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Archive for September, 2011

Sales Role-Play is a Key to Success

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

By simply adding sales role-play to our current processes, we can expect to see noticeable improvements.  Role-playing is activity of two or more people practicing and anticipated sales scenarios.  This could include interactions during cold calling, fielding objections, delivering presentations, trying to close prospects, etc.

Benefits of Role-Playing

The benefits of adding role-playing to existing sales training or sales coaching processes can be tremendous.  The great thing about this is that, not only can there be an immediate improvement in execution leading to an increase in sales, but there can also be a decrease in sales staff turnover.

Every sales organization has to deal with some level of turnover.  Sales resources typically leave an organization voluntarily because they are not selling or they are asked to leave involuntarily because they are not selling enough.  Role-playing can establish a deeper level of practice and this will position sales resources better for success and this can have direct impact on decreasing sales staff turnover.

Decreasing turnover through sales role-play can have very positive and noticeable improvements:

Increase in sales: a sales team will become more senior in terms of experience and knowledge and this will have an undisputable impact on increasing sales.
Decrease in training and recruiting costs: a business will see a decrease in cost for training and recruiting new sales resources.
Decrease in opportunity cost: a decrease in opportunity cost for all of the deals that are lost while sales positions are open and when new resources are being ramped up.

Cost Without Sales Role-Play

If we can look at a sales person being in a similar role as a quarterback on a football team, we can see that both have many different plays to run while facing many different defensive schemes and both have to execute well in order for there to be positive results.

Putting a sales resource in front of a prospect without role playing is like putting a quarterback into a game without having them practice any of the plays.  Just as a quarterback’s timing, responsiveness, and ability to grasp the playbook would be compromised without practice, a sales person could see the same deficiencies when being in front of prospects without sufficient time spent role-playing.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales role-play software helping businesses to increase the amount of role-plaaying.



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Six Tips to Improve Selling

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

One of the great things about sales is that increasing extra effort does not always automatically improve selling.  This is great in some ways because it is a result of the fact that there are very clear and practical things that can be done to immediately improve results.

1. Qualify Prospects

When we are driven to increase sales, we can easily get down a path of trying to sell to everybody or sometimes anybody that is open to hearing our pitch.  The challenge with that is that not only to do some prospects fit better with the value that we have to offer than others, but some prospects have a very low probability of buying from us so any time spent on them is completely wasted.

By improving our ability to qualify prospects, we can identify those that are very qualified and those that are unqualified.  This can increase our time spent with good prospects and decrease out time spent with time wasters and this simple change can have an immediate impact on sales.

2.  Communicate Value

One of the main things that prospects care about is how we can help make their life better.  And it in B 2 B sales, this usually means how a vendor can help the prospect to increase revenue, decrease costs, or decrease risk.  By improving our ability to communicate the value that we have to offer, we will stand to improve selling.

3.  Prepare for Objections


Objections
from the prospect are just about guaranteed to come up frequently throughout the sales cycle.  If we can prepare for how to best respond to some of the common or anticipated objection, we can immediately improve sales performance.

4.  Build Rapport

Prospects are often more likely to buy from people they like.  As a result, if we can improve our ability to build rapport, we can improve selling.  Not only can building rapport help with improving our close rate, it will also help improve our ability to control and manage the sales cycle as prospects are more likely to respond and be cooperative with a sales person that they feel comfortable with and have a level of rapport with.

5.  Uncover Pain

When trying to improve sales, it is critical to be able to uncover pain.  Pain is something that is not working well or something that could be working better for the prospect.  Pain is critical to find as if there is no real pain, there is no real reason to change.  And if there is no reason to change, the prospect might not be qualified and then we should not spend a lot of our valuable time selling to them.  As a result, it is critical to uncover pain to improve results.

Not only will working to find pain help you to identify which prospects you should and should not spend time with, but finding pain will give you valuable information to use to push the opportunity forward through the sales cycle.

6.  Trial Close

Closing does not just happen at the end of the sales cycle.  It should and can happen at every step and in almost every discussion and this can be done through trial closing.  Trial closing is checking in with the prospect to identify what their thoughts are.  If you do this periodically during the sales cycle, you will have valuable information and this can help you to more effectively manage what information you share and what direction you go and this can improve selling.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales training helping sales pros to improve selling.



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The Ultimate Goal When Making Sales Telephone Calls

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

We can improve our sales telephone calls by working to keep our eye on the ultimate goal. If it is cold calls that we are making, it is sometimes helpful to have a primary goal of appointment making. This is worth focusing on as it can be easy to lose sight of that goal by trying to go beyond that goal and trying to achieve bigger goals like selling something or trying to gather more information.

There is nothing wrong with these larger goals except that due to the amount of time to work with, a cold call might not be the right place to try to accomplish these more time consuming tasks. As a result, we can stand to improve results by keeping our focus on the main goal of moving the prospect to an appointment or an official conversation where we have more time to work with.

What is the First Conversation?

The first conversation is the stage of the sales cycle that is just past the cold call and where the sales person and the prospect have an official conversation that they both agree to participate in. The mutual participation is an important quality as sometimes as a cold call can sometimes continue without the prospect really wanting it to. When that occurs, that is not a real two-way conversation.

To improve results with sales telephone calls, the sales person can connect with a prospect on a cold call and communicate why they are calling and why it may makes sense to talk in more detail. Once the prospect agrees to talk more, the sales cycle progresses to the first conversation, and it is getting this permission and agreement that can create an environment for successful selling.

Sometimes it may be best to schedule the first conversation for another day where the prospect can be more ready and available for the discussion. This can help the prospect to prepare both mentally and physically in terms of scheduling. Although, there are some instances when the prospect is available and interested in talking more at the actual time of the cold call and the first conversation takes place at the same time (technically right after) as the cold call. It will depend on the product or service being sold as to whether it is best to schedule the first conversation at another date or try to execute it right away.

Cold Call vs. First Conversation

It may be a little confusing what the real difference is between a cold call and a first conversation and where one stops and the other starts, especially since the could both take place on the phone and really during the same conversation.

A cold call when performing sales telephone calls should be designed to only be between two to five minutes. During that brief period of time, you should be focused on communicating business value, qualifying the prospect, identifying pain, and building some interest.

Once you have made some headway in checking some of the boxes that you want to check, it is time to transition to closing to secure the first conversation. One of the reasons a transition is helpful is that you likely have eaten up most of the time that is available for a cold sales telephone calls. As a result, you now need to get permission from the prospect to continue.

You can get this permission by checking in with the prospect and identifying if they are available and interested to continue. Once they give you permission and agreement to continue, you have just moved to the first conversation. And this could either take place right then or you may agree to schedule more time to talk on another day.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides cold call training helping sales telephone calls.



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Seven Keys to Improving Lead Gen

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Lead gen is usually critical to a business’ success and there are some very clear things that can be done to improve results.

1.  Establish Bidirectional Traffic

When working to build improve lead generation, we can establish a strategy where leads are produced from both outbound and inbound directions.  Inbound leads refers to leads coming from the outside in through techniques like search engine optimization.  Outbound activities or traffic would most likely involve some form of cold calling or telemarketing.

2.  Having an Outbound Focus

If outbound sales is a component of the lead generation strategy, it can help tremendously to have resources that are dedicated in some way or another to spend time on outbound activities.  This is important as outbound sales requires not only a very different mindset, but also a different set of skills.

3.  Incorporate Business Networking

Business networking can often be one of the most quickest and most effective ways to generate leads.  With face to face interactions and building relationships, there can be an immediate impact on the number of prospects and referrals.  Networking can be accomplished by attending events, getting involved in different organizations, participating in activities, etc.

4.  Embracing Social Media

We can use social media platforms to easily and quickly grow our network of contacts and connections around the globe.  Once these connections are made, we utilize this network to learn about others, share information and collaborate and this type of activity can plant seeds that can help to produce leads and referrals.

5.  Search Engine Optimization

One of the best and most powerful tools to use to trigger lead gen is to invest time, effort, and money into search engine optimization.  SEO is a methodology used for improving the traffic that search engines send to a business’ website.  The more successful you can be at this, the more targeted traffic that you will get to your site and this can have an immediate and positive impact on lead generation.

6.  Sales Outsourcing

There can be an instance where a business does not have time to perform outbound lead generation activities.  And it might not be feasible to hire resources to do this.  When this is the case, the option always exists to utilize sales outsourcing to increase results.

7.  Cold Call Training

With any lead gen strategy, there will usually be some amount of cold calling required.  And there are clear things that can be done to improve results and effectiveness with cold calling.  By investing time and resources in cold call training, an immediate improvement in leads being produced.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides lead generations services helping businesses to improve lead gen.



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Three Ways to Improve Phone Sales Calls Today

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

The great thing about phone sales calls is that there clear and practical things that we do to immediately improve results.

1.  Improving Your Mental State

Making outbound sales calls over the phone can be a very challenging and taxing from a mental standpoint.  With that being what it is, we can improve our results and stamina by taking some time and effort to improve our mind.  Improving your mind refers to going through some thoughts and exercises to improve your mental state and frame and this can have a positive impact on results.

An example of one way to do this is to periodically affirm yourself of all of the great things that you have to offer the prospects that you call.  The reason this is important is that it is easy to feel like we need to sell something so when we cold call a prospect we can easily have a needy mental frame or mental state.   But if we stop and think about it, the products we sell offer some sort of business value to our clients.  If we stop to think about this value, and add to that all of the great qualities of our company, and continue by factoring in all of our personal strengths as a sales professional, we can greatly improve our mind and our mental state.

2.  Improving Your Voice

While making phone sales calls, the only real things that we have to communicate with are the words we say and the way we say them.  And out of the two, it is worth pointing out that the way we say our words is the much more important then the actual words that we say.  Supporting this is the saying that it is not what you say, but the way you say it that matters.  As result, we can improve our results and effectiveness selling over the phone by improving our voice and how we sound.

There are some very clear things that we can do to improve our voice, and the good news is that a lot of the work is done when we spend time to improve our mental state as having a stronger frame of mind will come through in your voice and tonality when talking on the phone.

Another way to improve the way we sound over the phone is to simply smile when we make phone sales calls.  It may sound silly to spend energy on this since the people you are talking to cannot see you, but you can actually hear a difference when someone is smiling as they talk over the phone and this can have a positive impact on sales results.

3.  Invest in Cold Call Training

Regardless of our level of knowledge or years of experience, there is always room for learning and growth.  With that being the case, the are likely benefits that can be seen by investing in some form of cold call training to gain exposure to new techniques and tactics to drive results.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides cold call training to help sales pros with phone sales calls.



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Five Tips for Making the Outgoing Call

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

When it is time to make an outgoing call in a sales role, there are a few very clear things that can be done to improve effectiveness.

1.  Improving the Mind

Making outgoing sales calls can one of the more challenging jobs from a mental standpoint.  This is because we stand to reach people that do not want to talk with us and we could face some form of rejection.  This potential outcome can create cold call anxiety and this feeling can be comparable to how a man feels when he needs to walk over to a woman he does not know to start a conversation.

There are a few things we can do to decrease this resistance and improve your mental state:

Be aware of your value:
When we are cold calling, we can easily feel like we need to sell the prospect so we need them.  But if we truly have value to offer, then we can help the prospect and by keeping the value that we have to offer in mind, we can shift from a mental frame of needing to one of offering to help.

Utilize sales affirmations: Sales affirmations are confirming statements about what you, your products, and your company have to offer.  When we deal with rejection or the daily battles against fierce competition, we can lose site of all of the good things we have to stand behind.  Sales affirmations can help us to remind ourselves of these and if we go through those regularly, we can improve our mental frame.

2.  Have a Value Statement

A value statement should be delivered at the beginning of an outgoing call is to communicate to a new contact what you have to offer and this can tell them why they should spend the next two to five minutes talking to you.

3.  Prepare for Objections

We stand to run up against objections on almost every outgoing call.  To improve sales and effectiveness, we can easily prepare for these objections by listing out which ones are likely to get thrown at us and then script out the best responses that stand to keep the call going.

4.  Perform Some Research

One way to improve outgoing calls is to perform some research prior to the call.  This could involve researching the company, the individual we are calling, and any history between our company and the prospect.  The information that you collect during research may enable you to modify the questions that you ask to make them more tailored to the prospect, which can make your questioning more powerful.

5.  Cold Call Script

You never really know what direction an outgoing call is going to go so one way to decrease the uncertainty is to develop and use some sort of cold call script.  This does not need to be some lengthy and verbose script that needs to be read word for word.  We can at least use some sort of an outline as a guide or as a tool to figure out what direction to take the call and this can greatly improve results.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides cold call training helping sales pros with making the outgoing call.



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Outbound Solutions that Can Improve Sales Results

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Just about every business can benefit from some form of outbound solutions to drive an increase in sales.  Here are some solutions that can drive immediate results.

Cold Call Training

Investing in sales training for a sales force will usually deliver a return on investment.  Benefits usually result not only from a direct increase in sales, but can also decrease sales staff turnover and this can have an indirect impact on sales in the long-term.

When working to improve outbound sales, it can be beneficial to look for cold call training content that is very focused on outbound tactics hat can be utilized to drive immediate results.

Division of Labor

During a typical sales cycle, there are many different sales activities that will need to be executed.  These include outbound cold calls, responses to inbound leads, management of interactions with open opportunities, closing of deals, etc.

One of the available outbound solutions that can be incorporated is to divide the sales team so that certain sales resources that are specifically assigned to outbound activities.

This can position a sales organization for better sales results as most outbound activities almost require a different mindset and set of skills.  By having resources specifically dedicated to the area of outbound and lead generation, not only will the individual resources get better and be more productive, but accountability and measurement of results will also improve.

Compartmentalize the Calendar

If the option does not exist to create an outbound sales team, it can help if all sales resources work to compartmentalize the calendar to allocate time specifically for making outbound calls.

The reason this is helpful is that most people do not enjoy making cold calls.  With that being the case, it is very easy for other work to get in the way of making outbound calls and by allocating time specifically for cold calling, we can likely improve our consistency with completing outbound activity and effort.

Sales Coaching

Working on outbound activities can be challenging so there is definitely a place for some form of sales coaching.  This is because we are all human and because of that we can improve results by providing sales resources with sounding board to discuss challenges and ideas with, an outlet to vent frustrations, and a person to help encourage to keep the resource moving forward and keep them on track.

Sales coaching will also provide a venue for sales role-play to take place so that outbound scenarios can be practiced to improve performance when on working on the phone with prospects.

Prepare for Objections

We will always face objections on outbound calls so one of the outbound solutions that we can utilize is placing effort on preparing for the objections that we will encounter and identifying the responses that have the best chance of keeping the conversations going.

By going through an exercise of identifying the most likely objections that we will encounter and have the best responses listed out, we can then go through that like a playbook to improve our ability to control outbound sales calls.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides outbound solutions helping businesses to imrpve lead generation.



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