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…

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!

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.

Best B2B Cold Call Telemarketing Sales Appointment Making Setting Tips

5 Steps to Making Appointments that Stick
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

best outbound B2B telemarketing sales appointment setting tips, techniques and strategies for making effective lead generation cold calls over the phone

Learn the best outbound B2B telemarketing sales appointment setting tips, techniques and strategies for making effective lead generation cold calls over the phone.

Nothing is more frustrating than making an appointment with a good sales prospect and then calling and getting their voicemail at the time of meeting.

Actually, there is something more frustrating: having to then chase these sales prospects and never connecting with them again!

If you would like to make your appointments more “sticky” and actually have your sales prospects be there when you call, then follow the 5 steps below:

Step One: Don’t just send a meeting request and then think the prospect will show up. That’s much too passive. What I always do when setting an appointment is to first test them to see how cooperative and engaged they are.

I always say, “Let’s look at our calendars to see what works best—are you in front of your calendar right now?”

This is crucial. I want to see if I can get my prospect to actually do something (open their calendar) and while I book a day and time, I instruct them to put it in their calendar as well. I actually wait for them to do this.

Oh, sure, I’ll send a meeting request as well, but I always see if they are willing to do this first. If they brush me off with a, “Oh, just send me a meeting request” and they won’t take the time to open their calendar, then that’s a Red Flag.

Step Two: Send a meeting request while you’re still on the phone with them. I tell them I’m sending a meeting a request, and I do it right at that moment. I then instruct them to open their email and accept it while I’m on the phone with them.

This is another test I use to see how cooperative they are. If they balk at doing this, then I know I’ve got a 50/50 chance they will show up.

Now I know that not all prospects will do this, but I direct as many people to do it as I can. It’s sort of a “pre-qualifier” for the appointment.

Step Three: After you’ve scheduled the appointment, and with the prospect still on the phone, ask them to reach back out to you—by phone or email—if something comes up and they can’t make the meeting.

I know, that sounds negative and you’re probably afraid to let them know they can cancel, right? Don’t you think they already know that??

Here is the best way to phrase it:

“{first name}, I’ve got you confirmed for (day/time), and you’re on my calendar. I’m in yours, right?

“Great!. Listen, I know things can come up for us both, and I respect your time and would like you to respect mine as well. So, if something changes and you need to reschedule our appointment—or if you’d like to meet earlier—would you make sure and shoot me an email or give me a call prior to our appointment time?”

[Must get buy in here]

“Thanks. Then if I don’t here from you, I’ll look forward to speaking with you on (confirm day/time again). And, by the way, what is your direct line phone number you want me to call in on?”

Step Four: Follow this up with an email essentially stating the same thing in the script above.

Always send this as soon as possible after hanging up…

Step Five: Call and confirm your appointment the day before the appointment time.

It’s amazing how so many people don’t do this, but when you do, several things can happen:

a. They aren’t available, so you leave a voicemail reminding them about the appointment call the next day and how excited you are to speak with them.
b. They come onto the phone and you can pitch them one day early!
c. They tell you they’re not interested, and you can begin overcoming objections and get into your pitch that way.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this step! Very few sales professionals do this, and I’ve found it’s amazingly effective at getting into the pitch a day early.

Bonus Step Six: Send out a reminder email the morning of the appointment. You are doing this now, aren’t you??

So there you have it: 5 proven steps to increase your number of appointments/presentations. Compare these to what you’re doing now, and if you find you aren’t using some of these techniques, then incorporate them this week.

And watch your appointment turn up rate soar…

Sales is a Numbers Game | Track Phone Cold Call Lead Activity Daily

Some Will, Some Won’t, Who’s Next?
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

sales is a numbers game and using a daily phone cold call lead activity tracker and prospect management system such as a team goal tracking spreadsheet or calendar is vital

Find out why sales is a numbers game and why using a daily phone cold call lead activity tracker and prospect management system such as a team goal tracking spreadsheet or calendar is vital to success.

Ever found yourself staring at the phone, unable to pick it up to make some prospecting calls?

Ever convinced yourself that you must research a company’s website first, pour through their social media posts until you have the golden nugget that will get someone to speak with you?

Ever ended the month below your sales quota?

Guess what? These two things: resistance (fear) of picking up the phone and cold calling, and not making your sales goals are 100% related!

I know this is going to sound “old-school” (and it is), but it’s also completely true: Sales is still a numbers game. The more calls you make = the more people you speak with = the more qualified sales prospects you meet = the more sales you make.

Period.

I work with hundreds of sales reps and teams every year, and I’ll tell you right now, call reluctance seems to be getting worse. So many sales reps are scared these days of actually getting on the phone with someone if they don’t know everything about them first. It paralyzes them to the point of making just a handful of calls per day. In fact, they think that if they make 25 “well-targeted” calls a day, then that’s a good day…

But ask yourself this: How many of those calls result in you actually getting through to the decision maker? And how many of those contacts result in qualified leads that turn into a sales presentation?

If you’re like most of the sales reps out there, the answer is: Not many.

And how many of those so-called leads actually turn into a sale? In other words, what is your closing rate?

Hate to break it to you, and you can compare your own results, but he national average is 2 sales out of 10 presentations. And if you then divide the number of sales needed to make your numbers, you will probably realize that you need A LOT more presentations, don’t you?

And this leads back to number of phone calls…

So how do you overcome this fear of making more calls? The answer is simple: Just recognize that about 8 out of 10 people you actually get to speak to aren’t going to end up being a sale.

In other words, most of the people you finally reach aren’t going to result in a qualified lead!

And that’s okay! Expect it! The saying you need to turn into your mantra is:

“Some will, some won’t, who’s next?”

As soon as you adopt this attitude, cold calling becomes much easier.

I often teach that qualifying is more about disqualifying than it is about qualifying. Your job when you cold call, prospect, (whatever you want to call it) is to find, reach, and disqualify as many leads as you can—as quickly as you can—so you can move on to and find the real buyers (who are few and far between).

And this brings us back to: Sales is a numbers game.

So, do yourself a favor and stop spending hours of your precious time every single day searching through social media looking for the Golden Goose. And stop thinking that if you found just the right email or voice mail message then you’ll finally get buyers to call you back…

Instead, your goal should be hundreds of actual dials—cold calls, warm calls, prospecting calls, again, I don’t care what term you use—each and every week.

Keep track of those calls on an hourly basis and record: 1) How many dials did you make per hour? 2) How many decision makers did you reach per hour? 3) How many qualified leads did you get per hour?

These are the stats that are going to make a difference in your sales results and success.

And if you’re a manager or business owner, these are the metrics that YOU should be measuring and studying each and every day as well.

Remember: the thing that hasn’t changed in sales—and isn’t going to change—is that sales is still a numbers game.

And remember: Some will, some won’t, who’s next?

So, how many calls are you going to make today?