Category Archives: Prospecting & Qualifying

How to Handle: I looked it over and not interested

Don’t you hate it when you get back to your prospect, you’re ready to give a great pitch, you need the sale, and…and….they tell you they looked it over and they’re not interested!

Wait a minute! You want to scream. Just give me a chance….

Believe it or not, there is a way to deal with this. And it’s the same way to deal with every other recurring sales situations you get: Be prepared with a solid script – or two or three.

The secret to getting past this objection/resistance statement is to not only be prepared for it, but more importantly, to be prepared to overcome it two or three times. Sometimes it takes that kind of perseverance to get into your pitch and get the sale.

So here are three proven scripts you can use the next time your prospect tells you “I looked it over and I’m not interested…

Response #1:

“I understand, and that’s perfectly OK. At first a lot of people I speak with don’t fully understand all the ins and outs of this and that’s why I’m here. Before you make a decision though, let’s do this. I’ll take just a few minutes to explain how this might help you, and if, after you understand it, you still think it’s not for you, we’ll part friends. Do you have that information handy?”

Response #2:

“I didn’t expect you to be interested; heck, our marketing department hasn’t yet figured out a way to get our prospects to call us back – and that’s why they hired me!

But seriously, this (product/service/investment) has some great features that aren’t readily available in the (demo/material/information) I sent you, and it’ll only take a couple of minutes to find out if they would be a fit or benefit for you.

Tell you what, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes with me to find out how and if this would be right for you. Grab the information/quote/brochure and let me cover a few things – do you have it handy?

Response #3:

“I understand, and believe me, I get that a lot. In fact some of my best clients said that at the beginning as well. But I’m sure you’d agree that any decision you make, whether it’s a yes or a no – and I can take either one – is best made once you understand all the facts, isn’t that right?

Well ________ I’m here to help you learn those, so do yourself a favor and grab that information, and let’s briefly go over it. If at the end it’s not for you we’ll part friends. Do you have it handy?”

Now, take some time and reword them slightly to fit your personality, your product or service. Then get in the habit of using them over and over again. What you’ll find is that more and more prospects will actually let you pitch them, and some of those will buy!

If you found this article helpful, then you’ll love my Completely Updated and Revised eBook, “The Complete Book of Phone Scripts.” Now over 200 powerful and effective scripts to help you easily get past the gatekeeper, set appointments, overcome objections and close more money!

Visit: http://mrinsidesales.com/completescripts.htm and find out why Jeffrey Gitomer, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins and many others recommend Mike’s ebook of Phone Scripts!

 

The One Important Buy-In Question (You better be asking)

Back in the office after two weeks on the road training in CA (shout out to my clients there!), and during both weeks – in L.A. and Oakland – it rained! My wife tells me I can no longer say it doesn’t rain in CA. It does, and I was there!

While preparing their training programs, there was one important similarity that I think applies to any sale. And that is identifying and asking the most important (value statement) question to get buy-in from your prospect up front. Let me explain.

Regardless of what you are selling, there is usually one buy in question that determines how interested and engaged your prospect is going to be.

For my sales training and consulting services, it’s simply: “How important do you think sales training is to your overall sales development and the performance of your sales team?”

If my prospect thinks it’s very important, then I have a strong basis for closing the sale, and I can leverage that buy in throughout my presentation. And it’s the same for you as well.

If you are selling, for example, pre-need funeral arrangements, then the obvious question is: “How important is it to you to have all your arrangements completed ahead of time so it’s that much easier on your family should something happen to you?”

If you are selling franchises, the question is: “How valuable do you think owning a franchise is to you or to your business?”

These “core buy-in” questions form the basis for your sale. They establish the core interest level of your prospect, and if the answer is positive, then you can refer back to this buy in throughout your presentation.

What’s interesting is that many sales reps, and companies, haven’t taken the time to identify this question, and even fewer ask it and leverage the buy in throughout their presentation.

So the natural question is: “What is your unique buy-in question?” In other words, what one question can you ask that establish the core suitability and the core interest of your prospect?

Once you identify what it is, start asking it during the prospecting call and at the beginning of your presentation. If you get buy-in, then refer back to it to leverage and reinforce their buying motive.

If they aren’t sold on your basic value proposition, then you have more digging (qualifying) to do to establish common ground (and buying motive).

How to Sell A Pencil – Or Any Product or Service

NOTE: While this article talks about using this technique as an interview question to determine what kind of sales rep you’re about to hire, it’s also a great technique for managers to use to diagnose what is wrong with reps who may not be hitting quote consistently. Call them in, one by one, and see how they do…

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 I use for prospective sales reps, and the answer reveals so much about their previous training, their understanding of the sales process, and ultimately about what kind of sales rep they are going to be.

So, what is the most effective way to sell a pencil?

Let’s first look at how most sales reps go about doing it. When I’m interviewing sales reps this is my favorite question. 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 (more rare). 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 pencils?”
“How many do you go through in a month?”
“What other locations does your company have that use pencils, and how often do they order them?”
“What quantity do you usually order them in?”
“Where are you getting them from now?”
“Besides yourself, who’s involved in the buying decision?”

Quite a difference, isn’t it? 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 people. 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 your opening so it focuses more on questioning and qualifying. Seek to discover whether or not you are actually speaking with someone who is a good fit for what you offer.

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

Most Popular Article of 2016

If you are a subscriber to my weekly ezine, then you know I publish a new article every week. That’s fifty-two new tips, scripts, strategies, and current techniques to help you succeed selling over the phone.

It’s not surprise, then, that the most popular article I wrote in 2016 is one that gives you, the front line sales rep, a proven way to overcome some of the resistance you face each and every time you pick up the phone to make a cold call.

If you happened to miss this, then you have another opportunity today to learn and begin using a proven way to deal with the common brush off: “We are all set.”

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Most Popular Article of 2016:

I receive emails from my readers all the time asking me how to handle various objections and resistance statements. A common request I get is how to handle the initial resistance statement “We are all set.” A variation of this is anything along the lines of:

“We are okay with our present system.”

OR

“We’ve already got a company that handles that.”

OR

“We’re fine for right now.”

As you can see, these are all basically the same, and, more importantly, they aren’t objections – rather, they are initial resistance statements or blow offs. Essentially they are saying something along the lines of: “I’m not interested in being pitched right now, please go away.”

Now here’s the thing: Because this is simply resistance and not an objection (it’s not an objection because you haven’t pitched your product or service yet. It’s like when you walk into a department store and the sales rep asks if they can help you and you blow them off with, “I’m just looking.”) Again, “We’re all set” is not an objection, just sales resistance.

And the key to handling resistance is NOT to try to overcome it (remember it’s not an objection), but rather you simply want to bypass it and engage and qualify.

So, with that in mind, here’s how you handle the “We’re all set” blow off or/and any of its variations:

“We’re all set”

Response One:

“That’s great, and I’d just like to see if we could get on your vendor list for the next time you’re in the market. Let me ask you…”

Now get into your qualifying questions…

Response Two:

“Most companies I speak with are ‘all set’ and that’s why I’m reaching out to you now – I want to give you an option for the next time you’re in need of this. Let me ask you…”

Back to qualifying…

Response Three:

“No problem. Let me ask you: the next time you’re in need of this, what’s number one on your wish list?”

Response Four:

“I understand – I didn’t expect to catch you in the market right now. Instead, let me get an idea of your perfect profile, and then I’ll send you some information you can keep on file next time you need this…”

Now re-engage by asking a qualifying question.

Response Five:

“Got it. Let me ask you: the next time you are in need of this, are you the right person to speak to about it?”

If yes, then qualify them for that next time – especially asking about timeframe, budget, etc.

Response Six:

“Understand, and let me ask you: When is your next buying season for this?”

Then keep the conversation going by asking additional qualifying questions.

Response Seven:

“That’s fine; I totally understand. And let me ask you – the next time you are in the market for this, how many companies are you going to reach out to?”

And then ask how you can become one of them, what their budget is, who the decision makers are, etc.

Response Eight:

“No problem. What you might find helpful is to know about our special pricing and the additional services we provide. Did you know that….”

Then pitch one or two things you do that others don’t – and use a tie down!

Response Nine:

“I’m glad you said that. What I’ve found is that those companies who are already using a vendor for this are surprised to learn that….”

Give them a shocking statement about how you’ve just been rated number one, or that you give free delivery, etc. Something that will peak their interest…

Response Ten:

“No problem. Could I be the “next in line” company you call the next time you’re in the market for this?”

If yes,

“Great, let me get your email and send you my info…”

Then:

“And just out of curiosity, what would have to change for you to even begin looking at someone else?”

Look for an in here…

So there you have it – ten new ways of handling this age old blow off. Just remember, your goal isn’t to try to overcome this – rather, it’s to sidestep this resistance statement and get information you can use to create value and continue the conversation.

Two Questions to Close a Sale

I was having breakfast with a client in Denver before a training program I was giving, and we were talking about the importance of asking questions and listening. He told me that a few years ago he was working for a company selling an IT solution, and that while dealing with the Director of IT, he suddenly had an opportunity to meet the new CFO. This was unexpected and he had to think fast!

Here’s what happened:

As he was leaving, and right after meeting with the IT Director, he asked him how he could get in front of the new CFO (knowing that the CFO was the ultimate decision maker). Just as he asked this question, an executive was walking down the hall toward them. The Director said, “That’s the new CFO right there. Let me introduce you to him.”

As he was introduced, my client asked the CFO, “I’d love to spend a few minutes with you and wondered when we could get some time on your calendar to do that?” To his surprise, the CFO said, “I have about 10 minutes right now, come on into my office.”

He followed the CFO into his office, sat down across the desk and the CFO said, “So, what’s on your mind?” My client’s mind went blank, and he just sat there for a moment. He hadn’t expected to be here at this time and found himself unprepared.

Luckily, that didn’t last too long and before he knew it he said, “I have just two questions for you. First, when a client of yours leaves you and buys from someone else, what is the main reason for that? And second, what is the main reason a new client goes with you rather than your competition?”

After that, my client opened his notebook, pen in hand, and waited.

And waited. And waited…

After nearly five full minutes (a nerve racking five minutes to be sure), the CFO finally began to speak. “That’s a great question, and I’m going to have to think carefully about that. In fact, no one has ever asked me that before…”

The CFO then went on to give his thoughts about this, and, after he was done, he thanked him and promised to follow up with more information – which he did. After a few weeks, the CFO then followed up again and made a purchase from my client and his company.

He said of the interaction: “The two questions you asked me were the best two questions I’ve ever been asked. They forced me to evaluate the only two things that really matter – what means the most to our clients.”

My client was obviously pleased with how this turned out, but he told me that the real lesson he learned from the interaction is just how long some prospects take to think about questions they are asked.

He told me, “Since I was there when I asked the question, I could see he was carefully thinking about my questions. Since I could see that, I didn’t interrupt him – instead I just shut up and let him think.

He continued: “This situation revealed the real challenge we face as inside sales reps. When we ask questions over the phone and don’t get an immediate response, we tend to keep talking. This is the worst thing we can do. We absolutely have to train ourselves to ask questions and then remain quiet and listen.”

When I asked him the best way to teach reps to do this, he said that using the mute button was the easiest and best way.

If you have read any of my articles or books, then you know my favorite four words are, “Shut up and listen.” You also know that I think the mute button is the most important button on your phone.

To prove this to yourself, make a commitment today to asking questions and using the mute button to let your prospect answer you. You’ll be surprised by what your prospects will reveal and how much easier it is to close sales.

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.

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 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.