“Call me in January…”

Many, many business owners and sales professionals believe that the holidays are a bad time for prospecting. Not true. The holiday season can be an excellent time to prospect. While it is true that some decision-makers are on vacation and others are out holiday partying… many are still hard at work, reachable and willing to engage with you.

December can be a slow month in many industries, some people are on vacation and in most offices things do tend to slow down.  What this means is that prospects may have more time to speak with you and/or to meet with you. And, because things are slower, prospects are frequently less harried and stressed out. This is always good news.

One objection that you’ll encounter in December and no other time is the objection: “Call me in January.” While some prospects will be willing to engage with you others will not and they’ll ask you to call in January or after the New Year.

At one time, this could be an insurmountable objection. People actually had physical calendars and in December many of them had not yet purchased their next year’s calendar. This made it impossible to schedule appointments in January. Even with prospects that wanted to schedule an appointment, you’d still have to call back because they literally did not have a calendar.

Today, of course, this is a nonissue. Prospects have calendars for next year, the next 10 years or the next 20 years…. So as you are prospecting this holiday season, when a prospect says to you: “Call me in January” or “Call me after the New Year” this is what you say:

“Let’s pencil something in for January (for after the New Year). It’s not chiseled in stone, I’d be happy to give you a call to confirm. Is (January date) good or is (different January date) better?”

This way you’ll be able to hit the ground running in January with a pipeline full of solid appointments and qualified opportunities.

Happy holiday prospecting!

It’s the Holidays!

Thinking that you should cut back or give up on prospecting altogether during this time of year? What to do when…  

It’s the Holidays!

By Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™
  1. No one’s doing any work. It’s the holidays.
  2. Nothing gets done till January. It’s the holidays.
  3. No one sets appointments till the New Year. It’s the holidays.
  4. Too much to finish up to take the time to prospect. It’s the holidays.
  5. Prospects are taking time off. It’s the holidays.
  6. I’m taking time off. It’s the holidays.
  7. My assistant is taking time off. It’s the holidays.
  8. Their assistant is taking time off. It’s the holidays.
  9. No one wants to be bothered. It’s the holidays.
  10. No one is thinking about work. It’s the holidays.
  11. Prospects leave the office early. It’s the holidays.
  12. Prospects go to the office late. It’s the holidays.
  13. Everyone is having office parties. It’s the holidays.
  14. No one’s thinking about business. It’s the holidays.

Ha!Prospects do conduct business, even during the holidays. Years ago it was possible for a prospect to say, “I don’t have my calendar for next year, call me after the first of the year.” Today prospects have their calendars on their computers, tablets or phones and can schedule appointments for next year or even several years out if they are so inclined.

Prospects make appointments before, during and after the holidays, just as they do at other times throughout the year. If a prospect asks you to call back after the holidays, suggest that you “pencil in a meeting for after the holidays.” Promise that you will call to confirm it. Do so.

Happy holidays!

Are You Selling?

Many sales professionals believe that they are not actually selling. So that is the question for today’s article… 

Are You Selling?

By Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

I looked up the word “sell” in the dictionary. This is what it said:

“To persuade (another) to recognize the worth or desirability of something.”

This definition assumes value. The concept of worth or desirability is inherent in the definition of the word.

I also looked up “salesperson,” “saleswoman,” “salesman,” “sales clerk,” and my favorite, “sales talk.” The definition for “sales talk” was, “a line of reasoning or argument intended to persuade someone to buy something.”

I often ask clients, “What are the words that come to mind when you hear the word, ‘salesperson’?” Invariably, I hear back words like, “manipulative,” “dishonest,” “unethical,” and “sleazy.”

In the dictionary, however, when I looked up all of the above sales words, none of the definitions referenced “manipulative,” “dishonest,” “unethical,” “sleazy,” or anything particularly negative. The language in these definitions was actually quite neutral and several of them spoke of value.

Unfortunately, the words “sales” or “sell” no longer simply mean to persuade someone of the value of your offering. Instead they carry the baggage of images of untrustworthiness and deviousness. This is a misconception that does an enormous disservice.

Far too often, sales professionals believe this stereotypical image of sales and see the activity of selling as negative. They feel that if they are selling (or being perceived to be selling), they are doing something that is not quite right or that has the potential to be not quite right. This puts them, in their own minds, at a disadvantage and on a lower level than their prospects and customers. This is a difficult place to be. And it stops many from taking action.

Since the definition of the word “sell” used the word “persuade,” I looked up that word in the dictionary. It said:

“1. To prevail on a person to do something, 2. To induce to believe; convince”

Again, nowhere in that definition do we find the words, “manipulative,” “dishonest,” “unethical,” “sleazy,” or anything particularly negative. As with the word, “sell,” the language is quite neutral.

The bottom line: Selling is persuading and convincing people to buy your offering. That persuasion is based on value. If you cannot persuade and convince people to buy then you do not have a business.

If you believe that selling is “manipulative,” “dishonest,” “unethical,” and “sleazy,” this belief will not support your ability to sell successfully. It is very difficult to sell (persuade and convince) while believing that selling (persuading and convincing) is wrong. It is time for sales professionals to change their beliefs about the words “selling” and “sales.”

The truth is that most sales professionals are honest, ethical and believe in the value they have to offer. And that is where the focus should be.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you believe in the value of your offering?
  2. Does your offering provide a value to your customers?
  3. Are you doing the best you know how to ensure that your customers receive that value?

If you have answered “yes” to the above questions, then you are proceeding with integrity. If you are proceeding with integrity, then obviously you are not being “manipulative,” “dishonest,” “unethical,” and “sleazy.” You can persuade, convince and sell with your head held high.

If you answered “no” to the questions above, then get out of the business. It’s not a fit for you. Find something else to do in which you can believe.

Let’s reclaim the words “sell” and “sales.” Let’s redefine the words to mean, “To persuade and convince with integrity.” Let’s remember that value is inherent in the definitions of those words. Then hold your head high and go out and sell.

If you feel like you could use some help and support to hold your head high, sell with integrity and fill your sales funnel with qualified opportunities that are likely to become customers then I invite you to fill out the application for the 2017 Prospecting Jumpstart program where you will coach directly with me, one-on-one, to achieve and exceed your goals. I am looking for only a handful of people who want to knock it out of the park in 2017. To see if the 2017 Prospecting Jumpstart program is right for you, I invite you to begin the application process.

 

Are You an Amateur or a Professional?

Recently I had a conversation with a friend, a former, highly successful model, who is now building a successful business. We’re both entrepreneurs so we discuss our businesses, we egg each other on, give each other advice, we commiserate…

My friend was feeling frustrated. “Amateurs,” she said. “I’m tired of dealing with amateurs.”

I knew what she meant. A professional is someone who shows up, no matter what. A professional is someone who gets the job done, no matter what. A professional is someone who does what she needs to do, when she needs to do it, no matter what. An amateur is someone who lets circumstances, other people and emotions get in the way.

As my friend put it, “When you’re a model, if you have a saggy butt, they tell you that you have a saggy butt. Then they tell you to go away. If you want it enough, you fix your saggy butt and go back.”

I grew up in the ballet world. It’s very much the same. You take class everyday with a teacher whose job it is to criticize you. The criticism is to help you improve, but some times it just feels like criticism. You dance in front of a big mirror. This is so that you can criticize yourself.

As an adolescent and even a young professional, I’ve been called “a cow” because of a few extra pounds. I’ve had teachers hit an errant arm or leg with a stick because that arm or leg was in the wrong position. (No, they weren’t singling me out, they hit everyone.) I’ve lost dance jobs because I was too tall, too short, or had the wrong color hair. I was not accepted into the renowned Harkness Ballet School (I was 13 at the time) because my back was too long. (They told my dad I was a very good dancer, but…) When I cut my hair short (it used to be down to my waist so that I could put it up in a classical ballet bun) I never again, got another job as a ballet dancer. And by the way, when you go to a dance audition they don’t let you dance. They simply line you up and look at you and then start eliminating dancers. Once they’re done eliminating, the dancers that are left get to actually dance.

When I first started doing sales training and clients would talk to me about rejection and fear of rejection I had no idea what they were talking about. While those feelings can be very real, it’s how you handle them that makes all the difference.

Sales is tough. Everyone will not love you or your offering. Everyone will not say “yes.” The stark reality is that some prospects will say “no.” A career in sales is not for the weak.

The key to success is what you do with that “no.” You can allow it to stop you, or you can put it aside and continue on. The power is entirely yours. If there are people in the world having success doing exactly what you want to be doing, there is no reason that you cannot do it too.

Being a professional starts with your mind set, that you believe in what you are selling and that you do not give other people, circumstances or even your own thoughts and emotions the power to stop you. Or as my friend put it, “If you want it enough, you fix your saggy butt and go back.”

4 Reasons that Your Follow-up Fails

Why is following up so difficult for so many? Why do so many prospects fall through the cracks? Why does every sales professional know they should follow-up and why do so many fail to do so?

 

4 Reasons that Your Follow-up Fails

By Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

1. Lack of prioritization

If you’ve been in sales for a while it is impossible to touch everyone personally by telephone. You simply don’t have the time.Many sales professionals, however, treat every prospect exactly the same way. They follow up with every prospect in exactly the same manner. They follow up with teeny tiny opportunities the same way that they follow-up with huge opportunities.

The harsh reality is: All prospects are not equal.

All prospects do not require the same follow-up. Spend the bulk of your follow-up time with those prospects that are most likely to buy from you.

2. Lack of organization

Following-up effectively takes organization. You need to know which prospects you are following up with, what has already transpired and what the next step is in your sales process. Appropriate software solves many of these problems. Today it is simply too difficult to rely on Excel spreadsheets or your notebook.

3. No system

In order to follow-up effectively, you’ll need to determine: How will you follow-up (phone call, email, etc.)? What are your goals for each communication that you have with a prospect? How often should you contact your prospects? When should you let a prospect go? These questions, along with many others, need to be answered before you even begin. Too many sales professionals do not take the time to develop their process and so are left winging it every time. When you have a process in place with scripts and templates it is much easier and far less time consuming to reach out to the prospects you need to contact.

4. Fear

Fear of rejection can keep sales professionals from following up adequately, or at all. Many worry they are being “too pushy” or think, “If the prospect is interested, they’ll call me.” Some fear the anticipated devastation of having a prospect say, “No.”

Prospecting and follow-up are business transactions. Prospects may say “no” to your offering. They are not saying “no” to you.

Failed follow-up can be fixed. Eliminate these reasons that your follow-up is failing and see the results in your bottom line.

What do you believe?

What often makes the difference between those who succeed in sales and those who do not is their belief about what they are doing.

Whatever you believe about an action affects your ability to take that action. If you believe that a certain action is negative, you will struggle. If, on the other hand, you believe an action is positive, it will be far easier to move forward.

Taking action (or not taking action) gives you results of one sort or another. If you evaluate your results and if you don’t like what you find, or if you want different results or better results, it usually circles right back around to what you believe about what you are doing.

I was recently working with a client who was struggling with what to say to prospects. I asked her to tell me about her company. She did so and her company has achieved some amazing results for its customers. I suggested to her that she simply say what she had told me. Her response: “If I do that, I feel smarmy (yes, she said this) and like I’m bragging.”

So I asked her: “Are all of these results that you have described true?” She said, “Yes.” “In that case,” I said, “you’re not smarmy or bragging. You’re simply telling the truth.”

Just because you feel something, does not make it so. In this case, this client felt “smarmy” and as though she was “bragging.”  These were her feelings and she was truly feeling them. Those feelings, however, did not necessarily reflect reality. And in this case, those feelings – which came from her beliefs about selling – were keeping her from being successful.

Selling is actually neutral; it is the ethics of the sales person that makes the activity positive or negative.

So what do you believe? And are your beliefs standing in your way? If so, it’s time to change some of those beliefs. Remember: At one point in history everyone believed the world was flat. Most of us no longer believe that. It is possible to change.

4 Reasons that Your Follow-up Fails

1. Lack of prioritization

If you’ve been in sales for a while it is impossible to touch everyone personally by telephone. You simply don’t have the time.Many sales professionals, however, treat every prospect exactly the same way. They follow up with every prospect in exactly the same manner. They follow up with teeny tiny opportunities the same way that they follow-up with huge opportunities.

The harsh reality is: All prospects are not equal.

All prospects do not require the same follow-up. Spend the bulk of your follow-up time with those prospects that are most likely to buy from you.

2. Lack of organization

Following-up effectively takes organization. You need to know which prospects you are following up with, what has already transpired and what the next step is in your sales process. Appropriate software solves many of these problems. Today it is simply too difficult to rely on Excel spreadsheets or your notebook.

3. No system

In order to follow-up effectively, you’ll need to determine: How will you follow-up (phone call, email, etc.)? What are your goals for each communication that you have with a prospect? How often should you contact your prospects? When should you let a prospect go? These questions, along with many others, need to be answered before you even begin. Too many sales professionals do not take the time to develop their process and so are left winging it every time. When you have a process in place with scripts and templates it is much easier and far less time consuming to reach out to the prospects you need to contact.

4. Fear

Fear of rejection can keep sales professionals from following up adequately, or at all. Many worry they are being “too pushy” or think, “If the prospect is interested, they’ll call me.” Some fear the anticipated devastation of having a prospect say, “No.”

Prospecting and follow-up are business transactions. Prospects may say “no” to your offering. They are not saying “no” to you.

Failed follow-up can be fixed. Eliminate these reasons that your follow-up is failing and see the results in your bottom line.

Suspects vs. Prospects

The telephone rings… or maybe you get an email… It’s a human being who is potentially interested in your offering. A warm lead! Hurrah! But… are you sure this is a lead? Are you sure that it’s even “warm?”How much time have you (or members of your team) recently spent chasing after supposed warm leads that turned out not to be real opportunities at all? How much time have your (or members of your team) spent interacting with people who are “just looking,” “gathering information” or “needing to check with someone else for a decision”?

Prospecting is not getting easier… as a matter of fact, it’s getting harder. Prospects have shorter attention spans and a lot of options. In addition, there are only so many hours in the day one can spend looking for new business. It makes sense, then, to only spend time talking to people that are likely to buy whatever you are selling. Unfortunately, far too many sales professionals spend far too much time chasing after “inquiries” that turn out to be nothing at all.

I am indebted (and I am quoting) my friend and colleague, Bob Bly, www.bly.com, for these important definitions:

  • Suspect — anyone in the universe who could possibly buy your offering
  • Prospect — someone with the money, authority, and desire to buy your offering
  • Inquiry — a contact from a suspect
  • Lead — a contact from a prospect
Note the difference between “Suspects” and “Prospects.” It’s the difference between someone who might at some point in the future—maybe—will buy some teeny tiny little thing from you and some someone with the money, authority, and desire to buy your offering.Too many sales professionals do not understand these important distinctions. Just because someone calls you or sends you an email does not make them a prospect or a lead and it certainly does not make them, “warm.”

There are only so many hours in the day. Spend them wisely.

Marketing Insensitive 2016

Over the years I have written articles about “Marketing Insensitives.”My original inspiration for this topic was a call from a telemarketer offering me some “marketing insensitives” to purchase a product. Yes, she really said this. She was not being clever; she just couldn’t pronounce “incentive.”

Marketing Insensitives do exist. They are the unfortunate, not-thought-through, ridiculous, dumb things that businesses do that drive customers away. Here is one:

**************

The potential customer makes a phone call…

Ring, ring, ring…

Automated Telephone Attendant: Thank you for calling Wonderful Widget World. We’re happy that you have called. Here you will find our total selection of Wonderful Widgets along with bargains galore and expert service from our happy, healthy sales consultants all here to help you find the Wonderful Widget of your dreams. Please visit us at www.wonderfulwidgetworld.com. And please listen carefully as our selections have changed.

Press 1 if you know the extension you wish to reach

Press 2 if you want our mailing address

Press 3 to find the Wonderful Widget World near you

Press 4 if you would like to receive our Wonderful Widget World catalogue

Press 5 if you would like to receive our Wonderful Widget World special offers

Press 6 if you would like to be taken off of our Wonderful Widget World mailing list

Press 7 if you would like to be on our Wonderful Widget World mailing list

Press 8 if you would like to be taken off of our Wonderful Widget World email list

Press 9 if you would like to be on our Wonderful Widget World email list

Press 10 if you would like to contact the Wonderful Widget World Safety Council

Press 11 if you would like to contact the Wonderful Widget World International Charitable Foundation

Press 12 if you would like to speak with a sales consultant

Press 13 if you would like our Wonderful Widget World Directory

Press 14 to hear a recording of our happy, healthy Wonderful Widget World sales consultants singing, “We Are the World”

Press 15 if you would like to a receive complimentary photograph of the team building session at our annual Wonderful Widget World retreat

Press 16 to hear these choices repeated

The potential customer presses “12” wanting to speak with a sales consultant and buy some wonderful widgets.

Automated Telephone Attendant: Thank you for calling Wonderful Widget World. No one is available to take your call. Our sales consultants are all busy, busy, busy, busy helping other customers. But, we’re happy that you have called. Here you will find our total selection of Wonderful Widgets along with bargains galore and expert service from our happy, healthy sales consultants all here to help you find the Wonderful Widget of your dreams. Please visit us at www.wonderfulwidgetworld.com. Please listen carefully as our selections have changed…

Enough said.

What is the Goal?

Question from a reader: I am fearless when it comes to the phone and I know the people I want to reach. My problem, however, is that I have been forgetting that my real goal is to get appointments. Instead I’ve been focusing on simply gathering information about prospects on the phone, including whether they use services like mine, if they have needs that we could assist them with, etc. Some of the conversations were easy because they came out and said ‘yes, we have needs…’ but most of the time they say, ‘I’m not interested’ or ‘I already have a vendor.’ I have spoken to thousands of prospects over the years, asked my questions, and when I was given one of those responses I simply said ‘OK’ and asked if I could mail them our literature and follow up later.My question now is this: What would you recommend that I say when I call them back? I am very good at follow-up thanks to my administrative background and have a calendar FULL of follow-up phone calls to make. Do I start with the generic ‘did you get my information?’ How do I engage them in conversation and then ask for the appointment this time around?

I am so afraid that I have missed the opportunity when the opportunity was there the first time.

S.K., Kansas

Wendy’s answer: You have truly identified the issue, S.K. You forgot that your goal was a meeting and so you didn’t ask for the meeting or you didn’t ask clearly or you gave up too easily. This is a situation that happens often and is the number one reason many sales professionals are unable to schedule appointments. They simply never ask.

Call your prospects back and ask for the meeting. Don’t talk about the information you’ve sent them and don’t gather more information, instead introduce yourself and your Value Proposition and then simply ask for the meeting.

Moving forward with new prospects, focus on asking for the meeting.

And from here on in, SK and all the others reading this who also forget the goal… you must always ask for what you want. Otherwise, you will end up like S.K. with lots of missed opportunities, lots of follow-up calls and very few appointments.

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