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Please Take My Call…

For many people in the profession of sales today, the job of prospecting to set up a meeting is about as exciting as a trip to the dentist.  (And more painful too!)  Although the art of prospecting into accounts is imperative to the success of so many salespeople, it is the number three skill that most say that they need help with right behind closing and time management!  As salespeople, we face a myriad of screens and gatekeepers that make our jobs much more difficult than we would like.

In fact, because of all of the non-professionals out there trying to make a living doing a horrible job on the phone, the prospective buyers of their service need to be hiding.  There are few of us who work the phones for sales or for appointments regularly that have ever received appropriate training in these areas.  The companies that hire us work by the philosophy of “Hire ‘em in masses-and kick ‘em in the asses!” We deserve what we get when our prospects hide behind voice mail, e-mail, and other gatekeepers.

As a matter of fact, as consumers, we have become so accustomed to the phone selling (or appointment setting) process being a bad one, we do the very things to those who call us after work that we loathe about those to whom we call during work.  Think about it!  A telemarketer calls you on a Saturday morning and starts to immediately go into a canned pitch for their product or service.  How long before you cut them off to tell them you are not interested?  How many of these calls do you take before you start simply hanging up on them mid-sentence or avoiding the interactions altogether by letting them go to voice mail?  And why do you do this?  The number one reason:  You’re afraid that they are going to waste your time.

Even though the caller on the other end of the line may have had a very valuable offering for you, it was the approach of several others before them that sabotaged their chances.  Do you ever feel this way when you are calling on your prospective customers?  Although you may have an incredible offer for them and their company, one that could save them time, make them money, put peace of mind to their fears, and/or make their lives easier, you don’t get a chance to talk about it because they won’t take your call!  Why?  Because they are afraid they you are going to waste their time!

When you are calling on prospective buyers of your products and services, be aware that they have become conditioned to the same fears that you have.  Knowing this, make sure that you either address these fears in your opening words or the voice mail that you leave.  State clearly the purpose for your call and keep concise the information about YOU and YOUR COMPANY.  Instead focus on them and their issues.

When leaving a voice mail, imagine that the person that you are calling will receive thirty or more calls from a salesperson like yourself today.  However, she will only return ONE of those calls?  Why should it be yours?  Keep the focus to only these three areas:

1-The Main Benefit of owning your product/service

2-How Your Product/Service will cure their pain, put peace of mind to their fear

help them reach a desired goal.

3-How easy it will be to accomplish all of this.

These things need to be communicated in a way that it grabs the attention of the prospect quickly and communicates that you will not waste their time, either on the phone or in a meeting.  It is very important that you are armed with examples stating that you have done these things for and with others (assuming that you have) but equally important that you do not go into exactly how you have done these things.  You need to leave some of the mystery on for the meeting itself and not allow the prospective buyer to make decisions based upon partial information form a phone conversation.

How do I say this in a simple manner?  The purpose of a sales prospecting call is to make a sale.  However, that sale is often that of getting an appointment and nothing else.  In order to get that appointment, (or whatever the next step might be) you need to speak primarily to the main motivators of the prospective customer.

They are only tuned into one radio station and that is WII-FM-What’s In It For Me?  It’s about Return on Investment. (ROI) Speak to them about what RETURN they will receive from the INVESTMENT in time that they make in listening to you on the phone and seeing you in person.  Focus on them and not on you and you will have a better shot of getting through.

What if they Answer?

In today’s high-tech, high-touch world where you can communicate with people in a variety of ways, it consistently amazes me how communication over the telephone is becoming less and less frequent.  A quick phone conversation has been replaced with a quick text or an email.  A simple TWEET or Facebook posting often is the way that people are choosing to express updates and information.  Last week, while doing a few leadership meetings with CEOs in Ohio, we got onto this topic.  Many of the leaders were expressing concern over a lack of courtesy and increase in perceived indifference that are seeming to become the byproduct of NOT having to have a conversation.  (It’s easier to blow something/someone off via email or text than to actually have to call them to face the music.)  Why, just this morning as I write this, I received news of a local client “bailing” on attending/sending people to a Sales workshop that I actually organized due to his interest/requests of a few months ago.  On the other side of that coin, last week I let a job applicant know (via email) that they were “no longer being considered for the position.”

I don’t know if this is going to change.  Tomorrow’s buyers have communicated this way for years and the skill sets of using the phone and “in-person” communication/connection/persuasion are fading.  I have teenage daughters that have conversations that go on for hours (even days) with their boyfriends via text.  I’m sorry…to me…that’s difficult to understand and hard to grasp.  Nonetheless, as always, we must prepare to “play cards” with the hands that we are dealt.

On that note, when you are making sales calls outbound today, are you prepared to deal with everything that you may run into?  I have had many discussions and training sessions with salespeople getting them prepared to deal with voicemail on the efforts.  We highly suggest a very prepared (yes, even scripted) approach to make a significant IMPACT via voicemail.  In addition, I have built specific training modules for salespeople teaching them some tips on properly dealing with/working with LIVE gatekeepers.  All of this is in your control and needs to be practiced regularly if that is what you have to deal with daily on your outbound calls.

But what if your prospect or customer actually answers?  Are you ready for that?  Because it is becoming so rare today that someone actually does answer the phone, I find that salespeople get caught off guard and thus, fumble to make that verbal connection.  The result is typically a default to 30 seconds of small talk and purposeless drivel that leads to frustration and non-interest on the part of the prospect or customer—NOT YOUR GOAL!!

So, when making outbound calls today, we need to be prepared for anything and everything that could occur.  Here is a brief checklist that you need to potentially print out and post by the phone.

1-Gatekeeper (Live person between you and your target) Be prepared to make a connection with person and ask for their assistance.  Acknowledge them, ask their name, and thank them for their help.  Too many sellers look at the gatekeeper as the enemy when in fact, they often hold the keys to your access to the decision maker.  Think about how you can put them on your team.  Be memorable vs. sneaky and devious.  Think about how many people (salespeople and others) that want access to the same target that you do.  The gatekeeper’s job is to screen out the losers, weed through the hacks, and keep the “takers” away.  If you sound like them and/or treat the gatekeeper like they do, you will suffer their fate….NO ACCESS.  Write down FIVE ways to stand out, add value, ask for assistance, differentiate, and endear yourself to the gatekeeper.  Before you can connect beyond the gatekeeper, you need to connect WITH the gatekeeper!

2-Voicemail.  It has been estimated today that up to 7.3 out of 10 calls made outbound to customers in a B2B world end up in some sort of voicemail.  We MUST learn to deal with voicemail in a more unique and prepared way.  Again, this starts with thought and continues with preparation.  First off, you need to be clear about the purpose of leaving your voicemail.  What is it that you are trying to accomplish by doing so?  For most people, the answer is this:  “I am trying to get them to call me back!”

If that is the case with you, be prepared to leave a quick, compelling, benefit focused message that is ALL about them and what they get with a clear call to action that you wish for them to contact you back.  I also believe that every voicemail should be followed up with an equally quick email that leads with “I just left you a voicemail at your office.”

3-LIVE customer contact.  It is a shame of you ever get caught off guard by someone answering the telephone live.  If you are fortunate enough (or good enough) to get your prospect to answer the telephone on your attempts to reach them, you need to be extremely prepared to make a quick connection and to set next steps.  Any overt small talk or fumbling for words will lead to a quick and painful death.  It’s not hard to “brush you off” if you sound like all the others or worse yet, as someone with whom I would choose NOT to do business.

So for any of these circumstances think about:

  • The purpose of the call
  • The initial “attention grabbing” statement
  • The clear call-to-action (next step) that you desire and will suggest
  • The memorable impression that you will leave.

Although we may live in a world where our buyers are increasingly communicating with us via the “e-world” we still need to have a plan to connect and make an impact over the phone.

Personal Branding…What are YOU Known For?

TOP Salespeople use Personal Branding as a very special way to stand out in the minds of the market.  Most of them don’t even know that they are doing it!  Why do they do it?

  • Personal Branding gets your phone to ring.
  • Personal Branding separates you from all of the competition.
  • Personal Branding puts VALUE ahead of COST.
  • Personal Branding elevates you and thus your company/product/service in the minds of your customer.
  • Personal Branding, quite simply, creates more sales for you!

Companies spend millions of dollars every year to burn their brand into the hearts and minds of their potential customers.  This is done with advertising, jingles, and repetition of their messages.  Nike built a brand around that “swoosh” logo such that its worldwide proliferation is staggering.  You cannot go anywhere in the world of sports without seeing the “swoosh.”  In fact, the “swoosh” has become synonymous with excellence in sports.  The result?  An empire of shoes, clothing and sports gear that commands top dollar in the marketplace.

Starbucks did it with coffee in a different way.   They chose to create a customer “experience” that is consistent throughout the world.  They created a brand and invested their millions into teaching us (through their employees) a different way to order and drink coffee.  They train their people (The Barista’s “Green Apron Book”) and invest in the customer experience that we receive in any Starbucks.  The result?  We will go out of our way AND pay a premium to “find a Starbucks shop.

What is it that YOU can do as a sales professional to position yourself and your company as THE CHOICE rather than simply A CHOICE?  Through the appropriate Personal Branding tactics, you can:

  •  Establish yourself as an expert (Don’t just be “in” your field…be perceived as the “best” in your field.)
  • Be known as a resource (Don’t be a “taker” of orders….be a “maker” of profits and success for your customers)
  • Create a demand for your product or service  (Customer’s will call you…instead of the other way around)
  • Build prospective customer’s trust in you and your company (People do business with whom they trust and know….get KNOWN to gain their trust!)
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition (If you don’t stand out, you don’t stand out!)

How can you create a brand for yourself as a sales professional?  Let’s look at some of the first steps that you must take:

  1. Clearly define the “brand” that your desire to create and communicate to your marketplace.  How do you want to be known?  What words or phrases will your customer’s use to describe you?  How will you choose to differ yourself from the competition?
  2. Establish  a “special sauce statement” that states what it is that you bring to the table in a way that nobody else does.  This should be from the customer’s viewpoint (benefit driven) not from yours (feature driven.)
  3. Create a list of no less than 10 ways to communicate this BRAND every day in every way to your prospects, customers, and clients.  You must walk the walk that you wish to be “known for.”  Consistency is absolutely the key.  Every move that you make needs to be preceded with the following questions: “Is what I am about to do consistent with the brand that I have created?”

Personal Branding is the key to greater sales.  It is often the difference between you getting the contract or the other guy.  More importantly, it is most often the main difference between you having to sell your product or service and people wanting to buy your product or service!

It has been said that in the profession of selling, it’s not who you know, but rather who knows you that counts.  Call our office today at 866-979-LAYO (5296)—yes, the phone number is part of my brand—and get enrolled for any of our upcoming events.  You can also go to www.GerryLayo.com and enroll  for any of these events online.

Remember, if you can’t name 2-3 things that you are KNOWN-FOR, how can you expect your customers to list ONE?

How to get psyched for cold calling

How’s your attitude? Where’s your head? Is it in the game where it needs to be?

They used to think that success in sales was at least 50 percent a head game. It’s not. It’s 100 percent of the game. You need to believe that you’re

  • the right person at the right time
  • working for the right company
  • with the right product and right services
  • in the right territory
  • at the right price

If you are not certain of this, prospecting is a bear. It’s a monster.

It’s hard enough, but if you don’t believe you’re in the right place, that is an effort. You’ve got to have your head in the right place. Are you working for the right company? Have you built your confidence up around the companies or the customers who have done business with you?

Are you able to talk about “Here’s where they were before they started doing business with us, and here’s where they are since they’ve been doing business with us.”

You know the success stories. Do you have the ability to share those success stories?

We all are doing what we do to earn a living, or to possibly build a career. But you’ve got to believe in your product and company in your heart.

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You don’t win by making more calls

Once upon a time, the sales person who made the most calls won.

News flash: Those days are gone!

Today the people who make the most calls are probably the ones who are the least effective. Why? Because, they’re going after activity. They’re going after numbers. They’re saying, “The law of averages is going to take me into the end zone!”

That is not the case. The winner today is the person who’s the most prepared, and the most on top of their game on every call.

You have to be more effective every time you interact with a prospect, whether it’s:
•    A phone call
•    Face-to-face meeting
•    A cold call
•    Following up on a lead
•    Networking
•    Following up on a referral from a client

And that starts, of course, with picking up the phone, and getting in front of people. It starts with you saying “Here’s how many calls I need to make each day,” and staying committed to that.

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