Inside Sales Buzz Blog

Inside Sales, Scripts & Cold Call Techniques from Michael Pedone

In a Sales slump? 3 Action Steps to Work Your Way Out Of It

by MichaelPedone 30. September 2014 03:20

SALES QUESTION:

"I'm in a sales slump and don't know what to do to get out of it. What action steps can I take to change the situation I'm in?"

SalesBuzz Answer:

Sales slumps are never fun. A bad one can shake your foundations to the core, to the point where you fear that your lifestyle is in danger as the bills pile up with every missed quota.

Here's the good news: Every top sales rep has had a sales slump at some time in their career. Which means, you CAN overcome this.

Your biggest challenge will be to take accountability and to have the commitment to overcome your situation. If the painful feeling of a sales slump outweighs your resistance to change and accountability, do these three things to help pull yourself out of the sales slump:

1) Take Inventory:

Take an honest look at your current pipeline.

Are you calling the same old leads, over and over again? You know the kind I'm talking about... the leads that will take your call because you have a "good rapport" with them, yet they never seem to buy?

I've seen sales people dig themselves into the ground because their fear of rejection was so high, they refused to prospect for fresh new opportunities, and instead, kept calling the same old leads that were willing to shoot the breeze with them, but never buy.

Top sales people know that priority number one is to always have a fresh stream of leads coming in. It's your responsibility to make sure that is happening regardless of what your company is doing. Sure, I feel marketing should be providing sales reps with a constant flow of leads, however, with todays prospecting tools, a sales person should never have to sit and wait for the marketing department to do their job.

Top sales people don't sit and wait. They MAKE. THINGS. HAPPEN.

2) Role-play:

The only thing sales people hate more than cold calling, is role-playing, yet it is the single fastest way I know for a salesperson to see what they are doing wrong on the phone and fix it.

Of course, you will need someone with experience who can correct your mistakes (having two struggling sales people critique each other in a role-playing session is absolutely pointless). So make sure you have a top sales rep or even the owner of your company, if possible, sit in and give you advice. It will be uncomfortable at first, but you will see the pay-off in short order.

3) Effort: Skills + Output = Sales Results.

If you have a fresh stream of leads and have sharpened your sales skills, the last remaining part to the sales equation is your effort.

Time management plays a huge part in whether or not a sales person succeeds or fails. Are you spending your mornings "prospecting" and looking for who to call? If so, you're doing it wrong! Why would you spend time doing non-sales call activities during the only time you have to make sales calls? Before you walk in the door, you should already have your first 20 to 40 sales calls lined up and ready to go.

Your "output" (effort) needs to be kicked up a notch or two in order to get out of that slump, once you fix your sales techniques. Chances are, what got you in a slump was bad sales techniques and/or poor effort. You're going to have to push yourself to get out of it. But you can do this!

One final thing... Remember those times when everything you touched seemed to close? All of a sudden, deals seemed to be coming in from everywhere, with almost little effort? Almost always, that was a result of all the hard work you were doing 3 or 4 months ago. All those calls you made when you were trying to get yourself out of that sales slump. If you don't want to go back to slumpville, make sure you continue to work just as hard when you're on top, as you did to dig yourself out from the bottom and you won't have to worry about ever falling into a sales slump ever again.

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Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that helps Sales Managers, VP of Sales and Small Business Owners fine-tune their inside sales teams skills so they can perform at a higher level when selling by phone.

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How to Set Appointments that Stick

by MichaelPedone 23. September 2014 03:58

Sales Question

"When cold calling, how can our sales team make strong appointments that stick?"

SalesBuzz Answer:

Setting appointments have two common problems:

  1. Initial interest (“No, thanks, we already have someone that takes care of that” etc)
  2. Cancellations / No-Shows.
These two common sales challenges aren’t a byproduct of sales. They are a result of using improper sales techniques, methods and strategies.

In short, the sales person set the wrong goal for the sales call prior to picking up the phone, and, therefore, has guaranteed themselves a high failure rate.

When we set a goal or a “purpose” for a sales call (in this case, to set an appointment) we tend to go directly to that point to try and achieve it.

A BAD BUT COMMON example of a sales call for setting an appointment might go something like this:

SALESPERSON: Hi, this is (your name) with (your company). We provide (blah blah blah) and I’d like to see if I could get on your calendar sometime this week. Is Tuesday or Thursday better for you?

PROSPECT: Uh, I don’t think we would be interested. We already have a company that does that.


One of the biggest mistakes appointment setters, or sales people that need to set their own appointments, make is they have the wrong purpose / goal or objective of the call to begin with.

The only way to increase the odds of a prospect wanting to meet with you, and to keep the appointment once they set it, is for the prospect to want to meet with you, more than you want to meet with them. And for that to happen, they will need to have a big WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM understanding.

Baby Steps

Instead of going for the “close” of setting the appointment in your opening sales call, focus on piquing interest in order to be able to ask them a few questions to see if meeting would even be beneficial for them.

To set more appointments that stick, use an opening value statement that piques your prospect's interest and then ask a few of the right sales questions that focuses your prospect attention on an area that will uncover a problem. Do it correctly and your appointment quota will be met, if not exceeded, and your prospects will be happy you called.

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that helps Sales Managers, VP of Sales and Small Business owners fine-tune their inside sales teams phone skills so they can perform at a higher level when selling by phone.

"Michael Pedone is one of the few sales trainers that actually knows what he's talking about. Take his course. It's money in the bank." - Jeffrey Gitomer

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The Best Sales Prospecting Qualification Questions to Ask

by MichaelPedone 10. September 2014 11:06

I recently read an article that touted what the “BEST SALES PROSPECTING QUALIFICATION QUESTIONS” were to ask. I was excited. I wanted to see what these “best questions” were.

So I read. And then I was let down. Hard. Here’s why... 

At the top of the list, the very first “best” sales prospecting qualification question to ask was:

What challenges are you experiencing with your current process/technology?

Here’s why that is far from being the “best” sales prospecting qualifying question to ask:

For starters, almost every sales person, no matter what they are selling, asks the “What challenges are you experiencing?” (or very similar) qualifying question.

Now put yourself in your prospects shoes for a moment. If you are a decision maker where you work, that means you are getting calls from tons of different salespeople in all different verticals every week.

And no matter what it is they are selling, they all start to sound the same to you. It won’t take long for prospects to tune out a salesperson that asks that question. 

You, as a sales professional, want to separate yourself from the everyday average sales herd. You want to stand out from the pack. Be unique. Especially early on in the sales process.

With that being said, let’s get one thing straight— The “What challenges are you experiencing with...” qualifying question is attempting to uncover a buying motive or what I like to call, get “problem recognition.

When a sales person asks “What challenges are you experiencing with…” they are hoping that the prospect will spill the beans on their biggest headaches and hand them their problems on a silver platter. And if you are in customer service, and you handle inbound calls from prospects that are wanting you to solve a problem for them, then by all means, ask the “What challenges are you experiencing with…” question.

But the article said they were going to show the best “sales prospecting qualifying questions to ask” and if you are PROSPECTING, you aren’t in customer service and you aren’t sitting around waiting for inbound calls.

You’re making outbound sales calls to prospects that, in most cases, weren’t expecting your call. And if you get past the opener (what you say after “Hello, my name is…”) and they are still on the phone, and you ask the “What challenges are you experiencing?” question, well, today’s prospects are going to get annoyed real fast with you. 

It’s not your prospects job to educate you.

You SHOULD ALREADY KNOW WHAT CHALLENGES YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE HAS TO HAVE IN ORDER FOR THEM TO BE A POTENTIAL PROSPECT.

Let me explain. Every business is only in business because they solve specific problems for certain audiences. You need to know what those most common or popular problems are, and also know what CAUSES those problems and THAT is where you will find your buying motive (problem recognition) question to ask.

Example:

When I’m speaking with a prospect, instead of asking “What challenges are you experiencing?” I’ll ask these questions:
  1. How often does your team get blocked by gatekeepers? (All day long!)
  2. What about voicemails… are they getting a fair amount of prospects to call them back? (No!)
  3. What about when they actually get a decision maker on the phone… do they hear “No, Thanks” / “Not Interested” / “We’re all set!” responses? (YES!!!)
We confirmed the challenges that they are having and my questions were unique to their situation. I didn’t sound like everyone else. And since those are the areas that I specialize in fixing, I know I can help them.

Once you’ve crystalized who your targeted audience is and what problems they have to have that would make them interested in your solutions, only then will you be able to come up with the right “buying motive” or “problem recognition” qualifying questions for your specific audience.

And guess what?! Your question will be unique, and specific to your targeted audience. It won’t sound like all the other sales calls your prospect gets all day long. And here’s the best part: when they answer it, it will be genuine and insightful.

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that helps Sales Managers, VP of Sales and Small Business owners fine-tune their inside sales teams phone skills so they can perform at a higher level when selling by phone.

"Michael Pedone is one of the few sales trainers that actually knows what he's talking about. Take his course. It's money in the bank." - Jeffrey Gitomer

Categories: Sales Questions

How to Ask Sales Questions, The Right Way

by MichaelPedone 8. September 2014 09:20

SALES QUESTION:

"I'm saying and asking the same thing as other sales reps here in the office, but I'm not having the same success as they are. How is that possible?"

SalesBuzz Answer:

When creating a dialogue with a prospect and asking questions, if your tone is off, the sales call can go south, really fast. What you say and how you say it are both equally important.

Example:

Asking "IDENTIFYING PROBLEMS" Qualifying Questions

Identifying Problems Qualifying Questions are vital in the sales process. They are a series of questions that will establish if your prospect has an actual problem (whether they realized it before you asked or not). Most prospects will be more motivated to hearing a solution, once they recognize a problem.

Let's say you sell a product or a service that helps companies' complete projects on time. You know that a big hot button for your targeted audience is they need to avoid missing deadlines, because if they don't, some uncomfortable conversations are going to happen. So in this scenario, an example of an IDENTIFYING A PROBLEM qualifying question could be:

Does your team have deadlines to hit?

Now, there are at least two ways you can ask, "Does your team have deadlines to hit?"

One is in an eager tone (you're practically drooling as you ask this question) and the other is in an "inquisitive concern" tone.

If your prospect feels your intent is anything but concern, YOU. ARE. DONE.

How to Ask With the Right Tone

Sometimes "sales" can be tough. Especially when your numbers are down, bills are piling up and management has a microscope on you. Asking questions with the right tone when you are in those circumstances can be a real challenge.

Here's what I've found to be extremely helpful to make sure I have the right tone, no matter how much outside pressure is on me:

Simply pretend that the person on the other end of the phone was referred to you by your best friend and it's their aunt or uncle. This will help you get your tone where it needs to be: In "help" mode. Not "sell" mode.

And when you are asking the right sales questions, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons, your prospects will open up, you'll find solutions together and you'll earn their business.

Sincerely,

Michael Pedone - SalesBuzz.com's CSS: Chief Sales Scientist

Michael Pedone, founder and CEO of SalesBuzz.com, has been a straight commissioned sales person for 20+ years and shares his unique inside sales process for success in an 8-week live online sales training program.

Categories: Sales Questions

Turn Your Sales Script Into a Conversation

by MichaelPedone 26. August 2014 06:38

How to Turn Your Sales Script Into a Conversation


SALES QUESTION:

"I don't like using sales scripts because they don't encourage genuine organic conversations with prospects. Do you agree?"

SalesBuzz Answer:

I disagree with this statement and here's why...

Top sales scripts that work follow a formula that creates a conversation between the two parties.

It follows a successful process that allows for dialogue while covering (or uncovering) key steps needed in order to determine if an opportunity exists, if you are speaking with the right person and if the prospect can afford your solution to their problem, all while having a "conversation".

Bad sales scripts on the other hand, fail because they try and hypnotize the prospect into a yes pattern or get forced agreements from the prospect.

OBJECTIVE BASED SALES SCRIPTS


When you realize that sales can be broken down into small, winnable objectives or agreements, sales scripts quickly become your ally, and not your enemy.

Knowing exactly what to say BEFORE ever picking up the phone, no matter if you get a gatekeeper, prospect's voicemail or the decision maker on your sales call, will catapult your sales numbers far and above any Captain Wing-Its out there that continuously fly by the seat of their pants, sales call after sales call.

Understanding what your objectives are of each phase of the sales cycle, and using the proper script to execute them, allows for measured success while still allowing for the sales person to "be themselves" while having room to ad-lib where necessary.

Sincerely,

Michael Pedone - SalesBuzz.com's CSS: Chief Sales Scientist

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About the Author

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