How to Successfully Deal with the Gatekeeper

Many sales reps don’t know how to deal successfully with the gatekeeper. If things like: “Will he know what this call is regarding?” keep you up at night, then you need to watch this video and use the proven techniques in it.

And if you’re a sales manager, you need to send this out to all of the reps on your team!

Entrepreneurs: 3 Best Practices for Building an Inside Sales Team

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner and you want to sell your product or service over the phone successfully, then there are 3 things you need to know before you begin. Watch this short video, and I’ll tell you exactly what they are:

Closing Sales is Like First and Goal

closing sales, overcoming objections, sales tips,

Hope you’re enjoying the NFL playoffs. A client and I were talking about that Bear/Eagles game a week ago, and (besides the Bear’s kicker—I do feel bad for him), we were talking about that last scoring drive of the Eagles. How they went for it on 4th down with 56 seconds left—and scored the winning touchdown.

That reminded me of what I was taught when I was new on the phone: that the sale doesn’t start until the fourth or fifth no. My manager used to tell me that it’s a like football:

He said that driving the ball down to the red zone was the same as giving your presentation. And that as soon as you asked for the sale at the end, you were now in the red zone.

He told me that if the client said “no,” then it was up to me to use a close and ask for the sale again. This was like running the first play in the red zone.

If the prospect was still willing to engage with me but still said no, then all that meant was that I didn’t get into the end zone on that play, but I had three more tries. So, I’d read another close and ask for the sale again.

If I got another no, then it was just third down. Time to deliver yet another close and ask for the sale again.

Same thing on fourth down: Run another play and try to get into the endzone.

Same thing in sales: If you’ve received three or four no’s, it’s time to try for it again, to read another close.

Think about the Eagles game. Did they give up after they ran first down and didn’t get into the endzone? Of course not.

What they did was they ran two more plays and then they went for it on fourth down. And they scored and won.

Now a couple of quick lessons:

1) You’re not always going to score on the first or second or even third closing attempt, but you must keep running plays—ask for the sale all four times.

2) Sometimes you get a penalty on the defense and get another set of downs—more times to ask for the sale!

3) Sometimes you can kick a field goal (drop close) and still come away with some points—or a partial sale.

The bottom line is that you don’t give up when the prospect says no—instead, just look at it like a fresh set of downs in the red zone—four new attempts to deliver a close, overcome an objection, and keep asking for the sale.

That’s how I dealt with objections (I kept running plays—using closes), and that’s how I made hundreds of thousands of dollars every year selling over the phone.

And it’s how you will, too, IF you keep closing and running plays in the red zone.

The Best Goal Setting Technique

Happy New Year!

If you’re like most people, then you’ve got a lot of goals in a lot of areas, don’t you?

If you are feeling overwhelmed with all you’re going to accomplish, you may be wondering where you’re going to get the time to do them all.

I’ve been goal setting for years, and while I (and the rest of the world) may get pumped up by all the wonderful things I’m going to accomplish and all the changes I’m going to make, what I’ve learned is that there is only so much time.

It’s still true that if you want to know how much goal accomplishment gets done, just drive by your local gym’s parking lot during the first week of January and then compare it to the first week in March.

I once heard Brian Tracy talk about setting goals, and he recommended a technique that not only made a lot of sense, but that turns out to be so powerful, it is life changing…

He said the way to get the most out of your goals is to make a list of your top ten goals for the year. Think about what’s most important to you in the different areas of your life and write down ten things.

Next, prioritize that list so that the most important goal is number one. The way to determine which goal is number one is to ask yourself which of the ten things you’ve listed would have the most impact on your life if you actually accomplished it.

Once you have your list prioritized, throw away the other nine goals and make a commitment to making that number one goal a reality in the next twelve months.

And once you’ve made that commitment, ask yourself what one action you can take today, right now, to begin reaching that goal. And once you have identified that, do it.

Before you go to sleep tonight, identify the one action you’re going to take tomorrow, and then commit to taking it.

And then do this each and every day until you have accomplished that one most important goal.

When I heard this, my first thought was, “Yeah, but what about the other nine goals? What about balance and all that?”

And that’s when he explained that despite our best intentions, most goal setting starts strong, but by March slows down, and by the summer most—if not all—have been abandoned.

That’s why identifying one goal, the most important and most impactful goal, is a better way to go.

In thinking about this one goal, think about how much your life will change (and the lives of your family members) if you reach this number one, most important goal.

If your goal is to become a top producer in your industry and double or triple your income, think about the impact that will have on your family. Think about buying that new home, or providing for your parents, or allowing your wife or spouse to stay home.

If your goal is to finally write that novel, think about how your life will change when you finally accomplish that this year! Think about the weight off your shoulders now that it is a reality rather than just another dream.

If your goal is to lose weight, get in shape, and get off your medication and live a longer, healthier life for yourself and your family, think about the long-term rewards achieving that goal will bring you! (And think of the consequence if you don’t.)

Whether or not you agree with Brian, I’m here to tell you that it’s more impactful for you to hit the most important goal in your life than it is to set ten and not hit many of them…

And, hey, if you reach your number one goal by July, you can get to goal number two!

If you’ve set goals for years and not been very successful at following through, then why not take the pressure off yourself and try this method?

How good would it be if you actually reached your most important goal in 2019?

One Powerful Way to Learn More About a Prospect

Let’s start with the obvious: Sales reps talk too much. Whether it’s nervousness, fear, inexperience, or just the conviction that if they stop talking the prospect will say “Not interested” and hang up, it doesn’t matter.

If you listen to calls from your sales reps, you’ll find that they simply talk past the close. They talk over their prospects. They talk after they ask a question (and don’t even let their prospect answer).

And then they talk some more…

The dangers of talking so much are many. Often times, when talking past the close, sales reps will actually introduce objections. This is a common problem and one entirely of their own making.

Another problem is they talk over their prospects and so appear rude and give the impression that they don’t care about what the prospect has to say. This makes them seem pushy and salesy, and makes the prospect want to disconnect with them.

As if all these problems aren’t enough, by talking so much they aren’t learning anything about the prospect, their needs, their pain, or about what they would like help with. I have always taught that the prospect has all the answers: why they’ll buy, why they won’t buy, what you need to say to sell them, etc. But if you aren’t listening, you’ll never hear any of this.

And that means you’re tempted to just keep talking and pitching…

The good news is that there is a powerful way to learn more about a prospect. When I give this to you, it’ll appear simple—and it is—but it is difficult to practice because most sales reps are so invested in talking.

Here’s what it is: At any point in a conversation with a prospect, if they either give you what appears to be an objection (like, “We wouldn’t be interested…”) or are just not volunteering much information, all you have to do is say:

“Oh?”

And then shut up and hit your MUTE button.

When you say it, say it in a way that expresses a question—let your tone of voice rise slightly. Practice it now: “OH??”

Do not disregard this as being silly or too simple to have much effect. It’s one of the most advanced and powerful tools a real closer has in his/her arsenal.

This week I challenge you to talk less and listen more. And the technique you’ll use is the “Oh?” technique. Try it and see for yourself how much more you learn from your prospects. Remember, they have all the answers…

Artificial Intelligence AI & Sales Automation Software Tools Platforms

AI and Inside Sales: 3 Things You Need to Know Now
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

How emerging artificial intelligence is affecting business, marketing by assisting the inside and outbound sales process via automation tools and leads software for Salesforce from the People AI platform

How Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Sales Automation Software Tools Platforms are Affecting Inside and Outbound Sales

Quick: Can you tell me, in three sentences or less, exactly what AI is and how it is going to impact your sales career or company?

If not, then don’t feel bad. It’s kind of like when the word “cloud” started being used to describe cloud-based computing. No one really understood it, and even fewer people trusted what they heard about it.

Welcome to that moment again, only different. Today, technology is much more accepted, and technology and sales are inseparable. I mean, can you imagine doing your job without a CRM system? How about access to social media? If you’re a manager, can you do your reporting and metrics measurement without the host of intelligence tools measuring call times, funnel stage reviews, etc.? Probably not…

And so welcome to the future, I mean, present! If your head is still in the clouds (sorry, I just couldn’t help the pun) when you hear the mention of AI then this article is for you.

Here are three things you need to know about AI:

#1: What is AI?

A.I. (artificial intelligence) as applied to the sales environment means that many of the tasks you currently do as sales reps (and managers), can now be further automated and expanded to explode your effectiveness and even predict your sales results. This means improving on (and eliminating even) tasks like putting emails and communication notes into your CRM, or prioritizing leads, or combing through notes and deciding who the “hottest” leads are.

AI can now do all this—and a lot more. AI (as the name suggests), can even tell you which of the leads (in your entire database) are likely to be a deal. Here’s a quote from Lynne Zaledonis – SVP, Product Marketing, Sales Cloud, Salesforce:

“When you sell into a company, you have to go back and read through all of the past deals that were lost or won — and there are typically a lot of them. AI helps you to have any or all of that information at your fingertips — and to analyze it. For instance, AI can automatically synchronize — and natural language processing can review — all of the calendar entries and emails as part of the millions of data points it uses to make potential recommendations. All those data points are what you use to find the right lead to call or to close a current deal. Imagine not having to do the dirty work because AI surfaces the predictions that you just can’t do yourself. Now that you’re armed with all this information, you can approach the deal differently and with greater likelihood or success.” (See full article here.)

Bottom line, it is in your best interest to learn more about the capabilities of this amazing confluence of sales automation and smart technologies and find the best way to use it to crush your competition—before they crush you.

#2: Who are the leading companies in the AI environment and how are they different?

Okay, so you’re sold that there may be some application to your own company or sales environment, what now? Now you need to know who some of the leading companies are that have already harnessed AI and determine which one does what best.

For example, some companies, like Nudge, leverage AI to source news and social updates and filter/deliver this huge amount of information directly to you so you can quickly and efficiently use it to make more strategic sales calls.

Others, like People.ai help improve the visibility and effort of the sales team by identifying where they spend their time. It uses this info to then identify stagnant deals, and gives warning alerts about deals that are slowing down, etc. Useful to know, wouldn’t you say?

For a list of other leading AI companies, and what they specialize in, click here.

#3: Will AI finally eliminate cold calling?

Short answer? No.

Remember when “Sales 2.0” came out and all the pundits claimed, “Cold Calling is Dead!” Remember what happened next? Your manager told you to spend 5 minutes on LinkedIn and then pick up the phone and make a cold call….

Same thing will happen here. Will you have more data on your leads? Sure. Will you have reached out to them through more channels like email, voice mail, text, social media, video emails, etc.? Sure. Will you not have to pick up the phone and qualify and sell? Nope.

So, guess what? You are sill going to have to get really good at the profession of sales (better even), and if you want to get ahead of the AI curve, you’d better start today. A great start is having 500+ current, effective, and proven word-for-word scripts, questions, and phrases to open and close more sales.

If you think that sounds like a good idea, then click here. Get a copy for your entire sales team. This the best resource to use while you’re getting ready for the AI sales revolution to transform your company—once again.

How to Work Anywhere in the World

Lately, I’ve received quite a few emails and phone calls from people asking me if I can help them find a phone sales job they can work anywhere in the world. I spoke with a woman last week who, apparently, has a lot of experience in inside sales, is used to working on a short-term contract basis, and wanted to know if I had any contacts with companies who could use her services. She wants to work from Paris.

Just today, my assistant forwarded me an email from a guy who asked this same question: did I know of any companies who were looking for remote inside sales reps. More and more people are wanting the flexibility to work from wherever, and, presumably, whenever they want, and why not? A couple of years ago, my wife and I took a condo on Waikiki Beach, HI, for two months. I worked in the mornings and by noon I was at the beach. It was pretty sweet.

So, is it possible to earn a living selling over the phone while enjoying the flexibility of working from where ever you want to? And, perhaps as importantly, is it possible to work less than 40 hours a week (or on a schedule that works for you) and still make enough money to enjoy the lifestyle you want?

I’d say, yes…but.

In order to pull this off the way you might want it, you have to get really, really good at selling over the phone first. And you need to have the self-discipline to maintain an independent, structured work day. Let’s break this down quickly:

First, there are only a few really good, top producers in any company. These reps can literally write their own ticket because their employers value what they produce so much. If they want to do what they do from home or from Paris, with today’s technology, most of them can. Moreover, they usually don’t have to look for an industry or company to work for, because they are already successful doing what they do.

Unfortunately, not all sales reps are that good (or haven’t put in the time to get that good yet). For the majority of sales reps like these, they could still conceivably work remotely, but it will be closely controlled, and they will make just an hourly wage (if they can find it). Not quite the freedom to explore Paris that we’d all imagine…

The solution is to first dedicate yourself to becoming the one of the best producers in your company or industry. If you can’t do that, then your options will be limited. But once you’ve attained that level, then you’ll have your pick of industries to work in.

Here’s a big suggestion for you: Pick an industry that has recurring income. Three industries I can think of are debt collection, credit card processing, and financial services. In these (and other) industries, once you develop a book of business, you spend a lot of your time maintaining that book (and enjoying the flow of consistent income) and working referrals.

Next, you need to be self-motivated and very disciplined. Only you can determine if you can do that. I’ve found that very few people can (mostly the 80% of sales reps who are selling to pay their bills), but that the top 20% producers can.

Again, this is something you’ll need to answer for yourself. If you can develop the structure and maintain the discipline it takes to work from a home office, then go for it—after you’ve become a top producer.

So, can you work remotely? Absolutely! You’ll just have to pay your dues first by following the advice above. After that, well, enjoy Paris (or surfing Waikiki)!

Objections: 5 Things You Need to Do Now

I was on the “Sell or Die” podcast with Jeffrey Gitomer a couple of weeks ago, and he asked me a good question. He said this question would cause me to think a bit and then he asked, “Mike, how many objections are there?”

That did cause me to think. After a moment, I told him that while there are a lot of variations of objections, in truth there are really only a few. And he agreed. Jeffrey said that once he was training onsite and he asked the manager that same question, and the manager replied, “There are a hundred different objections!”

Jeffrey then challenged him with, “I’ll bet my entire fee there are no more than 15, and if there are less than 10, you double my fee.” After going through them with this manager, there turned out to be just 12.

And that’s been my experience as well. Whenever I’m onsite with a company, I brainstorm with the team to identify all the objections they get. They rarely can come up with more than 5-7 for prospecting and about the same amount for the close.

So given this truth (and I’m sure once you think about your own situation you’ll agree), I can give you 5 things you need to know how to do to anticipate, prevent, deal with, and overcome them. Here they are:

1) As I write about in Power Phone Scripts, the key to dealing effectively with objections is to recognize that there are a finite number of them (about 5-10). And you’re going to get these same ones over and over again. So you need to anticipate them.

Be prepared for them with an effective, best practice approach or script. In fact, write out three or four responses to the most frequent objections you get, learn them, and use them over and over again.

Sounds easy, I know, but you would be amazed by how many sales people still won’t take the time to do this. If you will, however, you’ll increase your success rate and your confidence exponentially.

2) Prevent them. At the end of your presentation, two of the biggest objections and stalls are, “The price is too high,” and “I need to talk it over with…”

These two objections should have been uncovered and dealt with during your prospecting call. These should have been qualified for and you should know in advance what the decision process is like, and if this fits within their budget.

If you don’t, then weave these kinds of qualifying questions into your prospecting script and never encounter them again.

3) Know when to deal with objections. My mentor taught told me there were three times to deal with objections: When they come up, later in the presentation, or never.

You need to decide which time is best for you. If you deal with them when they come up, you’re likely to lose momentum and give control over to your prospect. If you delay them until the end, (“I’ll cover that in just a few minutes”) then you can buy yourself some time and the objection might even go away. And if you don’t answer it at all, sometimes you’ll find that the prospect doesn’t bring it up again.

When you decide to handle an objection depends on many things, and you can probably tell when the right time is. Just know you have options.

4) Know how to deal with an objection. One of the biggest mistakes people make is they rush to answer an objection. That shouldn’t be your first approach. Instead, always get into the habit of questioning an objection and make your prospect work to answer and clarify it.

Doing so often allows you to get more information about what the real objection is, and often times your prospect—in explaining it—will give you the seeds to answer it. Simple statements could be, “Really? Why is that?” or “What do you mean by that?” or “Why is that important to you?” or my favorite, “Oh?”

5) Be ready to go to work when you get an objection. The final thing I want to share from my podcast with Jeffrey is when we both talked about how the sale starts when you get an objection. In fact, I shared that I was taught that the sale doesn’t start until you’ve received 5 objections!

Compare that to how you handle objections today. Do you tend to give up after one objection? How about after two? Bottom line is that if you’re not prepared with a best practice approach (a script!) of what to say when you get objections, then you’re probably not ready to stay the course and keep closing until you win the sale.

Think about the 5 points above, and compare your own methodology to handling objections. If you need to change something to fit these 5 points then do it. You’ll close more business as a result.

And finally, check out the upcoming Sell or Die podcast to hear the interview in near future (August 8th). You’ll enjoy it and learn a lot.

Cold Calling Sucks—But Only if You Suck at It

There is a lot of talk these days about how cold calling sucks. And I agree—it can be brutal. When I started my career in the financial industry, I had to make more than 150 cold calls every day. Sometimes, I’d be so beaten up by 11 am that I just wanted to go to lunch and never come back!

I knew that if I continued like that, I wouldn’t make it in sales, and I knew that something needed to change. What I finally figured out was that the top reps in the company didn’t mind cold calling. In fact, they actually “smiled and dialed.” I soon learned that cold calling sucked because I sucked at it. And I became determined to change that…

What I learned, and part of what I teach now, is that to get good at cold calling—or prospecting, or whatever you want to call it—you have to invest some time and energy and, yes, even some money. Here are three things you can begin doing now to get better at prospecting:

Number One: Invest in some sales material to help you instantly get better. Face it: you’re not alone in having to prospect for a living, and many others have been there and done that. Why not leverage what they have discovered to make calling easier?

There are plenty of good books on theory out there, but if you want to actually get better on your next phone call, you’re going to need actual word-for-word scripts. Best place to start?

Power Phone Scripts: 500 Word-For-Word Questions, Phrases, And Conversations To Open And Close More Sales. Get it here.

Number Two: Start thinking about helping people rather than selling them. I learned years ago that the people I was calling were actually just people—just like me. Once I took a genuine interest in building rapport with them, learning about them, listening to them, and making a connection, I did much, much better. And I enjoyed my work more.

Take a hint I’ve given people over and over again and record yourself. When you listen to yourself, ask: how well do you actually listen to people? If you’re like many sales reps, you may be talking over people, or just waiting for them to take a pause so you can start pitching. Nothing will turn someone off quicker than that. People can tell when it’s all about you or if you’re truly interested in them.

Learn to use your MUTE button when someone is talking, and force yourself to pause after you think they are done talking. Use the “1,2,3 alligator” pause after they finish talking before you begin.

Listening is the most important thing you can do to get better—start practicing this today.

Number Three: Put a smile on your face. Get a mirror and look into it before you pick up the phone. People can tell if you’re smiling, and you’ll transfer that energy to your prospect. People can also tell if you are tense, angry, or in a hurry to pitch.

I know it sounds corny, but trust me: the $4 you’ll spend on a mirror will go a long way to improving your phone presence while prospecting…

Don’t underestimate the impact these three tips will have in improving your cold calling. If you think prospecting sucks, then I’ll wager that you kind of suck at it. That can change if you’re committed to getting better. If you’re in sales, then I hope you are, because you’re going to be making a ton of prospecting calls over the life of your career.

So what are you waiting for? Get busy. Order a book of phone scripts, get a mirror at CVS at lunch, and listen to a phone call on your afternoon break. If you do these things, you’ll be better at cold calling by tomorrow.

Sales Management: The One Metric That Matters Most

Greetings from Chicago! I’m here this week presenting at the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) Leadership Summit. If you’re attending the Summit, then make sure and say hello to me.

And if you’re in the city, then stop by and join the breakout session I’m giving tomorrow, Wednesday, at 4:15 pm in the Mayfair room, entitled: The Sales Manager: Seven Crucial Skills Every Inside Sales Leaders Needs Now.

If you’re in sales leadership or in a direct sales management role, you’ll learn a ton of useful strategies and tools to help your team produce more and be more confident. I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

One of the “Seven Crucial Skills” I’ll be speaking on has to do with metrics. And the one metric I’ll be speaking about is the one that is the most important one for driving sales and making revenues. I wonder if you can guess what it is?

If you’re in management, then there are lots of metrics to choose from. Companies measure all kinds of things these days—number of phone calls, connect rates, presentations set, leads in the funnel, etc. With technology the way it is, there is no shortage of ways to break processes down and measure them.

But are you measuring the most important one? As you’ll learn today (and I’ll go into more detail tomorrow in my presentation), if you’re not measuring exactly how your reps are performing on the phones during their calls with prospects and clients, then you’re missing out on the most important metric of all.

When I say measuring how your reps are performing, I mean, of course, grading each part of both their prospecting call and/or their presentation calls. You do this by listening to their recordings and literally grading adherence to your best practice, scripted approach. For example, on the prospecting or cold call, did your rep:

  • Handle the gatekeeper professionally and get put through to the decision maker?
  • Make a connection with the decision maker and build instant rapport?
  • Deal with any resistance blow off statements with a best practice approach?
  • Give a quick value statement and give the prospect a chance to interact?
  • Engage the prospect so they didn’t feel pitched at?
  • Qualify the prospect thoroughly, discovering things like buying motive, decision process, timeline, etc.?
  • Set a specific follow up call and a follow up action?
  • Fill out a qualifying checklist?

As you can see, many of the regular metrics (listed previously) don’t drill down to this level of detail, but it is preciously this level of detail that determines how successful a rep will be in making a sale.

If you’d like to know more about how to get this information, and how to measure it, then either attend my breakout tomorrow, or reach out to me for coaching.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you tomorrow!