Stop Talking Past the Close

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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

Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

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We’ve all been taught that practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t. If it did, then we’d all be great golfers, tennis players, and sales reps. But we aren’t, are we?

The truth is: Practice only makes permanent. If you practice poor technique—then you’re going to get really good at being what? Poor at what you’re practicing…

And, unfortunately, this is what happens to so many sales teams. Instead of improving their skills, improving and practicing better techniques, many sales reps either keep using poor techniques, or they constantly ad-lib and make up new, poor, techniques and responses over and over again.

And guess what they make perfect? Poor performance. And this is compounded when managers and business owners think the answer is more activity. “Just make more calls, stuff more leads into the pipeline!”  And guess what you get?

More ad-libbing, more poor techniques, and more unqualified leads in the pipeline. This results in more frustration, and more money spent on leads that don’t close.

The solution is that if you want to get better—even perfect—at dealing with the recurring selling situations you face, day in and day out, you need to spend some time and energy learning the best responses and skills to these situations and then practice these skills and responses on each and every call.

Does it take more focus and attention and commitment? You bet. Does it pay off in the long run in terms of a more enjoyable career and a whole lot more money from making more sales? Absolutely! Will most sales people and managers reading this start improving their skills and begin practicing perfection? In my experience, sadly, no.

But those who do—and it only takes about 90 days to change a habit and get immeasurably better—enjoy a lifetime of benefits. I’ve seen sales reps go from the bottom rung to the top, buying homes, driving luxury cars, and providing for their families like they’ve always wanted to.

And it all starts by practicing perfection—rather than poor sales skills.

There are a lot of ways to get better: great books on sales, audio programs, pod casts, etc. It’s all available if you’re ready and willing to get better. I hope you are.

Speaking of which: I just launched a brand new, online inside sales training program presented live over seven weeks. See it here.

When you’re ready to get better, to change your sales results and your life, then join me.

I’ll teach you how to practice perfection in 90% of the sales situations you may be struggling in today. And that will change your life.


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

Catch & Release: Not a Closing Strategy

sales prospecting best practice don't catch and release but catch and close, close more sales, sales tips, sales training, best practice,

I was onsite training in Montreal, Canada last week—a software company, hi everyone! —and one of the sales reps brought up today’s quote as we were reviewing calls during the training.

The call was a closing presentation—a demo, really—and after about an hour of slides and features and benefits, the rep was anxious to set next steps: schedule another demo call, schedule another Q & A session, etc.

What was blatantly missing was any kind of a close attempt! There was no attempt to see what they thought so far, no attempt at a trial close, and not even a discussion about timeline and next steps toward moving towards a decision…

Instead, the rep commented that it was essentially a “catch & release” call! The conference room burst out laughing and knowing nods of recognition spread around the room. 

He explained that he had “caught” the prospect, finally, and delivered a presentation. But at the end, instead of closing, he simply “released” them without any kind of resolution!

Sadly, this scenario was endemic in their sales culture (hence the reason I was hired to change it), and, sadder still, this scenario repeats itself throughout countless sales teams worldwide. Think of your own company’s sales presentations. Ask yourself: How many closing attempts do you or your team make at the end?

One of the solutions I introduced was the concept of using a combination of tie-downs and trial closes throughout the presentation. Tie-downs to get an idea of how the presentation is going, and then trial closes so asking for the deal—or at least an agreement that the sale is progressing towards a close—can be determined in advance of the end of the call (so real, meaningful “next steps” can be scheduled).

Sample trial closes that you should be using include:

“Is this sounding like the solution you were looking for?”

“Do you think this will accomplish XYZ for you?”

“Are you getting a feeling that this is what you are looking for?”

(For more trial closes & tie downs, get a copy of our latest book: Power Phone Scripts)

Unlike fishing, closing a sale should lead to a catch that isn’t released. And you will have more confidence in accomplishing this if you’re building a yes momentum throughout your presentation. And you can do this buy using the strategies we’ve just written about.

Want to be trained how to sell better?

If you or your team would like a structured, online training program (presented live by Mike Brooks), then check out our new, online training program. You’ll learn how to double and even triple your sales in the next 12 months!


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

3 Ways to Overcome Call Reluctance

call reluctance, cold call resistance, how to improve selling skills,

Do you or your team suffer from call reluctance?

Would you rather send emails than make calls?

If you have to pick up the phone for a living, then I’ll bet making cold calls isn’t one of your favorite activities. And if you struggle making those calls, then take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

Speaking in public used to be the biggest fear someone could face (even before dying), but I think that for salespeople it’s making outbound calls. No one likes to be rejected, and the resistance you get from gatekeepers, receptionists, decision makers, etc., can quickly result in call reluctance.

There are many things you can do to be more prepared to make successful calls, and here are my top three:

#1: Be prepared with proven scripts or “talk tracks” to handle the inevitable rejection and responses you’re going to get. If you don’t have proven answers that automatically flow out of your mouth when you get things like:

  • “Will he know what this call is regarding?”
  • “We’re all set,”
  • “I wouldn’t be interested.”
  • “Just email me something.”

And more, then this is job one. You must have proven and effective responses ready for these, otherwise you’ll struggle on each and every call…

#2: Have all your leads/phone numbers/contacts ready in advance. Do your research and then compile a list of 50 – 100 names and numbers you can dive into. If not, then you’ll spend your time between calls researching, reading blog posts, looking at websites, taking lunch, and then not calling enough prospects to make a difference.

Being prepared in advance to sit down and dial repeatedly not only builds momentum, but gets you results.

#3: Take the pressure off yourself. Not everyone you’re going to speak to is going to be interested or even a fit, so don’t set your expectations too high. You’re not trying to sell or convert each person you speak to; instead, you’re just looking for an opportunity.

When you look at this this way, you’ll be much less likely to take the inevitable rejection you face personally. Instead, just tell yourself that if someone isn’t interested, then you’ve moved that much closer to finding the person who is.

If you can take care of the three items above, then you’ll be removing a lot of the “internal resistance” you have around making calls. And the good thing is that once you do get into a groove of making successful calls, your confidence will grow as will your sales.

If you’d like to learn even more strategies or get the tools and skills you need to get better selling over the phone, then see our new online training program.

Sign up for it today and get ready to double or even triple your sales this year….


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.

How to Overcome the Fear of Cold Calling

Do you struggle with call reluctance when it’s time to cold call?

If you do, then you need to remember a couple of things that will help take the pressure off you, and give you the perspective you need to “smile and dial….”

Entrepreneurs: 3 Best Practices for Building an Inside Sales Team

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner and you want to sell your product or service over the phone successfully, then there are 3 things you need to know before you begin. Watch this short video, and I’ll tell you exactly what they are:

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.

Closing Sales is Like First and Goal

closing sales, overcoming objections, sales tips,

Hope you’re enjoying the NFL playoffs. A client and I were talking about that Bear/Eagles game a week ago, and (besides the Bear’s kicker—I do feel bad for him), we were talking about that last scoring drive of the Eagles. How they went for it on 4th down with 56 seconds left—and scored the winning touchdown.

That reminded me of what I was taught when I was new on the phone: that the sale doesn’t start until the fourth or fifth no. My manager used to tell me that it’s a like football:

He said that driving the ball down to the red zone was the same as giving your presentation. And that as soon as you asked for the sale at the end, you were now in the red zone.

He told me that if the client said “no,” then it was up to me to use a close and ask for the sale again. This was like running the first play in the red zone.

If the prospect was still willing to engage with me but still said no, then all that meant was that I didn’t get into the end zone on that play, but I had three more tries. So, I’d read another close and ask for the sale again.

If I got another no, then it was just third down. Time to deliver yet another close and ask for the sale again.

Same thing on fourth down: Run another play and try to get into the endzone.

Same thing in sales: If you’ve received three or four no’s, it’s time to try for it again, to read another close.

Think about the Eagles game. Did they give up after they ran first down and didn’t get into the endzone? Of course not.

What they did was they ran two more plays and then they went for it on fourth down. And they scored and won.

Now a couple of quick lessons:

1) You’re not always going to score on the first or second or even third closing attempt, but you must keep running plays—ask for the sale all four times.

2) Sometimes you get a penalty on the defense and get another set of downs—more times to ask for the sale!

3) Sometimes you can kick a field goal (drop close) and still come away with some points—or a partial sale.

The bottom line is that you don’t give up when the prospect says no—instead, just look at it like a fresh set of downs in the red zone—four new attempts to deliver a close, overcome an objection, and keep asking for the sale.

That’s how I dealt with objections (I kept running plays—using closes), and that’s how I made hundreds of thousands of dollars every year selling over the phone.

And it’s how you will, too, IF you keep closing and running plays in the red zone.