Stop Talking Past the Close

tie-downs and trial closes used in sales presentations, sales tips, sales objections, sales prospecting,

How many tie-downs and trial closes do you or your team use during their presentations?

If you’re thinking, “What’s a tie-down? What’s a trial close?” then you’re in trouble…

In an earlier blog, I introduced the term, “Spray and Pray” as way to describe how many sales rep’s presentations go. They get the prospect on the phone, go through a PowerPoint slide presentation, drone on and on for a half hour or more, rarely checking in their prospect—and if they do, it’s a weak, “does that make sense?”–and at the end they might use a tepid, “So, what do you think?”

There are obviously many problems with this kind of approach, but the one I want to focus on today is ‘talking past the close.’ In an attempt to throw endless features and benefits at a prospect in the hope that one of them may be the one thing they are looking for, what happens is that sales reps often disclose too much information, and this actually introduces objections.

For example, a sales rep may continue pitching and say, “And our warranty covers 90 days of live support, and if you want to continue that afterwards, it’s only $49 a month.”

What?

What we’ve now done is introduce a string of potential objections: “Only 90 days?” and “You mean there is an upsell I didn’t know about?” “What other upsells are there?” “And why do I even need live customer support after 90 days?” And on and on.

This is just one small example of introducing an objecting by pitching past the close.

So why do reps do this? Why do they talk past the close?

Fear, of course.

Many reps are scared of asking for the sale because they have no idea how the prospect is reacting to the presentation because they haven’t used tie-downs and trial closes throughout the presentation. As such, they are ‘flying blind’ and have no idea what the prospect is thinking throughout and at the end of their demo.

Solution? You must engage your prospect at the beginning of the presentation, re-qualify as much as possible, and use tie-down’s and escalating trial closes throughout your demo so you know exactly when your prospect is ready to buy.

Or, if they aren’t…

And then you need to have the tools, the scripts, the techniques to deal with how your prospect is reacting to your presentation.

The last thing you want to do is keep talking past the close. Because if you do, you’ll be in danger of introducing more objections and getting even further away from the sale.

If you need help in understanding the sales process and improving your skill set so you can avoid this, then search my blog, or invest in my new online training program for yourself or your team.

Remember: Sales is a set a recurring situation, and when you apply a proven approach to them you not only succeed more of the time, but it becomes easier and even fun to do.

And when was the last time you heard those two words, “easy & fun” in the same sentence as “sales”?


Need More Proven Responses to the Selling Situations You Face Every Day?

Join Our Next Training:

If your team is struggling with call reluctance and is tired of the endless rejection they face, then this live, interactive online B2B & B2C inside sales training is exactly what they need to get excited & confident about selling again! We provide the exact talk tracks, templates, and proven tools your team will be motivated to apply, all structured around an award winning comprehensive inside sales approach that gives your team the confidence to succeed in every selling situation they face today.

Who Should Attend?

Any sales reps dealing with the following issues:

  • Reps struggling with call reluctance
  • Getting screened out by the gatekeeper
  • Overcoming blow off objections like, “Just email me something”
  • Identifying decision makers
  • Qualifying prospects
  • Setting call back appointments that stick
  • Giving successful presentations and dealing with objections
  • Staying motivated

One Powerful Way to Learn More About a Prospect

sales prospecting, prospecting tips, sales tips, inside sales training, how to get more business, prospect and close more sales,

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 be quiet 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…


Need More Proven Responses to the Selling Situations You Face Every Day?

Join Our Next Training:

If your team is struggling with call reluctance and is tired of the endless rejection they face, then this live, interactive online B2B & B2C inside sales training is exactly what they need to get excited & confident about selling again! We provide the exact talk tracks, templates, and proven tools your team will be motivated to apply, all structured around an award winning comprehensive inside sales approach that gives your team the confidence to succeed in every selling situation they face today.

Who Should Attend?

Any sales reps dealing with the following issues:

  • Reps struggling with call reluctance
  • Getting screened out by the gatekeeper
  • Overcoming blow off objections like, “Just email me something”
  • Identifying decision makers
  • Qualifying prospects
  • Setting call back appointments that stick
  • Giving successful presentations and dealing with objections
  • Staying motivated

Gatekeepers: Six Things NOT to Do

gatekeepers what not to do, prospecting, sales tips,

If you’re getting screened out by gatekeepers, then chances are you’re probably causing that screening. Before we get into the things you may be doing to cause them to begin interrogating you, let’s quickly define some terms.

First, not all gatekeepers are the same. About 30% of the gatekeepers you get are closer to being assistants, or office managers, or influencers. The other 70% are straight receptionists or operators. With both groups, you shouldn’t do any of the six things you’re going to learn today, but adjustments will need to be made in the kind—and amount—of information you give (to the 30% group).

That said, we’re going to concentrate on the 70% of the gatekeepers you get, and I bet you would love to learn what not to do to antagonize or encourage that 70% to screen you out.

Key Point: The vast majority of receptionists and operators would prefer not to screen you or interrogate you. Their job isn’t to “vet” you, but rather, it’s to find out your name, company name, and a brief reason why you’re calling. They need this complete info to give to the person you’re trying to reach.

Failure to give this complete info—coupled with not being polite and not using instructional statements—is what triggers the screening you get now.

The first step to getting put through to decision makers is to make the receptionist’s job easy. And that means you need to stop doing some (or all) of the six things you’re about to learn next.

Each of these six points just cause the gatekeeper to begin interrogating you, so if you stop doing these things, you’ll have a much better chance at being put through—without screening! As you read these, ask yourself which of them (or most of them!) you’re doing now and adjust your approach accordingly. You’ll be amazed by how much easier it will be to get through:

#1: Only giving your name when asked who is calling (and not giving your company name). If you only give your name, the natural thing the gatekeeper is thinking is, “And from what company??”

Making the gatekeeper ask you what company you’re from immediately triggers her/him to begin screening you. And why would you want that?

#2: Pausing after giving any information (like your name or company name, or even the reason for the call). As soon as you stop or pause without giving an instructional statement, you’re handing control over to the gatekeeper. And guess what? She will begin interrogating you!

#3: Pitching the gatekeeper. With the other 30%, a little bit of info must be given, but with receptionists, the moment you start pitching, that’s the moment you raise a big Red Flag that says, “I’m a salesperson!” As that point, they will begin to screen you out…

#4: Just giving your first name (and then pausing). Every gatekeeper knows this trick, and nothing will get them interrogating you faster than this.

#5: Being pushy or rude. Some sales people think that if they just bully their way in, the gatekeeper will step aside and let them through. Yeah, right. How’s that going for you? Truth is, being courteous and polite will get you much further than almost anything, and you’d do well to get on their good side—right away.

#6: Opening your call with, “Hi, how are you?” This puts gatekeepers (and everyone else) on the immediate defensive because they don’t know who you are! And it also triggers them to begin screening you because it telegraphs that you are a salesperson. By the way, it’s especially annoying when you greet the decision maker this way as well.

So, how many of these mistakes are you making every day? The more mistakes you’re making, the more you’re getting screened out.

If you’d like to know exactly what you could be doing and saying, then you can view a special (short) webinar I put together to teach you, word-for-word, what you should be doing instead.

Once you watch that, and begin using the scripts and technique in it, you’ll immediately begin breezing past gatekeepers 70% of the time. And I know that will make your life easier and improve your results!

So watch the video today.

Qualifying: Why Timeline is So Important

Want to know how qualified a prospect is? Then simply make sure you get a definitive answer to their timeline for purchasing or implementing your product or solution.

There are several ways to ask for this. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Again, thanks for reaching out to us and I’ll definitely get you more information on this. Question: What does your review process look like? In other words, after you go through everything, if you thought we were the best fit for you, what would be an approximate start date for you?”

OR

“Great! I’ve got us on the calendar for next (confirm day and time). One more thing: If after the demo you like what you see, when would you want to get this implemented?”

OR

“Great! I’ve got us on the calendar for next (confirm day and time). One more thing: If after the demo you like what you see, would you be in a position to go ahead and schedule an install date?”

AND

“I understand there are several layers to getting this approved, but let me ask you: If you feel that we are the best overall solution, what would be the soonest that you personally would like to get this going?”

AND

“__________, sounds like this would be a good fit for you. Let me ask you: If everything checks out next week, is there anything that would prevent us from moving forward with this in the next two weeks?”

The power of understanding timeline is that it gives you insight into how much urgency there is on the part of your prospect. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the best solution in the world. If there are steps or processes or other decision makers on their end (or competition they are evaluating), then these are the real roadblocks that will stall your deal.

And the way to find out is to qualify for timeline.

Any of these scripts will help you do that, so copy them down, put them in your own language, and begin qualifying for this most important of all “tells.”

The sooner you understand their timing, the sooner you’ll know how to drive the sale.

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!

How to Successfully Deal with the Gatekeeper

Many sales reps don’t know how to deal successfully with the gatekeeper. If things like: “Will he know what this call is regarding?” keep you up at night, then you need to watch this video and use the proven techniques in it.

And if you’re a sales manager, you need to send this out to all of the reps on your team!

Avoid these 3 Mistakes when Dealing with the Gatekeeper

Are you still getting screened out by the gatekeeper?

Are you still getting interrogated with questions like:

“Will he know what this call is about?”

“Is she expecting your call?”

If you are, then chances are you’re still making one of three fundamental mistakes listed below. In fact, just last week I was reviewing a client’s sales team’s calls, and I repeatedly heard many of the reps making these common mistakes.

And unfortunately, these mistakes lead directly to the kind of screening questions you see above.

The good news is that you can avoid all this by simply not doing what you’re going to read below. So, let’s dive in:

1) When the gatekeeper asks who is calling, don’t just give your name, and especially don’t just give your first name (hoping that the gatekeeper will think the decision maker knows you!).

Just giving your name and then stopping invites the gatekeeper to keep screening you. In fact, when you just give your name and pause, it telegraphs to the gatekeeper that you are a sales rep and that you should be screened out. And they proceed to do that.

2) Never answer a question (like “What company are you with?”) without giving an instructional statement. This is huge. Many sales reps answer the gatekeeper’s question and they just remain silent….

This again triggers the gatekeeper to ask you more questions, which then annoys them, and they figure that putting someone as annoying as you through will only get them into trouble. So—they screen you out instead.

3) Use some manners. Again, it’s amazing how rude some sales reps can be. They barely explain who they are, or what company they’re with (see #2), and they rarely are polite. And guess what? You get what you give. If you are rude or not kind with the gatekeeper, you’ll get that exact attitude back—and then some!

Little words like “please” and Thank you” go a long way when dealing with anyone—especially the gatekeeper.

Avoid these three blunders when dealing with the gatekeeper, and you’ll go a lot further in getting through to your prospect.

For more scripts and techniques on how to deal effectively with the gatekeeper, click here.

Why Aren’t You Using More Tie Downs & Trial Closes?

sales technique best practice tie downs and trial closes

I don’t know why tie downs aren’t used more by sales reps selling over the phone. I was listening to an experienced rep the other day just pitch and ad-lib to a good prospect, and at the end of the call, she had no idea about the prospect’s level of interest, nor did she qualify the prospect.

Tie downs (and trial closes) serve several important functions, including:

Getting confirmation that the point you just made was understood and accepted by your prospect.  This is especially important when selling over the phone because you don’t have the physical clues to tell you how your presentation is going.

Using tie downs is also instrumental in building a yes momentum. If the prospect is agreeing with you, then you can feel confident at the end in asking for the sale.

Tie downs also give your prospect a chance to engage with you—when you use one, you actually have to wait for them to respond.

Trial closes are crucially important as well. If all is going well with the tie down responses you’re getting, then as you head toward asking for the sale, you can use a few well-placed trial closes to make asking the deal even easier.

There are many other value reasons for using tie downs, but let’s look at some of the most effective, and go over in what situations they work best:

#1: Whenever your prospect asks you a buying question (and any question a prospect asks you is a buying question), after you answer it you must use a tie-down.  Examples:

If a prospect asks you how much something is, after you give them the price—or the range of prices—you can use any of these tie downs:

“How does that price sound?”

OR

“Is that what you were looking to spend today?”

OR

“How does that compare with what you are paying now?”

OR

“Is that within the budget you have for this?”

OR (If selling a commodity)

“That’s a great value today, and I’d take as many as I could at that price—how many can I ship you today?”  (O.K., that’s a close, but I couldn’t help myself!  Do you see how tie-downs can lead to a close?)

If a prospect asks a question about a feature or a benefit, use any of the following: 

“Does that make sense?”

OR, better:

“How would you use that?”

OR

“Do you understand how that works?”

OR

“I think that’s a great benefit – how about you?”

If a prospect makes a statement that seems negative, use:

“How did you come to that?”

OR

“Compared to what?”

OR

“What do you mean exactly?”

OR

“How does your current vendor handle that?”

#2 Use tie downs throughout your presentation. Most sales reps power through their presentations and use far too few tie downs or check-ins (as the rep I listened to demonstrated last week). And when they do, they are usually closed ended which lead their prospect to reveal little. Use these more open-ended tie downs to engage AND learn crucial buying motives:

“That’s how we drive the leads…. now tell me about how you would get the most out of them?”

OR

“That’s one of our biggest selling points…. tell me: how would this impact how you’re currently doing things?”

OR

“Do you see how this works?”—And then: “How might this work for you?”

OR

“Are you with me there?”—And then: “What questions do you have?”

OR

“That’s a nice feature, don’t you think?”—And then: “How would that work for you?”

OR

“Is this sounding like it might work for you?”  (Now we’re branching into trial closes—did you notice that?)

#3: Tie downs can easily become trial closes. Customize from any of these to fit your product/service:

“What do you think of this so far?”

OR

“Would this location work for you?”

OR

“How many locations would this work for?”

OR

“How many departments would want one of these as well?”

OR

“That’s pretty special, isn’t it?”

OR

“Do you see why this is so popular?”

OR

“Tell me, would that fit into your budget?”

OR

“Most people like this—how does it sound to you?”

OR

“Will that work?”
OR

“What else do you need to know?”

OR

“What other areas are you interested in?”

OR

“Would that be enough for you to move forward with this?”

OR

“Tell me: how close are you to wanting to move forward with this?” (A great trial close!)

Let me reiterate that using tie downs & trial closes gives you the information you don’t have because you can’t see your prospect’s reaction (because you’re selling over the phone). Therefore, it’s critical for you to begin using more of the above tie downs & trial closes during every conversation.

Remember, the more you can get your prospect talking, the more you’ll learn what it will take to close them…

Want more solid scripts you can begin using today to make more money? Buy yourself the best Holiday Present you’ll ever gift yourself (or your sales team!): Power Phone Scripts: 500 Word-For-Word Questions, Phrases, And Conversations To Open And Close More Sales

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…