Tag Archives: sales

Tips for Cold Calling

cold-callingI know some of you may loathe cold calling, but we’ve got stuff to sell!

I polled my team and some of my connections on LinkedIn not too long ago, with the question:

“When cold-calling, and you get the gatekeeper, what do you say to get your client on the phone?”

Here are some of the answers:

  • Pretend I’m returning a call
  • Just say your name, not the company you’re calling from
  • Try to disarm gatekeeper with small talk to get them on your side
  • Lots of name dropping
  • Swagger by assuming they are expecting your call, i.e.. “It Brian Farrell for Attorney Jones”
  • I don’t. I call after 5pm.

Strategies

  • Emailing ahead of calling, so it’s expected
  • Having a direction or game plan in the rare chance they actually get on the phone

What do you do? What’s missing? Reply to me and I’ll update the list!

Are you a sales hammer looking for a nail to hit?

sales hammer

Are you a sales hammer looking for a nail to hit?

You know the story. You meet a client for the first time, and they ask a question or two. And your sales hammer goes off.

Bam! Solve that with a product slick.

Bam! Reach in your bag for an order form.

Although you think you’re being helpful, you’re likely leaving money on the table, and coming across as just another salesperson.

So slow down. Ask questions around their problem to keep the conversation going, such as:

  • How do you know this is an issue?
  • What would happen if you didn’t fix it?
  • Are you the person responsible for solving this problem?
  • What does it cost you in lost revenue?
  • What have you tried so far?

If you follow this route, you’ll likely uncover the “real” problem they need help with, the problem that comes with a much deeper solution.

Although not foolproof, slowing down and doing more discovery leads to more sales more often!

How to win skeptical clients

Follow these tips to win over skeptical clients

Thanks to our long recession, once wary clients are now borderline paranoid when it comes to engaging sales consultants or other service providers. Our job of convincing them they need our services has become increasingly difficult over the past few months.

Here are a few ideas to win over more skeptics.

First, acknowledge your clients’ fears. If your pricing is high, then it’s OK to admit it. But you better be able to back it up with lots of data, and make an “apples-to-oranges” comparison with your competition. So instead of quoting a fee, quote in terms your clients understand — number of new customers, number of new inbound leads, etc.

Second, you’ve got to ask your questions without the conversation sounding like a cross-examination. Rookie sales consultants think they can go right to the pitch, but successful veterans do the business interview first. Asking questions around revenues, number of customers, earnings per customer, lifecycles of customer, etc. will set you apart from other sellers. Don’t forget, clients rarely believe anything you say, but they always believe what they say. So getting your business questions answered early on builds a foundation of trust.

Third, you can no longer pass off new business to your implementers or installers and move on. When you discuss the implementation schedule, find out how your client would like to stay in touch — by phone, email or face-to-face meetings. Promise to stay involved and make sure you keep that commitment.

Finally, give up the idea that you need to “win”. You can’t be successful in sales until you make your clients successful. So emphasize the value of working together, but don’t be so up front about it (especially since every other vendor on the planet is selling “value”). Build trust to stand out – be honest and don’t oversell your services.

Remember, if you show genuine interest, solve their problems, and most importantly, help them achieve their goals, you’ll not only please your clients, you’ll astonish them!

Photo credit by brainloc.

Sandbagging and sales forecasting don’t mix

Just like oil and water, sales forecasting and sandbagging don’t mix!

Mark Twain once said that there are “three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Little did he know how apropos this statement would be when it comes to sales forecasting, and the process of sandbagging (in general terms, you “sandbag” when you hold back a strength only to surprise your adversary with it later on).

So why do so many sales professionals, and sales leaders, like to sandbag the numbers? Maybe it’s because new business reps want to surprise leadership with a massively big week. Or maybe it’s because managers want to fire up the team – “we need $200k this week” when the real number is only $175k.

In both cases, sandbagging directly affects your personal brand. What does it tell your manager about your values when you deliberately hold back numbers for another week? And what do your subordinates think about you when you artificially inflate sales figures? Neither bodes well in my opinion.

Instead, why not just report what the real figures are? And be consistent in this approach? I’d bet that weekly meetings and forecasting schedules are met with excitement, rather than chagrin.

For new reps only
Do us all a favor, and report the real numbers. A zero isn’t the end of the world, so long as you can back it up with your plans and processes to see more clients, and close more business.

What’s your take? Do you sandbag sales? Are you misleading your sales force with unreal expectations, just to “hit” the real number?

Mark Twain quote from Wikipedia.

How to write winning sales letters

blank note pad with penToday’s sales letters aren’t mailed and are rarely handwritten. But, they’re often repurposed as paid search landing pages for lead generation. Writing sales letters is more art than science, but if you follow the five suggestions below, you’ll achieve greater response.

Get Their Attention
Pretend you’re the client, and tell them what they want to know about your offer, anticipating questions they may have.

Show Advantage(s)
Good sales letters have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. And they’re written conversationally, with short paragraphs, even shorter sentences and lots of white space. After you’ve told them about your offer, show them a benefit — not what they get, but what they really get. For example, if you’re a criminal lawyer, you’re selling legal services, but your client is staying out of jail!

Prove It
This is where great sales letters are made. Social proof, in the form of real testimonials, are often more powerful than any other part of your letter. Psychologically, we all have some resistance when being pitched, but we let down our guard when someone else, who went before us, had nice things to say. Do not forget this section!

Sum it Up
Tell me again everything you’ve told me — why I’m reading this letter, what benefits I get and why I should believe you.

Ask for Action
Don’t make me think — tell me what you want me to do. Pick up the phone, fill out your form, etc.

If you follow this simple, 5-step formula, your sales letters and landing pages should convert suspects into prospects, prospects into leads, and leads into sales.

Photo credit by RAWKU5.