Category Archives: Sales Prospecting

introvert-sales-people

5 Ways to Sell to Introverts

Millions of introverts hate the way you sell. According to recent studies, between 33 and 50 percent of North Americans are introverts, including many of your clients. Further, more than 70 percent of the world’s CEOs describe themselves as introverts, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

To assume that you know your clients and how to approach them is to take a risk. Wrong assumptions can lead you to communicate with clients in a way that seems confusing and even foreign. They become disconnected or completely turned off. Continue reading 5 Ways to Sell to Introverts

Alen Mayer

About Alen Mayer

Alen Mayer lives, eats and breaths sales and combines over 20 years of experience in international sales and business development with the persuasion, psychology and magic of NLP; by attending his training you’re sure to enjoy your time receiving the most advanced sales knowledge available! He is one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012, published author of 4 sales titles, Certified NLP Trainer, Autogenic Training Master Practitioner, and Certified Sales Professional. Learn more tips by signing up for his weekly sales tips at www.weeklysalestips.tv. Visit: www.alenmayer.com for information on how to use NLP to grow your sales and how to sell to introverts.

sales-planning

Pre-Call Planning – An Essential Best Practice in Selling

To a sales professional, there’s nothing like feeling you get when you walk out of a client’s office after had a good sales call.  Everything thing went the way you planned, you got the information you needed, you delivered your message, you solved a problem, you moved the sale forward, and maybe you even got a purchase order.

But, how do you know objectively that it was good meeting.  It’s more than just a feeling.  This is where precall planning comes in as an essential best practice.  The key features of an effective sales call plan includes these two elements:

1)            The purpose of your call and the benefit to the client – “What’s in it for them?”
2)            Your objectives – “What do you want to get done?”

Clearly defining the purpose of your sales call answers the customer’s question:  Why should I meet with you?

No one likes to waste their time.  Most people have things they need to get done every day and usually not enough time in the day to do it.  They are willing to meet with you because you play an important role in helping them meet their goals.

To set the proper tone, you need to define exactly what it is that you are trying to accomplish – from the perspective of the customer.  It could be cold call and you are just trying to get your first introductory meeting.  A good purpose statement would be to introduce yourself and your company; spend some time to understand their business; and determine if there are any synergies between your companies that might help them meet their goals.

This framework is known as the purpose, process, and payoff.  It tells both you and the customer why you are there.

If the prospect disagrees with the process statement, you need to regroup and refine your purpose statement.  Maybe you need to do more homework.  Or perhaps you need to call on someone else in the organization before you meet with the CEO.

When you are in the meeting, you need to be prepared to fulfill your purpose.  This will require actually taking the time to prepare for the call.  Generally speaking, you should spend at least twice as long preparing as you would expect the sales call to last.  You should be thinking about the questions you want to ask and the message that you want to deliver.  All too often sales people spend too much time talking and not enough time listening.  Questioning techniques is another best practice in sales, but that is not the purpose of this post.

Once you get the agreement to meet with the customer, you need to be clear on the objectives.  These are YOUR objectives.  You may – or may not – want share them with the customer.  An example of when you may not want to share your objectives would something like:

•             Who else is bidding
•             Who has been qualified and rejected
•             Allocated funding for this project
•             Who is the key decision maker

These are important data to develop your sales plan.  But, some of these questions require a little finesse to uncover.

In a nutshell, the objectives are what you want to get done in the meeting.

There are two key objectives:  the Primary Objective and the Minimum Objective.

Some people jump to “make the sale” or “get a purchase order” as the primary objective.  In today’s complex world of selling, that is a very rare – and wonderful – sales call to make.  Typically, the primary objective is what you need to do to keep the sales process moving forward.  Some examples of good primary objectives are:

•             Agreement to perform a survey of their system.
•             Review past operational data.
•             Get the prospect to visit your facility
•             Understand the company organization and review the org chart.
•             Understand the informal influencers in the organization.
•             Be introduced to the executive that owns the P&L.
•             Get agreement to present capabilities to the senior leadership team.

This is how you really know if you were successful after your sales call – if you get agreement to fulfill your primary objective.

Your minimum objective is the least that you are willing to accept when you walk out the door.  This could be as simple as an agreement to schedule another meeting or help facilitating an introduction to someone else in the buying process.  If you cannot achieve your minimum objective you need to ask yourself two questions:

1)            Did I set my minimum objective too high?
2)            Should I waste any more time pursuing this sale?

Sometimes, it’s time to “cut bait.”

Some organizations have opted to create a more formalized process and created a precall planning template that helps sales professionals when preparing for calls.  If the primary purpose of the meeting is discovery, then it would be prudent to create a list of questions that you would want to get answered.   If you are trying to deliver a specific message, that needs to be articulated ahead of time.  Questioning and delivering your message are essential sales skills, but beyond the scope of this post.

There are some other precall planning features that can be very helpful.  From a logistical standpoint, I have found it helpful to include some of the following as a checklist:

•             Agenda communicated to client
•             Confirm the meeting time & location with client
•             Bring a blank attendance sheet to pass around
•             Organizational chart of client
•             List of key relationships
•             Hard copies of published agenda
•             Projector, laptop, & accessories
•             Tour scheduled
•             Lunch, dinner, or refreshments planned
•             Back-up presentations (USB and hardcopies)
•             Literature / hand-outs / samples
•             Promotional items / gifts

Occasionally, you are on a joint call with other people from your company or your partners.  In this situation I have found the precall planner to be an excellent tool to get everyone on the same page and to get clarity on the roles that everyone will play.  These are the questions that I consider:

•             Who will open the call?
•             Who will lead presentation?
•             Who will be timekeeper?
•             Who will probe for needs?
•             Who will handle technical questions?
•             Who will handle objections?
•             Who will handle price and commercial questions?
•             Who will close and when?
•             Who will be responsible for capturing meeting minutes and action items?

I have found this particularly useful when you have other executives attending calls.  While some executives are great at running companies, they may not be good a sales.  This process will help to demonstrate your credibility as sales professional and to ensure that everyone understands their roles and the objectives going into the meeting.

The key to successful sales call is planning.

But, one should always remember the famous quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower.  “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless… but planning is indispensable.”  The sales call may not go as planned.  But, because you planned it, it will go better.

 

About Eric Hale

Sales executive with experience leading and developing world-class sales teams. Specializing in the commerical nuclear energy business.

email and prospects

10 Ways to Get More Meetings with Prospects through Email

Not long ago, I advised salespeople to use email as a last resort when doing business-to-business prospecting over the phone. I believed it was too easy for prospects to say no, ask you to remove their names from your list, and brand you as a spammer. But this is the age of the Blackberry and the smart phone. Practically all businesspeople carry their email around with them on their handheld devices. They often respond to emails faster than voicemails. Needless to say, I told people to change their ways. Email is way more powerful than a last resort, so I use it more frequently and sometimes instead of straight phone prospecting. If you’re ready to use email to get more meetings with prospects, here are ten tips to get you there:

ONE: FIND EMAIL STRUCTURES FIRST
If your prospect has a website, it’s usually pretty simple to find email address structures for the company. First, you want to check the About Us, Management, or Contact Us pages on their sites. The more trusting companies sometimes provide their email addresses right in plain sight. If not, you might want to do a little digging. Try finding press releases or news stories and look for the media contact. They usually provide an email addy.

If the company website leaves you stumped, a simple Google search might do the trick. Go to Google and enter *@domainname.com. For example, if your prospect’s website is www.xyzcompany.com, you would type *@xyzcompany.com. It might take a page or two of search results but chances are you’ll find the structure. It might be hidden somewhere in an archived PDF or on a website you wouldn’t think to check.

Another resource to use is website registration sites like Network Solutions. Find the technical or administrative contacts and use this structure for other contacts within the company.

If email structure is new to you, here’s what I mean. If the media contact, for example, has an email address of joe.smith@xyzcompany.com and your prospect’s name is Jack Lewis, chances are his email address is jack.lewis@xyzcompany.com.

Enough about structure. Let’s move on.

TWO: CRAFT BETTER SUBJECT LINES
Before your email gets read, it has to be opened. Your email is in competition with hundreds of others the prospect might be getting. Better subject lines get them opened. The best subject lines have one or more of the following elements:
• The prospect’s first name
• The prospect’s company name
• A referrer’s name
• A short but powerful value proposition
• Mention of a previous touch

Here are some examples:
• John Smith Suggested We Speak John…
• Per My Voicemail Susan Regarding Reducing Freight Expenses…
• Per My Call Regarding Saving XYZ Company $50,000 Per Year
I think you get the idea. On to the next topic…

THREE: USE READ RECEIPTS ON ALL EMAILS
Why guess if your prospect opened your email when you can know for sure? When you send emails with read receipts, it lets you know in an instant when your prospect opened it. This eliminates the need to ask the time-wasting question, “Did you get the email I sent you?” It also confirms that your subject lines are working.

Here’s a cool tip I use all the time: As soon as you get a read receipt, pick up the phone and call your prospect. What better time to call than when your name and email is fresh on her mind? Just don’t revert to the dumb question, ““Did you get the email I sent you?”

FOUR: KEEP EMAILS SHORT
People are busy. Nobody has time to read your dissertation supported by three attached PDF files. Make emails succinct and easy to read on a Blackberry or smart phone. How short? Chris Brogan suggests no more than 200 words. Nuff said.

FIVE: EXPECT OBJECTIONS AND BE PREPARED TO OVERCOME THEM
When your prospect reads your email, he’s probably just scanning it, looking for reasons to object. If you get a “no thank you” or “not interested” email, don’t be so quick to back off. (Unless he says take me off your list.) Instead, be prepared to overcome objections. Here are the top five objections you’ll get:
• Not interested
• We have a vendor in place.
• We handle it internally.
• We have no budget.
• I’m the wrong person to speak with.

If you’re not prepared to handle these top five objections, you will not get more meetings with prospects through email. Want to learn the secrets of how to handle each objection? Check out my book “How to Dominate in Cold Calling and Earn Six Figures Doing It.” Okay, I’ll give you one now. It just so happens to be my next topic.

SIX: USE NO THANK YOU EMAILS AS AN EXCUSE TO GET A REFERRAL
When a prospect takes the time to reply to your email with a “no thank you,” consider it a blessing. Many prospects won’t respond at all. Instead of moving on to the next name on the list, respond by first appreciating the email. Ask for his help and let him off the hook. For example, try something like the following response to not interested:

Thank you for taking the time to email me to let me know. Sometimes we start these conversations with either the chief financial officer or the operations director. Who would you suggest I start with instead of you?
Don’t be shocked when you receive the referral but do remember to thank him for it.

SEVEN: FORWARD REFERRAL EMAILS FOR VALIDATION
I’ve lost count of the prospects who’ve called me a liar when I told them someone else at the company referred me. Instead of wasting time defending my good name, I started forwarding the referrer’s email along with my request for a meeting. The liar title soon disappeared. You might also simply cc the referrer on the email you send to your prospect.

EIGHT: USE EMAIL AS A FIRST CONTACT IF NEEDED
Email is rarely my first contact with a prospect. But sometimes I have no choice. This is especially true when gatekeepers won’t let me speak with an executive or even leave a voicemail. And sometimes my research only yields an email address and no other contact information. On those occasions, I use email as a first contact with a prospect.

No so long ago, I cold called the CEO of a billion dollar investment firm. The receptionist would not put my call through to him or his assistant. Instead, he sent me to the vendor line. I don’t know about you but I’m not a vendor line type of guy. I hung up and crafted an email to the CEO with the following subject line:

Per My Call to Your Office Regarding .

Five minutes later, he emails me and gives me the names of two high-level executives to speak with and copies them on his response to me. Needless to say, I booked the meeting.

NINE: CREATE URGENCY WITHOUT BEING PUSHY
Your prospects are busy, but heck, so are you. You don’t have time to wait weeks or sometimes even days to get a response from your prospect. When you need a faster response but don’t want to come off as the pushy salesperson, try this one line at the end of your email:

I’m here until 5:00 PM Eastern today.

Many will read that and think, I’d better email him before he leaves.

TEN: KNOW THAT ONE EMAIL MIGHT NOT BE ENOUGH Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had the time to stop and read your email the moment they received it? And wouldn’t it be better if your value prop was every prospect’s panacea? Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. People are busy. They scan emails. They intend to respond to the interesting ones but get called into a meeting or something and just forget.

You can craft the best email in the world but if the prospect is busy, a few reminders may be needed. The key is to be persistent without being annoying. I’ve personally booked more meetings with prospects with second emails than with first ones. Maybe prospects like to test my determination. Perhaps they need to see the messaging more than once to take action. Or maybe they are just too busy. My solution is three emails within a two-to-three week period. Six weeks later, I try again. Persistence is the key.

Conclusion

Five years ago, email was my last resort for contacting prospects. Now I use it just as much and sometimes more than phone prospecting alone in order to book meetings. Hopefully after reading this, you will too.

ercarpenter

About ER Carpenter

E.R. Carpenter is the author of the new book “How to Dominate in Cold Calling and Earn Six Figures Doing It” and the owner of the upcoming website ColdCallSensei.com.

Asset

Care enough to become an asset to your clients

Prospective clients aren’t sitting by their phone, twiddling their thumbs, hoping you will call them and set up that sales meeting. They actually have a business to run, problems to solve, clients to keep happy. They have employee issues, expense issues, IT issues, tax issues, supply chain issues, billing issues, insurance issues, compliance issues, perpetuation issues, revenue issues, competition issues, and on and on and………..

So you call, out of the blue. You don’t know her, she doesn’t know you. You don’t really know what her business does, you don’t know her industry, you don’t know who she knows, you don’t know her problems. Surprisingly she has no time for your call. Maybe you get voicemail. Maybe you get a polite “Call me back in six months”. What you got is “No”.  Why?

  1. You are more interested in selling your product than you are in helping her. She can hear it in your call, she can tell she is just a number on a sheet of paper.
  2. You are not an expert in her industry. Your call shows her that you will sell to anyone with a pulse. You don’t know the challenges facing her industry. You don’t know what is important to them.
  3. You don’t know anything about her or her company. Asking for Mr. Smith was a bad move. Pat Smith is really Patricia. Checking the website would have avoided that gaffe. It would have also let you know that their company actually has 14 locations throughout California and they have 9 job openings for software programmers.
  4. You didn’t try to warm up the call. Had you just checked LinkedIn you would have seen that she was connected to one of your best friends. Had you known that the attorney you talked to at the chamber mixer last week has been representing their company for years. Had you asked he might have told you they are struggling with Health Care Reform and need help with compliance issues. Had you asked, and you had a potential solution you would have been introduced by their attorney, whom they trust. Instead, you called cold.

Middle and large market sales require that salespeople (consultants, advisors, brokers, account executives) care enough to be professionals. It requires of course that they know their own products and services cold. That’s doesn’t do much to set you apart from the competition. The differentiator is being an expert in the industries that you serve, and then learning the specific issues being faced by the individual companies within your target industry. It requires that you are connected with, and respected by, the other professionals that serve that industry.

When a customer recognizes that you are invested in her industry and in understanding the issues facing her firm, you have set yourself apart from most of your competition. When she believes you care about her firm and have a customized solution to her problems, you will have a new customer.

Lionel McCray

About Lionel McCray

Over twenty years experience in the commercial insurance and risk industry, encompassing claims, underwriting, marketing and brokering of domestic and multi-national risk programs. My focus is to serve the unique needs of the clients I work with by understanding their operations fully, identifying the risks inherent to their business and corporate structure, and then deveoping an overall risk management program. I strive to be the first choice of customers when they are looking for a long-term, knowledge based solution to their risk management needs. This allows my clients to concentrate on running their own business profitably instead of concentrating on risk and insurance.