist, is to be pleasant and courteous. I always recommend that you keep a mirror on your desk, and when the receptionist answers the phone, you look into it and check your facial expression. Are you smiling? Are you frowning? Are you wincing? Your attitude will be written on your face, and that attitude will be conveyed across the phone.

And the gatekeeper feeds off your attitude. If you’re bright and cheerful, it will pick him/her up, too. If you’re not – well, you probably already know how that goes. So concentrate this week on making sure that your attitude is contagious – because it is. And by the way, this goes for when you reach the decision maker as well.

Next, be courteous. I’ve written about this before, so just a quick reminder: Use please and thank you, and if you ask how their day is going, make sure and comment on it before you rush into what you’re calling about. Don’t just ask as a formality – that’s phony and the receptionist can tell. And, as always, use an instructional statement rather than a closed ended question at the end.

Working with the decision maker: All of the tips above apply here, too, but here’s something specific: If you ask the DM how they are doing, or how their afternoon is, or if it’s still raining (or hot) there, then if they ask how you are, always reply with, “Thanks for asking, I’m…” In other words, answer them back and engage them a bit. You don’t have to rush into your pitch—in fact, it’s much better if you don’t. Building this little bit of rapport will get you much further. So take a few seconds to interact, respond, and be polite.

Next, before you give your value statement or reason for the call, preface what you’re about to say with a softening statement. So many reps just barge right in and that’s an immediate turn off. It’s much better to say something like, “I know you’re busy so I’ll be brief,” or “We haven’t spoken yet, so I’ll respect your time today,” or “I just have a quick question for you…” and then ask it. Again, build rapport by softening your pitch, and then give your prospect a chance to engage with you.

And here’s the last little tip today: keep your value statement short. I’m talking no longer than two sentences. After you do, get to a question immediately! Doing so will allow your prospect to engage and start talking, and when they are talking, you are learning. Plus, if it’s not a good time—or if they want to blow you off—this will give them an opportunity to say so. If it’s not a good time, you can qualify quickly and set a better time, and if they try to blow you off, you can use a good rebuttal.

Either way, giving your prospect a chance to interact with you builds rapport and lets them know you’re not going to be a used car salesperson, rather, you’re there to interact, make a connection, and truly listen to what they have to say. And isn’t that the kind of person you’d like to speak to?

Try these little tips this week and see how many more people you get to have meaningful conversations with. There will be more than you might think.

The Proper Way to Follow Up on a Lead

In my book, Power Phone Scripts, I reveal the secret of sales: 90% of selling situations are recurring selling situations, which means if you want to become a superstar sales person, then you have to take the time to script out a best practice response to them.

And that means you have to stop ad-libbing your way through your sales career.

Think about it: you wouldn’t want a dentist to make it up as he goes along, would you? Of course not! You count on your dentist to be prepared and trained on the up to date, best practices for handling your dental situation.

The same is true in sales.

And one of the most recurring situations is calling back prospects three or four months later. You’d think this would be a simple, straight forward situation, right? It is, but people still get it wrong.

I was listening to a recording of a client making call backs to prospects, and he opened his call this way:

“Just following up with you. We spoke last December and you told me that wasn’t a good time and that you had a lot going on. I’m hoping that you’re more settled now and perhaps we could talk about your advertising needs?”

Obviously, this isn’t a best practice approach. First, why would you lead with the previous blow off objection she gave you in December? It’s like you’re supplying her with the new blow off she’s going to use right now.

Second, why “hope” she’s more settled right now, and why “ask” if “perhaps” you can talk about her needs now?

Here’s the proper way to follow up on a lead:

“Hi {first name}, this is {your first & last name} calling with {your company}. We spoke in December, and you asked me to reach back out to you here in March – and it’s a good thing you did, because we’ve got some great programs going right now for our summer issue!

“Let me ask you…” [And go into a qualifying/engaging question to get their attention…]

The difference here is that now you’re being proactive, assumptive, and enthusiastic. And you’re leading with a reason for this person to become engaged. This is much more effective than the previous technique—or one you may be using now.

Adapt this script to your own personality and product or sale. And then open all follow up calls with a great big smile in your voice, and be enthusiastic and assumptive. You’ll not only be more effective, but you’ll feel better as well.

If you’d like more (like over 500 more) ways to be more effective, then check out my bestselling book: Power Phone Scripts. It’ll be the best $20 you’ll ever spend on yourself (or your sales team!).