Monthly Archives: April 2010

I Can Get a Better Deal Elsewhere

Let’s face it — today’s business world is competitive.  Besides the normal objections you get (no money, price to high, need to talk to, etc.) a common objection that blows out 80% of your competition is, “I can get a better deal elsewhere.” This frustrates a lot of sales reps and takes thousands of dollars of commission out of their pockets.

The top 20% also get this objection but are prepared for it and know how to overcome it.  Here’s what they do:

First, they recognize that if someone says that they can get a better deal elsewhere, it means one of three things:

1 — They’re wrong (in other words, they think they are getting the same thing you’re offering, but they’re not).

2 — They’re just putting you off and using this objection as a smokescreen

3 — They really can get a better deal.

In order to find out what your prospect means, offer to help them determine if they really are getting a better deal by questioning and comparing every component of it.  Use this script:

“ __________ my customers tell me this all the time, and sometimes they genuinely can get a better deal, but a lot of times they can’t.  I’ll tell you what I’ll do.  I’ll go over each item you’ve been quoted by this other company, in other words we will compare apples to apples, and if everything is equal I’ll see if I can do even better on that.  If I can, you’ll get an even better deal and if I can’t, I’ll tell you so.  Either way, you’ll win.  Now, do you have that other quote in front of you?”

Then simply go over each item to make sure everything is equal.  Often times it’s not and you can point this out.  And if it is, you still have a chance to win the deal.  If they do have a better deal, then build the value of having you as their sales rep and try to close the sale anyway. Either way, you’ll win.

Please feel free to comment on this article in the comment box below.

How to Cold Call Effectively

Because you only have a few precious seconds to make a connection and establish interest, you’d better have a good opening prepared in advance. Besides being very busy, your prospects probably get a lot of sales calls every week, and many of them from your direct competition. So why would they want to talk to you? What can you do to separate yourself from all the other calls they get?

The answer is that you have to establish a real connection with your prospect and stop sounding like all the other sales reps who call them. Here is what your competition usually sounds like (I hope you’re not doing this!):

“Oh hi Mr. __________, this is _______ _______ with the MLT Group. __________, we are an industry supply manufacturer and we help companies streamline their production process. We work with many companies in your field and save them between 10 to 15% on the cost of their storage and delivery process. What I’d like to do is ask you some questions to see how our process may save you that kind of money as well. Where are you currently getting your…”

Do you see how this opening makes no connection with the prospect? Do you see how it just starts pitching at the prospect and doesn’t acknowledge that the prospect might be busy, or not interested? Do you see how there is no rapport built here and how it’s a one sided conversation?

How do you feel when someone barges in on your day and starts in with a pitch like this? You’re probably thinking what most prospects are thinking: “How do I get this sales rep off the phone?!”

Now let’s look at the right way to open your call. Your goal in the first few seconds is to make a connection and get them to interact. You have to acknowledge that they may be busy or that you respect their time and you need to establish some rapport and separate yourself from all the other sales reps calling them.

Try this:

“Hi ________ this is _______ _______ with (your company), how’s your Tuesday going? Great. Listen, _______, I know you probably get a ton of calls so I’ll make this brief.

Let me ask you, if I could show you a better way of tracking and shipping (or) and save you money doing it, would it be worth spending five minutes with me next week to show you how?”
Or,

“What is the one thing you could change that would have a dramatic impact on your productivity and that would save your company money?”

Or,

“If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about how you currently do (their business), what would it be?”

Can you see how this quick questioning approach is more effective than what you may currently be using now? Eighty percent of your competition still barge in on their prospects and open their calls up with a long explanation about what they do and what they offer, and pitch their products and services without checking in with their prospects or establishing any kind of connection. No wonder most people brush them off the phone!

You can separate yourself from this group instantly, starting today, by using the opening technique above. Once again, adapt it to fit your product or service, and then practice it until it’s natural and easy for you to use. As you do, you’ll begin to notice yourself struggling less, making more connections with interested and qualified buyers, and you’ll have more confidence and feel better about yourself.  Just like the top 20% do!

Did you find this article helpful?  Please leave me your comments in the box below.

How to Qualify Warm Leads

So many companies these days get their leads from website inquiries, trade shows, Internet advertising, media advertising, etc, and they ask me over and over again: “What’s the best way to deal with these kinds of leads?”

Good question.  You would think that getting back to a “warm lead” would be easy, but you’d be surprised how many sales reps (80% of them) mishandle these opportunities.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of qualifying warm leads.

#1: DO begin your opening in a welcoming, and assumptive way.  Try:

“Hi ______ this is ______ with  ________ company.  I wanted to thank you for (visiting our web site, stopping by our booth, your interest in) and I wanted to answer any questions you had.  What specifically were you interested in?

DON’T be vague:

“Ah, this is ________ getting back with you, I see you went to our web site and I was wondering how I can help you?”

#2:  DO be prepared to ask qualifying questions and LISTEN to uncover their specific buying motives.  Try:

“What motivated you to take the time to fill out our request form?”

“What specifically were you interested in?”

“What part of our (product/service) appealed to you most?”

“Many of our clients like that we provide X.  Is that what you were looking for, too?

DON’T start pitching!  80% of your competition make the critical error of assuming a warm lead is interested in your product or service so they start pitching.  Don’t go into pitch mode!

#3:  DO use a script.  The Top 20% understand how important it is to make a connection, stay in control, uncover buying motives, and disqualify the prospects who are just looking.  Only a carefully crafted script allows you to do that.

DON’T ad-lib your way through your presentation.  80% of your competition still make the mistake of assuming that a warm lead is a good lead and so they often quickly make appointments, send demos, etc., without properly qualifying. Big mistake!  Treat a warm lead like any other and qualify it using a script.

Applying these three rules will vastly improve your success with call-in or warm leads.  Incorporate them today and see for yourself – you’ll glad you did!

Please leave your comments in the comments box below.

How to Sell A Pencil – And Your Product Or Service

If I gave you a pencil and asked you to sell it, how would you go about it?

This is one of the most basic of interview questions for sales reps, and the answer reveals so much about your previous training, your understanding of the sales process, and ultimately about what kind of sales rep you are.

So, what is the most effective way to sell a pencil?  Well, first let’s look at how most sales reps go about doing it.  When I’m interviewing sales reps I love using this technique.  After letting a rep tell me how good of a closer they are, I pull out a pencil, hand it to them, and tell them to sell it to me.  And off they go!

80% of sales reps start the same way – they start pitching.  “This pencil is brand new, never used.  It has grade “2” lead and a bright yellow color so it’s easy to find.  It comes with a built in eraser,” etc.

Some reps can (and do!) talk about it for 5 minutes or more before they ask a question or ask for an order.  As the sales rep rambles on, I begin to yawn, roll my eyes, etc.  Amazingly, this just makes them talk even more!  “What’s wrong with these people?” I think.

Now let’s look at how the top 20% go about selling a pencil.  As soon as I give a top rep the pencil, they pause, and then they begin asking me questions:

“So how often do you use a pencil?”
“How many do you go through in a month?”
“What other locations does your company use pencils, and how often do they order them?”
“What quantity do you usually order them in?”
“Besides yourself, who’s involved in the buying decision?”

Quite a difference, huh?  I’ll tell you right now, I listen to hundreds of sales reps in a month and they can easily be separated into these two groups:  Those who pitch, pitch, pitch, and those who take the time to understand their prospect’s buying motives, and properly qualify to understand the entire selling process.

Now let’s see which category you fit in.  When you speak with a prospect for the first time, how much of your script is focused on describing and pitching your product or service as opposed to questioning and uncovering buying motives?

If yours is like most scripts I review, then it’s filled with descriptions of what you do and how your product or service helps them.  Most scripts attack the prospect with a barrage of “value statements” that turn people off and make them want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible.

Want a better way?  Then take a tip from some of the best “pencil sales reps” and change your script and opening to focus more on questioning and discovering whether you’re dealing with a qualified buyer and what it might take to actually sell them.

Without knowing this, you’ll just end up with a lot of frustration and a lot of unsold pencils at the end of the month.

Please let me know what you think of this article by leaving a comment in the box below.

The 4 Secrets of Sales Leadership

Can you name the one or two best sales managers, or business owners you ever worked for?  If so, how did they make you feel?  What qualities or traits did they have in common, or which ones do you most try to emulate in your own company?

I work with a lot of business owners and managers, and I can tell you that the most successful ones all have at least four core characters in common.  Many of them possess other qualities as well, but these four “Secrets” as I call them are always at the center of their power and charisma.

As you read through them, ask yourself which ones you currently have, which ones you’d like to strengthen, or which ones you can develop.  Once you master them all, you will be able to lead any team and any company to greatness.

Here they are:

#1:  Unbounded Optimism.  Ask any great leader to describe the future, and they will always tell you it’s a wonderful place.  Leaders are extremely goal oriented, have clearly identified what it is they want and what they are willing to sacrifice to get there, and they radiate an optimistic glow because they already live there in their mind’s eye.

Because people want to feel good about themselves and their futures, they naturally gravitate to winners.  People want to work for and, in fact, work harder for people who are optimistic.  Plus, optimism is contagious.  A great leader can often turn an organization full of negativity around, and the excitement they inspire can result in greater morale and greater results.

If you’re in a position of authority, ask yourself if you’d want others to catch your attitude.  If not, then focus on ways to become optimistic – you’ll be a much more effective leader when you are.

#2:  Rock Solid Confidence.  Great leaders are convinced they can do anything they set their minds to.  I love a saying of Napoleon’s: “The improbable we’ll do at once.  The impossible will take a little longer.”  A leader’s attitude is: Whatever the challenge, we’ll find a way to overcome it.

Confident leaders create confident followers, and a company, family, or team with an “I Can” attitude is unstoppable.  The confidence of a great leader always inspires the best performance of his/her employees, and their team’s success just adds to and confirms the leader’s confidence.

#3:  Integrity.  In a recent survey about what qualities employees wanted from the managers and business owners they worked for, integrity was the most desired trait people picked.  Integrity, including honesty, fairness and consistency of attitude and action, are traits that build confidence in a leader and that build loyalty in the people who report to them.

Leaders with integrity genuinely care about the company they are building or the job they are doing, and this helps everybody feel as if their work has meaning and makes a difference in people’s lives.  Most people spend a third of their lives at their jobs, and while we go to work for a pay check it’s the intrinsic satisfaction someone gets from their work that helps them feel fulfilled.  Leaders with a high degree of integrity help foster this feeling by setting the example.

#4:  Decisiveness:  All great leaders are decisive and committed to the actions they take.  This doesn’t mean they act capriciously, on the contrary, they fully weigh out and think through their options, but the key characteristic is that they aren’t afraid to make a decision and implement a plan of action.

Most employees tell many tales of bosses who are afraid of making a decision, or who frequently go back on them, and this habit of hesitation undermines their authority and the confidence of everyone in the organization.  Leaders, on the other hand, may not always make the right decision, but they can be counted on to make a well thought out one, and then to take action on it.   If facts change or results warrant it, they are flexible enough to reevaluate and make another decision.

If you’re in a leadership role, don’t shy away from decisions.  Evaluate the data at the time and the relative need of making a decision and then choose the best course of action and commit.  Making a decision – even if it’s the wrong decision – is better than making no decision at all.

If you are in a position of authority and wish to become an effective leader, then find ways of developing or strengthening these four characteristics in yourself.  Remember, everyone is counting on you for guidance, and it is your ability to lead that will determine the ultimate result in your team or company.

Please let me know your comments on this post in the comments section below.

One Cold Calling Script to Establish Immediate Rapport

If you have to make cold calls as part of your sales process – either to set appointments or to find potential clients to sell your products and services to – then you know how hard it is to overcome initial resistance and establish rapport. Let’s face it, people don’t like to be bothered by a sales rep they don’t know.

Think about your own reaction when you get a call at home from a telemarketer you don’t know. As soon as they begin their pitch, your eyes probably roll up and you begin thinking of ways to get off the phone. Even if they are personable (which is rare) or have something you’re actually interested in (which is rarer), most telesales calls feel like an intrusion and end up being ineffective.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that most sales reps making cold calls have no idea how to engage a prospect and make a connection in the opening ten seconds. Making that connection is the most important thing you can do to lower or eliminate initial resistance and give yourself a real chance to see if what you’re offering is a fit for the person you’re speaking with.

Here is the one sentence you can use that will give you the best chance to make that connection:

“Hi _______, this is ________ _________. We haven’t spoken yet but I’m calling you because you (use your product or could benefit from it) and I have (your product offering or benefit) and wanted to run something by you. Let me ask you a quick question, if I could…”

The power in this technique is that by leveling with your prospect that you don’t know them, you are immediately eliminating the natural resistance that is there when this goes unspoken. Prospects respect this honesty, and you’ll feel a natural connection form as a result.

Don’t underestimate the power of this technique, but rather, try it for a few days and see for yourself how effective it is. Obviously, you’ll want to adapt it to fit your product or service, but taking the time to do this will pay big dividends.

Remember – making an immediate connection is the most important thing you can do, and this technique will help you do that.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Hire Successful Sales Reps

Many business owners and sales managers ask me if I have a proven system or a way to identify and hire top sales reps. They have tried everything, they tell me.  They check references, review similar work experiences, talk to ex co-workers, hold multiple job interviews, and sometimes they even spring for some high priced fancy sales aptitude matrix tests.

Even with all that however, many sales managers still haven’t found a way to identify who will actually perform well and work hard versus who will merely show up, take up space and drive up costs by sending out brochures, running up phone bills, squandering leads etc.  “How can you tell?”  They ask me.

Well I’ve got good news for you.  There is one technique that I’ve used successfully for years that will immediately separate who is for real and who’s not.  It doesn’t require any special tests, it can be done on the first interview, and it will always tell you what kind of sales rep you’ve got in front of you.

Here’s what you do:

During the course of the interview simply describe the service or product you’re selling, and ask them if they think they would do well selling it.  Almost all that will say, “Oh, of course!”  (Those who don’t dismiss immediately!)

After that, tell them you want to get an idea of how they would handle some of the common objections you get for this sale, and then give them three or four objections (one at a time, of course) and let them respond to them.  That’s it!

Several things happen here — all of which accurately reveal what kind of sales rep you’re dealing with.  They usually fallen into three categories:

The “A” Players — The top reps or sales reps who are well-trained and confident, will handle each objection with a recognizable rebuttal, and the really good ones will even ask for the sale at the end.  You will instantly know who they are.  You hire these reps right away.

The “B” Players — This group of sales reps will also answer the objections, but their responses will be less polished.  With this group the lack of any formal training will show through, and you will be faced with the decision of whom you think can or can’t be trained.  Part of this group will be uncomfortable with the objections and you will be able to tell that they probably never will be comfortable with them.  Your choice of who to hire from this group should be pretty clear.

The “C: Players — A common response from this group will be something like this:  “Well, I really don’t know your product so I really wouldn’t be able to answer these objections.”  What they’re really saying, of course, is that they have no idea how to respond to an objection, they have no confidence, and the reason they are here looking for a job will be glaringly clear to both of you.  You pass on this group altogether.

Try this powerful technique during your next interview.  You will be amazed by how well it works.  Simply give them an objection, then sit back, listen and observe.

You will know instantly if you’re dealing with a real closer or someone who is just going to fill a chair.  Happy hiring!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Deal With Red Flags When Cold Calling

One of the biggest mistakes 80% of salespeople make when qualifying is to overlook or not react to obvious Red Flags prospects give during the initial call.

In their haste or desperation to “generate a lead” or to “fill their pipeline,” most sales reps hope that the possible objection they just heard will miraculously go away once the prospect sees their information or product or service, etc.

But you all know from experience — it never does.  In fact, the law for calling back leads is that:

“Leads Never Get Better.”

What appears to be an objection or deal killer always is.

Someone wrote me once about a prospect who wasn’t calling him back only to find out the prospect was leaving the company.  He wrote me and said, “I guess intuitively I knew he wasn’t the right guy to make the decision anyway.”

And I’ll bet he knew intuitively because he heard (but didn’t question!) the Red Flags that came up during the initial qualification call.

So how do you deal with obvious Red Flags?  Do what the Top 20% — as soon as you hear something that triggers your intuition or that gives you that sick feeling in your gut, stop and ask the tough questions!

Here’s how you do it:

If someone says that they usually buy from ________, but would like to see your information, ask:


“Why would you switch vendors?”  Or

“How many other companies have you looked at in the last six months?”

And then: “And how many did you go with?”

If someone says that they will pass it on to ________, say:

“Thanks.  So that I make sure I’m not wasting her time it’s best that I speak with her for just a few minutes.  Can you please tell her that (your name) is holding please?”  (If you’re then told they are not available, make sure and get their direct line or the person’s extension and keep calling until she picks up.

If someone says that they’d be glad to look at over, ask:

“Great, after you do, if you think that it can help you (or your business, etc.), when would you move on it?”

And so on.

The bottom line is that if you want to close like the Top 20% then you have to start questioning the Red Flags.

Remember: It’s better to disqualify the non buyers early then to spend your time and energy chasing and pitching people who are never going to buy.

Plus it means that you have more time to find real buyers.

So this week, write up questions to the Red Flags you currently get and begin using them!  You’ll feel so much stronger as a closer, and you’ll begin making more money.  Believe me, it’s a win/win.

Please let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments section below.

3 Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills

In sales, the ability to truly listen is what separates the Top 20% of producers from the bottom 80%. Now when I say “listen,” I mean much more than just hearing what a prospect is saying. Many sales reps hear their prospects, but because they are unprepared to handle various objections or questions, they are usually too busy thinking up what they are going to say next to truly hear what their prospects are saying. And that’s where the top 20% excel.

The most important thing you can do to begin making more sales is to start listening to your prospects. Once you do, you’ll know exactly what to say – and what not to say – to get the sale.

Here are three things you can begin doing today to become a better listener:

  1. Begin listening for and writing down any unique phrases or words your prospects use. While about 80 to 90% of what people say is the same, if you really listen you’ll find that everyone has a unique word, phrase or way of saying something. For example, many companies have different terms for a sales rep. Some call them sales executives, some call them account managers, some sales reps, etc.Listening for and writing down these unique phrases will train you to pay more attention. To be even more effective, make sure and use these phrases when speaking with your prospect during this call and during the closing call as well. Doing this is what is known as mirroring your prospect and it is a proven and effective way to build rapport and make your prospect feel heard.
  2. Record yourself. You may have heard this advice from me before, but are you doing it yet? Recording and listening to your conversations – both sides – is the fastest, most efficient way of improving your listening skills (and sales skills, closing skills, etc.). The bottom line is that when you’re on the phone you’re usually so preoccupied with your prospect that you don’t have any idea what you actually sound like (or how well you listen).Recording your calls and then listening to them in the quiet and safety of your conference room or car allows you the chance to really listen to yourself. In the beginning, this can be a painful and embarrassing exercise, but, again, it is the most powerful way to improve. The point is – you can’t improve something you’re not aware of, and by listening to your recordings, you’re going to become immediately aware of how you’re doing – and what you want to change.Recording yourself also allows you to measure your improvement as well, and this kind of reinforcement is a powerful way to make and maintain positive changes.
  3. Use your mute button. I think the most valuable button on your phone is the mute button. By simply pushing mute when you ask a question or when your prospect starts talking, you are not only forced to allow your prospect to keep talking, but if you can’t help yourself, you can talk and interrupt all you want and they won’t hear you! Believe me, this was crucial for me as I couldn’t stop talking in the beginning to save my life!
  4. Here’s a tip: Once you hit mute, leave it on for a couple of seconds even if you think they are done talking. You will be amazed by how much more information your prospect will provide you if you just shut up and listen.

Don’t be fooled by how simple these suggestions sound – they are harder to follow then they seem. But the good news is that they are so much more powerful then they seem as well. Remember, what separates you from the Top 20% is your ability to really listen and hear what your prospect is saying. But once you master these three simple techniques, closing sales like the Top 20% will be simple as well!

Did you enjoy this article? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Overcome the Price Objection

Have you ever found that when someone tells you they can’t afford it, they usually mean something else?  Most of the time when we get the price objection, it usually turns out to be a smokescreen hiding another objection.

In order to determine if this is indeed a smokescreen, you first have to isolate it (not answer it!).  This is easy to do if you use this script first:

“I understand _________, and let me ask you something.  If this price fit within your budget, would you move forward with me today?”

Any answer other than yes means that price is just a smokescreen and answering it will get you nowhere.  What they usually mean is one of four things

1.) They think they can get it cheaper somewhere else.
2.) They just can’t justify spending that much for your product or service.
3.) They can’t see the value in your product or service.
4.) They don’t have the ready cash/budget to move on this today.

Once you’ve identified what is really hiding behind this objection, then you are ready to deal with it.  And here is, word for word, what you need to say to overcome it:

If they “Think they can get it cheaper somewhere else” then use:

“__________ whenever you have options, price is usually the first and easiest thing to compare.  But the problem is, in comparing price what usually gets missed is comparing apples to apples.  Tell you what I’ll do.  Go ahead and send me over the other quote (bid or offer) you have and I’ll compare it directly to what we’re offering you now.

If I find that you are truly getting a better deal, I’ll tell you so.  If I find that we can match it and even give you a better price or service then I’ll do my best to give you a better overall deal.  Either way, you’ll win – how does that sound?”

If they can’t “Justify the cost” then use:

“_________ we’re a business as well, and when we look at something, like you, we know that what we spend on our business is really an investment – not a cost.  It’s an investment of time, energy, emotion or money.  And when you look at it that way, it’s not really about the money, it’s about the return – the results.  In other words, if I invest $_____ and this much energy or time, what am I going to get in return?  You know what I’m talking about, right?

Well, let’s look at this again, and let’s stay focused on the results you’re going to get.  (Now list them one by one)  You see, this is why my other clients use us for this, and I know that it’ll make sense for you, too.  Let’s do this…”

If they, “Can’t see the value in your price”

“___________ you can always get it (your product or service) for less money.  Heck, we could do a Google search right now and I’ll bet we could come up with a few different options that are even cheaper than what you’re telling me you can get it for now.  The question is – why aren’t you going with them?  Isn’t it because there comes a time when price isn’t as important as the loss in quality, service and results?

And that’s why our clients keep doing business with us.  When you begin getting (the results of your product or service), you’ll also understand why our price is worth the value and results you get with us.  You can always get it cheaper, but you can’t get our results that pay for themselves over and over again.  Let’s do this…(suggest starting with an introductory package).”

Doesn’t really have the budget – must use credit

“ ___________ no company or business can grow unless they leverage other people’s time, effort and money – you know that to be true.  I’m not saying to go into your budget for this, rather, you need to pay for this the way you pay the other expenses of your business – with the bank’s money through a business line of credit or business credit card.  That’s how everyone makes investments to help their business grow.

Now I know you see how this (your product or service) works, right?  And I think you’d agree that by using it to (fit their solution), then like our other clients you, too, could see the results this generates, right?  Then the decision is a no-brainer here, _________.
Go ahead and move forward with this and as it (saves them money or makes them more money or leads), then you can do what all the other successful companies do and that is invest even more resources in it as your business grows.  Now, I recommend you start with our introductory package of ($____).  What is the best card for you to put that on?”

As you can see, the best way to overcome the price objection is to first make sure it’s the real objection.  After that, if you use one of these scripts to deal with what they really mean, then you’ll give yourself the best chance of closing the deal.