How to Improve Your Conversion Rate 50% When Calling Prospects Part 3 of 3
The purpose of the previous posts were to warm up the “environment.” You want the potential to become “aware” of who and what you are so when they are reached, you have positioned yourself correctly in their mind. If this is accomplished, best case is they reach out to you, worse case is they are at least receptive to your call.
Today’s post we are going to focus on what the potential needs to hear to schedule the appointment. All the research and prospect warming up in the world doesn’t mean diddly if we cannot communicate our message with the potential customer.
The ultimate goal of a call, in this situation, is to set a Discovery Appointment. The goal IS NOT selling your product/service. This might seem pretty simple but it’s a common blunder salespeople make very frequently.
Often times, salespeople think that if we manage to get the potential on the phone that we need to perform a total data dump on them. This is a critical error. You have invested a chunk of time researching and warming up the contact so as to differentiate yourself from the competition, then you go and lay an egg the first chance you get.
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Salesperson
If you can’t provoke their curiosity then this attempt to land an appointment is OVER. The potential needs to hear what is relevant and what makes an impact on their business to make a decision on seeing you, that’s it. Here are some topic area examples:
Incorporating your relevant pre-call research.
How your product/service solves problems or issues your prospect faces.
Actual results you’ve achieved with other customers.
What might pique your customer’s interest based on your knowledge of their business and the market.
There are 4 points to hit in your opening line.
Remind them of your warm-up touches and/or any other relevant information learned from research
Hit them with an Impact Line, something that demonstrates how you can help them in about 7 words
Engagement question: You have to get the buyer to engage early in the phone call
Below is a diagrammed example of a very successful Opening Line my clients have used to great success.
Hi Mr. Jones this is John Kolencik with XYZ (Identify yourself)
you might have seen the (Information piece: article/chart etc.) that I sent to you. (Relevance to the Potential)
We help/improve/increase our clients’ ______ (in these areas) (Impact to the Potential)
I was wondering what (are) (the) ______ (areas) (do you) (have you ever) currently are (trying to improve)? (Engagement Question)
I tend to use the warm up touches reference but you can substitute that line for something about the company itself, industry or market.
If you have done your job by quickly demonstrating you are knowledgeable/helpful and can potentially bring significant value to the table, you should get a response to the Engagement Question.
Keep in mind that the Engagement Question often leads to a few more questions from the potential before you get to the endgame.
This has all been about getting the appointment, so now we have to segue into asking for it.
Here is a sample:
“Well, Jerry, let me share with you my process, in terms of how we work. I’d like to suggest getting together for about 30 minutes. What I’d like to do is come in, learn a little more about your situation and also share some ideas I think you’ll find valuable. I’m not going to try and sell you anything. If we think there’s a fit at that point, we can put our heads together and figure out where to take it from there.”
You are now ready to ask for the appointment
“Jerry, do you have your appointment calendar handy?”
Never try to force the appointment in the current week unless the prospect volunteers it. Always shoot for a week out from the date of the phone call.
You may have to face one of the following three objections.
“Could you send me some literature instead?”
“I’m really busy. Could you call me back next week?”
“We’re already working with someone in that area.”
Let’s discuss some ways to handle each of these common objections.
“Send Me Literature.”
Your best response is as follows.
“Sure, I’d be happy to send you literature, but at XYZ, we are really in the tailored solution business. I’ve got 20 different customers on 20 different programs, so I’d have no idea what to send you based on the uniqueness of your situation.
Let me make a suggestion. Instead of me sending you literature, why don’t we get together for 30 minutes, I think you’ll find it very rewarding, and I’m not going to sell you anything. I just want to see if there is a way to add value to your company. Would the week of the 24th work for you?”
“I’m really busy can you call me back next month?”
Don’t back away. Go ahead and respond like this.
“Sure, no problem. I run a really busy schedule also.
Let me make a suggestion. Instead of me calling you back next month when I’ll probably have to re-remind you of who I am and what we do, why don’t we set up an appointment for x# of weeks out, and I’ll tell you what, I’ll call to confirm the appointment a week prior to it to make sure it’s still good. Would the week of the 18th work for you? Perhaps on Wednesday at 10 am or so? Could you check your calendar to see if it’s convenient?”
“We’re Already Working with Someone In That Area.”
Employ this response.
“No problem. We certainly appreciate it when our customers show us loyalty, but as it happens, most of our current customers were already working with someone prior to aligning with us.
Jerry, we’re a bit different in that we don’t often compete as much as cooperate with current vendors as a means to help a company become best practice. The whole focus is around adding value to your company, often in a complementary manner to current vendor.
Jerry, let me make a suggestion. Why don’t we set an appointment for 30 minutes one day? Maybe there’s a fit, maybe not.
Regardless, I think you’ll find it a really interesting exchange. If x date is bad, how about during the week of ______?”
In this post I give you specific examples of words and phrases. Use this post for the structure of your calls. Modify the words as needed for your product/service, market or industry so your own personal voice will come through.
Marketing Sherpa conducted a study that said 75% of everybody you touch with your lead generation efforts will buy something either from you or your competition. But if you take a day, week or month off who knows what opportunities you may miss.
Lead generation is a customer engagement process. It is both cumulative and immediate in varying degrees based on strategy and tactics. It can be big bang or slow boil but the key is not to treat it as binary. Lead gen needs to be part of your daily, weekly and monthly DNA.
I promise, if you practice the tactics in these blog posts and make lead gen a part of your everyday routine you will see colossal gains in your sales revenue.
…..and remember you can either make sales or make excuses but you can’t do both!
5 ½ Reasons Why You Should Include Simulations in Your Hiring and Training Processes
People are your most precious resource. Nobody WANTS to make a mistake in hiring or promotions. When it comes to training Andy Grove, the Intel visionary, said it best, “The most important charge a good manager owns is the responsibility to continuously train his/her employees.”
Below are the 5 ½ reasons why simulations should be an integral part of your hiring, promotion and training processes.
The 5 to 1 Ratio
A mis-hire/promote costs the company 5 times the candidate’s annual compensation ($50,000 salary costs the company $250,000).
With training its just as easy to see the ROI. A business parable for you:
CEO said to the CFO ‘We have to train our people to get better.’
CFO says ‘Yea but what if we invest time and money to train them and they leave us to go to our competitor?’
CEO shoots back ‘What if we don’t train them and they stay?’
Whether it is a mis-hire or a less than adequately trained employee the impact on client relations, revenue, productivity, supervision time and morale is negative and it is huge.
The Power of Proof
Have you ever had an interview where the person told you they couldn’t do the job? Or have you ever had a person who “stretched” their abilities in the interview and as a result you were cleaning their messes for days, weeks or months after?
A best practice simulation provides you “Point-to-Point Correspondence” with the job. When the activities found in the simulation are a replica of activities that are required on the job, you get an accurate portrayal of skill level.
This is also why simulations are critical to training. Do you really want salespeople “practicing” on customers? Of course you don’t! General George Patton once said “The more my troops sweat in peacetime the less they bleed during combat.” Simulations are a must in all continual development.
How do They Handle the Debrief
Once they perform in the simulation how do they respond to constructive criticism? Are they thin-skinned? Do they gloat? Is their self-confidence warranted? Many times, you find out the best and the worst of people by observing how they handle coaching.
It also opens a window to know how they learn best. Through the Debrief you will discover what they will and won’t respond to. This can be invaluable as you continue to train and develop your team.
Go to the Video
When recorded, simulations help reduce, if not remove bias and subjectivity in the hiring process in one BIG way, “The eye in the sky does not lie.” You don’t want a he said/she said situation in any business scenario, but especially in simulations.
Here’s a great example of the benefit of recording simulations: A hiring manager who got a ‘good hit’ off a candidate, in an interview, might get a completely different feeling after watching a recorded simulation. The candidate might be the most charming person in the world, but when the time came he didn’t have the skills he trumpeted. In any business, that is a disaster averted.
Recorded simulations are irreplaceable in training as well. There is nothing better than being able to go back and review specific areas for either praise or correction. Plus, reviewing with individuals their recorded progress or regression is a very powerful training tool.
Even if somebody is an A-Player it does not mean they are perfect. Too many onboarding programs fail to adapt to the candidate, thus slowing the speed to effectiveness of the new hire.
Simulations don’t just weed out bad candidates. They also help you to assess a good candidate’s specific strengths and weaknesses in a hyper-accurate way. This allows you to design/implement an onboarding process to speed them to productivity. Not to mention it helps in offer decisions like salary negotiations.
5 ½. Positioning Your Company as the Best
The War for Talent is upon us and there are only so many A-Players out there. The mistake most organizations commit is purposefully making the hiring process easier out of fear of losing the candidate.
Thomas Payne said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” Being with the BEST requires paying the PRICE. Candidates learn respect for the position and respect for the company by demonstrating how seriously the company takes the hiring process. The best candidates don’t want to be with some company that just rolls over. Remember everybody wants to belong to The Club that is impossible to get in.
87% of people who voluntarily (i.e .Quit) leave a company do so because of a lack of growth and development opportunity. Its human nature to want to improve, to develop new skills, succeed and advance. If you have good people, make them better.
Use simulations to continually train and develop your team. And you know what they call the company with the top employees… they call that company the BEST!
To ensure you are hiring A-Players and for training to be impactful and ‘sticky’ both have to be closely tied to how things are actually done in your organization. This is why simulations are such a critical management tool.
Hiring A Sales Superstar: What We Are Looking For
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you.”
“96% of all sales managers have NO formal interview training” this quote is excerpted from an article in Selling Power Magazine. WOW, what a scary statistic! Suddenly those “hiring horror stories” make absolute sense to me.
The funny thing is, that of all job titles, I firmly believe that a sales manager, if they were successful as a sales person, should be a FANTASTIC interviewer.
Think about it…
they would be skilled at asking questions and listening
they would understand how to dig in to any area that didn’t make sense or where information was lacking
they could piece together all the elements of the hiring process so they could make a well informed decision without sacrificing their gut instinct
they would have set questions they would ask of every candidate and not “wing it” or “shoot from the hip”
and most importantly they would know what makes a “qualified” candidate based on an established list of requirements
Well, we just named our poison didn’t we? Over the course of the next couple of posts we will examine the intricacies of interviewing and what every sales manager needs to do to minimize mistakes and make sure their next hire is a Sales Superstar!
First up, we will be discussing “what” we are looking for in a sales candidate. Let’s begin by distinguishing between skill sets (SS) and talent/traits (TT). Skill sets are learned behavior that we have mastered to one level or another based on repetition, ability and success. Talent and traits are things we are born with like being tall or running fast. Both SS’s and TT’s are important but TT’s are the determining factor of a successful superstar or an also-ran. This is because either you have these things or you don’t and if you have the right TT’s you can master EVERY skill set needed to be a success in sales.
The most important TT to have is DRIVE, the need to achieve something that nobody else can. Believe me, some people just don’t have this trait. You know these folks, they are likable enough people but many times will not push that extra inch to win.
A person with DRIVE wants to win at virtually everything they do. Video games, being the most well read, making more calls than their teammates you name it they want to be the best or as Anne Elbery, a friend of mine, says “why play it unless you are in it to win it”. That, in a nutshell, is how somebody with DRIVE thinks. Be the best at everything and if you come in second there are no moral victories only winners and losers. Isn’t this EXACTLY how you want a salesperson to think and act, always optimistic of a positive result and willing to work as hard as needed to make winning happen?
Next you should be looking for INTELLIGENCE. You can’t fake smart and there is no work around to stupid. This trait allows for the sales person to be an idea generator and to be astute enough to understand complicated concepts that could effect their success. It also gives them the ability to create and use a large word inventory and, as noted in Forbes Magazine, business executives possess one of the largest vocabularies in all professions. Sales people need to be able to learn and adapt in a verbal environment. The lack of this trait would hamper their efforts at basic communication much less closing the sale.
Being NATURALLY CURIOUS is the next trait they need. A sales person must absolutely HUNGER for information. They should always wonder how thnks work, why prospects do certain things and they should always be asking another question. Sales people who don’t ask questions are called order takers or worse… unemployable. Asking questions has got to be akin to breathing for sales people.
Questions like “why would you want that” or “what does that mean” or “how does that happen” should be asked by EVERY sales person on every sales call. Being NATURALLY CURIOUS means asking the needed questions that you have not even thought of yet because these are based on the situation you are in at the time.
And one more thing, if the person you are interviewing does not avail themselves of the opportunity to ask questions and learn everything they can about your company when you give them the chance… be afraid, be very afraid and don’t invite them back to continue the hiring process.
COMMUNICATION SKILLS is next on the list. Without this, no ideas are transferred to the customer and if they were it was probably done just bad enough to ensure a missed sale. People with good COMMUNICATION SKILLS are generally great influencers of opinion, a needed ability in sales wouldn’t you agree? They also rank very high in expressive spontaneity, the ability to think on one’s feet. This very important trait allows you to capitalize on all the time, work and money put into finding prospects if on no other level than making sure their first opinion of your company is a positive one.
The final trait you absolutely need to have in a candidate is GUTS. Your sales person has got to take chances to go for the brass ring and sometimes that means pushing past their comfort zone and that takes GUTS! This trait also helps a sales person to develop their emotional intelligence (thick skin). Most, if not all, average to bad sales people take rejection personally allowing a few bad calls or appointments to keep them down while providing a near endless supply of excuses. Sales people with GUTS simply dust themselves off and start over, then DRIVE kicks in and they don’t stop until they succeed.
That’s it for today! Look for these 5 traits in ALL your candidates. The ones who have them will be a source of pride and sales for years to come. Also look for these things in your existing staff and if you weren’t hiring maybe it is time to start…