The Top Characteristic of Top Sales Producers

If you’re reading this article right now, then chances are you want to perform better in your sales career. It shows that you’re willing to take the time to search out tips and techniques that will give you an edge over your competition. That’s a good thing.

But are you ready to really commit to doing the things that will catapult you into that rarified air of top sales producers?

And chance are, you know who these top producers are. They’re the ones who are always at or near the top of the sales production list every month, always winning the sales contests, and who always seem to be in a good mood. They’re positive, confident, and they have that feeling that no matter what happens to the leads or the economy or the company, they’ll find a way to succeed.

Years ago I heard a sales motivator say that if you are willing to the do the things that most sales reps aren’t willing to do, then soon you’ll be able to do and have and enjoy the things that most sales reps will never be able to.

When I heard that statement, I was a struggling sales rep, and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was at a crossroads in my career, and I was either going to find a different way of making a living, or I was going to go back to school and get out of sales altogether.

What I chose to do was commit to being one of the top producers. I heard another motivator say that if the grass looks greener on the other side, then you need to fertilize your lawn. He said that you don’t have to change where you are to succeed, but rather you can bloom where you’re planted.

And I had many examples of that in the company where I worked. There were 25 sales reps, and while most of them had varying levels of inconsistent success (I call those the 80% of the any sales team), there were also the top producers who consistently were at the top of the sales charts. They were the ones who made the most commissions, drove the nice cars, went on the fun vacations.

These top producers were also the ones who made it look easy. They never seemed to struggle; instead, they seemed to intuitively know what to do. It was inspiring and intimidating at the same time. It wasn’t until I finally made a commitment to be one of them that I saw how much time and discipline and effort they put into being the best.

While it did take time, money and lots of effort for me to go from where I was as a struggling sales rep, with commitment and determination I became the number one sales rep at the company in 90 days. And the habits I developed allowed me to be the number one rep out of five branch offices just nine months later.

And you can do it, too. The good news is that success leaves clues, and if you’re willing to invest the time, money and effort into completely changing your results, your life and your family’s life, then you can. You can bloom where you’re planted, and you can start enjoying the things that top producers take for granted – the things that most sales reps will never get to enjoy.

I guarantee that if you adopt this one characteristic, then nothing will stop you from succeeding….

Top Characteristic of Top Sales Producers: Make a commitment to doing whatever is required of you to be a top producer.

Let me illustrate this with a story. Earlier this year, I was asked to give a keynote speech for a company of a little over 100 sales reps. Before I do any of these kinds of talks, I always ask to do a phone interview with their top producers. I reached out to their top sales rep, a woman working in Canada who had been with the company for just 15 months.

What was interesting about this sales rep was that she had come from a completely different industry – not sales – and yet in the course of about a year, she had become the top sales rep for all of the U.S. and Canada. As you can imagine, I was anxious to speak to her.

What I found out is what I always find out about top producers. When she joined the company, the first thing she did was make a commitment to work harder than another any person there, and to learn and practice the top principles of qualifying and closing sales.

I asked her how long she worked and she told me she regularly worked ten to twelve hours a day. I asked her about her family and kids and she said that’s what weekends were for.

When asked how many cold calls she made in a day, she told me about 100. The average sales rep in the company made about 25. I asked how she could make so many calls and still run appointments, and she said she began early, and made calls throughout the day – while waiting for an appointment in the field, after and between appointments, and then she made some more in the evening when others have long left the office.

When we talked about the specifics of the sale and how she qualified, she told me she gave her pitch on the first appointment call, told the prospect that she would then show them exactly what she just described and that at the end she would ask for a yes or no. “Will you be able to make a decision at that time?” was her last question on the appointment call.

Once on site, if the prospect tried to delay making a decision, she reminded him/her that they promised to commit at that time – yes or no – and she then began closing for the sale using proven, scripted (memorized and delivered naturally) closes that worked the majority of the time.

If the prospect simply wouldn’t commit, then she asked them to have a decision made by the end of the day (or next morning if an evening appointment), and she then called back for the yes or no. If it’s a no, she moved on.

When you break down what this number one rep did (and continues to do) to be so successful, you’ll find that she does “what most sales reps are not willing to do.” First, she’s made a commitment to working harder and smarter than all of the other reps in the company. When most sales reps are still at home drinking coffee, she is making calls. When most sales reps are shuffling their leads or thinking about lunch, she’s still making calls.

When other sales reps are semi-qualifying their prospects and then showing up and hoping and praying someone will buy, she’s already asked for a buying decision before she even gets there. And when many sales reps are put off with a stall at the end, she begins closing when she gets an objection.

Because of this commitment to be the best, she closes more sales than any other rep in the company (again, of 100+ sales reps). And this enables her to make double what the average sales rep makes, and triple what a third of the struggling reps make.

When I was at this annual sales conference, the company was giving out the awards, the bonus checks, and the family vacations and other perks. This top producer got all of these rewards, accolades and pats on the back. The other top producers (nine of them) got various awards as well. The other 90 sales reps? They got increased quotas, increased pressure and after three days at the conference, they went back to their jobs to struggle along for another year….

The bottom line in any career or profession is that the top performers are committed to putting in the time and effort to be the best. They are willing to pay the price for success by staying after practice to keep working, by putting in the time for film study or playbook study, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to perform at the top of their game. This is true of top athletes like Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, etc., and for top concert musicians, professional dancers, and virtually any other professional.

As someone once said, “The extra mile is never crowded.”

If you will commit this one characteristic, then you will be able to live, have, enjoy and do the things that most sales people will never be able to have, enjoy and do.

The Three Times to Handle an Objection

Most sales reps hate getting objections. When they get them, their hands start to sweat, their heart takes the elevator down into the pit of the stomachs, and they start wishing they had gotten that graduate degree and avoided sales altogether.

This is how most sales reps react when they get objections, but not the top producers. Top producers view and react to objections very differently. To start with, because top producers thoroughly qualify their prospects up front they generally uncover and deal with many objections during the qualifying stage. Objections like, “I’ll have to show this to my partner,” and others are already known and dealt with.

In addition, top producers have taken the time, long in advance, of scripting out two or three different rebuttals to the objections they get, so when they do get them, they know exactly what to say to overcome them. In other words, they are rarely caught off guard, because they know what to say to deal with them.

Third, because top producers know what the objections or stalls are likely to be in advance, and since they are prepared for them with solid scripts and techniques to overcome them, they are able to take advantage of the timing of “when” to handle an objection. Unlike most sales reps who feel they have to handle an objection the moment they get one (and hence instantly lose control of the call), top producers realize that they have three options as to when to handle an objection. They are:

1) When it comes up. Again, because top producers know what to say and how to effectively deal with objections, they have the choice of handling the objection when it comes up or of postponing it for later.

The first choice may be to handle the objection when it comes up. This is usually good if the prospect is rejecting a product or service at the beginning of the pitch because they haven’t been through all the details (features and benefits) of the pitch yet.

The way to handle this is to use a script, of course. But the key is to handle the objection and then move back into the pitch. An example would be if a prospect objects to the price at the beginning. It might go like this:

Prospect: “This is out of our budget – the price is just too high.” (Or any other objection.)

Rep: “You know, it might seem that way now, but the price actually breaks down to about $2.00 per (lead, incident, etc.), and when you look at it that way, it becomes very affordable – especially when you see how much time and effort it saves you. Let me just show you a couple of things…”

In this example, the rep answered the objection but instead of checking in with the prospect to see how the close landed, they instead kept control of the call by continuing on with the pitch.

2) The second option to handling an objection is to postpone it till the end of the pitch. This is ideal if the prospect seems willing to keep listening but is stuck on an issue or two. The important thing is to acknowledge that you heard the objection and promise to handle that at the end. It goes like this:

Prospect: “This is out of our budget…,” (Or any other objection.)

Rep: “I can understand that but let’s do this. Before you make any decision on this, let’s talk about all the things this can do for you first, and then you’ll be in a much better position to decide if this is worth it for you. I even have some payment options that might make the decision easier for you as well.

But first, let me show you this…”

What you’re doing here is delaying answering the objection and thereby retaining control of the call. The nice thing about this is that by the end of your pitch, many times the prospect won’t even bring up the objection at all! You’d be amazed by how often that actually happens once you begin using this technique.

In addition to this, if you know what the objection(s) are at the beginning of the pitch – or in the middle – you can begin pitching and building value around the known problem area (objection).

Postponing answering the objection like this is a great way to get your pitch in, keep control of the call, and prepare yourself for what you know might be coming at the end.

3) The third time to answer an objection is…never! That’s right. So many time prospects will test you and try to put you off with many questions, stalls and objections that it’s just best to not respond at all. Here’s how you do that:

Prospect: “This is out of our budget…” (Or any other objection.)

Rep: “Some of our clients felt like that until they heard about…” (Now give a benefit or two and keep pitching).

This way you’ve acknowledged the objection but you remain positive and so sold on your solution that you let your enthusiasm drive the call – and often times your prospect’s mindset. It is said that enthusiasm sells, and that’s true in many cases. The problem with most sales reps is that as soon as they hear an objection they start to give up.

But by acknowledging, remaining positive, and continuing on with your pitch, you can often override any initial objection and get further into your pitch. In fact if you’ve done this before, then you’ll often find that the prospect changes to a different objection the next time they bring one up!

These three times to handle an objection also work for questions as well. The important thing to remember is that it is up to you as to when to break your rhythm and deal with an objection. The whole point is that you must remain in control of the call.

Try using the techniques and scripts above during your upcoming week of pitching your product or sale. You’ll be amazed by how much easier your sale becomes – and how many more deals you’ll get.

Voice Mail: 5 Proven Techniques That Get Your Calls Returned! (Part Two)

Last week I gave you the first Three Proven Techniques to help you increase your chances of getting your calls returned. Now let’s look at the final two:

Proven Technique Number Four: Combine your voice mails with an email campaign for maximum effectiveness. The number one law in all marketing is repetition. That’s why Coke-a-Cola still buys millions of dollars of ads every year.

It’s the same with getting your prospects to notice you. The most effective way is by using a two month long campaign that goes like this:

First: Try to reach someone for a couple of weeks without leaving a VM.
Week One: Leave one VM and follow it up with an email that same day. Then leave a second VM that same week.
Week Two: Send email #2, then leave a VM at the beginning of the week and on that Friday.
Week Three: Send an email at the beginning of the week and at the end. Leave a VM in between.
Week Four: Send another email on Tuesday, and leave a VM on the Thursday.
Month Two: Send either one email or leave one VM per week for four weeks.
Also: Call in between and don’t leave a message.

Anytime between week two and three, one of your emails needs to be the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” email. If you’ve not heard of this email, then your return contact rate is about to go up by 60%! It goes like this:

Your subject line is: (Prospect’s First Name) Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Body of email:

Dear _________,

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

1) You don’t have a need at this time 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 really busy, and the last thing I want to do is be pain in the neck once a week. Whether your schedule has just been to demanding 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 you’re smiling from reading this, so will your prospect! Again, this is a high percentage email that gets a response about 60% of the time. Compare that to your current results.

Proven Technique Number Five: If your VM and email campaigns don’t work, then consider going that extra mile – as a top producer once said, “The extra mile is never crowded.” Even though a prospect may not be in the market now, as we all know, things change. And when they do, you want to be top of mind so they’re thinking about you when they are finally ready.

The most effective way to do this is by sending physical greeting cards. And the easiest way to do that is by using a company I use called Send Out Cards. (You can learn more about them here: www.SendOutCards.com/mrinsidesales )

I’ve been using SOC for years and they have made me a lot of money in sales to prospects I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t been drip marketing to them regularly. I love SOC for many reasons including:

1) It’s extremely affordable to send a high quality card with a real stamp
2) It’s easy and fast – you create the cards in advance and they send them automatically without you having to do anything!
3) You can build “campaigns” so you can send cards at any interval you choose (and you can build lots of campaigns).
4) Every card is completely customizable – you can choose from 15,000+ of theirs (and include your own message) or you can completely create your own with your own images.
5) It’s highly effective. In fact, did you know that the number one salesperson in the world – according to The Guinness Book of World Records – is a guy named Joe Girard? He was a car salesman and he sold an average of six new cars EVERY DAY! How did he do it? He sent a card to every customer and every prospect every month (and one for Christmas), 13 cards in all.

Joe was so successful, that people had to make appointments with him to buy a car!

The good news is that sending physical greeting cards works in your business as well. And www.SendOutCards.com/mrinsidesales can make it easy and effective for you.

So there you have it: The Five Proven Voice Mail Techniques to get your calls returned. Follow them and you’ll be much more successful than you are now. Don’t follow them and, well, you already know how that goes…

Voice Mail: 5 Proven Techniques That Get Your Calls Returned! (Part One)

If you’re struggling to get your voice mails returned, then you’re not alone. Industry stats show that less than 10% of voice mails to new prospects are returned. Because of this, finding the right voice mail message, and knowing a few proven techniques, can be the key to not only making contact with those hard to reach sales leads, but also in developing relationships and getting new accounts.

Here are five proven techniques that give you the best chance of getting your voice mail messages returned:

Proven Technique Number One: Don’t even leave a voice message! Sounds strange, huh? Well the truth is the best technique to follow when trying to reach a prospect for the first time is to persevere and call five or seven or even ten times first before leaving a message. Your goal is to catch them picking up the phone and having a conversation rather than leaving multiple unreturned voice mails.

Try calling at different times in the day, and even several times on Friday. Fridays are the most relaxed days and most people are getting ready for the weekend instead of gearing up for the week. The worst day to leave a voice mail? Monday.

One caveat: For those of you who are worried that when you do finally catch someone who picks up the phone and is upset that you didn’t leave a message (yet they saw you called several times), be prepared with a good script! Something like: “I didn’t want to bother you with several voice mail messages, so I decided to just try to catch you instead. Anyway, I’m glad I did….”

Persevering in this way is the best way to actually get someone on the phone and because most sales reps won’t do it, you’re going to be way ahead if you do.

Proven Technique Number Two: You must script out an effective voice mail message in advance. Nothing will get your message deleted faster than the sound of an unprepared and unprofessional message filled with um’s and uh’s.

As soon as a busy prospect hears that kind of message, especially from someone they do not know (and from a sales person on top of that!), they automatically reach for the delete button. Don’t you?

In addition, you want to make sure your scripted voice mail has these three elements:
1) Put the focus on your prospect – NOT on your product or service.
2) Don’t ever say, “I’d like to take some time to learn more about you…”
3) Leave your number SLOWLY and twice.

As you’ll see in the following examples, most sales reps leave a message that is all about them – this never works. Second, sometimes they think that by wanting to “learn more about how you handle..” they think that they are putting the prospect first. WRONG. All the prospect is thinking is they don’t want to take valuable time to educate you so you can sell them.

And three, the worst technique of all is leaving your phone number so quickly that you force your prospect to replay your message over and over again just to get your phone number. Yeah, right, like anybody is going to do that…

Here is an example of what to do and what not to do:

Proven Technique Number Three: Turn a bad VM message into an effective one:

The WRONG way to leave a VM (and unfortunately, how most people do it):

“Hi this is (Your Name) with (Your Company), and we offer shipping supplies and packaging for all your shipping needs. The reason I’m calling is to learn a little more about your business and to find out more about your shipping needs and see if we can save you some money. If you would call me back at (888) 555-1234 that would be great. Look forward to hearing from you soon.”

This message checks all the “do not do” boxes I’ve listed in technique number two. It’s all about the caller; it wants to take time from the prospect so they can “pitch” more, and the number was only left once.

Here is the RIGHT VM to leave:

“Hi (Prospect’s name) this is (Your Name) with (Your Company). We offer discounted shipping supplies and packaging, and if you’re like most companies we work with, then you’re probably paying too much! Our clients save between 10 to 15% each month and get better service guaranteed. To find out how much you can save, just give me a call at (SLOWLY Leave Your Phone Number.)

Once again, my name is (Your Name), and my toll free number is: (Leave Number Slowly Again). If I don’t hear back from you in the next couple of days, I’ll reach out to you again. If you’d prefer to be taken off our list, or if you’d prefer to get some information by email, just give me a ring and leave me a message. Talk to you soon!”

This VM is effective because first of all it is focused on the prospect and what’s in it for them (10 – 15% savings). The phone number was left two times slowly. But the magic technique was:

You gave your prospect a way out! You let them know that they can simply call you back, leave you a message (so they won’t have to speak with you nor be pitched when they call), and they can remove themselves from being called by you again if they aren’t interested! This is good for you, too, as you won’t waste your time with uninterested prospects.

One note: If you find the above message too long, then edit it! Script your VM the way you like it and then use it consistently. In fact, spend some time now reworking your existing voice mail message so that conforms to the rules above.

Techniques number four and five will be revealed in next week’s article!

Expert Interview Series: Mike Brooks of Mr. Inside Sales on Improving Sales Performance

Tell us about your leadership philosophy?

Lead by example has always been my guiding philosophy. If you want your team to arrive early and stay late, then you’d better be doing the same thing. If you want your team to follow a sales script, then you’d better lead the way. In fact, if you want your sales team to sell using a defined sales process, then pick up the phone and demonstrate how to do that.

People will always follow what they see. A great coach once said to his players: “I don’t hear what you say – I hear what you do.”

What leaders have taught you the most important lesson/lessons so far in your career?

My first sales manager, my brother Peter Brooks, taught me some of the most important lessons in sales, such as: Listen and Think B-4 Responding. He taught me to use my MUTE button so I didn’t talk over others. He taught me to treat others just as they are – as people.

My next mentor, Stan Billue, taught me to put in the time to be the best. To always do what others were not willing to do so I could enjoy the things that others would not be able to enjoy because they weren’t willing to work for it.

Finally, Bob Mowad, of The Edge Learning Institute, taught me to visualize the end result of what I wanted in any situation. He taught me the power of imagination and of the law of attraction. And it works!

Click here to read the rest of this article.

 

Features and Benefits versus Knowing How to Sell

I had a landscaper install a new sprinkler system the other day, and as we stood under the warming sun waiting for his crew to set up he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a sales trainer (this is the easiest answer as for some reason as soon as I add “inside sales” to anyone out of the industry, they have no idea what I’m talking about).

He immediately made the mistake that most companies and managers and even sales reps make when he next said, “Product knowledge is what it’s all about. You have to know your products.”

When I corrected him by saying product knowledge takes second place to qualifying a prospect and discovering unique buying motives, he seemed genuinely confused. I explained:

“Most companies spend hours, days and even weeks training their sales reps on each product and service, and then about a day (or a couple of hours) on how to sell them. This results in a knowledgeable sales team that is quick to list features and benefits until the cows come home. This creates a lot of conversations, but not a lot of sales.”

“What should they be doing?” he asked.

And that’s when I asked him how he would go about selling me a pencil.

He thought about it for a while and then launched into – you bet – a list of features and benefits about a pencil.

I let him go on for a while until he was out of ideas (you can only talk about the color yellow and the use of an eraser for so long), and then I asked him: “What if I don’t even use pencils?”

That stumped him.

And that’s the whole point. Most sales reps sell just like he does: leading with features and benefits sure that if they just say the right one or ones, in the right order or combination, then prospects will eventually see some value and say, “Ah! I’ve got to have that! Thank you so much for calling!”

As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working out for you?”

The proper way to sell a pencil – and your product or service – is to first qualify for need and unique buying motives, and then match up the appropriate features and benefits to fit those defined needs.

So using the “how to sell a pencil” analogy, it doesn’t begin by pitching the attributes of a pencil, rather, it starts by uncovering the need for one (or for a thousand). It begins with a series of questions like:

“How do you use pencils in your facilities?”

“How many pencils do you go through in a month? A year?”

“Who orders the pencils?”

“What’s important to you in a pencil?”

“How many pencils do you usually order at a time?”

“Where do you get your pencils from now?”

“Why do you get them there?”

“When was the last time you compared suppliers of pencils?”

“If you were to change suppliers, what would be important for you in the next vendor?”

“Besides yourself, who makes the decision to order pencils?”

“How about in your other facilities?”

And on and on… Now, I can just hear some of you thinking, “But Mike, a prospect isn’t going to sit still for all these questions!” Well, maybe yes, maybe no. I’ll tell you now, non-buyers won’t sit still, but most buyers will. And that’s a clue as to who might buy from you and who won’t.

The bottom line is that you can’t sell without knowing if there is a need and interest. And if you get some of the answers above, then you’ll know exactly how to pitch and how to sell.

If you don’t, you’ll just go through your list of features and benefits and when you get to the end, you’ll cross your fingers and hope someone buys.

I don’t know about you – but that’s a horrible way to make your way through life in sales.

How to Build Instant Rapport with “C” Level Executives

I was asked by a client to make some cold calls into an upper “C” level suite to set appointments for his outside sales team, to show the inside team how it’s done. His inside team first of all had trouble getting these busy people on the phone, and then getting past the first paragraph of their script before getting cut off.

I had listened to these calls and immediately recognized the problem: the reps weren’t taking the time to immediately assess the prospect’s mood and connect with them, therefore they were coming off like sales reps — and the executives who they did reach weren’t having any of that…

If you call into the upper “C” suites, here is what I did (and you should be doing) to connect with and give yourself a chance to have a conversation with them.

1) First of all, before you leave a voice mail, try calling three to five times to try and reach them first. Vary the times of your calls, and on same day and on different days, to see if you can reach them.

I have done this for many years and it’s amazing how lucky you’ll get if you just persevere.

2) When you do get them on the phone, immediately assess their style of communication by how they answer the phone. Are they in a hurry? Are they a driver? Or, are they laid back? Relaxed and at lunch?

It’s crucial that you match their pacing and their energy or else you’ll just telegraph that you’re a sales rep who is going to waste their time.

For example: When one COO answered the phone, he was short and somewhat demanding. I immediately said: “John, thanks for picking up the phone, I’ll make this brief…” Then I went into a two sentence value statement and asked him a question. He was appreciative that I didn’t begin reading a sales pitch at him and gave me a considered answer to my question.

3) This is important: If you find someone who seems somewhat laid back or at least not in a hurry to bite your head off, then connect with him by talking about something else – briefly – before you pitch him.

For example, I called into a company and the hold music was the rock song, “Sweet Home Alabama.” When the prospect picked up the phone, I immediately complimented him on the hold music and asked him if that was his personal choice. He said it came with the phone system and we talked about the song briefly. Only after that did I tell him who I was and begin my pitch.

This technique also works well with subjects like the weather (is it hailing there, too?), and the day of the week “I hope Monday is treating you O.K.” or “I don’t know about you, but I’m happy it’s Friday…”

By the way, it’s always best to lead off with these kinds of rapport building techniques before you announce your name and company name. If you announce first, then you’ve put the “salesman” target on your forehead and it’s too late. But the key is you must have the right personality to do this with. If you try this with a driver, your call will end right there…

4) Be absolutely prepared to overcome the “I wouldn’t be interested,” blow off. You must have an effective comeback to that blow off memorized and be ready to rapid fire it off, because if you get that from a “C” level exec, then you’ve got a nano-second to recover.

I like something along the lines of: “That’s fine and I’m not trying to sell you something today. Instead, I think I have an alternative solution for you r (XYZ), and just want to find the best way to show it to you – believe me, you’ll be happy you learned about it…”

5) “Briefly” is a word that gives you the best shot of giving your next couple of sentences. Try: “_________, thanks for taking the call, briefly, what I’m calling you about is….” And then make it BRIEF. Get to a question quickly to either engage your prospect or give him the chance to tell you he’s still not interested or he’s not the right guy/gal, etc..

The point is to engage your prospect – not talk at them.

6) Let your prospect talk! After you’ve got your two sentences in (better make them good!), it’s time to let your “C” level executive talk. DON’T interrupt. Hit your Mute button. These guys and gals are used to talking and to having people listen. If you do that, you’ll gain their respect and they’ll give you a chance to speak when it’s your turn (usually).

The point of all these tips is that you have to connect with your “C” level exec and meet them on their level. You can’t just go into your pitch at your own speed and expect them to politely listen. They won’t.

But if you follow the above techniques, you’ll at least separate yourself from all your competition who is calling them, and you’ll have the best chance of actually connecting with them and having a chance to get your value statement across.

How to Overcome the “We are Handling That In House”

If you are trying to set appointments for an outside sales team, or even if you’re trying to generate leads so you can do an over the phone demo later, then you know all about put offs and stalls. While I’ve previously discussed the common ones like, “I’m not interested,” and “Just email me something,” there others that are somewhat harder to overcome…

One of the more frequently encountered objections is “We handle that in house so we don’t need you.”

Many sales reps are taught the normal, “old school” approaches of things like:

“That’s fine, but when was the last time you did an apples to apples comparison to what it might run you if you outsourced that?”

OR

“But if I could show you a way to save money, then surely you’d want to know more about it, wouldn’t you?”

While either of these responses can be used effectively in the right situation, there is a better way to handle this objection. What you want to do is offer value in your visit or demo, and then leave it up to your prospect to decide if it’s worth taking your call or visit any further after you have.

Try the following rebuttal (obviously, customize this to your particular service or product):

Objection: “We handle that in house.”

“That’s fine – glad you have a way that’s working for you now. Here’s what I’d recommend you do though: I’d be happy to drop by and show you how we’d go about taking care of that for you, and what our processes would look like.

At the end you may still choose to keep doing it the way you are, but at least you’d have a different perspective on it and you may even find some ways to save money or time. The visit wouldn’t take long and everyone we visit with finds a benefit.

What’s a good time for you next week…”

As you can see here, you’re not pitching necessarily, instead you’re offering to enlighten them as to a better way. What they do after that is up to them.

Try using this for the next couple of weeks and see if you can get past prospect’s natural resistance to setting up a meeting. If you use it consistently, you’re going to set more appointments, open more doors and close more sales.

In Sales The Most Important Thing to Say is….

I know, it’s a catchy and kind of a trick title, isn’t it?

And when I ask audiences what they think it is, they guess things like:

“Asking for the sale!”

“When would the customer like delivery?”

“How many units do they want?”

Things like that. All these are good guesses – they are all closing questions and these are arguably the most important things to say, but the number one most important thing to say is…

Nothing.

That’s right, remaining silent after asking a qualifying question or using a tie down or a trial close, or – and this is especially difficult for most sales reps – when the prospect gives an objection (because a prospect will often explain his or her reasoning), and so remaining silent at these moments actually is your most powerful tool.

The reason for this is that your prospect or customer has all the answers as to why they’ll buy or not buy, as to what you need to say to steer them towards the close, and to what objections or obstacles you need to overcome – and how to overcome them.

The problem for 90%+ of sales people is that they want to talk instead of suffer through what they interpret as an uncomfortable silence. But it is just this silence that will always encourage your prospect to reveal more, and the more they reveal the more insight and leverage you’ll have to close the sale.

So how can you get good at not saying anything? Simple: use your mute button. For most reps, the mute button is something they seldom use (do you even know where yours is?), and if they do occasionally use it, it’s to put a prospect on hold to get some information or look something up.

But for top sales producers, the mute button is the most powerful button on the phone. Here’s how to use it:

#1: First of all, locate it, start practicing using it – you know, get comfortable with the time delay (if any) between when you turn it on and turn it off. Reassure yourself that there is no ‘clicking’ noise and that it is absolutely seamless.

#2: Know when to use it. This is simple, actually. Whenever you ask a question of a prospect, hit your mute button. DO NOT unmute yourself until your prospect is done with his/her thought and done speaking.

In fact, put a two to three second delay between when you think they are done and when you unmute. This is crucial…

Special Tip Here: Contrary to what you think, your prospect does not need to hear your ‘um’s’ and ‘uh’s’ to evidence you’re listening. The more absolute quiet there is, the more comfortable they’ll feel – and the more they will talk.

#3: Get in the habit of encouraging them to talk even more by unmuting yourself (after they are done) and asking, “Oh?” or “What else?” or “What do you mean exactly?” Then mute yourself again and let them answer.

#4: Take notes while they talk. Write down any words or phrases they say and make it a point to feed these back to them later in the conversation. This will show them you are actively listening, and they will be more receptive to common words and phrases they use often.

#5: The mute button is good for prospecting calls as well! Don’t just use it during the close. In fact, your tip is that whenever your prospect is talking, you need to be on mute.

The treasure of information you’ll get by listening and not interrupting is beyond valuable. Not only will you get the exact reasons and motives needed to close the sale (or objections to avoid or overcome), but you’ll get something else just as valuable: You’ll gain trust and confidence.

Everyone loves to be heard; loves to be listened to. Most sales people are distrusted and disliked because they are pushy and make it seem as if it’s all about them. You can immediately reverse this by becoming a great listener.

Quick last story: Just the other day I was speaking with a new prospect and, employing the mute button, the call went for an hour and forty minutes. The prospect probably talked for an hour and fifteen minutes of that time.

When the call finally ended, he told me how much he enjoyed the conversation and how much he was looking forward to the next call. And all I did was ask pointed questions and then listened while on mute…

So there you have it: the most important thing to say in sales is…..nothing!

Asking for Help is a Great Way to Get Information

Everyone loves to be helpful. Because of this, you have a great opportunity to learn more about your prospects and clients if you learn how to ask the right questions at the right times.

Here are some examples of how asking for help, at the right time, can give you a treasure trove of useful information you can use to position your product or service to the right person.

When prospecting, if you don’t know the person or department you need to speak with, there is no better opening then:

“Hi, I need a little bit of help please…”

Now the crucial thing here is not to then ask a question. Instead, what’s important is that you actually wait for the other person to offer to help you first. As soon as they say, “What do you need?” or “I can help you,” that’s when you reply with something like:

“Thanks. I’m looking for the person who handles your lead generation, who would that be please?”

If they don’t know the name, then be prepared with:

“Perhaps you could point me to the right department then?”

Asking for help in this way is also useful when you ask for someone and they aren’t there any longer. Also, it’s great for when you do reach someone and they turn out to be the wrong contact. When that happens use:

“Oh I see. Perhaps you can help then. Who would be the best person to speak with…”

OR

“I see. Can you point me in the right direction please?”

OR

“O.K., perhaps you can help me: who would be the best person for me to speak with in terms of ordering your XYZ supplies?”

These techniques are great for finding the right person or department to speak with. But the power of this technique goes far beyond that. Use the following types of “help” questions once you do reach the appropriate prospect:

“Perhaps you can help me understand how you handle your XYZ process. How do you get involved in that?”

AND

“__________, we have a lot of solutions that may be a fit, but I don’t want to bombard you. Perhaps you can help give me a brief understanding of who handles what, and then I’ll be able to know who would be the best person for some of this. Let’s start with you – what do take care of there?”

AND

“_________, could you help me understand how this flows at your company? Who handles XYZ…?”

AND

“_________, help me understand how the decision process works over there. How do you get involved?”

AND

“__________, I need a little bit of help to understand your org chart – who do you report to?”

AND

“Perhaps you can help me: I’m sure you’ve got a lot of people handling different things, let’s start with the part of the process you handle: what is that?”

Layer with:

“And who handles the other parts?”

As you can see, there are a lot of applications for the “I need a little bit of help, please” technique. Now a word of caution: don’t underestimate how powerful this is. While it seems simple, it is actually a very effective technique if used appropriately.

When asking for help, genuinely mean it. Use your voice inflection and timing. Remember to always wait for them to offer to help you!

If you master this technique you’ll find that you won’t have to work so hard to find things out. People, because they sincerely want to help, will help you – if you ask.