Inside Sales Buzz Blog

Inside Sales, Scripts & Cold Call Techniques from Michael Pedone

The “Call Me the First of the Year” Stall Tactic

by MichaelPedone 16. December 2014 06:52

Sales Question: "I’m getting a lot of prospects telling me to call them back after the holidays. Am I going to have a great first quarter or is this a stall tactic? And if it’s a stall, how should I handle it?"

SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone
Ok let’s look at this logically. There are three possible legitimate reasons for them to ask you to follow-up with them the first of the year. They are:

1) They really do need you to call them the first of the year.

2) They’d RATHER you call them the first of the year.

3) They have no intention of buying from you now or down the road, it’s just what they tell sales people to get rid of them.

Your job is to uncover which “reason” is truly causing the delay, and then solve it.

If you are making a “first time call” to a new lead and the prospect gives you the “call me after the holidays” line (and you are hearing this a lot) there’s a strong possibility that your OVS (Opening Value Statement) is to blame.

Are you PIQUING INTEREST or DATA DUMPING?

A strong OVS will pique interest and get the prospect WANTING to continue the call to learn more about what you can do for them.

A weak OVS has too many words yet doesn’t describe the WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM value statement. Fixing your opening value statement may go a long way to solving your problem.

Sticking with the “first time call” scenario, let’s say you rarely get the “call me back after the holidays” stall, but want to know how to handle it when it does come up.

Personally, I would simply say something along the lines of “I understand your time is valuable and I certainly wouldn’t be calling you if I didn’t think there was a strong chance we could help you _____ But I would need to ask you a few quick questions first just to be sure…”

If they push back again, timing may truly be the issue. So schedule them in your CRM to contact them the first of the year. In the mean time, send them a LinkedIn connection request, as well as see what “groups” they may be a part of in LinkedIn.

If there’s a group they are associated with that could use your company’s advice, join it and start participating. Not only will there be a chance your prospect gets to “know you” via your helpful advice in the LinkedIn group, but there may also be other prospects in that group that may reach out to you as well after reading your helpful guidance on issues they post. (If you don’t know what LinkedIn Groups are or how they work, I suggest you get on that ASAP)

But what if you are getting the “Call me back after the Holidays” stall with prospects you’ve already have spoken with / done a presentation with, etc?

Sometimes a simple question such as “What needs to happen between now and then?” can uncover if the prospect is giving a real reason for the delay or if it’s just a stall.

If it’s a stall, re-pressing the prospects original “hot buttons” on why they spoke with you the first time, may be in order - assuming you remembered to identify their hot buttons during the first call.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections. Request a proposal here to have Michael teach your sales team his techniques!

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Best Opener for New Sales Reps Calling Old Accounts

by MichaelPedone 9. December 2014 07:28

Sales Question:

"What is the best opening call for a new sales person to make to lapsed customers they have inherited?"

SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone

Couple questions...

One... You said "lapsed customers" so just to clarify, you want them calling on clients (rather than leads) who used to pay you, but no longer do so, is that correct?

And Two... What is the overall goal of the sales call that you want your new staff member to make? If you're hoping that the old customer is going to say "oh, hey, thanks for calling, we wanted to renew" forget about it.

PLEASE tell me they aren't calling now, saying "I'm your new account rep and just wanted to check in blah blah blah."

Identifying if A) they truly are a previous client and B) what your overall objective is of the sales call, those two things will help you create a winning opening value statement, as long as you remember that the objective of the opener is to PIQUE INTEREST first.

And in order to do that, you have to lead with a WHAT'S IN IT FOR THEM statement.

Saying "I'm your new account rep" does NOTHING for the prospect and that's why those openers fail way more often then they work.

For me, I've found it better to simply ignore the fact that I'm a new account rep to them or that others from my company have worked with them before.

Instead, I've found these two OPENER "templates" work the best:

The POSSIBILITY Opener

As in, "Hi (PROSPECT'S NAME) this is (YOUR NAME) with (YOUR COMPANY NAME). Reason for my call is there's a possibility we may be able to help you _____________."

Now that blank is where you enter your targeted prospect's hot buttons / pain points.

You business is only in business because it solves specific problems for a certain targeted audience. If you don't know what those are, you better ask you sales manager, top sales rep, the person that started the company OR contact the top 5 clients and ask them why they chose your company over the competition.

The COMPETITION Opener

All C-Level Execs want to know what their competitors are up to. So calling and saying:

"Hi (PROSPECT'S NAME) this is (YOUR NAME) with (YOUR COMPANY NAME). Reason for my call is we recently helped (competitor) _______ and wanted to see if this may be of some help to you as well..."

Again, the (_______) is where you enter your targeted audiences pain point(s)/hot buttons.

These are just a few approaches that have worked great for me. Hope this helps.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections. Request a proposal here to have Michael teach your sales team his techniques!

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How Do You Qualify a Lead?

by MichaelPedone 1. December 2014 11:38

Sales Question:

“How Do You Qualify a Lead?”

SalesBuzz Answer by Michael Pedone

I’m confused by this question because for a lead to be qualified, you, the sales person, have to uncover/know three things about your prospect in order to determine if they are “qualified”. And the only way possible to accomplish that is to ask the right questions at the right time. (So that’s my short answer)

Here are the three things you need to uncover in order to qualify a lead:

  1. Does a problem exist that your solution can solve? Understand that I’m not saying the prospect has to be aware of the problem - yet. But there has to be a problem you can help solve. You will need to engage the prospect in a conversation and ask questions that will identify if a problem exists.
  2. You will need to uncover the prospect's role in the decision making process. You can NOT 100% guarantee their “authority” in the decision making role based off of one's TITLE. Each company has their own purchasing process. Sometimes that means one person has the final say, and other times multiple people will be involved, and sometimes, people you think should have the power, have none. Part of the qualifying process is to identify your prospect's role in the decision making process. You need to know which questions to ask (AND WHEN TO ASK THEM) in order to find that out.
  3. The last piece to the qualifying puzzle is: Can they afford your solution should they decide they want it? If you are speaking to a decision maker who has a problem and wants your solution to solve it, but couldn’t afford your solution (under any circumstances) then you don’t have a qualified prospect. (That could change down the road, but they aren’t qualified in the here and now. It’s up to you on how many “not yet qualified” prospects you want to have in your monthly pipeline. I prefer to have my drip marketing campaigns do their job with those leads while I continue to have conversations with prospects that have all three pieces to the qualifying puzzle).
In all three of these critical steps, the only way I know how to uncover each one is to have a conversation with my prospect and know which qualifying questions to ask at the time. This is why having an interest piquing opening value statement is so important. If you can’t pique their interest (via phone, voicemail and or email), you never get to the qualifying phase.

Getting to the “qualifying phase” is one of the toughest assignments for sales people. So when you do get your prospect on the phone, make sure you already know what questions to ask, when to ask them and how to ask them with the proper tone / voice inflection.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections.

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Trouble Closing Follow-Up Calls?

by MichaelPedone 25. November 2014 07:09

Sales Question: 

"What do you do when a prospect says they are very interested during your first encounter, but won’t take your follow-up calls to take the next step or complete the transaction?"

SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone

Well, my first thought is, “Why didn’t you close them on the previous call?”

Since the answer to THAT question can vary, here’s a list of a few reasons why your “interested” prospects may be avoiding your follow-up calls.

1) The sales person never got agreement that the problem was big enough to solve.


Asking a few probing questions to identify a need has to be a two-way street. What I mean by that is, you can’t be the only one to recognize a problem. It’s a mistake to ask a few close-ended pain point questions and then jump right to a presentation on how you can help solve those issues. Just because you see a problem, doesn’t mean the prospect sees it as big as you do. Jumping ahead before locking down the specifics of a problem, and what the ideal better outcome could be, is important in order to lower the chances of the prospect losing interest between calls.

2) The sales person never confirmed the prospect is committed to making that problem go away.


If you’ve ever had a conversation with a prospect who seemed very open and agreeable discussing areas that you specialize in – to the point where they even agree it sounds like you have a great solution – but still didn’t move forward, you may need to plant a stronger commitment question into your qualifying sequence.

Example: “If we had a way to help you solve _______, how soon, realistically, would you want to get started/implement/receive ______?”

The answer to that question can really tell you where your prospect is in the buying cycle. Do you need to move forward or back up and re-establish a pain point / problem?

3) The sales person is speaking with someone that has no-purchasing power.


This happens when the sales person assumes the person they are talking to is the decision maker. Often times, the sales person failed to uncover the prospect’s true role in the decision-making process or what their purchasing procedure is. So no matter how excited they were, when it got down to brass-tax, they couldn’t pull the trigger. So they are ignoring your calls.

Lastly, sometimes, when a once interested prospect refuses to take your follow-up calls or complete the transaction, it’s simply because the sales person missed their opportunity.

The prospect may have been ready to move forward, but the sales person didn't ask for the order when they should have and now the sense of urgency has worn off. This is why it is so important to uncover key hot buttons during the first encounter. It allows you the opportunity to leave voicemail messages that will spark interest again and to reignite their desire. But you’ll need to have uncovered those hot buttons in your first encounter for that to happen. And that happens by asking the right sales questions in the first meeting.

- Michael Pedone

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Do Sales Reps Spend Too Much Time Researching Prospects?

by MichaelPedone 17. November 2014 12:34

Sales Question: 

"How much time should my sales reps spend researching prospects? I feel they are taking way too long and should just pick up the phone and dial. Do you have an answer for this?"

SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone

Sales reps are in a tough spot in today’s world because everywhere they look, there’s an article, post or tweet telling them to “research” their prospects before calling them.

Often times, “research” is incorrectly being sold as making “warm calls”. However, the reality is, unless a prospect is RAISING THEIR HAND, you can do all the research you want, but it’s still a cold call unless they contacted you first.

Should Research Even Be Done?

I would find it hard to come up with an outbound sales call scenario where research shouldn’t be done. But is over research happening? I’d say yes. In epidemic proportions.

Almost all sales people at one point or another tend to over research their prospects before calling and try to justify it to their sales managers (and themselves) as a necessity, when in fact, it’s call reluctance in disguise.

So here are some scenarios and tips to help your team get what they need while executing what needs to be done:

1) Build your prospect list

A sales rep should have anywhere from 200 to 500 leads in their name that match a certain criteria. This is a base of leads that have met specific requirements to be considered pre-qualified, top of the line candidates. Once these leads are marked, no further “research” is required. These are leads you can call on at any time and continue to work on building the relationship until the day comes that they are ready to buy.

2) Designated Hunting Time

Once you have your core prospecting list (mentioned above), you will always need to replace the attrition factor (includes everything from leads that may request you no longer contact them, to winning their business, and thus, they are no longer “prospects”). Set aside a time to go hunting for leads that match specific criteria that pre-qualifies them to be a prime suspect. It’s highly recommended that you do this “hunting” in the AFTERNOON - as in 3 PM or later. Why? Because if you are disciplined and making your outbound sales calls first thing, by 3 PM, you’ll be in need of a little break in the action, before finishing your day strong. Too many sales people come into work, fire up their computer and have no clue of whom to call first. So they start hunting. Meanwhile, a more prepared sales person at your competition is already banging out sales call after sales call and striking up wining conversations with the prospects you’re hunting for.

3) Have a Two-Minute Warning

If you find yourself investing more than 2 minutes researching a prospect, take a hard look at if it’s truly necessary. In some cases, especially in larger deals, you may want to know a little more about a client or a situation before going after them. But I’ve found that if you truly know what criteria pre-qualifies a prospect as a prime candidate, you will rarely need more than 2 minutes of research.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections.

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Michael Pedone, founder and CEO of Live Online Sales Training Company SalesBuzz.com
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