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Archive for August, 2011

Tips for Creating Good Sales Phone Calls

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

When making sales phone calls, there are some very simple and practical things that we can incorporate to improve effectiveness and increase results.

Confirm Availability

It is reasonable to assume that the prospects we call are busy.  With headcount reductions taking place in many companies, the prospects are possibly more busy today than ever.  With that being part of the environment, it is important to be aware of that and checking to make sure the prospect is available for our call.

But just because a prospect is busy, that does not mean they are unavailable.  We can validate just how busy they are before we try to start our call to try to identify if they are normal busy or if they are crazy busy.  If they are normal busy, we can try to move forward with the call with their permission.  If they are crazy busy, we may want to regroup and call them another time as it will be very difficult for us to build any interest.

Communicate Value

If we can communicate the business value that we have to offer clearly and early in a phone call, we can improve our results.  The reason this is important is that what a prospect really wants to know from a potential vendor is how is the vendor going to help them to increase revenue, decrease costs, and/or decrease risk.  At first, or at least on a cold call, they will not get as excited about how fancy or advanced your products are if you have sold them at the business value level yet.

One way to begin to communicate value is to deliver some sort of value statement early on sales phone calls.

Disqualify the Prospect

It is safe to assume that when a prospect answers a cold call, they will have their guard at a medium level.  This is because they might not know who the caller is and what they are calling about and they may put up their defense just in case it is somebody trying to sell something.  Everything we say and do during the call will likely have an impact on whether they increase, decrease, or leave their guard at a medium level.

One thing that we can do to get them to decrease their guard is to disqualify the prospect.  This would be to tell them that you do not know if they fit well with what you have to offer.  This is a very powerful thing to say as it makes the prospect think that you are going to make sure it makes sense to move forward before you try to sell.

Qualify the Prospect

A good follow-up tactic after disqualifying a prospect is to ask a few questions to try to qualify them while making sales phone calls.  This would be asking a couple of questions that measures how well they fit with what you have to offer or talk with them about.  If you are not a fit for them, they definitely are not a good fit for you and a good use of your valuable time.

Uncover Pain

You will want to uncover pain at some point during a good sales phone call.  If there is no pain, there might not be a reason to change so that can help to qualify the prospect.  If pain is found, you will want to dig deeper around it to find the root cause and map out the business impact.

Build Rapport

To get the prospect to be open with continue to talk with you, it can help tremendously to establish some level of rapport.  There is not a lot of time to build rapport on a cold call, but if you show them respect for their time by confirming that they are available, communicate how you can help them through communicating value, and disqualify/qualify them, you can make some large strides toward building rapport.

Build Interest

In order to create momentum with the call and eventually with a lead, there needs to be some level of interest created.  One way to achieve this is to connect any pain that is uncovered with the business value that you have to offer.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales coaching helping sales pros to improve sales phone calls.

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Using Sales Role-Play to Improve Sales Performance

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Sales role-play is one tool that can be used to improve a sales person’s level of skill and knowledge and this can decrease the uncertainty of how they will perform.

Why Role-Play

In order to be successful, a sales person will need to be comfortable with a large amount of information.  When trying to effectively communicate with prospects, there is usually a large number of details around products, services, general company information, etc. that need to be able to be shared.  And not only does a rep need to be knowledgeable about their company and what they are selling, they also need to be very knowledge about sales tactics, methodologies, processes, etc.

Through sales role-play, an opportunity will be created to work through all of the information and knowledge that we need to fully embrace in order to be successful.  This type of exercise is a great complement to standard sales training and sales coaching.

Role-Playing in Sales Training

Most sales positions will have some sort of new hire training and then recurring product, process, and sales training.  When this time and investment is being made, it can increase the return on investment tremendously by adding some sort of role-playing.

Whether the role-play has a place inside of actual training curriculum or not, it can at least be added informally outside of formal training and still see positive results on the sales training as a whole.  The act of practicing can tremendously increase the amount of absorption of the training information.  A reasonable expectation can be for some of training material to go in one ear and out the other and role-playing will reduce this loss.

Role-Playing in Sales Coaching

Sales coaching is another powerful time to incorporate some form of role-playing.  Sales coaching can often be less formal than sales training and as a result, identifying when to use it or what topic to focus on might not always be clear.  But an opportunity can exist where a client is having a challenge or wanting to improve something and a role-play is a tool that can be used in that scenario to improve results.

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Using Networking to Improve B 2 B Sales

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

When focusing on increasing B 2 B sales, professional networking can be one of the quickest and most effective ways to drive results. Below are some very practical things that can be done to improve our professional networking activity and exposure.

1. Increase Number of Events Attended

When we attend an event, regardless the type of audience, there is an opportunity to expand your professional network. You can make new contacts and connections and you never know what those can lead to.

In terms of finding events to attend, every major city should have a number of events that take place just about every week. There are events that are related to the local community, associated with different business industries, and there are also events that just based on the topic of networking alone.

2. Volunteering

One way to increase networking activity is to spend part of your time volunteering. There are many ways to volunteer and this could be volunteering with an industry related organization that is tied to your business or could be an organization that is more directly tied to the community.

Volunteering can help B 2 B sales as you will be put in an environment where you will not only be exposed to a number of new people, but you will likely have to work very closely with the people that you meet. Through this activity, you can establish connections and they may or may not be related to your business in any way. Even if you build that relationship that does not benefit you from a business standpoint, you create an opportunity to possibly get exposed to that person’s network.

3. Social Media

Web-based technologies have provided us with more ways to virtually network through social media and social networking tools. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow us to greatly increase our activity around connecting and collaborating from a networking standpoint.

Social media provides a platform for us to not only can you establish connections with new contacts and share contact information, but we can also collaborate in different discussions, share information, and join many different virtual groups.

To increase B 2 B sales, you definitely want to have a social media component but this should be a complement to in person networking activity.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales coaching helping sales pros to improve B 2 B sales.

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Five Tips to Help with Sales Lead Follow-up

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

It is likely that the sales prospects will ask us to call them back and have us perform some sort of lead follow-up throughout the sales cycle. This can happen frequently so the better we manage and execute with follow-ups can have drastic improvements in overall sales performance. Below are five practical sales tips that one can use as a guide to improve the area of following up on sales leads.

1. Clarify the Reason for the Follow-up

A common example of a follow-up request is when a prospect says, “Call me back in a month.” We have the option simply complying and calling back in a month. Although, the one thing wrong with that path is that when a prospect does this, they might be brushing you off which would mean you have an unqualified lead in your pipeline and you might be wasting your valuable time.

When you get the request for you to follow back up later, one thing you can do is try to learn more about why they are asking you to do this. If they are just generally busy and too busy for you now, they may just be generally busy and too busy for you later as well. Try to find out if there will be something different or some sort of change between now and the time when they are telling you to follow up.

2. Identify a Compelling Event

One tactic to use when you are in the lead follow-up process is to identify a compelling event. A compelling event is an event or date that is relevant to the purchase of your products or services. When you can identify some sort of date that your prospect needs to do something by, you can then use that information when you manage your follow-up related interactions. For example, if you know the prospect has to make a change by June 1rst, you can then bring that significant date to the discussion either when prospects tells when to follow up.

3. Let the Prospect Lead the Way

There are a couple of benefits to letting the prospect tell you when and what pace to use when following up. As sales people, we can often worry about being too aggressive with our follow-up calls. But if the prospect tells us when to call and we call them exactly when they say to call, there is no way for us to look like we are bugging them or are being too aggressive as we are simply following the guidance that they provided.

Also, the timing that they ask for the lead follow-up will tell some key information in terms of their interest and level of lead qualification.

4. Evaluation Plan

One tactic to improve lead follow-up is to build out an evaluation plan with the prospect. This will be a document that will detail out all of the future steps and time details of what would need to be done and when if both parties agree to keep moving forward. If done properly, this can tell you when to follow up and when not to.

5. Follow-up Reminders

It can be helpful to have some sort of tool or process for reminding yourself when to follow up with sales prospects. There are many tools that are good for this such as a CRM, calendar, spreadsheet, etc.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales training helping sales professionals to improve sales execution.

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Five Tips to Help with Appointment Making

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Success with appointment making as a sales person can sometimes be the difference success and failure.  The good news is that there are clear things that we can do to improve our ability to get the appointment set.

1. Qualify the Prospect

When trying to set appointments during the sales process, it is critical to focus on qualifying the prospect.  Qualifying refers to identifying if the person you are trying to meet with is a good fit for what you are tying to sell.  If they are a good fit, it will make more sense for you to meet with them.  If they are not and you still meet with them, you are likely to be wasting your valuable time.

One of the best ways to qualify prospects is to ask a couple of questions during the cold call to measure how well they fit.  The great thing is that, not only will this help with setting quality appointments, but it will also help you gather key information from the prospect.

2. Decrease the Prospect’s Guard

When making cold calls, it is helpful to be aware of the fact that the people we call will likely have their guard up at a medium level.  This can happen as a result of the fact that they have answered an unexpected call from someone they possibly don’t know.

It can help with appointment making to do what you can to decrease prospect’s guard and there are very clear and practical things that we can do to do this.  Two things in particular are that name drop other individuals in the organization that you are calling into and you can disqualify the prospect.

3. Build Rapport

It can definitely help to get appointment set with prospects that we have built some rapport with.  This can be challenging on a cold call as you really only have between two to five minutes to work with.  But there are some minor things we can do to build rapport like respecting their time, disqualifying, communicating the value you have to offer, active listening, qualifying, etc.

4. Build Interest

You can improve appointment making results by improving your ability to build interest during a cold call.  And one of the most important factors in building interest is uncovering pain.  This is critical as if there is no pain, there is no reason for change and if there is no reason for change, there is no reason to meet with you.  But if you uncover pain and can focus on and identify the impact and then connect business value that you have to offer to it, you stand well positioned to get some of the prospect’s time.

5. Tell, Don’t Ask

Once you have effectively built interest, you should go for trying to get the appointment set.  One thing to help with this is to shift from asking for the meeting to telling.  There is something very powerful about the difference between the two following statements:

“Based on what we discussed, are you interested in meeting to discuss in more detail?”

- compared to -

“Based on what we discussed, we should definitely meet to discuss in detail.”

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Launch Pad Solutions provides cold call training helping sales pros to improve appointment making.

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Six Tips for Effective Negotiations for when You are the Buyer

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Effective negotiations can occur whether you are the buyer or seller.  This is because while some of the negotiation tactics can be different depending on which side you are on, there are clear things you can do while on the buying side and those are summarized below:

1. Share Some of Your Other Options

Fairly early in a negotiation process a seller, you want to be sure to let them know that you have some other options that you are considering.  By simply letting the seller know this, their power in the negotiation is greatly decreased.  Or at least their perceived power is decrease, which is really what is most important. This can help you when it is time to start discussing pricing and discounts.

2. Display no Urgency Around Time

The seller will always want to move the deal along as fast as possible due to the simple fact that time kills deals.  We can feed off of this by hiding any urgency that we have or acting like timing does not really matter.  This will increase your level of power, just as showing that you have to something by a certain date will decrease your level of power.

3. Know Your Best Alternative

Not only do you want to present yourself as exploring other options and alternatives for effective negotiations, but you actually can benefit greatly from know what your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) is.  This is your best other option is if you decided to walk away and you need to keep this at the top of your mind when a buyer in a negotiation as it can give you power and clarity. (Reference: Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury).

4. Always Display Indifference

The more interest you let the seller know you have, the more power you are transferring from you to them.  The more power they have, the less liberal they will be with their discounting and concessions.  As result, you can establish effective negotiations by trying to display indifference in terms of the fit or level of interest.

5. Know Your Positions

It is important to know what your negotiating positions are in terms of opening offer, target price, and your walk away point during negotiations.  Having clarity and awareness with these different points will definitely help you to navigate the negotiation to increase the probability that you end up where you want to in the end.

6. Break Apart Bundles

One tactic that a seller may use is to try to bundle multiple items together and give the buyer one total price.  This puts the buyer in a powerful position as they are decreasing the amount of information that the buyer has and they are also decreasing the number of items that can be negotiated.  To increase your power as a buyer, break apart bundles to identify the individual prices and negotiate those one at a time.

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Launch Pad Solutions provide negotiations training helping to improve effective negotiations.

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Benefits of Investing in Cold Call Training

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Improving cold calling results will typically have many benefits on and organization and one way to drive improvements is by investing in some form of cold call training.  Below is a summary of what a sales operation could expect by improving knowledge in this area:

1. An increase in the quantity calls made

Most sales resources will need to do some level of cold calling.  Depending on the role, the job may require hours per day or it may only be needed that an hour or two per week is spent making calls.  Whatever the case, it is reasonable to expect that by providing training to these individuals in the area of cold calling will increase the level of cold calling activity and increase the quantity of cold calls made.

This increase is because we are all human and can get some level of cold call anxiety when it is time to make calls.  By providing training and educating what to do and what not to do in the area of cold calling, there will be an improvement in knowledge and this will decrease the level of resistance with making calls in improve the total quantity of calls made.

2. An increase in the quantity of leads

To drive sales performance, we must make sure that we are producing leads as we are making calls..  Especially when you look at the cost per cold call, it is critical to look and find ways to improve the total number of leads being produced per hour or per employee.

When time and money is invested in cold call training, it is likely that an immediate increase in the quantity of leads will be seen.  This is from the result of more cold calls will be made and also that there will be an improvement in successfully getting past the gatekeeper, getting prospect’s to decrease their guard, communicating business value, etc.

3. An improvement in the quality of leads

It is critical that we spend our valuable time on qualified leads and prospects and training for cold calling will have a direct impact on the quality of the leads.  This is a result of improved ability of the cold callers in the areas of qualifying prospects and qualifying opportunities.

4. A decrease in turnover

By implementing some form of cold call training, a sales operation will likely see a decrease in sales staff turnover.  This is a result from the fact that many sales people leave due to sales performance.  Either they are not making enough money and leave or they are not selling enough and asked to leave.  Providing more or better sales training to these individuals will improve sales performance, which will likely keep sales staff around longer.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides cold call training helping to improve cold calling results.

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Eight Tips for How to Make Sales Calls

Monday, August 15th, 2011

When it comes to how to make sales calls, there is no exact formula as each call and meeting we make will be a unique interaction and we really never know how exactly how it is going to go.  Since we don’t know what will happen on a call, we could just “wing it”.  But there is some logic and process that we can work along to control the interaction and drive to get the best results.

Below are some tips that can support a process that can be used to work along for executing sales calls.

1. Preparation notes

We can do some work prior to the meeting and this involves some research.  It can help to research both the company and the individual that we are meeting with.  We can then take the information gathered put together questions that can be asked during the meeting.  We can put those questions onto a document and print out and bring that with us to the meeting.  As long as we are bringing some notes, we can also include meeting information like attendees, address, and directions to that document.

2. Pre-meeting dialogue

Instead of jumping right into business, it can be good to have some sort of pre-meeting dialogue with the prospect.  You do not want to launch into deep conversation as you must respect their time, but a good way to break the ice as you see the prospect is to ask the question of “How is your day going so far?”

3. Confirm time and expectations

It is always good to confirm with the prospect the amount of time that you have and identifying when they need the meeting to end.  You can also share your understanding of what will be discussed or accomplished during the meeting and confirm that that matches with the prospect’s expectations.

4. Collect information

When working on how to make sales calls, there is always a place in the process for collecting customer information.  As you collect information, you can continue to qualify the prospect and uncover pain.

5. Build interest

Once you uncover any pain that the prospect has, it can be effective to focus on trying to build interest. This can be accomplished by connecting the business value that you offer to the pain and challenges or goals that the prospect has.

6. Trial close

We should trial close during every meeting that we have with the prospect to see what their thoughts are on the information shared and direction.

7. Manage meeting time

We need to be the timekeeper and make sure that we are managing the meeting so that we are tracking to the time that the prospect said that they need the meeting to end by.

8. Map out next steps

The end of the sales call process is to map out next steps and get the prospect to agree to them.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales training helping sales pros to identify how to make sales calls.

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Five Ways to Decrease Costs with Sales Outsourcing

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

It seems like you can add just about anything these days and sales outsourcing certainly has a place on the list.  And just like everything else, there are pros and cons that come with outsourcing part of a sales operation and one of the pros is that a decrease in cost is very likely.  Below is a summary of where cost improvements can be achieved.

1. Overhead

There is also a tremendous amount of overhead that can be decreased by outsourcing part of the sales process as there are likely less employees or less work that will need to be completed on the company’s premises.

For example, each sales employee will need some sort of workspace and this space will have some sort of cost in terms of real estate expenses, office furniture, office supplies, etc.  This cost can be decreased by transferring some sales responsibilities over to a sales outsourcer.

2. IT Infrastructure

For each sales employee, a company will need to procure or provision a certain amount of IT equipment and systems.  For example, a typical sales employee will at minimum need a PC and a phone, and if they are a field resource, they may also need a cell phone and email messaging device.  Through sales outsourcing, there can be immediate cost savings by eliminating the need to procure and allocate all of this equipment.

And the IT savings do not end there.  There can also be cost savings in the areas of software, services, and IT support.  These are all costs that will be decreases as roles and responsibilities are transferred over to a sales outsourcer.

3. Recruiting and Training

There will always be a decent level of sales staff turnover so there is a cost for the time and energy spent recruiting and training sales resources.  When sales activities are transferred over to a sales outsourcer, the time and energy required for recruiting and training will be transferred over to the sales outsourcer and this will decrease costs.

4. Management

Every sales resource will need to be managed.  When work and roles are passed over to an outsourcing provider, the management of those sales resources is also transferred and this can help to decrease costs.

5. Benefits

If benefits are included in the standard compensation plan, but transferred work and roles over to a sales outsourcer, there will be decrease in the number of individuals that benefits are provided for.  With the rising cost of healthcare, factoring in benefits to the total cost of these employees can make them very expensive.  With outsourcing, a business will not be responsible for this cost as the work will now be performed by resources that are employed by another organization, which can help companies to decrease costs and improve their cost structure.

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Four Tips to Help Get the Appointment Set

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

When working to make cold calls, it is helpful to focus on the goal of getting the appointment set.  We can sometimes lose site of that goal and end up trying to sell or close the deal.  The problem with that is that there is no real selling that can be done during a cold call the duration of a cold call will only really be between two to five minutes.  We may stay on the phone longer than that with the prospect, but if that happens we have evolved past the cold call and moved to the first conversation.

There are some clear things that we can do to improve our ability to get appointments set and some of those are outlined below:

1. Build Rapport

It can help at every point of the sales cycle to establish rapport with the prospect.  If we can do this on a cold call, we can improve our ability to get the appointment.  The challenge is that you don’t have a ton of time to work with but there are a few very key things that we can do.

One thing we can do is show respect for the prospect’s time at the beginning of the call and confirm they are available for our call.  Not can this show that we respect their time, but also can also display that we understand them and how hectic their job is and this can help to establish a connection and build rapport.  Much more than getting them to talk about their recent vacation with a complete stranger.

2. Qualify and Disqualify

Early in a cold call, we can display and attempt to qualify the prospect by asking a couple of questions.  And while doing this, we also will display the fact that we are ready to disqualify them and this approach will communicate to the prospect that you will only move forward with talking with them if it will makes sense.  This will lower their guard and position you better for getting the appointment set.

3. Building Interest

To get the sales prospect to commit time on their schedule the appointment will require us to trigger some level of interest.  To do this, build your qualifying questions so that they uncover some level of pain and then connect the pain found to your value statement.  This can begin the building interest process and help to get the appointment set.

4. Move to Schedule First Conversation

After you have built rapport, qualified the prospect, and created interest you can move to transition to the first conversation.  A good way to begin this transition is to acknowledge that you have called the prospect out of the blue and propose to get back together at a scheduled time to discuss in more detail.

If the conversation is going well and the prospect is available at the time of the cold call, the first conversation could happen right then.  But if not, that is a great time to set the appointment.

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