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How to Set Appointments

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Figuring out how to set appointments is one of the key factors that can lead to a sales person’s success. Here are eight areas to focus to improve appointment setting.

1. Identify your core value

When prospecting and trying to set appointments, you only have a couple of minutes to work with to get a prospect’s attention. As a result, you must be as efficient and attention grabbing as possible and focusing on the value that you have to offer can help with this.

2. Identify your ideal prospect

To improve how to set appointments, we must know what prospects we should spend our valuable time talking to and which ones we need to avoid and walk away from.

3. Write some soft qualifying questions

In order to make sure we are dealing with ideal prospects, need to be sure to ask some qualifying questions to identify that it makes sense to continue talking. Write out three to five questions that you could ask prospects to make sure it makes sense to meet with them when calling them to set appointments.

4. Identify some pain points

Key to getting appointments set is identifying pain that the prospect is experiencing. If there is not pain, there is no reason for the prospect to meet with you.

5. Write some building interest points

At some point, we must build a little interest on the prospect’s side. In order to help with this during the tight window that we have to work with during a cold call, we can develop a list of silver bullet points that we can share with the prospect to build interest. This could be points on what we do, how we differ form the competition, threats from not purchasing from us, etc.

6. Identify some name drops

We will need to develop some sort of credibility for when trying to improve how to set appointments. One way to quickly do this is to name drop other businesses that we have worked with.

7. Write a script

Once you have gone through all of the previously described steps, you can take all of those points and put it on the same piece of paper and you have something that can be used as a cold call script or call outline.

8. Pick up the phone

The only thing left to do at this point is pick up the phone and make it happen.

Launch Pad Solutions provides sales coaching helping sales pros to figure out how to set appointments.



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Keys to Maintaining Sales Effectiveness While Working from Home

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Sales people are working virtually from a home office more now than ever.  And there is a lot of upside to that arrangement, there is also a lot of solitude and requirements for self-management.  With self-management being important when working virtually, there are some key things that we can do to improve our ability to stay focused to drive results.

1. Establishing a schedule

When working from home, the more you are able to establish a routine, the more successful you will be.  One key to building consistency in terms of a schedule or routine is to start your day at same time in terms of the time you wake up and the time that you start working. By establishing this routine, it can create more focus and discipline, which can help as you try to self-manage yourself driving additional sales effectiveness.

2. Add structure to the week

Taking establishing a schedule one step further, it can help to add structure to the week and day.  You can break down and organize some of your tasks into categories like: prospecting, administrative, training, research, etc.  You can then assign part of your week to those activities and this can help to drive sales effectiveness.

3. Improving your mindset

It can sometimes be tempting to work in your pajamas all day when you work from a home office as that is always an option.  Even though it is very possible to do this and still have a productive day, it can be very helpful to wake up and get ready for the day as though you were leaving your home office to go somewhere in terms of your dress and appearance.

By getting up at the same time and then getting ready with activities like taking a shower and getting dressed, we can create a much more focused and motivated mindset.  The job of self-management never ends when we work from home and this will be easier when we are dressed and ready to start the day and this will help to drive sales effectiveness.

4. Repurposing the saved commute time

One of the key benefits to working from home is the elimination of a daily commute.  This equals a tremendous amount of time and expense savings.  One thing that will drive sales effectiveness is to wisely using the time that is saved due to the home office arrangement.

Without the commute, we can either sleep a little later in the morning and we can start our relaxation time in the evening a little earlier.  Or, we can repurpose the time saved and refocus it back toward using as productive work time.  For example, if the commute is 45 minutes each way on average, we can have a mindset that assumes we have an advantage by being able to work an extra hour and a half per day that we normally would have to spend in transit.


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Use an Evaluation Plan to Improve the Close Rate

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

One of the most important events in the sales cycle is the closing of the deal.  And many people believe you were either a closer or you were not.  As if you are born with the ability and it is in your genetic make up or it is not.  I personally don’t believe that that is the case and have the complete philosophy that skills and tactics can be learned and used to drive results and improve the ability to close transactions.  An example of a tactic that can be used to improve your close rate is using an evaluation plan.

An evaluation plan is a document that outlines all of the main activities that both the sales person and the prospect must do during the sales cycle to reach an executed agreement.  The purpose of this document is not only to outline the path and required steps, but to also level set expectations and secure agreement with the prospect.

A typical evaluation plan will be a table that has four main columns or categories:

  • Activity: The first column in the table is for the actual activity or item that needs to be accomplished.
  • Owners: Lists who owns or is involved in each step.
  • Dates: The date for when the activity needs to be complete.
  • Status: Status for the activity.

Filling out evaluation plan for a prospect is only half of the work that needs to be done when trying to improve the close rate.  Effectively using it during the sales cycle is the other half as using it correctly is an art in itself.  Below are some key ways to best utilize the evaluation plan.

Initial meeting: In an initial meeting with a prospect, a sales person is trying to qualify if the opportunity and prospect are qualified in terms of interest and ability to purchase.  One great way to qualify them is by showing an evaluation plan that lists out everything that will need to be done between now and the end of the process.  Not only will their reaction help to further qualify, but that is a great time to secure sponsorship and level set expectations.

Revise together:
Ideally in a second or third meeting, possibly when some sort of discovery is being executed, it would be productive to revise and build out the evaluation plan with the prospect.  Specifically in the area of the prospect’s internal processes and steps, this is a good time to have them outline those and put them down on the evaluation plan.  By having the prospect help to build the evaluation plan, their buy in and knowledge of the path forward will be increased helping to improve the close rate.

Email updates:
During the sales cycle, it can be helpful to email the prospect the updated evaluation plan that shows activities being completed and any changes that have occurred.

In the home stretch:
Executing when the deal is in the home stretch is the key to improving the close rate.  By having an evaluation plan that outlines all of the steps that the prospect must execute on their side to pull the trigger will help with managing the prospect at the end of the sales cycle.  This can also help with communicating with sales management on where the deal is and how it is tracking.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales training helping organizations to improve sales results.

 

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Three Questions to Ask When Qualifying Sales

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

When working as a sales professional, it is critical to optimize the available time during the work week.  One of the keys to effective time management is to focus on qualifying sales opportunities so that time is only spent working on the opportunities that have the best chance of closing.

Below are three questions that should be asked when measuring how real a deal and prospect are:

1.  Why do something?

When we are to increase sales and hit our quota, it is easy to get very excited and easily jump at every deal that we encounter.  And we can find ourselves jumping through the prospect’s hoops to show them our products, give them pricing, and talk to them about how great our products.

And while we know why they should buy from us, we can easily skip right over asking the question of why should they make a change or make the purchase.  Is what you are trying to sell a “nice to have” or a “must have” to your prospect.  Answering why the prospect should do something will help you to figure this out and this will help with qualifying sales.

2.  Why now?
It is very important to identify why the prospect needs to purchase now.  If the purchase is a “must have”, that is great.  But is it a “must have” or is it a “must have right now”?  Answering this question will help you to determine the time line that the sales prospect is working against and will help you with qualifying sales.

If as part of answering this question, you identify a significant date or event that the purchase needs to be made by, then you have just uncovered a compelling event.  By there being a compelling event involved, the sales opportunity becomes much more qualified.

3.  Why buy from us?
It can be very helpful to identify why the prospect would buy from you over the competition.  If you cannot clearly answer this, then you either do not truly understand your prospect’s needs, you do not fully understand your offering and competitive differentiation, or maybe a little bit of both.

Work with the sales prospect to understand why they would want to do business with you over the competition.  If they cannot, or will not, communicate this to you, this is not a qualified opportunity.

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Launch Pad Solutions, LLC provides sales training to help drive sales excellence.

 

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Sales Prospecting is More Than Cold Calling

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

People often use the term prospecting and cold calling interchangeably.  And it maybe semantics but actually cold calling is just one component of sales prospecting as prospecting is actually a larger process that includes many different steps.


Step One:  Profiling

This is the act of building out the profile of the ideal customers that would fit best for what you have to sell.  Profiling involves identifying the customers that are most likely to buy and benefit from the products and services that you sell.  Factors you will want to look at are the size of companies that are ideal in terms of the industry they operate, revenue or employees, their geographic location, etc.

You are basically identifying where your sweet spot is in terms of customers to go after so that the time you spend prospecting is focused in the area that delivers the best return.


Step Two:  Targeting

Targeting is to build a list of all of the potential prospects that fall under the profile that you built in step one.  There are many resources to use to build this list but one example is Hoovers.  If you subscribe to Hoovers, you can go onto their site and easily plug in the company size, location, industry, etc., and you will then have a fairly comprehensive list of all of your prospects.


Step Three:  Suspecting

The next step in the sales prospecting process is Suspecting.  Suspecting is the act of going through the comprehensive list of prospects and identifying a pool of suspects. .  Information that you might want to use to identify suspects is any information on what the company is doing or has done that may exist in your customer relationship management system.


Step Four:  Researching

After Suspecting in the sales prospecting process is to Researching.  This is a customer information gathering process with the goal of getting to a point where you are able to pre-qualify them as prospects.  The type of information that you might want to gather is the state of the company (growing, shrinking, or maintaining), identify contacts and who is responsible for what, and identifying what their current processes and systems are.


Step Five: Identification

Identification is the next step in the sales prospecting process.  This is where you take the information found during the research phase and either classify the company being researched as a prospect or remove them from the list.  If the company is identified to be a prospect, their name should be put onto a target list.


Step Six:  Contact

The final step in the sales prospecting process is to contact the prospect.  This part of the process is a whole other subject in itself, but to highlight some key points:  contact should be made at the top or executive level, contact should be made in a mix of ways from calling, emailing, physical mail, etc., and the goal of the initial contact should not be to sell but more to secure an appointment.

Source:  Jake Atwood, President at Ovation Sales Group & BuzzBuilder Pro


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Securing Executive Sponsorship is Key to Sales Effectiveness

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

One of the best ways to improve sales effectiveness and improve close rate is to effectively secure executive sponsorship for your sales opportunities.


What is executive sponsorship?

Executive sponsorship is where an executive becomes an advocate or champion for a project.  All projects will have a project manager, but they may or may not have an executive sponsor.  The main benefit from having this for a sales opportunity that you are working is it will create having someone who at a senior level endorse the project or purchase, looking over it, and help it to move along.


How to get acquire executive sponsorship?

Sponsorship at an executive level is not always an easy thing to secure.  Below are four steps to take to help make this happen.


1.Identify a potential sponsor:
Identify which executive would be the right individual to sponsor the project.  This ideally would be the senior manager that is impacted most by the project and the person that would have the most interest.  It would also be worth while to identify why this person has not already sponsored the project.

2. Build business case: Build a business case of how the project or purchase of that you are working on will benefit the company and benefit the executive.  This may have already have been done as part of the sales process and if so it may need to be tailored to any interests that are particular to the potential sponsor.

3. Ask for meeting: Ask for a meeting with the executive to present the business case that you have put together and are working on.  If not handled correctly, this is the step that could get the most resistance as the executive’s time is both valuable and limited and you can get push back.  If push back is received, the best response is to realize that your time is valuable too, as are the benefits that you are proposing that you will bring to the company.

4. Ask for executive sponsorship: When you meet with the executive, present your business case for why the project makes sense and all of the expected benefits.  Once you confirm their understanding and agreement with what you presented, simply ask for their executive sponsorship of the project.


Why is executive sponsorship so important?

Executive sponsorship important as it will drastically improve your probability your sale closing and it will also drastically shorten your sales cycle.  This is because having an executive bless and endorse a project, people in the organization will be more likely to work with you and help move the project along.  Also, if the project gets off track, you then have a senior person to go to for guidance, advice, and support.  Lastly, this process can help your close rate because it can help you to disqualify opportunities that only have potential to waste your time with no revenue.

Compass Coaching, LLC helps organizations to drive sales revenue by providing sales consulting.



 

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Decrease Multitasking to Increase Sales

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Multitasking is a major part of our daily lives.  So much so that many employers state that the ability of effectively multitasking is a key requirement when looking at job applicants.  But when it comes to trying to increase sales, sometimes decreasing or minimizing the amount of multitasking can drive positive results.


Multitasking is a Must

The goal is not to eliminate multitasking as it is almost a mandatory part of a sales person’s day as a typical day is usually fast-paced with a lot of different things going on at any given time.  Without the ability to effectively multitask, it would be impossible to maintain composure and mental health in the day of the life of a sales person with so much coming in from all different directions.


The Cost of Multitasking

The concern comes when we are multitasking 100% of the time and successfully giving a little bit of attention to all of the different tasks but at some level our effectiveness in each area is not at the highest possible level.  For example, if we are multitasking while we are trying to prospect for new business and this involves calling and sending emails to existing clients and to internal staff while we are supposed to be cold calling new prospects.  In this scenario, the sales person is very busy and effectively getting a lot down by multitasking and giving attention to multiple areas.  But with this approach, consider what is being lost in area of effectiveness with finding new customers.


Decreasing Multitasking to Create Focus

The ideal way or area to apply this is to the larger tasks or areas of responsibility.  For example, the areas of finding new business to increase sales, taking care of existing clients, training, and administrative tasks are examples of some large areas that a sales person will have tasks and objectives.  By adding structure to the week to work on these areas of responsibilities and then turn off the multitasking during those times, the sales person will establish more focus and attention.  This will help improve the level of effectiveness and productivity in each area, which is likely to help to better position a sales person to increase sales.

Compass Coaching, LLC helps drive sales effectiveness for sales professionals by providing sales coaching.



 

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Continuing to Learn to Improve Sales Effectiveness

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in sales is to become complacent.  Regardless of how long we have been working in an industry, working for a company, or have been in sales in general, there is always room to improve and get better.  By adopting a philosophy of continuing to learn, you can improve your position for growth and improvement and this can help with your sales effectiveness.

Where to Focus
Below are some of the key areas for a sales person to focus on continuing to learn.

Product Knowledge: There is always room to improve the knowledge you have for the products that you sell.  Learn more about the features, functionality, and benefits.  Learn about the best type of questions to ask clients that help you position your products and services.  Increase your knowledge of objections that could be expected and how to overcome them.

Understanding of the Customer: Learn more about the companies you sell to.  Increase your knowledge of their businesses and the industries that they operate in.

Competitive Knowledge: Learn more about your competition.  Become an expert on their portfolios, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

Industry Knowledge: Learn more about the industry that you sell into.  Increase your knowledge of terminology, trends, challenges, recent events, etc.

Sales Skills and Techniques: Sales is a skill and there are a number of things we can do to improve our sales effectiveness.  By continuing to learn about sales techniques and methodologies, you can continue to get better.


Where to Access Information

There are many different resources of information to use while attempting to continue to learn and some of those are outlined below.

Books: There are some great books on sales and improving your sales effectiveness.  These are great resources of information and if you only take one or two things from a book that you use in your job, the time spent reading the book is worth it.

External company websites: Company websites are a great resource to use when learning about your customers and competitors.

Your company intranet: Most companies post detailed product information on the company intranet and this is probably the best place to go to when working on your level of product knowledge.

Classes, workshops, and seminars:
Formal classes, workshops, and seminars are great resources to use to grow knowledge in the areas of sales, technology, and general business.  There are very effective resources to help you to improve your sales effectiveness but they can be costly in terms of time and fees.

Trade and industry publications: Trade and industry magazines and websites are good resources for getting industry and competitive information.


Finding Time to Learn

A sales person’s day is very chaotic.  And it can often seem as though there is not enough time to get the job done, much less spend time learning.  One way to find time for learning is to find time during the week that is slow and allocate some of that time to for this.

For example, early Monday mornings or late Friday afternoons can sometimes be slow in terms of sales calls and those can be good times of the week to reserve some amount of specifically for learning.  Additionally, reading some information after business hours can be beneficial as well.

Compass Coaching, LLC provides sales training helping businesses to drive sales revenue.



 

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Getting More Organized to Increase Sales

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

When trying to increase your sales, a first step can be focus on getting more organized as it will help you to be more efficient, effective, and focused.  This can help to save time from an efficiency standpoint and time is money.  Shaving time here and there by being more efficient will improve productivity and drive positive results.

Below are some areas where being more organized can have a direct impact on your ability to increase your sales.

Managing Information
Being more organized in the area of collecting and managing information is can help with sales effectiveness.  A typical sales person will receive a tremendous amount of information everyday.  From emails, to administrative documents, to product information, to customer information, it can sometimes be never-ending.  Figuring out what to do with this information and then spending time to find items and this time could be saved by being more organized.  By saving that time and refocusing it back to selling, you could possibly increase your sales.

Not only can managing information better help to save time, but it can also put you in a better position during the sales cycle.  The more information about your prospect that you have, the better positioned you will be when trying to drive and close sales opportunities.  Being more organized can help you to manage and access prospect information, which should have a positive impact on your sales effectiveness.

Efficient Processes
Being more efficient can be beneficial when dealing with administrative processes.  Those are tasks that must be done and the quicker you can get through it, the quicker you can get back to selling.   Being more effective can be beneficial when it comes to sales processes as it can be the difference between winning and losing business.   By being organized with sales processes, you can be in more control over the sales cycle leading to a higher close rate and helping you to increase your sales.

Managing Time
Time is money so if you want to increase your sales, being organized with your time can make you more efficient and more successful.  A typically sales person can be responsible for many different tasks.  From working to find new business, taking care existing clients, to dealing with administrative duties, it can be confusing for a sales person to know what to work on and when.  By being more organized with your time and day, you can create time specific for the different areas that you have responsibilities.  This can create more focus which will help to you be more effective in all of the areas that you need to be which should help you to increase your sales.
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Decrease Multitasking to Increase Sales

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Multitasking is a major part of how we operate our daily lives.  And in most cases, employers state that the ability of effectively multitasking is a key requirement when looking at job applicants.  But when we are in a sales role and trying to increase sales, sometimes decreasing or minimizing the amount of multitasking can drive positive results.

Multitasking is a Must
The goal here is not to eliminate multitasking as it is almost a mandatory part of a sales person’s day as a typical day is usually fast-paced with a lot of different things going on at any given time.  There are usually a constant inflow and outflow of emails and phone calls, there is always work to be done against some to do list of internal and external requests, a schedule of internal and external meetings, and the never ending need to find new business.  Without multitasking, it would be impossible to maintain composure and mental health in the day of the life of a sales person with so much coming in from all different directions.

The Cost of Multitasking

The challenge comes in when we are multitasking 100% of the time and successfully giving a little bit of attention to all of the different tasks but compromising our effectiveness in each individual area.  For example, let’s look at multitasking while we are trying to prospect for new business.   This could involve calling and sending emails to existing clients and to internal staff while we are supposed to be cold calling new prospects.  In this scenario, the sales person is very busy and effectively getting a lot down by multitasking and giving attention to multiple areas.  But with this approach, consider what is being lost in area of effectiveness with finding new customers.  Could decreasing the multitasking while prospecting have a positive impact when trying to increase sales?

Decreasing Multitasking to Create Focus
If we agree that multitasking is a must and we also agree that there is a potential downside to multitasking 100% of the time, then we can possibly agree that an approach to decrease multitasking at certain times of the day or week can drive positive results.  One way to incorporate this is to apply it to the larger tasks or areas of responsibility.

For example, the areas of prospecting to increase sales, taking care of existing clients, training, and administrative tasks are examples of some large areas that a sales person will have tasks and objectives.  By adding structure to the week to work on these areas of responsibilities and then turn off the multitasking during those times, the sales person will establish more focus and attention.  This will help improve the level of effectiveness and productivity in each area, which is likely to help to better position a sales person to increase sales.

Launch Pad Solutions helps drive sales effectiveness for sales professionals by providing sales coaching.



 

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