Most people don’t like to sell over the telephone. The number one reason…Rejection! Our research shows that you have 15 to 18 seconds to get someone’s attention on a tele-prospecting call. That doesn’t mean that you talk faster or louder! Remember, buyers are thinking, “What’s in it for me? Why should I care?” Whatever you say needs to be quick, targeted and engaging!
Let me start off by highlighting three basic telephone skills that all successful salespeople have mastered. They are:
1. Rate of Speech…If you speak too rapidly, you will tend to lose the customer and you will lose the call objective. The converse is also true; if you speak too s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y you have a tendency to bore the person the other end (remember their time is valuable!) and will again jeopardize your call objective. The ideal rate of speech is between 180 and 190 words per minute. This rate will allow the prospect to understand what you are saying and maintain interest. This is the same rate of speech taught to, and used by, most radio and television announcers. If you practice speaking at the 180-word/minute rate you will significantly improve your communication…and, in selling, that translates into more sales and commission for you.
2. Be conscious of your “volume” …Just as rate of speech is important when speaking to your customer on the phone, so too is your volume. While this may sound like a first grade instruction you would be surprised how often professional salespeople fail to adjust their volume during a telephone conversation. It is important to speak at a volume that will allow the other person to hear you with little or no difficulty. This will normally be the same volume that you would use to speak to someone who is seated across a table from you.
3. Voice Inflection…This is the art and skill of creating the perception of confidence, knowledge and experience through the use of voice inflection (up and down) tonal quality and emphasis on key words. Often salespeople can be identified when calling a prospect because they don’t use proper voice inflection or worse yet, speak in a monotone! Inflection and/or emphasis does work and can affect what the client hears. USE IT TO YOUR BENEFIT!
Top performing salespeople do their homework before they pick up the phone. They start off by targeting their prospects. They identify companies, industries or geographic areas that they would like to sell. They also identify potential business problems that the prospect can relate to based upon the prospect’s job description, title and/or industry.
Successful salespeople listen more than they talk. Let me highlight five keys to becoming a better listener. They are:
1. Limit your own talking…You can’t talk and listen at the same time.
2. Put yourself in the customers shoes…Your client’s problems and needs are important and you’ll understand and retain them better if you listen to their point of view and from their perspective, not your own.
3. Ask questions…If you don’t understand something or feel you may have missed the point their trying to make, clear it up now before it embarrasses you later!
4. Don’t interrupt…A pause doesn’t always mean they are finished saying everything they wanted to say or explain. They may just be catching their breath! Wait four seconds before speaking.
Expect objections…You can learn a great deal about the prospect from the way they say things or the tone of their voice when responding. Trust your instincts and don’t forget it’s natural to get objections or to hear doubts expressed or inferred. The key to overcoming objections is to come across as a consultant versus a “pushy” salesperson. The bottom line is to enable the buyer to buy!
As I’ve written in previous blogs there is both an “art” as well as a “science” to selling. The “art” of selling includes building rapport/trust, establishing/nurturing relationships, etc. The “science” of selling includes the rigor and discipline of doing productive selling activities on a daily basis. Listed below are selected productive versus unproductive selling activities:
Productive Selling Activities
- Got to the Decision Maker early in the sales cycle
- Engaged the Decision Maker in strategic, proactive conversations
- Uncovered “need”
- Differentiated myself from my competition
- Cost-justified my solution
- Got a referral
- Short sales cycle
- Big commission dollars
- Knocked out the competition
- Had multiple points of contact
- Received repeat business
Unproductive Selling Activities
- Didn’t get to the Decision Maker
- Was reactive/tactical
- Couldn’t uncover “need”
- My solution was viewed as a commodity
- Couldn’t cost-justify my solution
- Mystery Decision Maker
- Sales cycle dragged on and on
- Wasted a lot of time/Opportunity costs
- Competition won
- Had a single-point failure
- Didn’t realize that they were never going to buy in the first place…they were using me to “beat up” the incumbent
Take a moment to review both lists and check how many apply to your world and then modify your behavior accordingly
Are you looking for ways to become a better manager? If so your first step should be to eliminate the word “manager” from your dictionary and insert the word “leader” in its place. One of the key differences between and manager and a leader is the ability to create “followership.” Team members will follow you if they believe that you have a clear vision of where you’re going, that you have their best interests in mind and if they believe that you’ve “got their back!”
Next, start “connecting” with your people versus managing them. Learn what they’re good at and what they like doing. Gain an understanding about what they’d like to do better and how you can help them get there. Figure out what they want to learn and what’s the best way for them to learn.
Lastly, memorize and implement the following fifteen secrets of the most effective leaders…and modify your behavior accordingly!
- Communicate early/often (Our research shows that 90% of people problems are communication problems)
- Establish a clear vision/direction (Let team members know how they “fit” into the bigger picture)
- Proactively manage change (As Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez said, “Burn the ships!”)
- Set clear goals/expectations (Make sure you set meets minimum/target/overachievement goals)
- Manage your team’s energy (Negative energy will always affect a team’s productivity)
- Celebrate “unsung heroes” (Walk the halls to find people doing things right)
- Manage the present…plan for the future (Don’t focus so much on who you are or where you’ve been but rather on where you’re going)
- Coach people through their fears (Instill confidence in team members)
- Assess the “readiness levels” or team members (Have the managerial courage to make changes)
- Learn your lessons…then move on (Don’t dwell on past failures)
- Visualize success (Success is a choice)
- Hold team members accountable (What gets measured gets done)
- Hire based upon potential (The “want to” is more powerful than the “know how”)
- Create a motivating work environment (Employee satisfaction drives customer satisfaction and customer satisfaction drives customer retention)
- Search for “teachable moments” (Look for ways to help your individual team members reach their full potential)
Spring training games are almost done and baseball fans across the globe are excited about the regular season starting on Sunday night. While I don’t know who’s going to win the World Series in the fall I do know that the team that focused on the fundamentals, demonstrated teamwork and practiced and trained the hardest during spring training has a better chance of winning than those that didn’t!
To that end I’m excited to announce that I will be facilitating a one-day, Sales Productivity workshop (“Creating a Productive Selling Zone®”) that will be “open” to the public on May 8, 2013. The workshop will be held at the exclusive Richland Country Club in Nashville, Tennessee. This highly interactive workshop will include the sharing of sales and sales management “best practices” from over 20,000 salespeople and sales managers from a variety of industries across the globe, over 15 years of buyer-based research data as well as small group breakout sessions and role-plays to ensure that each attendee will walk away with tools/techniques that will positively impact their business the very next day. Attendees will be working on:
Negotiation role plays using real prospects/clients. Learning to close more business using a strategic plan for negotiations.
Perfecting their Unique Value Proposition (UVP) to help differentiate their unique capabilities from their competition.
- Learning the three Stages of Buying and the secrets of Selling to Different Buying Behaviors to minimize/eliminate potential sales objections.
- Creating an Account Penetration Checklist to improve retention and up-sell.
- Targeting Specific Companies/Industries for New Business Development and Qualify/Disqualify opportunities more quickly.
- Understanding the Pyramid of Power in their prospect’s organization to identify exactly who has the “Power of the Pen.”
- Uncover the Real Business Issues in minutes using a simple, strategic process.
- Learning a simple tool to Cost Justify products/services, even if they are the most expensive!
Seating will be limited to 25 workshop attendees to ensure an optimal learning ratio. The investment is $375/person which includes registration for the one-day workshop, all workshop materials, continental breakfast and a catered lunch. As usual, we will offer quantity discounts if four or more people from the same company attend as well as discounts for Accelerent members and Veterans.
The Productive Selling Zone is not a journey nor is it a destination…it’s a state of effectiveness! If you’re a salesperson or sales leader that’s looking to improve the size/quality of your pipeline, increase your average order size, shrink your sales cycle and grow market share you can’t afford to miss this workshop. Please call our office at (615) 395-0200, visit our website at www.boyens.com or email me at email@example.com to reserve your seat today!
We’ve found that professional sales teams rarely suffer from a lack of effort…however the disparity between effort and positive results is quite common. So what gets in the way?
- Is it the marketplace?
- Is it the competition?
- Could it be because of high turnover?
- Is it because there’s no standardized sales and/or sales management process?
- Is it because of ineffective or inconsistent training?
Our research shows it’s because some or all of the bullets highlighted above!
I know that many companies invest in the professional development of their sales teams but become frustrated when they don’t generate the desired results. The fact is that sales organizations are only productive when there is a convergence of effort and positive results. Real productivity in a sales process is recognizable and measurable because productive processes have specific characteristics. The most successful sales organizations are defined by the following ten characteristics:
1. They have a customer-focused strategy that permeates the entire organization
2. They have standardized sales and sales management processes
3. They can articulate competitive differentiation/Unique Value Proposition
4. They sell their products/services at full value…they don’t discount
5. Accurate forecasting from a sales, revenue and profit perspective
6. They hire, train and integrate salespeople that become productive in a matter of weeks rather than months
7. They keep their best employees
8. They retain and cross-sell existing customers
9. They’re always looking to improve customer satisfaction levels
10. They measure their sales cycles and close rates on a regular basis
When these characteristics are integrated throughout a sales organization, a level of performance is achieved that I call the Productive Selling Zone®. When you’re in the Zone…effort and positive results converge at every step in the sales process!
As a result organizations are able to improve profitability, employee satisfaction and customer retention.
Video transcript included for your convenience.
Question: What do you tell someone who’s got a Prospect Stuck in the Pipeline?
Answer: You know its interesting companies today are really struggling with that more and more because what they have is all these tools at their fingertips –their SFS system (Sales Force Automation system), their CRM system (Customer Relations Management), their databases, their pipeline, etc.
Business owners, Executives, Sales Leaders and Marketing leaders are making business decisions based upon the size and quantity of a pipeline and when those deals get stuck or delayed, they’re always saying: I made a decision expecting this business to close and it didn’t.
Here are some of the things we found regarding why those deals get stuck.
I talk about having an IDEA of who you’re selling to.
IDEA is an acronym: Are you talking to an (I)nfluencer, a (D)ecision-maker, an (E)nd-user or an (A)pprover? Now in some small companies that can be all rolled up into one but in medium size and larger companies, that could be multiple people. In fact, that could be a very wide web. You need to think about that. So if you have an idea of who you’re selling and you can get to the decision maker earlier, that can really help.
The first part is who am I talking to? Are they at the right level? And my talking to them about the right things?
Let me give you an example of one of our clients is a technology company and they were having a lot of accounts get stuck in their pipeline when we started to work with their people. Now the person they normally talked to was the Chief Architect, who was a tech person. We said: you need to talk to the person has the budget because the tech person will look at all the technology you want to show them but if you are going to get them to buy, you’ve got to get to the person who has the power of the pen.
We offered to help them get hirer in that Pyramid of Power. We can get you talking to the decision maker. We did. The unfortunate thing was they kept having the same techie conversations that they were having with the Chief Architect instead of talking the language of their buyer. You get delegated to whom you speak most like so picture this — if you’re talking to a decision-maker who has the budget but is not a technologist,and you keep talking about ‘bits and bytes’ and ‘speeds and feeds’, they think who in my organization sounds like that and they send you to the air conditioning room with the raised floors so here are couple of checkpoints for you if you have something stuck in the pipeline.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I have the decision-maker? Am I at the right level? Has that person admitted need or have I created a vision for a new way of doing things with them? Have they agree to take a serious look at my product or service? And lastly am I talking their language and talking about things that they worry about?
Back to the earlier example our client had significant improvement after our engagement with them because not only were they talking to a different level, they weaved a web so that they also able to stay connected to the Chief Architect and and they got to the person who had the power of the pen and understood how that solution would help that person look good.
Have an idea that you’re selling to make sure you talk a language that connects with that person.