Better Selling in Under 5 Minutes: “How to Handle the ‘I need to speak to someone’ stall.”

Welcome to our new video series: “Better Selling in Under 5 Minutes.”  We’re launching this series today to help inside sales reps and teams handle selling situations more effectively.  Today’s topic is, “How to Handle the ‘I need to speak to someone’ stall.”  If you like the video, please pass it on to other sales reps who can benefit from it.

Please click on the YouTube link to watch.

https://youtu.be/ZWtZyf_3bl0

All the best and happy selling!

Mr. Inside Sales

 

How to Apply For and Get a Better Paying Job (Part One)

According to a PNC survey, almost two-thirds of millionaires say their wealth is largely attributable to their jobs. Furthermore, these six figure earners are much better at applying for and landing better paying jobs and are far more inclined to negotiate better salaries and over all commission plans than their peers (says a study by PayScale.com). In contrast, nearly 60% of their competition (all U.S. workers, in fact) simply settle for the first offer they get.

So what are their secrets? How do these top earners go about applying for, interviewing at and landing these better jobs? The good news is that, as always, success leaves clues, and by simply following some of their tried and true strategies, you, too, can begin applying for and landing not only better paying jobs, but also better positions at those jobs.

Now don’t be worried if you’re not a six figure earner – yet. By following the strategies and techniques below, you can begin making yourself more valuable at your current job, and more marketable to your next employer as well. In fact, if you are in the job market right now, using these proven tips will move your resume to the top of the list and get you an interview above everyone else who is applying.

How can I be so sure of this? Because my experience in hiring tells me so. Over the last 30 years, I have reviewed thousands of resumes of potential inside sales reps, admin support people, marketing people, etc. And as a consultant, I’ve worked with my client’s hiring managers, recruiters, HR Directors, V.P.’s of sales, sales managers, etc., helping them vet and interview thousands of more candidates. I can look at a resume for one minute and tell you whether a company would be interested in speaking with you or not.

And after all that experience, sadly, I can tell you now that we (myself, hiring managers, etc.) throw away about 95% of all resumes received for an inside sales position. Ninety five percent! That’s a horrendous statistic, and it just shows how unprepared (or uninterested) most sales reps are about applying for and getting a new job. It tells me that the majority of job seekers carelessly put together their resume, and then rapid fire it out to as many potential jobs as are advertising. It’s the shotgun approach to landing a job. And it does not work.

Lucky for you that with just a little bit of time and effort ahead of time, you can create a cover letter and resume that will make hiring managers anxious to call and meet with you. By just putting in a little bit of work before you attach or upload your resume to a job posting, you can all but be assured that you’ll be sitting in front of the hiring manager for the job you’d really like to get.

Moreover, if you follow some of the other tips you’ll read in this Special Report, you’ll also be able to negotiate things like a signing bonus, a performance bonus, higher salary and/or commission schedule. And, with just a little bit of planning, you can even begin applying to and landing positions in management. And all of this will mean more money, more prestige, and more opportunity in your future.

In the following Special Report, I will walk you through, step by step, the ways that you can:

1) Write a cover letter that will separate you from 90% of the resumes a company gets.
2) Easily develop a resume that will put you into the top 1% of what a company is looking for – and ensure that you get interviewed first.
3) How to make yourself more valuable to your current company, as well as future employers as well.
4) How to ask for and get higher positions in management and so make more money.
5) How to get the largest starting pay – including asking for and getting a signing bonus.
6) How to negotiate for salary and bonus reviews which will keep your earnings going even higher.

You can apply for and get a better paying job, but you must know how to do it first. In next week’s Ezine, I will teach you the secrets of crafting a simple, yet powerful, cover letter that will immediately separate you from the hundreds of other resumes a hiring manager receives each week.

This tip alone will move you, and your resume, above the competition applying for the job you want!

How to Turn Cold Leads into Warm Leads

Staring at a list of cold names you have to call can be discouraging. Calling those names and leaving voice mails that never get returned is also discouraging. And finally reaching someone only to be quickly blown off can be downright heart breaking! Don’t you wish there was a way to turn cold names into warm leads?

There is!

It’s called a “touch point plan,” and it’s very effective if done right. A touch point plan is simply a combination of carefully scripted voice messages and emails used in combination over a period of time. How many messages and over what period of time is variable, and I’ve seen some studies recommend as many as six phone calls and five emails over a month’s time.

I’ve been successfully using a bit less – five to seven total messages – but I supplement this strategy by making calls in between trying to “catch” the prospect picking up their phone. If they don’t answer, I don’t leave a voice mail.

What type of a touch point plan you decide to develop (how many calls and emails) can depend on many factors such as whether it’s a business to business call – and what your target prospect’s title is – or whether it’s a business to consumer call and what hours you’re calling. You’ll find what your sweet spot is if you just experiment a bit.

The bottom line, though, is that the more times you reach out to a prospect, the more likely it is they will become familiar with you and your company. Many prospects will respect your professional and persistent attempts to reach them. Because of this, when you finally do reach a prospect you’ll have built some recognition and credibility, and your prospect will be more motivated to give you a bit of their time.

This is how you turn a cold lead into a warm lead.

Below I’ve listed a sample touch point plan that involves two voice messages and three emails. I first make about a week of calls without leaving a voice mail (assuming I don’t reach the prospect), and then I spread the following touch point plan out over two weeks.

If I haven’t gotten a response or reached anyone after the touch point plan, I then spend the fourth week calling again without leaving a message. I’ve had A LOT of success with this plan and at the end of the four week process, I’ve generally reached those prospects who are reachable.

Here is a sample touch point plan, with generic wording, that you can customize to fit your company and product or service:

Voice Mail #1:

Hi _________, this is (Your Full Name) with (Your Company).

_________, I’m calling about (Your brief value prop – example: “the effectiveness of your online marketing”).

I wanted to briefly introduce you to a way to save as much as 25% over what you may be spending now, and still maintain or even increase the effectiveness of your results.

If you would give me a quick call back at: (Your Number) we can set a time to speak.

Once again the name is (Your Full Name), with (Your Company Name) and the number is (Your Number Slowly).

I’ll follow this up with an email and another call to you if I don’t hear back. Have a good day.

Email #1 (To be sent right after you leave your first voice mail):

Subject Line: (First Name), I just left you a vm

Body of email:

{first name},

This is (Your Full Name) with (Your Company), sorry I missed you.

I understand that you’re in charge of your online marketing and I wanted to set up a time to briefly speak with you later this week. (If you are not in charge of the advertising, please forward this to the person who is).

We have a new way of maximizing your online advertising spend that reduces what your current budget, yet it also reaches more of the customers that fit your ideal demographic. (Obviously, insert your value prop here). Our model is so effective that you can literally save up to 25% over what you’re spending now!

I’d like to schedule a brief conversation to explain how this would work with your company, and I guarantee you’ll at least come away with a whole new way of looking at your online marketing.

If you would reach back out to me with a couple of days/times that might work that would be great.

If I don’t hear back, I’ll reach out to you again next week.

Looking forward to connecting with you.

(Your Name and Company Signature)

Voice Mail #2: (Three to four days later)

Hi _________, this is (Your Full Name) once again with (Your Company). My number is (Leave your number slowly).

_________ you probably received a voice mail from me already, and I also sent you an email along with a brief description of how we save companies up to 25% on their online advertising, while in many cases increasing their results. (Your value prop goes here)

I’d like to spend a few minutes on the phone with you next week, and I guarantee that it will be worth your time.

If you would give me a quick call back to let me know a day and time that would work for you that would be appreciated. My direct phone number again is: (Your Phone Number).

I’ll follow up again with you if I don’t hear back. Have a great day.

Email #2: (Send this email one to two days after your second voice mail)
Attachment: (Include an online brochure of your company and services)

Subject Line: (First Name), second attempt to reach you

{first name},

This is (Your Full Name) with (Your Company Name) once again.

I hope you’ve received my messages, and today I wanted to include some information on our company and a brief description of what we do.

As I mentioned earlier, we help companies reduce their spend on their online advertising by as much as 25% while maintaining or even increasing their results. (Your value prop here).

I’m sure that when you compare what we do to what you’re doing now, you’ll want to know more.

I’d simply like a few minutes to see if what we do would be a good fit for you. Once we speak, I guarantee you’ll come away with some good ideas, regardless of what you’re doing now…

I’ll give you a call in a few days after you’ve digested the attached information.

Or, you can reach back out to me to let me know your interest level.

(Your Name and Company Signature)

Voice Mail #3: (Final V/M – send three to four days after 2nd email)

Hi _________, this is (Your Full Name) with (Your Company) again.

I’m sorry we haven’t been able to connect yet. As you may know, we offer a unique way of increasing the effectiveness of your online marketing, while reducing what you’re currently spending by as much as 25%. (Your value prop here)

You may be involved in another initiative right now, so I don’t want to bother you if you’re busy or if you’re not interested.

When you get this message, could you either call back and leave me a voice mail or just respond to one of the emails I’ve sent you?

Just let me know what the next appropriate step would be for us to connect.

You can reach me by calling (Your Number Slowly), or you can email me at: (Your Email Address)

I really appreciate you taking the time to get back with me.

Thanks and have a great day…

Once you’ve customized and tested the voice mails and emails in this touch point plan, you’ll know whether you need to add another one or two messages. Just test a variation of plans and see what the best results are for you. And don’t forget to add in calls the week before and after the plan as well!

The most important part of a successful touch point plan is to consistently use one. Most sales reps fail to reach back out to prospects (both inbound and outbound leads), and many just make one attempt and then move on. The way to double or even triple your sales and income is to be detail oriented and to persevere until you reach your prospects.

Adopting the approach above will separate you from 90% of the other sales reps in your industry and catapult your effectiveness.

How to Get Your Voice Mails Returned

When voice mail first came out, it was the hottest thing in business. Everyone anxiously checked and even responded to their voice mail no matter who was calling. It was a beautiful thing…

After a while though, prospects stopped returning voice mail and turned their attention to email. And then that pretty much dried up, too.

Today, sales reps are asking if it’s even worth it to leave a voice mail, and I’m here to tell you that you CAN get effective results from voice mails IF you follow a few proven rules.

[Register Now for Mike’s All New Webinar: “5 Proven Techniques That Get Your Calls Returned” this Thursday, September 15th, at Noon Pacific / 3PM Eastern]

There are two strategies that will set your voice mails apart and give them the best chance of being returned. The first is to combine a set number of voice mails with a set number of dedicated emails to form a “touch point” plan that keeps you in front of a prospect for a specific length of time.

Studies have shown that repeated attempts to reach new contacts is crucial in not only creating a brand awareness, but also in increasing the odds of that prospect reaching back out to you. In addition, by making repeated attempts and leaving your contact information, you create a familiarity with that prospect so when you do finally connect, the conversation is more “warm” than “cold.” How long should this touch point plan or campaign be? Studies differ, but the best strategy tends to run from 22 days to a month.

When you compare that to how many messages – both voice mails and emails – you may be sending out now, your low contact rates may be the direct result of not enough attempts to contact your prospects. If you’re interested in learning exactly how to develop that touch point plan, make sure and sign up to my ezine as I’ll be publishing an article on how to do just that in the next week.

The other strategy is to leave a carefully crafted stand alone voice mail that follows some specific rules. I will be covering what those specific rules are in my upcoming Webinar, “5 Proven Techniques That Get Your Calls Returned” on Thursday (Register Here). Here are some of the important points and what we’ll cover in the Webinar:

1) First you need to know whether you should even leave a voice mail or not? Believe it or not, there are some best practices regarding this…
2) The next thing you need to do is use a script and stop with the um’s and uh’s. Furthermore, the right script will ensure that your voice mail is compelling. “What’s in it for them, etc.? Whatever you do, don’t say.
3) Stop making the one mistake 99% of people make that almost guarantee that a voice mail is not returned. In our free webinar, you’ll find out what that is!
4) Make sure and use the one technique that will motivate your prospect to pick up the phone and call you.
5) Sometimes leaving a voice mail might NOT be a good idea. You should make sure you’re familiar with the alternatives…

If you want to know the 5 Proven Techniques That Get Your Calls Returned, then… Register Now for Mike’s All New Webinar: “5 Proven Techniques That Get Your Calls Returned” this Thursday, September 15th, at Noon Pacific / 3PM Eastern.

The Proper Way to Set a Call Back

Not all sales close on the first – or even second or third, etc. – closing call. Because of that, it’s often necessary to set a call back to continue the conversation. Like most parts of a sale, the call back is one of those recurring situations that you, or your sales team, will find yourself in countless times a day or week.

Because of this, it’s important that you develop and then script out a best practice approach to handle it effectively. Unfortunately, many sales reps have never given the call back (or very many other parts of their sale) much thought. Instead, they adlib it and so develop ineffective and bad habits.

Some of these include:

“Ah, when should I follow up with you?”

This is obviously a weak set up and gives all control of the call – and the ensuing sales cycle – over to the prospect. As strange as it may sound, this is how over 50% of sales reps handle the call back.

Another ineffective approach:

“When will you be speaking with ________? O.K., would it be alright if I followed up after that?”

Again, this is a weak approach and gives all control to the prospect.

While there are some instances when you need to find out what the next step is, (i.e. talking to a partner, meeting with a committee, etc.), what’s important is that you, the sales rep, take control of the call back timeframe AND get commitment from your prospect.

Here are some examples of the proper way to set a call back:

“__________, in terms of talking to your partner, what time today can you do that?”

Sometimes it’s better to assume they can and will be speaking with the other person that same day. This works best in a small company or in a business to consumer sale. If you know it’s going to be later in the week or another time, then change the script accordingly. Try:

“__________, when is the soonest you’ll be speaking with them?”

By doing it the first way, you’ll either be setting or confirming the time frame and controlling the call back. If they can’t do it that day, then they’ll come back with a more definite day and time and that will keep you in tighter control of the sales cycle. After they let you know, say:

“O.K., great. I’m looking at my calendar for that day – what’s better for you on that Tuesday – morning or afternoon?”

Now you’re locking down not only the day, but also the time. You’re getting them involved and having them check their schedule. Once again, YOU are controlling the call back, and by doing it this way you’re not letting a lot of time pass between when they speak to their partner and when you next speak again.

If there are a lot of decision makers involved, or if it’s going to be a longer process, then you should schedule a “progress call” to access their level of interest and to keep yourself in the loop.

Try:

“I understand you’ve got several people involved in this and that you’re talking to other vendors. Here’s what I’d suggest: since you’re likely to have some questions come up between our next call, how about I reach out to you in (one week; two weeks, whatever is appropriate) just to see if there is anything I can answer for you.

“I’ve got my calendar in front of me – how does (suggest a day and time) look for you?”

Once again, you are driving the sales cycle and the call back. This is crucial to keep you top of mind and to allow you to head off any problems that might come up during the decision process.

And another:

“I’ll go ahead and send you the information we just talked about, and then I’ll schedule you for a call back next Tuesday. Do you have your calendar handy?”

Noticing a trend? Once again, I’m in control of the call back time frame. And don’t worry – if that’s not O.K. with them, they’ll suggest another day/time that is. Setting a call back like this keeps the sale moving forward and keeps them from “falling through the cracks.”

Now what happens if they want to call you back and won’t allow you to set the call back? Two things: One is that this isn’t a good sign. It means they want to control the sales cycle (which is never good), and, number two, it can also mean there is an objection that is standing in the way of the sale.

When this happens, you should try to move the call back date out just a little further and still try to control when you get to call back. Try:

“I understand. What’s the timeline for this?”

Qualify for timeline first. Then:

“Tell you what: If I don’t hear from you in the next (30 days – whatever is appropriate), then I’ll get in touch with you to see if there are any questions. What do you prefer, mornings or afternoons?”

Once again, you’re in control of the call back, and you’ve got a definite time frame and time of day to call back.

The bottom line with the call back call is to keep control of when it happens. Never leave it up to your prospect. Try to lock down the soonest date after any “event” that is going to happen, like them speaking to a partner, etc. Next, get them involved by having them check their calendar and identify a time of day. Try to get their buy in on that day.

By getting better at directing the sales cycle, you’ll get closer to making deals happen. Make it a point to get good at this – and all other – parts of the sale. As you do, you’ll move closer to becoming a top producer in your company and then in your industry.

Top Characteristic Part Ten: Invest Daily in Your Attitude

Now that you have resigned from the company club, you can use that time and energy to do the one thing that will have the most impact on your performance and your life: Find ways to build up your attitude on daily basis.

Before we get in to some ways to do that, let me emphasize the importance of investing time and energy every day to improving, strengthening and elevating your attitude. The “every day” part is the key. Think about it:

How many times a day do you eat? If you’re like most people, then you probably eat three times a day and have some snacks in between. Now let me ask you: If you skipped breakfast, how would you be feeling by, say, 11am? Cranky? Hungry? Unable to concentrate much?

How about if you also skipped lunch that day? How would you be feeling around, say, 3:30pm? Would you be ready for that big presentation? Or that meeting with your sales manager or boss?

O.K., now let’s say you got home by 6pm and you didn’t eat anything all day. How would you be around your wife and kids? (Or roommate or girl/boyfriend?) Would you want to be around you?

Now imagine going two days without food. Try three. I think we could all agree you’d be pretty much worthless by then (if not way before!).

The reason I bring this up is that your mind, your attitude, needs feeding just like your body does. If you don’t make a concerted effort to feed it regularly, then it, too, will get sluggish and worthless. If you don’t spend active time feeding your mind, feeding your attitude positive material, then you will be more susceptible to negativity, more susceptible to members of the club, and each time you have a bad outcome – client doesn’t reload, new prospect doesn’t buy, you don’t make your lead numbers – you’ll get more and more discouraged.

And if you let that happen, then you’ll begin searching for reasons why you won’t succeed. And if you let that continue, you’ll find them or you’ll make them up…

Top producers always spend time consciously feeding their minds positive stories and positive examples and cultivating a “can do,” positive attitude. They spend time taking in other positive thinker’s ideas and strategies, and they purposefully employ those strategies in their lives. They are constantly listening to audio books, or reading (or re-reading) books on how to get better and do better. Many top performers also spend time with affirmations and visualizations along linked to purposeful and motivating goal setting.

And all this pays off. Those producers who are in the habit of developing a vision, and who dedicate themselves to achieving it – no matter what – those are the top producers, the top athletes, and other top performers who always out perform their competition.

But it all starts by making a commitment to developing, feeding and cultivating a positive, can do attitude. And the key, again, is to do this daily (several times a day, actually).

So how do you get into the habit of doing this? A good start is to find the medium that works best for you. If you are a reader, then get some books that resonate with you and commit to reading a certain amount of pages each day.

If you prefer audio books, then get those books on MP3 and listen to them on the way to and from work or when you get home, or at the gym, or when you’re walking the dog.

One resource I still work with today are subliminal recordings. Subliminal recordings are great because they speak right to your subconscious mind which runs just about everything in your life. I listen to recordings either during meditation or during relaxation sessions. I also use them to go to sleep with sometimes. A great resource for these can be found here.

Another good thing to do is to pick up a few books or audio programs on setting goals. Just listing what it is you’re going to accomplish this year (or what’s left of it) can be highly motivating by itself. As soon as you define your vision, you’ll find that you begin to automatically feel more positive and motivated. When setting goals, just remember:

Whatever you want to have or achieve is possible. Other people around the world are having and achieving the very thing that lives in your heart. If they can have it and do it, so can you! But you’ll need to work for it first. You’ll probably need to rearrange your consciousness so that it can fit a new expectation of what you believe is possible. And this is where affirmations are useful.

Affirmations are simply statements or images that you feed yourself, thoughts and emotions that you tend to dwell on all the time. Everybody uses affirmations – you’re using them right now. The problem is that most people are using the wrong affirmations and getting the things they don’t want as a result.

The reason for this is that most peoples’ random self-talk is incredibly negative. That’s where affirmations come in. Affirmations are nothing more than carefully constructed words, phrases and stories that you design in advance that support the goals you’ve identified are important for you.

There are many books on this subject, and you can easily do a search and find the one(s) that speak to you.

But affirmations are key to you feeling positive about yourself and your career, and for helping you maintain the positive attitude that will enable you to persevere and succeed.

With all of the resources above: books, CD’s/MP3’s, subliminal recordings, goal setting, affirmations, etc., you’ll be able to put together a varied and full course of “food for your attitude” that you’ll be able to munch on throughout your day.

If you’re not doing this now, or have stopped, then start today. It is amazing how just a little bit of positive energy can turn around a day, a week, month and a whole life. Remember, all top producers have a positive, can do attitude. If you don’t believe me, then get around one of them – their attitude is contagious. Yours needs to be, too.

In ending this series on the Top Ten Characteristics of Top Performers, I hope you’ve seen some ideas that resonate and that you feel will work for you. Just adopting a few of these habits will have a dramatic effect on your career in sales, and on your life in general. Hopefully you’re already using some of the characteristics, and you already know how valuable they are.

Make a commitment today to put even more of them to work for yourself. I guarantee the more you use, the better you’ll feel and the better you’ll perform.

Top Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Producers (Part Nine)

These last two parts will focus on the one characteristic that is perhaps the most important of all. You’ll find this characteristic in ALL top performers, not just in top sales producers. You’ll see it in top athletes, actors, musicians, dancers, top business people, academics, etc.

All top producers have this quality in abundant amounts, and parts nine and ten will focus on how to develop, grow, protect, and maintain it within the sales arena. And here’s what it is:

“All top producers develop and maintain a
positive, can and will do, attitude.”

Top Characteristic Part Nine: In order to develop and protect your positive attitude, the first thing you need to do is resign from the company club.

What I mean by this is that you have to stay away from the group of sales people in your office who do nothing but grumble about how bad or unfair things are in your company or about how bad the economy or industry is.

You know what and who I’m talking about. You usually find them congregating in the break room or hallway or warehouse, or they are outside smoking cigarettes or waiting for the food truck. Every company has them, and they are poison for your career and your life.

This “company club” can be made up of average sales people or a mix of under producers and unhappy managers who feel they deserve more, or even above average sales people who think they should be treated better.

They grumble and talk negatively about any and everything: The leads are bad or marketing is doing a crappy job, or the good leads are being given to the top producers only. They grumble about the product, or the pricing of the product, or the warranty or durability. They grumble about their office environment, the phone system, the computers or their desks and noise level. They grumble about the commission structure or the salary or benefits, or the bonuses they did or didn’t get.

They are lazy and set a low standard and drag everyone who will let them down to their level. Instead of focusing on solutions or on making things work, they look for reasons why a new sales campaign or lead source won’t work. They are a cancer to all companies, and they are especially deadly to you and your sales attitude.

The answer? Resign from their club.

When I was a bottom 80% producer, I used to love the club. Every morning the club would meet in the kitchen to eat the free donuts or bagels the company provided. Were we grateful and thankful for the free food and coffee? No. If they gave us bagels, where was the salmon? If they brought donuts, where were the bagels?

And once we poured our coffee and started in on the free food, we’d start in on the leads, or the industry, or the company or on how the top producers always got preferential treatment. We grumbled our way through the food, grumbled our way back to our desks, and grumbled our way through lunch.

If we missed a sale, we’d reconvene in the break room to talk about how we could never sell this stuff with all the things that were wrong with it. How in the world did they expect us to be competitive if they were going to put out such trash? And the leads! On and on we would go until it was finally time to go home. And then we’d grumble to our wives or husbands…

Everything changed, though, when I made a commitment to become a top producer. Once I had, the first thing I did was resign from the company club.

Instead of commiserating with the club, I’d arrive at the office an hour early and start cold calling or closing leads I had set up the night before. When the club finally wandered in, I usually already had a deal on the board and was going for another one. I declined invitations to go to lunch with them, and instead I ate at my desk.

When the club members came over to my desk during work hours, I didn’t stop calling to talk with them. Instead, I went right on calling and working. They soon got the hint. When they tried to engage me in the breakroom, I was pleasant but told them I had to meet my call quota and wanted to get back to work. After a while, they left me alone.

What was interesting is that I noticed that the other top producers acted the same way I now did. They were the ones who also came in early and left late. They were the ones who were more focused on working than they were chatting, and if they did want to talk, it was usually to strategize a better way of closing a deal. I almost never heard them grumble or talk bad about the company or the industry or the market.

The top producers (of which group I began a part) were more interested in finding ways to succeed and exceed quota. They didn’t mind working harder, or getting help or leveraging management’s or each other’s experience. When we spoke with each other, it was usually to challenge one another to do better. We competed in a positive way to up each other’s game. We shared resources and closing techniques.

What I found is that we had our own club, but it was lightly attended because we had work to do. On those occasions when we did get together, it was to talk about better things like what neighborhood we were moving into, or whether we liked Mercedes or BMW better, or how we were setting up our retirement accounts. These were not the kinds of subjects that were ever discussed in the company club.

What I find even now as a consultant is that all the companies I work with have a company club. When I’m onsite, I can see them gathering and chit chatting. I also see the top producers at their desks working away. I’ve found that top producers are usually loners who are always working, always looking for ways to improve. At the end of my training, the company club members thank me politely and then head off to the break room to talk about what a waste of time the training was.

The top producers, however, are in the training room picking my brain for a new technique or to discuss one of the scripts or closes I’ve developed for them. They are thirsty for information and you can see the commitment on their faces. They are top producers who are always looking for a way to up their game.

So the question for you is: Are you a part of the company club in your office? If so, then resign today and start finding ways to build your attitude rather than spending your time ripping it down. And you can begin building it up by following Top Characteristic Number Ten.

Top Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Producers (Part Eight)

In Top Characteristic Part Eight, we’re going back to cold calling and qualifying to reveal an important skill all top producers possess:

Top Characteristic Part Eight: Treat all gatekeepers with courtesy and respect.

If you have to make cold or warm calls to prospects, then you probably have to deal with your share of gatekeepers. These can be receptionists, office managers, assistants, etc. No matter what role they have, whoever stands between you and your prospect is someone you have to deal with first.

Most sales people struggle to effectively deal with and get past these so called “gatekeepers.” And the majority of the time, the problems they have they bring on themselves. The reason is because most sales reps treat these people as obstacles to get past by using tricks or by acting authoritatively or by being downright rude. And you can imagine how that goes.

In addition, many sales people simply don’t understand some basic rules in regards to how to speak to gatekeepers, and so they create their own problems by giving incomplete information which just triggers the gatekeepers to do their job and keep them away from the decision maker.

Here is a common mistake:

Rep: “Oh hi, is Mr. Jones in?”

Gatekeeper: “Can I tell him who’s calling?”

Rep: “This is Bob.”

Gatekeeper: “Bob who?”

Rep: “Bob Smith.”

Gatekeeper: “With what company?

Rep: “The XYZ company.”

Gatekeeper: “Will he know what this call is regarding?”

Rep: “Ah, it’s about his (whatever the rep is selling…)”

Gatekeeper: “Has he spoken to you before?”

Rep: “Ah, no……”

Once a sales rep gets into that kind of dialogue with a gatekeeper, they will rarely win. Over and over again they will get turned away.

The way to fix all this is easy: Always give your first and last name and the company you’re calling from right away. And this is crucial: always end with an instructional statement like: “Is Bob available please.”

And by the way that’s crucial, too: always be polite and use please – two or three times.

Here’s an effective opening:

Rep: “Hi could I speak with Bob please?

Gatekeeper: “Can I tell him who’s calling?”

Rep: “Yes please, please tell him that (your first and last name) with (your company name) is holding please.”

If you do this right and with a smile in your voice, you’ll avoid 80% of the screening that you get now. Guaranteed.

In addition, if you don’t know a contact’s name, use the “I need a little bit of help, please,” technique. But always wait for them to respond before you ask for it:

Rep: “Hi, I need a little bit of help please.”

[Now pause long enough the gatekeeper to respond]

Gatekeeper: “What do you need?”

Rep: “I need to speak with the person who handles your _________. Who would that be, please?”

This is very effective if again you say it with a smile in your voice.

Last technique: Speaking of a smile, always put a BIG smile on your face right before your prospect (or gatekeeper) picks up the phone. It does wonders for how you project your attitude and opening line.

And, don’t be afraid of building a little bit of rapport with the gatekeeper as well. Ask them if they’re happy it’s Friday, or how Monday is going, or if they’re glad it’s hump day. Ask about the weather. Anything to be personable and to show them that you value them as people rather than just an obstacle to get around.

The bottom line is that top producers know how to interact with gatekeepers and know how to gain their trust and get them on their side. By using the techniques above, you can now begin doing that as well.

Top Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Producers (Part Seven)

How many times do you ask for the sale during a close? Once? Twice? The number of times you should be asking might surprise you…

Top Characteristic Part Seven: Be prepared to ask for the sale five times – or more!

Most sales reps I listen to (while reviewing their closing and presentation calls), ask for the sale once. If they are get a stall or objection, they generally go away in defeat. It’s rare that I hear someone ask for the sale more than three times. Think about that for yourself. How many times do you ask for the sale before you give up?

Years ago I was taught that the close doesn’t even begin until the prospect has said no at least five times! I was taught that in order to win the sale, I needed to show enthusiasm and confidence, and that I needed to be persistent and show that I believed in the reason the prospect should buy more than he/she believed that she shouldn’t.

Now please don’t misunderstand me here. I can just hear some of you complaining that you don’t want to be a telemarketer, you don’t want to be an obnoxious sales person, don’t want to be unprofessional or pushy. Good, because I don’t want you to be either.

But what I’m talking about is something completely different. Let me explain:

To start with, you must be working with a qualified prospect. One who has a legitimate interest in your product or service, has a need, is a decision maker, has the budget, etc. This is the first step. If you don’t have any of these things and you begin closing five times or more, then guess what? You’re going to become a pushy sales person.

But if you do have all these qualifiers in place, then you can feel confident that you’re dealing with someone who can and will benefit from your product or service. And if that’s true, then it’s up to you to present value, overcome stalls and objections, and ask for the sale five or six or even seven times or more.

You have to remember that many times a prospect is on the fence, and the only way to push them off it (and onto your side), is to be persistent and overwhelm any doubt or hesitation they have with your belief, confidence and enthusiasm. Here’s how you do it:

First, you have to have solid and proven rebuttals to all of the common stalls or objections you’re going to get. You must know these responses inside and out so you’re not put off when you get them. So many sales reps act like a deer caught in a headlight when they get an objection. Many give up as soon as they do.

You can (and must) avoid that defeated feeling be being prepared with a rebuttal that not only addresses the concern, but that then leads you back into building value. In other words, you need a way back into your pitch. You can use something as simple as:

“I totally understand how you feel – it does seem that way at first, but actually the way it works is that…”

And then continue to build value or discuss a benefit and give them a further reason to buy! And once you’ve answered the objection, you must confirm your answer with: “Do you see how that works?” (In other words, use a tie-down.)

And if you get a yes, then you ask for the order: “Then here’s what I recommend we do…”

And BOOM! You’ve just asked for the sale again! And when you then get another objection or stall, you answer it, confirm your answer and ask for the sale again!

This is the long lost art of closing the sale. You must be prepared to keep pitching, keep building value, and keep asking for sale – five, six seven or even ten times.

Now again, for any of you rolling your eyes, you obviously need to be in tuned with each prospect and if someone is getting upset or really isn’t going buy or commit right then, then you back off. Of course you can still try getting back into the close with something like:

“You know ________, I love to learn: do you mind telling me why?”

Keep trying to reopen the sale.

If you are willing to do what the other sales reps are not going to do, then I recommend you get your favorite ten or fifteen closes together to handle the five to eight common objections you always get (see Top Characteristic Number Two). Then you’ll memorize them and be ready to deliver them automatically and perfectly.

Once you do, you’ll then be able to persevere and ask for the sale over and over again. And when you do, something amazing will begin to happen: You’ll begin closing more deals. You’ll begin closing prospects who you would have given up on before. Your confidence will go up. Your weekly checks will go up.

And before you know it, you’ll have arrived.

You’ll suddenly be in the top 20% of your company, and as you revise your pitch and get better and better, you’ll move into the top 5%.

And then the top 1%.

And once you’re at the top, you’ll wonder how you ever did it any other way.

Top Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Producers (Part Six)

Top Characteristic Part Six is difficult for many sales people to develop and practice, yet it’s one of the most important of skills to cultivate. And it is:

Top Characteristic Part Six: Learn to build rapport before, during and after a sale.

While most people think that sales people have the “gift of gab” and can seemingly talk to anybody, it’s not that way at all. If you don’t believe me, just listen to a few of your own recordings or those of your teammates…

The truth is, knowing how to honestly and naturally build rapport with someone takes a lot of skill, practice and patience. Unfortunately, most sales reps are in a tremendous hurry to get their pitch out and so they treat many prospects as an obstacle to go through to get a sale.

This is a big problem.

Years ago, my first sales manager (my older brother, Peter), taught me an important lesson. As I rushed through a pitch to qualify and then tried to close people, he told me that I was missing out on the most important thing – connecting with and treating people with respect and with genuine interest.

He told me, “Michael, these are people you’re speaking with. Treat them as such and you’ll go much further than you are now.”

It took a while for me to lower my guard and overcome my fear of rejection, but as I got more successful, I began to develop a genuine interest in the people I was speaking with. Once I remembered that they had lives, responsibilities, fears and goals just like me, it made talking to them, rather than at them, so much easier.

And once I did that, it was much easier to build real rapport.

You’ve probably all heard the saying that people buy from people they like, know and trust, right? When selling over the phone, learning how to develop genuine rapport will help get someone to like, know and begin to trust you.

There are three areas that you can learn to develop rapport: before (during the initial qualifying call), during (during the close or presentation), and after (once your prospect becomes a client).

Here are some tips on how to build rapport during all three stages:

1) On the prospecting call. This is perhaps the hardest time to do this because your prospect doesn’t know anything about you other than that you’re a sales rep trying to sell them something. This is when their defenses are the highest.

The way to build rapport during this phase is to concentrate on relating with them right in the beginning – before you start pitching. You do this by asking any number of things like how the weather is (“Is it still over a 100 degrees there?”), or by asking how the new conversion or transition is going, or if they’re super busy now that it’s Monday, or if they’re relieved that it’s Friday. Find some common ground and build some rapport around it before you launch into your pitch. Your goal is to try to build a connection before you put your sales person’s hat on.

One good way to do this also is to develop a touch point plan of leaving voice mails and sending emails if you’re not able to reach someone right away. By leaving a carefully constructed series of messages beforehand, you can start your conversation by asking if they received your messages and if they’ve had a chance to read them yet. If not, then build rapport as above before you go into your pitch.

Building rapport this way takes a little practice, but if you truly become interested in each and every person you speak with, they’ll feel it and you’ll separate yourself from all the other sales reps just trying to sell them. Believe me, this will pay dividends…

2) Build rapport during your presentation. Most sales reps are in a hurry to get through their pitch so they can see if a prospect is going to buy or not. This is not only bad technique but it is also rude.

Top producers, on the other hand, continue their interest in their prospect and concentrate on having a conversation throughout their presentation rather than making their pitch a monologue. The way you do this is by putting lots of tie downs, open ended questions and even trial closes into your presentation. Your goal should be to check in with and involve your prospect in a conversation rather than give a pitch.

An example of this is by checking in with your prospect after you’ve given a benefit or explained how something works. Asking things like, “How would that fit in with what you’re doing,” or “Would that help you?” is a good start.

Using open ended questions is good, too. Instead of asking, “Are you with me?” you should ask, “What questions do you have for me so far?”

By building rapport in this way, you also begin getting an idea of how interested or engaged your prospect is. The more engaged they are, the better your chances of advancing the sale.

Spend some time this week to rewrite your demo or presentation giving your prospect opportunities to acknowledge, engage and ask lots of questions. The more rapport you can build during the close, the better.

3) After the sale. Many sales reps are surprised to hear this, but aftercare of a new client is just as important as getting one to begin with. Most sales forget a client once their check is in, but top producers know that right after a prospect has purchased is the best time to either up sell them or get a referral.

And the way you do this is by once again having a conversation and expanding upon your rapport. Get in the habit of calling your new clients a week or so out just to see how they’re doing. Offer any assistance and continue to develop a relationship with them.

If you have a chance to offer an additional service or product, do so. If not, then have your referral script handy.

Also, consider drip marketing to your new customer by using a greeting card system such as Send Out Cards. The more you can “touch” your new client, the stickier they are going to become and the more likely you’ll be able to do more and longer term business with them.

In conclusion, building rapport seems to be a lost art for many sales people. This is why most people (yourself included) hate getting calls from sales reps. But top producers know the value in treating people with respect and with genuine interest.

By doing so, you can not only develop a long and loyal customer base, but you can begin to enjoy what you do more as well. Sounds like a win/win to me.