The Key to Building Real Value

You hear it all the time – if your price is higher than your competition you’re told to “build value.” You’re instructed to stress the quality, the warranty, the features, etc. But your prospects have heard all that before, haven’t they? Want a better way?

Let’s face it – if services or products are more or less the same, then prospects will buy from the people they like, know or trust. Your enthusiasm and belief for your product or service is a big factor in getting your prospects to place an order with you over your competition. Knowing this, I’ve often used the following script to not only build value in my product or service, but also to build value in the most important part of my product – myself. Here’s what to say:

If your prospects says, “I can get cheaper,” or “Well the XYZ company has something similar for less money,” or anything like that, say:

“You know _________ I’m aware of all the other options for this (product or service) and I’ll tell you now, if I thought any of them were better for my clients, I’d be working there and selling that.

“When I got into this industry I did my own research, just like you’re doing, and I looked for the company that not only offered the best (product or service) but also delivered the best customer service and follow-up.

After all that, I chose (your company) because they give my clients the best overall value and the best experience. And that means they continue to do business with me and refer new business to me as well.

__________, if there was a better product or company for you to be doing business with I’d be there and we’d be talking about that. But there isn’t.

“Bottom line — if you want the best overall value, results and experience with this (your product or service) then do what I did – choose (your company) – You’ll be happy you did. Now, do you want to start with the X size order or would the Y size order be better?”

This technique builds value in the most important part of any sales transaction — you and your belief in your product or service. If you didn’t do research, then let the prospect know why you did choose your company and what you like so much about working there and offering that product.

Adapt it to fit your personality, product and company, and then get in the habit of using it whenever you feel the need to build more value.

How to Use Better Tie Downs

You’ve probably heard that nothing identifies you more as a sales person than using the worn out greeting, “How are you today?” right? Prospects know immediately who is calling and they can’t wait to get you off the phone. You know what else identifies you as a sales person? Using any of the following worn out tie downs like:

That’s a nice feature, isn’t it?
Would that make you feel better?
Are you with me so far?
And you’d like that, wouldn’t you?

There are many other tie downs that are so obviously a sales technique that using them makes you sound like a used car salesman. Besides being old and annoying, these kinds of tie downs are also closed ending statements that get your prospects saying ‘yes’ or ‘sure’ and nothing else. And that’s what you learn about your prospect’s buying motives – nothing.

Here’s a better way to use tie downs. First of all, remember what your purpose is in using tie downs: to take the pulse of your prospect to see if you’re losing them or if they’re with you, or if they’re bored or engaged, or if they have a question, etc.. In other words, because you’re selling over the phone and don’t have the visual cues you do when you’re in person, you must use some kind of check in statement to see how the conversation is going.

The key to successfully checking in with your prospect is to ask a tie down that engages your prospect and elicits some kind of response. What that means is that you must ask a question that is more open ended and sometimes even a little assumptive. It’s easy to change the worn out tie downs you may be using now, and here are some examples:

Instead of using, “That’s a nice feature, isn’t it?” you can ask:

“This will save you a lot of time over how you’re doing that now. Just out of curiosity, what are some of the things you might do with that extra time?”

Instead of saying, “Would that make you feel better?” you can ask:

“You’ll save money using our new processor, and how would that go over with the boss?”

Instead of saying, “Are you with me so far?” you can ask:

“You know, I’ve shared a lot of information with you so far, do you mind if I ask what you think about it?”

Instead of saying, “And you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” you can ask:

“Everybody obviously likes to save money (do less work, save time, etc.), how have you been able to save in this area this year?”

Again, the point is to ask questions (tie downs) that encourage your prospects to reveal information that you can then learn something from. If you’re listening carefully enough (remember to hit your MUTE button), then you’ll be surprised by the buying motives and hints to the sale you’ll hear.

By the way, if you’re a sales manager, this is a great exercise for a meeting. Get all your reps together and make a list of the worn out tie downs they are using now, and then brainstorm new ones that are open ended and that engage people. Your team will not only make more sales, but prospects will enjoy talking to them as well.

5 Secrets of Successful Opening Scripts

Cold calling is tough, I get it. Even if your marketing department is generating so called “warm leads,” the resistance of people who receive an unsolicited call can be fierce. Heck, you probably don’t like getting calls from home improvement or alarm companies when you’re at home either, do you?

So what can you do to make your calls sound different? What can you do to give yourself a fighting chance to engage your prospect and perhaps even begin a conversation? And what can you do to prepare for the inevitable objections, stalls and put offs you are going to get?

While I could talk to you for hours about all the techniques and skills you can develop and use to be more successful at cold calling, here are 5 secrets that will go a long way towards getting you in the door, building quick rapport and qualifying your prospect:

Secret #1: Clearly identify yourself and your company right from the start. Try:

“Is this John Sanders? Hi, this is Mike Brooks with Industrial Cleaning.”

While this might sound like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised by how many sales reps are still trying to trick people with false openings, or by just giving their first name. Prospects, just like you, know a sales gimmick when they hear one and will blow you off the moment they suspect one.

Secret #2: State the reason for the call quickly and ask a question to engage them:

“Briefly John, we’re offering a special on warehouse cleanings. Have you ever worked with a cleaning company before?”

The shorter the opening you can come up with, the better. The problem with most sales people is that they launch into a full blown pitch at the beginning of the call without engaging the prospect. This turns prospects off, and the sales rep doesn’t learn anything about the prospect’s needs. Asking a quick qualifying question at the beginning gives you information you can leverage, and by asking about their experience with your specific product or service, it sets you up nicely to talk about your offer.

Secret #3: Describe your offer in a sentence or two:

“Great, so you know some of the things a cleaning service can offer. While our service is similar to (the company they mentioned), there are a few important differences…”

Be careful not to pitch too much here. Again, a couple sentences should be enough to give them basic information like price, features and other important differences. Now, be prepared for the brush off!

Secret #4: Know how to side step the most common objections you get:

“I understand that cost is a concern, and many of the companies we do business with had the same issue. And that’s why we’ve come up with special packages designed for small business like yours that are both affordable and flexible.”

Your rebuttals need to be scripted out, memorized by your sales team, and delivered in a natural, relaxed tone. They also need to acknowledge what your prospect has just said, and give them a way to justify considering your proposal and get them wanting to know more.

Secret #5: Always insert a trial close in your first call:

“From what you’ve told me, I think you’d be a good fit for what we offer; let’s go ahead and set up an appointment for someone to meet with you to discuss your needs.”

There are a variety of trial closes you can use, including ones for setting an appointment, and all the way up to asking if a prospect would consider taking the next step if he/she likes what they see. These need to be carefully scripted to avoid using worn out sales techniques like, “Well, if you like what you see, this is something you’d move forward on, right?” That kind of language only turns people off and identifies you as a hungry salesperson.

While these five secrets form the backbone of any good opening script, there are other crucial elements needed here including qualifying questions to identify buying motives, decision makers and decision process, etc. You can find many of these related articles in my “Inside Sales Training Blog” on my website.

The bottom line is that you must script out your opening call to avoid sounding like everyone else and to give you the best chance of making a connection and furthering the sales process. Using these secrets is a good place to start.

The Three Most Important Metrics to Measure

What are your three most important metrics you measure to track and predict revenue?

That was the question I asked my LinkedIn “Inside Sales Management Group,” and the answers I received were quite interesting. Whether you’re a business owner, sales manager or even a sales rep, you know that metrics are a crucial way to measure your performance, predict revenue, and evaluate progress made. But which metrics are the most important? Before I give you my answer, let me share some of the answers I received:

One answer was: 1) Opportunities created, 2) # of times contacted, and 3) conversions, deals closed.

I thought that was an interesting answer, especially the “# of times contacted.” While I understand the opportunities created and conversion or deals closed, I don’t know that I’d include # of times contacted as one of the three most important metrics to measure. Obviously it’s important to know how much time a sales rep is spending chasing a sale, and also how effectively they are closing on each call, but I think there is a more important metric that I’ll share later on.

Another answer was: 1) Opportunities created, 2) Calls made on the accounts, and 3) Quality of the call.

This was obviously in relation to account management calls, and once again opportunities created was listed number one. The thing that I found interesting with this answer was quality of the call. As you’ll see later in the article, quality of the call, and, more specifically, how that quality is measured, is one of my top three metrics.

The most interesting answer came from VP of Sales, DJ Farnworth. Here was his answer:

1) # of open deals (times) 2) Historical win rate (times) 3) Historical ave. deal size = Pipeline. DJ said:

“One metric I’ve found very effective is: (# open deals) X (historical win rate) X (historical avg. deal size) = Pipeline. This takes some of the moving variables out of measuring just the numbers that are in the existing open deals and is based on past performance which should better indicate likelihood than a probability entered by the sales person.”

What I liked about this answer is that it seemed to most accurately predict the upcoming pipeline. I’ve sat in a lot of pipeline meetings, some worldwide even, and almost everyone in the room knows there is a lot of ‘wood’ that isn’t going to close. Getting an accurate account of what is truly likely to come in seems hard. This formula seems easy. You should try it.

O.K., now for my answer:

1) # of opportunities, 2) Close percentage 3) Script grading adherence evaluation per closing call.

#3 (Script grading adherence) is based on recording each call and grading adherence to your best practice script and scripted rebuttals. The reason is if a rep is winging it, they won’t get better and you can’t coach them. The manager’s job is to teach the best practice approach and then coach to it. Then you measure who is adhering to it and who isn’t. Every other metric (number of calls, number of contacts, trending to revenue for the month), etc., flows from that direct metric.

I always like to talk metrics with managers to see if they are measuring this very important component. Bottom line is if your reps aren’t using the best approach and handling objections and sales situations effectively, then the other metrics won’t improve much. If you ask them to make more calls, all you will get is more bad calls.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite metrics, so visit our site and submit some. In the meantime, begin listening to how your reps are performing during their call, and begin improving their delivery and technique. That’s how you automatically improve all the other metrics.

The NFL Has a Playbook, Do You?

Now that Labor Day is past, it’s time to think about getting back to work, pushing hard in September to set yourself up for the fourth quarter and….and….wait a minute. Fourth quarter? That reminds me the NFL season has just begun! Are you ready for some football? I sure am!

In preparation for the season, all 32 teams have been working hard on scripting out every play on offense, defense and special teams. They have studied the talents of their players and developed plays to maximize their strengths. They have analyzed their competition looking for tendencies and weaknesses, and they have scripted out the plays most likely to be successful against them.

After they designed these plays, they organized them into a playbook and then gave a copy to every player and coach – usually on an iPad, by the way – and they told them to study, learn and memorize every play and position during that play. It’s absolutely crucial that the players internalize each play so they react rather than think. As Dan Shula, the Superbowl winning ex-coach of the Miami Dolphins once said, “If you have to think about what to do next, it’s too late.”

An NFL playbook is a sacred thing. Most players are responsible for always knowing where their playbook is, if not to always having it with them. They bring it to every meeting they attend, take it home with them, and spend hours each day studying it. The only time they let it go is if they get cut. And no player ever wants to be told, “Coach wants to see you. Make sure and bring your playbook…”

No NFL team is without a playbook because no NFL team could be successful without it. And the same is true for a company with an inside sales department. If you own or run or are a part of an inside sales team, your playbook is your complete script book. Just like in football, your playbook also has sections. These sections include cold calling and qualifying, closing the sale and objection handling, and for call backs. It should also have a section of best emails and voice mails.

And just like in the NFL, every one of your sales reps need to study, learn and memorize every best practice response for every situation they get into. Just like in football, your sales reps need to automatically know how to handle the situations that find themselves in. When they get an objection or stall, they must automatically know how to respond. If they have to think about what to say, it’s too late!

In football, as in sales, being prepared with a proper game plan is crucial for success. No football team would just go out on a Sunday and wing it. That would be suicide for the coach and the team. Yet it’s amazing how many sales reps and sales teams do just that. Instead of taking the time to script out the best responses, they insist on ad-libbing and winging it. And then they wonder why they don’t win more sales.

To succeed in the game of sales, take a tip from the NFL – identify the selling situations your team gets into, identify every objection, question and stall, and then script out the best, most likely to succeed response to each of them. Give them to your team members and make them drill, practice and rehearse them. The most prepared team on Sunday tends to win. And the most prepared sales rep tends to close the most deals.

If you’re in sales management or an owner of an inside sales team, then it’s your responsibility to equip your team with the tools and techniques they need to win. And that starts with a playbook of scripts that will help them properly qualify prospects, overcome stalls and objections and close the sale.

Remember: No NFL team would think of entering the season without a carefully constructed playbook, and your team shouldn’t either.

Note: If you need help in writing the most effective playbook with rebuttals and scripts that really work, then contact me. I’ve written script playbooks for companies of anywhere from 25 pages to over 135 pages, and the sales teams that use them see increases of sales of as much as 34% in 90 days. Your team can, too!

The Key to Using Your Imagination

I’m reading a great book this summer about the power of using your imagination, called “The Law and the Promise” by Neville. It’s the kind of book that adds very fine distinctions to the concept of the Law of Attraction, and acts almost like a graduate level work on the subject. It’s the kind of book that reminds you what you think you already know about the power of setting specific goals and visualizing their accomplishment, but it does so in a way that makes you go, “Ah hah!”

The key that I took from it is the distinction between thinking of an image or goal realized and thinking from the image instead. This difference is so important, that it means the difference between a vision or goal being manifested or not.

The book points out that everyone uses their imagination, and the way most people use it is to think about something. In other words, they imagine something – a new car, more money, a new home, etc. – and they think about what it looks like, or they visualize the image as being out there. For example, everyone can hold the image of a beach in their minds – everyone can visualize it. The imagination can create virtually any image and think about it. That’s how most people use their imagination.

The difference in thinking from the image rather than of the image is that when you think from the image, you become part of it. It ceases to be an abstract concept, and instead, by entering into the wish fulfilled, you feel its accomplishment and thereby manifest it much faster. As Neville says, everything we see is created by focused and sustained thought through imagination, and fastest way to sustain that thought is to think and feel from the image manifested.

What this means in practice is that it’s crucial to create an image and then to inhabit it by feeling, seeing, hearing, sensing, acting as if it has been manifested. The sooner you do that, the sooner it will come into being.

Neville has many other golden nuggets in this book, like:

“Imagine better than the best you know.”

“If we live in the dream – thinking from it – and not of it, then the creative power of imagining will answer our adventurous fancy, and the wish fulfilled will break in upon us and take us unawares.”

“The drama of life originates in the imagination of man.”

“Life would undergo a change of appearance because we ourselves had undergone a change in attitude.”

I love that last quote about attitude. I’ve written many times about how changing our attitudes can change everything else too. Remember it was Zig Ziglar that said, “It’s our attitude, not our aptitude that determines our altitude.”

If you are looking for another book to add to your summer reading, then pick up this gem and read it today. It’s a fast read (you could read it in an afternoon), but it is a rich read as well. All books of truth are. I hope that learning to live from your dreams help you manifest them even sooner.

Three Ways to Get Better at Listening

What do you think the most important skill of a Top 20% producer is? Persistence? Work ethic? Time management skills? Closing skills? Tenacity? Certainly all of these skills are present with any Top Performer, but what really separates a pro is their ability to truly listen. And I mean the ability to sit through awkward silences, to not jump in and speak when the client or prospect is thinking, and to be O.K., in fact even welcome, those dead silences when it’s almost impossible not to say something…

So how do you get better at listening? Here are the three top techniques I teach that immediately make you a better listener:

#1) Get in the habit of hitting your MUTE button immediately after you ask a question OR immediately after your prospect or client begins to speak. This habit will force you to listen and, because you’re muted, it even allows you to talk over your prospect because she/he won’t hear you!

The other rule with the MUTE button is to count slowly to 3 after they pause or when you think they are done speaking. You’ll be amazed by how they will often fill in the space and complete their thought – often giving you amazing information you can use to close the sale.

#2) Use my favorite technique to encourage someone to keep talking. If a prospect says something you don’t understand, or if they haven’t revealed a buying motive yet, when they stop talking, simply say, “Oh?” I know that sounds too easy, or even a little awkward, but try it and see for yourself how powerful this is.

Also, make sure your voice goes up at the end of the “Oh?” Put a question in your voice as you say this and after you do, make sure and Hit MUTE. If you master just this one technique, you’ll be so far ahead of your competition because you’ll learn much more from your prospects and clients…

#3) Use any of the following statements to encourage your prospects to keep talking:

“What do you mean by that?”

“And what else?”

“How do you mean?”

“I’m sorry, come again?”

“What would have to change for you?”

You see how this goes. The important thing is to ask an open ended question and, after you do, Hit MUTE!

It took me several years to learn how to truly listen to my prospects and clients, and I used all of the above techniques to help me get really good at it. I will tell you now that I hear things no one else hears. I hear the motive and the meaning behind what they are saying, and if I’m not clear, I simply say, “Oh?”

Don’t take my word for this, instead, try it yourself and see. I guarantee that once you get good at listening, you’ll get better at qualifying and closing. And if you don’t improve your listening skills, you won’t improve in those areas very much or very quickly. Remember, the most important skill of a Top Producer is the ability to truly listen.

Why Cold Calling Isn’t Dead – and Other Myths Debunked!

Myth Number One: Cold Calling is Dead:

A few years ago, when social media and social selling came out (sales 2.0 they called it), there was an almost euphoric sense that spread among the sales community because everyone suddenly hoped (and, some still hold out the hope), that the worse part of their job was now a thing of the past – cold calling.  With the thousands of potential connections and message boards, and leadership groups, etc. available, it was prophesied that no more would you have to dial endlessly to find the right person, and that by just joining the right group, you would instantly have the key to the corporate suite.

Suddenly, sales gurus came out with elaborate systems and programs that showed you how you could eliminate the dreaded cold call from your daily life and how, by just crafting the right marketing campaigns or emails, or voice mails or posts, you could generate hundreds of qualified leads who would actually reach out to you.  Life would be grand!

[Learn how to Combine the New Rules of Social Media, with the Old Rules of Proven Selling Techniques to Maximize Sales!  Join Us for “Sales 2.5” the Webinar Event of 2014!]

Unfortunately, anyone still in sales can tell you that while social selling has changed things, one thing it hasn’t changed is the need to still pick up the phone and have a conversation with a prospect.  O.K., just to show all the sales trainers and blogs, and companies that I’m not still in the dark ages, while many of the outbound calls you have to make may not be completely cold (you may not still be calling from the yellow pages – remember those?), what IS true is that you still have to make calls to people who either don’t know you, or don’t necessarily want to be sold to.

So, let’s reframe the term cold calling and call it something else.  Since you still have to make outbound calls to sales prospects, you can now call them: Warm Calls, or Introduction Calls, or Follow Up Calls, or Exploratory Calls, or Call Backs, etc..  The bottom line is that if you don’t already have an established relationship with someone, and you have to pick up the phone and qualify and set up a demo or presentation of your product or service, then you have to make a, a…(cold call!).

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the most effective way of making those calls.  Since you still need to 1) Get past the gatekeeper, 2) Find a way to instantly build rapport and not sound like everyone else calling your prospect, 3) Qualify your prospect so you’re not wasting your time, 4) Set up a successful demo, etc…

Myth Number Two: Nobody Returns Emails Anymore:

It may seem as if getting a response from an email is as impossible as getting a response from a voice mail, but that’s not true, IF you know how to use the New Rules of email.  Here are two resources for you:

One: If you would like to know how to stand out from your competition, accelerate relationships, Wake-Up silent prospects and actually get clients excited to work with you, then you’ll want to Join Us on Wednesday, June 18th as Andy Horner shares with you the New Tool of Email in the Age of Social Media!  This could be the most important hour you spend This Year!

Two: If you’d like a guaranteed email to get over 65% of prospects who haven’t been getting back to you to finally respond to your email, then use this proven email technique:

Subject line: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Dear _________,

I haven’t heard back from you and that tells me one of three things:

1) You’ve filled the position or you’ve already chosen another company for this.

2) You’re still interested but haven’t had the time to get back to me yet.

3) You’ve fallen and can’t get up, and in that case please let me know and I’ll call 911 for you…

Please let me know which one it is because I’m starting to worry.

Honestly, all kidding aside, I understand you’re a very busy individual and the last thing I want to do is be pain in the neck once a week. Whether you’ve just been busy or you’ve gone another direction, I would appreciate it if you would take a second to let me know so I can follow up accordingly.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Kind Regards,

If this made you smile, then it’ll make your prospects smile, too.  But don’t take my word for how effective this is!  Adjust it to fit your product or service and see for yourself…

Myth Number Three: LinkedIn is Just a Glorified Place to Put a Resume:

Question for you: How many deals, actual sales, have you gotten from LinkedIn?  If your answer is, “Not many,” then you are probably making the mistakes MOST of your competition is making…  For example: If you’re trying to join groups and participate like everyone else, then you’ll get lost just like everyone else.  If you’re building your profile like a resume, then it will get treated like a resume (thrown away!).

If you’d like to learn the REAL way to get leads and sales using LinkedIn, then you absolutely MUST attend Erik Luhrs’ session on LinkedIn in the Webinar Series Event of the Year – Sales 2.5.  Erik will be addressing all these issues and a whole lot more on Tuesday, June 17thClick Here to learn more.

Myth Number Four: Webinars are for Big Companies Only:

Social Media is all about putting you in front of your target audience and positioning you as a subject matter expert.  And webinars are one of the best ways to do this.  So, the question is: How many webinars have you, as a sales professional, put together and successfully run?  Once again, if your answer is, “Not many,” then once again, I’ve got good news for you!

Once you learn the right technology (easy, fast and inexpensive), you can create what is known as “evergreen” webinars that run on demand and still have the look and feel of a new and live webinar.  This means you can be in front of hundreds of potential clients 24/7 without having to do anything (except creating it to begin with).

If you’d like to know how your competition is using the power of webinars to introduce, educate and win new clients, then you MUST attend Joel Peterson’s powerful and career changing webinar: “How To Leverage The Power Of Webinars To Increase Sales, Attract New Loyal Customers, And Save Time,” on Thursday, June 19th at 1pm Eastern.  Register Here

I have collected the top experts in their fields to help you Maximize Sales by combining the New Rules (of social media) with the Old Rules (traditional, proven sales and marketing techniques) to help finally make more sales in today’s sales environment.

So join us the week of June 16th, for “Sales 2.5: Combining the New Tools with the Old Rules to Maximize Sales.”  After these four webinars, you will finally have the pieces you need to solve the Social Media Selling puzzle.

How to Eliminate Objections

I was coaching a client this week and he was complaining about the biggest objection he almost always gets at the end of his presentation – that prospect stall the sale by saying they have to run it by another person first to get approval.

Now I’ve written about this before and provided ways of overcoming this, such as by isolating it with: (“If the decision were up to you, what would YOU do?”), etc., but he tells me that it still comes up and is the number one objection/stall that keeps him from closing sales. Here was my advice:

First, realize that when an objection keeps coming up at the end of your close, you need to find a way to deal with it – actually eliminate it – during your first qualifying call. I’ve always found that if I didn’t uncover and deal with an objection on the first call, then it’s my fault if it continually comes up at the end of the closing call (which it usually does). So the point here is that you need to handle it before it comes up.

Second, I recommended that we role play the solution. Here’s how it went:

Me: So tell me who you consult with when making the decision on something like this?

Prospect (P): Well, if I like it, then I send it to my regional manager.

Me: O.K., and how open is your regional manager to adding another vendor in this area?

P: Actually, I don’t know. I just send things on to them and sometimes they do it, and sometimes they don’t.

Me: I understand. And what is the name of your regional manager?

P: Dave.

Me: O.K., well how about we do this. Rather than you and me taking time to go through a whole presentation together and then you liking it and sending it on hoping that Dave approves it, how about if you send Dave an email and see if he is even open to adding vendors at this time. If he is, then I’ll set up the presentation with you and then, if you like it, you can then forward this on to Dave, how does that sound?

P: That’s sounds O.K.

Me: In fact, I’ll go one further for you. How about if I send Dave the email, I’ll copy you, and then we’ll both know if we should continue or not. After I hear back from him, yes or no, then I’ll reach back out to you and either set something up or schedule to follow up in a few months – how does that sound?

P: O.K.

Me: Great. What’s Dave’s email address?

What we’ve done here is qualify before we invest all our time and effort in a prospect who may or may not even be in the market to move on something. This is crucial when we’re dealing with an influencer who, and as we know, are often not in the position to make a decision. We absolutely have to get buy in from a decision maker (if we can) before we go down the very frustrating road of pitching the wrong person.

Now, will this technique work all the time? Of course not; none will. But what it WILL do is give you a fighting chance of finding out if there is even a real opportunity here to begin with. And that’s a whole lot more than you probably have right now.

Also note: the influencer’s willingness to go down this road will also tell you something as well. If they aren’t willing to email the decision maker, then he/she probably already knows what the answer is. If they are willing to do it, then you’ll either get a qualified lead, or you’ll save a lot of time. Either way, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

So take back control of the sales process by learning to eliminate objections and stalls on the front end of the sales cycle. If you don’t, then you have no one to blame but yourself…

The Importance of Following Up

Let me ask you this: If you just met with a really hot prospect, how long would you wait to follow up with them? A day? A couple of days? A week?

Here’s my experience with a couple of real estate agents this week:

My wife and I are selling our home and have begun interviewing real estate agents to represent us. I got a couple of referrals from good friends in our neighborhood, and then I reached out with an email telling them that I’m ready to list my home and want to meet. I think I’d call that a hot lead, wouldn’t you?

So Tuesday night we meet the first agents – a husband and wife team – a very nice couple who have been selling real estate in our neighborhood (“South of the Boulevard”) and claim to be the Number One agents in this area (It’s odd that the other two agents we meet with also claim to be the Number One agents as well, but that’s a discussion for another article).

We spend a nice couple of hours together, really like them, like their recent experience and success on the next block and also love their strategy. We tell them that we’re meeting with another agent referral the next night but that we will get back with them the following day.

O.K., so now comes the test. When would you, if you were them, get back with me?

The right answer is 9AM the next morning. If I were them, I would have sent a quick email saying it was so nice meeting me, that I enjoyed and really liked the house and that I was confident that I could sell the home using the strategy I outlined. I’d say if there was anything I could do, just reach out to me, and that I look forward to speaking with them (me) very soon.

No brainer, right? Well, here’s what happened: Because I’m a Top 20% closer, it was ME that sent them an email thanking them for their time and how nice it was to meet THEM! I sent it at 9AM and hadn’t heard back from them by NOON that afternoon! How do you think that made me feel in terms of how they would represent me?

O.K. So the next night we had the other agents over – a team of two “Number One” selling agents in our area (they really used that term as well!). We really liked their pitch also and were impressed by what they wanted to list our house for. In fact, when they left, we were leaning towards hiring them! How long do you think it took for them to follow up with us?

We’re still waiting to hear from them two days later!

I’m still stunned because as we told them we’d have a definite answer by the next morning. Did we get a follow up email? No. Did we get a follow up phone call? No. Now two days have gone by and have we heard from them?? NO!! YIKES! What’s wrong with these sales people??

In the meantime, the first couple emailed us the next day wondering what happened with our other meeting and expressed their strong desire to work with us. We then spoke on the phone and negotiated a bit. Now they are coming over tonight to pitch us some more. They’ve redeemed themselves a bit and will probably get our business.

By the way – the other team? We still haven’t heard from them, and I’m thinking I never will. And that’s too bad for them because when we woke up the next morning, we were completely on the fence, and we decided that whoever got back to us first would probably win our business. We figured we’d wait and see who was more of a go-getter, and who would be more aggressive overall and that this would (hopefully) translate into who would be more aggressive in selling our home.

So here’s the lesson for all you sales reps and business owners out there – Don’t wait days or weeks to follow up prospects! Especially the hot ones or the ones you’ve either met with or spent quality time with over the phone. A simple email that thanks them for their time, acknowledges how much you learned and how excited you are to help them will go A LONG WAY to earning you their business. Especially since not many others have this kind of urgency.

By the way, I usually send a quick email right away when I get off the phone with a prospect and include something of value in the email – a white paper, an article – something that will help them and also help them think about me.

So start thinking about what you can send to someone when you reach back out to a prospect. And follow up more often and sooner than you think you should. Based on what the majority of other sales reps apparently do, it will mean more business and referrals for you…