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don't do this on cold calls

3 Things To Leave Out Of Your Prospecting Call1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Not only do I get to listen to a lot of outbound calls, but I get a fair bit of cold calls, (I guess they did not get the memo that cold calling is dead), and there are a number of things that if people would just stop doing, they would be so much more successful. These aren’t the top ones, or worst ones, they are just the ones that irritated me most this week.

1.  Who Is In Charge Of…?

These are the people who give cold calling a bad name, lazy people who can’t be bothered to go to your web site or LinkedIn and do some basic scraping to get basic info. Even if the above were to leave you wondering, asking this question is just going to make more work, and lead to less results. The receptionist may have a different idea of who is in charge of. As far as he/she is concerned the person in charge of office supply is the person asking them if the need that supply. The person in charge of telecommunication is the one who works on their telco problems, not the one making the decision about carriers. So if you are really unable to find the right person before you pick up the phone, hard to believe these days given the resources available, just ask for a specific title. Not any harder, not much better, but if you have to, it is better to ask for the CTO, than the person in charge of telephones or IT.

2.  What you or your company does

Really no one cares, if they did, they would have phoned you, not the other way around. Beyond the name of your company, no one cares. Tell them what you have done for others with similar objectives, what the economic outcome was, and how it impacted their business. Anything other than that is saying please hang up on me, I prefer to talk about me and my company not you and your opportunities. Instead of who you are and what you do, talk about outcomes, lead with outcomes they are looking for and thinking about, it is about the end, not the means.

3 Your Title (or lot in life)

I rarely laugh at sales people when they call, I know the effort it takes, and they are doing their job, I usually listen, and if they are open, make suggestions. But one thing that always gets a belly laugh is when I hear someone include their title. “hi this Josie Broune, regional account manager for Canada”, or the voice mail version, “hi you’ve reached Mike Smith, Eastern Canada Sales Director at Another Company”.

I am sure your mother and spouse are proud of your title, and for many I am sure your title defines some aspect of your life, but for the person listening it means nothing, in fact those people who hang up on you, for them it means less than nothing.

I am not saying it is not impressive or that you should not be proud, but it adds nothing to the call, which means it needs to be eliminated. I’ve had some tell me that it communicates their capabilities and demonstrates some credibility. It doesn’t. You want to impress, and create credibility, get to what is in it for them, the business impacts you have delivered to others with similar objectives. Start and stay with that and you’ll get their attention, anything other than that, and they are just waiting for a pause where they can shut you down, and if that opening does not come in time – – click.

Don’t do it Len, leave these things out.

Not interested

They’re Not Interested – What Now?3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No one likes objections, the number one reason for sales people hating cold calling is the cold reality of the objections. I get it, but when you think about it there are probably five common objections you will face in telephone prospecting. About 80% of the time, 80% people we are calling will go to one of these five objections. While none are pleasant, especially when you are not ready, the most frustrating seems to be the “Not interested” objection. Seems the most sensible people lose their mind for a second.

I recently had a call from someone for a product, that based on their introduction I felt I did not need, did not want, and would not help me in any way. I told the rep: “no thanks, no interest at the moment.” Sounding somewhat irritated, he asked “why is that?”.

Me: Based on your intro, I don’t see the need, so thanks, but not interested.
Rep: I get that, but why not?

At this point, I said “Well get this” as I hit the end button.

Now he is not the worst I have had, and I figure his frustration was not with my reply but the fact that he blew it and had no clue how to handle it any other way. (He should take my program)

First mistake, he assumed that telling me about his brand, and their Unique Selling Proposition (which other than his company’s name was not unique at all), would arouse a deep and hidden need and desire. I had what he was selling, so need and want were non-factors. What he should have done is align his approach with my priorities, and how they may contribute to them.

I would argue that the main reason someone says they are not interested is that they gleaned little or no value from your intro, and what little they may have, was not enough to displace a current priority. The oldest rule “What’s in it for them”, yet most calls are about “us, and what we do, and we, we, we.” If you offered something of real interest, you would get a different response. Don’t believe me, call five people and offer them $1,000,000 and see how many “Not interested” responses you get.

I am not suggesting that you have to go to that extent, but you do need have a clear idea of how you can impact the prospects business and objectives in a very specific way. And that’s where the work comes in, speaking to those points that are on the minds and the ‘to-do’ lists of byers. Given that there are multiple buyers in each decision, apparently 5.4 buyers, it means work. Generic “we, we, we, ROI of that” no longer cuts it unless you happen across someone who has that specific need at the time you call, not likely, less than a 30% shot. But 100% of businesses and business people have objectives, that’s where the value is, that’s where their interest is.

Want to handle objections better, grab our Objection Handling Handbook now, normally $12.97,
free by clicking here.

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executive woman talking on the phone in her office

Good Things Happen To Those Who Call – Sales eXecution 3290

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 
Over and over different sales people tell a success story that starts with them saying “I got lucky the other day, I called this guy, and he is ready to move forward.” Or “I’ve been calling this guy every few months for the last couple of years, and I finally got a meeting with him.” While luck may have played a small role in it, especially the first scenario, the fact remains that even luck has to be met half way.

Timing is the second most critical element in the first case above, the most critical, was making the call. The simple reality is that if you don’t make the call, you can never take advantage of timing, whether by luck or by design, such as a trigger, not just a random event, but any trigger. Which leads us to one of the key flaws in the cold calling is dead argument. Cold calling here is defined as any call to anyone who does not have you in their calendar. This does mean there is no reason to speak with, it just means the call was unplanned, not unmerited.

For every stat that suggests that prospects will not take your call, there as many stats that show that decision makers and recommenders are open to input and are actively seeking expert advice in ensuring that they make the right choice for their company. Buyers are very much like sellers, some are lazy and go with the popular flow, others take their mandate seriously and consider all viable resources. The question for sellers is “how do I become viable or relevant to a prospect?” Calling with the usual script that sounds a lot like: “This is Us, We do this, you ready to buy?” will seal your fate the second you open your mouth.

As with any campaign, and that is what prospecting is, a campaign to engage with qualified potential buyers, the goal is to create buyers. Yes, prospects are created not found, and once you have a prospect, you need to convert them to a buyer. This is why those who wait for buyers to realize they want or need to buy, or who are 57% through a buy decision, end up dealing with order takers, not sellers.

The second scenario above is a great example of a prospect being created. A consistent flow of touch points, direct and specific communication, and regular interactions, lead to a prospect being created, without having to wait for a random event. Those calls spaced between other forms of communication add a dimension missed by those who don’t pick up the phone and call. We learn different elements and evolution in the prospect’s world. Each bit of information and intelligence gained is ploughed back into the campaign, each time making you more viable, more relevant and more on target. So when the moment comes that the prospect decides to engage, it is not just timing, not just persistence, that could be achieved through various forms of automation and drip approaches. It is the personal contact and added knowledge gained and the refinement of each call that makes one stand out from the also-rans.

Again, it is not this vs. that, you can work with marketing, leverage and be social, but if you don’t cold call, you’ll be missing a crucial element in creating a prospect. Sure, you can wait to be found, or you can put calls into the mix and make good things happen.

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Business man point: Turn Prospects Into Sales Appointments

You Have To Sell Is The Appointment First1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In the past I have posted about the attitude sales people have towards prospecting, some see it as a necessary evil and unpleasant part of their job, something they have to “tolerate” early in their career, until they build up a sufficient base to live off. How many times have you heard a rep with tenure say they “have earned the right not prospect”, or the less honest version “put me in front of the right guy and I’ll close them.” While that may be true, the big bucks in sales go to the ones who can get in front of the right guys on their own.

One thing that differentiates the complete sales person, the sales people who can execute all elements of the job, not just the easy ones or the ones they like, is their understanding that prospecting is a sale. Perhaps the hardest sale of all, selling the appointment. The same instincts, skills and disciplines it takes to sell the product or service, are involved in selling an appointment, it’s just that the prospect is not yet a willing participant. Which is why you need to take the attitude that the appointment has to be sold.

Beyond role play, one of the things that we do with clients is listen to recordings of actual calls by the reps we train. Not one or three calls when they know they are being listened, but recording of dozens and dozens of calls throughout their week, getting a real sense of what they are doing when it counts, not just to impress on one or two calls. What you hear across dozens of calls in consistent; sure you can explain one call, or two, but when you hear the same mistakes over the course of days and weeks as we do, there is no denying facts.

Right from the time the prospect answers you can tell which reps came to sell, and which came to take orders, hoping the prospect throws them a bone. The way they initiate the call, how they engage the prospect. Not just style and mannerism, but what they speak to, and the narrative they paint for the buyer. This is not just about enthusiasm, while that is key and infectious, when wrapped around the wrong message it becomes toxic, and no one wants to be infected with that. Or the diminutive subservient posture they take, if you close your eyes you see Goofy when they try to handle the “all set” objection: “Well maybe I can be your number two if you ever tire of number one, ah, gosh darn it.”

Those reps who sell the appointment are much more often the ones who sell the deal, while the others are more likely to be used for info and price concessions, or worse, as a means of getting concessions from the incumbent, and once that is achieved, they are tossed to the curb.

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video intro 2016

Prospecting Call Mistakes You Can Avoid #Video0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Making outbound prospecting calls can be challenging and stressful, for both the prospect and the rep making the call. To be more effective you need to change some things that may work in day to day life, even in a scheduled sales call, because this is not a scheduled call, so the dynamics will be different, and as a pro you have to make up for that difference. Take a look at the video below to learn to common mistakes to avoid.

Tell me what you think; and if you have doubts about what you heard, read what the University of San Francisco has to say about building credibility in prospecting calls.

Hey if you liked the segment and the ideas, join me this Wednesday, when I and dozens of other sales thought leaders share best practices during the Sales Acceleration Summit, the world’s largest on line sales event. Click here to see the agenda and to register. My session is on the Dynamics of Successful SDR and prospecting calls.

Disapproval thumbs down by a male executive.

Who Is That For, You or the Buyer?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Prospecting can be a nerve racking experience for many in sales, especially outbound telephone prospecting, which explains why so few are good at the practice. The rejection, the unknown, the boos looking at you output and shaking his head, and clock on the wall ticking louder and louder. This triggers series of primal responses from nesting and protection to fight-or-flight. Let’s be clear we’re not talking about fighting the customer, but fighting the urge to give up and go back to inbound prospecting, or perhaps flight to a better strategy and approach to telephone prospecting.

When the nerves kick in, we try to compensate for it and comfort ourselves in the hope that things will get better. But hope is really not a path to successful prospecting, and the best comfort comes from having a pipeline full of real opportunities. Most of the other comforts are really there to make the prospector feel better, not necessarily to improve the scenario and results. To do that you have to actually go the other way. While being counter intuitive may not be immediately comfortable, it will lead to more opportunities, which will in turn will allow you to indulge in some real comfort, no matter what that is for you.

So here are somethings you should stop doing specifically on a first call, things that may make you feel better and more comfortable, but has the opposite effect on the buyer, and thereby detrimental to your success. Your litmus test should be: “Is this for me or for the buyer?” If the answer is for the buyer, great; if the answer is you don’t know or for you, then cut it out, full stop. There is no grey, it truly is black and white, and any time you waste debating it is time you are not selling.

First off, stop asking the buyer how they are two seconds in to the call. Yes, I know we were brought up that way, Mom always told you to be polite. While I may agree with Mom that you should be courteous and respectful of the prospect, she probably wasn’t thinking that raising an outbound sales person. Asking that question consumes valuable seconds at the start of the call, and keeps the conversation from the focus, which is what is in in for the buyer, and how it helps them achieve their objectives. How they are, is not germane, and you know, there will be times when it they are jammed, feeling harassed, and all the question does is accentuates that. Whereas getting to the point of what’s in it for them, allows them to focus on that, which is what you want. If you want to feel how useless asking how they are, just think of the last time a duct cleaner asked you how you were.

litmus

Next pacifier that needs to go, asking them “is this a good time?” or “Do you have a couple of minutes?”. That’s like asking for the bullet to the head, might as well save the prospect the time and do it yourself. When we do outbound calling, to people who did not have us on their calendar, people who are trying to pack 16 hours into a ten-hour day, people who only see their kids awake on the weekend, time is a premium, and we are a disruption. So by definition they do not have time for the unknown, and at the time of the question in the call we are an unknown. Now if you started with what is in in for the buyer, and how it helps them achieve their objectives, they will make time. But again, you want to be polite and hope that they like you, instead of helping them like what you represent, you know a “solution”.

litmus

I know going cold turkey on these bad habits is hard, so here is something that will help you let off some social steam, make you feel better but not risk the call. Right where you would blurt out either of the above questions, and normally stop to wait for the answer, instead say “Thanks for taking my call.” Statement not a question, so you don’t have to stop, and you can get to what really counts, the real upside for the buyer.

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Twin sisters making stop sign

2 Serious Mistakes To Avoid In Prospecting2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Most see selling and prospecting as two different things, as evidenced by the fact that while apply themselves to the former, but save their real creativity to avoiding the latter. But the fact remains that you can’t sell without prospecting, but sadder still, you can prospect a lot without selling. Mastering the skill-and-art of proactively prospect, especially buyers who don’t know them, is the ticket to continuous sales success. But people avoid prospecting because of the rejection factor; that nagging reminder that sellers are mere mortals after all.

Successful professional prospectors also know that sales and prospecting are different, and it is how they view that, and what they do that helps them deal and succeed.

Being that sales and prospecting are two of revenue process, each has its own set of objectives, and related activities, and desired outcomes. For prospecting, the singular and only objective is engagement with a buyer, plainly speaking, as many of you would express, “getting in”. To do that they avoid doing two common things, this in turn contributes to their prospecting and by extension sales success.

Thing 1 – “Gatekeeper”

People focused on leveraging clients’ objective for prospecting success, detest this term. It puts you and someone important to your success in adversarial posture. Conjures up the image of the bridge keeper from The Bridge of Death, keepers of the gate to sales Nirvana. To be clear, this is not about a receptionist in the lobby, (sometimes lock away from her colleagues), but an executive assistant or personal admin who work with the executives you want to sell to. They are not the enemy, nor do you want them to be, as they have a lot knowledge you’d love to tap into, and influence with the very individual whose influence you seek.

By now you are probably hip to the new number in town, 5.4, wonderfully unpacked by our friends at the CEB in the #ChallengerCustomer. No one knows those players better than what many mistakenly call the ‘Gatekeeper’. If you start treating them in the same way you would any of the 5.4. Furthermore, they are a unique source of insight as to who your Mobilizer may be. Rather than following the advice to isolate and exclude, you should think and do inclusion, tell them what you would tell the person he/she assists. Engage around who the executive may delegate the kind of projects or products your offering has improved or moved towards their objectives. Yes, Virginia, we are talking on the first call, I want to get in, not play coy.

Thing 2 – Decision Maker

It’s not about the maker, it’s about the decision. Hard for many Judeo-Christian sellers to just let go of the Maker.

Whenever I ask a group of sellers, who they want to reach out to when prospecting an organization. The answer is overwhelmingly “the decision maker”. Now I have used a range of directories and lists, and many had some on-depth information, but rarely did they have the title Decision Maker. And given that the studies show that there usually more people involved in the decision, looking for one maker may not be the best approach.

The thought process for prospecting should be about the decision, not the maker; about mapping the decision to objectives you can contribute to, who you impact internally and in their customer base, and most of all what your specific impact is. Looking at getting a decision and what is involved in that, and then building your track around that for all involved, will help you uncover anticipated advantages in creating and extending conversation, especially to where you can converge them around you. Looking for a Decision Maker, will narrow your focus and cause you to miss things you could leverage even if you found Salomon.

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Tomorrow Is Today – Sales eXecution 3240

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

A common discussion among sales people, or more accurately, sales people willing to make cold calls, that is complete sales people, is when is the best time to cold call? I have added my two cents on this in past. What is true about any element of success, is that the things that lead to it become routine, a habit, and there is no doubt that people are creatures of habit. This can be good and bad at the same time. Reports show that habit, things we do by rote, make up about 40% of what we do on a daily basis, so if develop good habits, this will serve you well. If you develop bad habits, well then, you have some work to do.

This notion of habits extends to cold calling as well, with all the implications and ramifications. One of those habits is when they choose to cold call. For the cold calling is dead crowd, the time is never, they have made the decision to go at it with one less tool in their toolkit. The rest seem to land on one of two days, oddly both start with T. Those who have developed good prospecting habits always prospect, including cold calling, Today. The others, with questionable habits, well, it’s always Tomorrow.

The Today group, uses their calendar to ensure that they get what has to get done in time for it to matter. Like many sales people they put all the important things in their calendar; be they client meetings, training, commission days, and yes, cold calling. If it is not in your diary it is likely not to get done, there will always be some things that come up that will distract you, and cause you to say “I can do that tomorrow, because I have this to do today. The question is if you don’t prospect today, who are you going to sell to tomorrow.

The Tomorrow crowd do not put prospecting time in their calendar because it would begin to resemble a commitment. Understanding what percentage of your “selling time” one has to commit to prospecting is where you start, once you have that you can begin to slot it in, along with the prep time it will take to generate the leads, understand their objectives, and all the other things that have to be in place for a successful cold call.

The other thing the Today crowd do is understand that rejection is part of the process. They study the most common objections and spend time preparing for them, understanding them, and developing means of taking those objections and transitioning them to conversations, and live another day by adding more opportunities to their pipeline. The Tomorrow crowd live another day by kicking the can down the road a few more inches each day.

What I have also found, is that with some coaching and effort, many Tomorrow people can be rehabilitated and converted to Today people. Since many had good sales habits alongside nonexistent cold calling habits, by doing what they need to today, they will likely be that much more successful.

Tibor Shanto

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Q&A at Plug and Play #video – Sales eXecution 3130

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

In September I had the opportunity to meet with some up and coming companies at Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale.  After the meeting, I was asked to share some specifics about selling and our approach to driving value from prospecting call to growing your clients.  Take a look below, and feel free to reach out if anything strikes a chord or close to home.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

 

Ready Set Go – Part II0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

competition

Last Monday, in Ready Set Go – Part II  I wrote about how to plan and execute the rest of the calendar year (for many their fiscal year). We looked at two scenarios, one for sellers who set themselves up for success. The second, and the focus for today’s post, is for those in the other group, the “Holy s#*t, there are only how many working days left in the year?” Don’t panic, that would just be a waste of your time, and time is something you don’t have in abundance; instead, get prospecting. Prospecting in two ways, first reworking all your current assets, the second is going beyond to prospects and buyers that you will need to identify, engage and move through the process. In essence what you should have been doing before the summer.

What I mean by reworking all your current assets are two specific activities. One look at all your “no decision” opportunities over the las 12 months. Opportunities that went into your pipeline, or sales process, progressed but died before coming out the other end as customers. These are not opportunities that bought from someone else, but that tested the market, then went back to the sideline having changed or done anything. In some instances this group could exceed 30% of things that go into the top of the pipe. They know you, you know them, things have changes, they may be more ready now, it certainly is worth a call. Even if they don’t re-engage now, they are likely starting the planning cycle for 2016; early bird is a good thing to be.

The other method is to crank up your referral efforts, both in your client base and, your indirect network, and your Referral 2.0 network. While I still believe in cold calling, referrals are nice too.

But you will also need to go beyond the comfort zone, and that’s where cold calling will come in. Specifically in two directions, first looking for opportunities that have a reasonable chance of closing this year. This does not have to be the proverbial lower hanging fruit, but could smaller deals for example. This may mean having more of these to sell, but that could not only mean shorter cycles, but also provide an initial entry point to accounts. The idea is to both salvage the year, and set yourself up for future growth.

Second, much like the successful group above, start hunting for things that will close next year, and close early. A challenge many sales people have is the start of year lull, often because they spend a disproportionate time “closing” late in the year. They return in the New Year only to find a neglected pipeline that takes time to build up and get back in shape. This can easily be avoided by starting early, starting now. Think of it as a variation to the above scenario, except in this instance we seed now, harvest in January. To avoid this, but you have to start now. I always find it interesting that prospects are able to hold

Look at it this way, at least if you miss quota this year, you will have given your employer a reason to keep you around for next year.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

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