Are You Really Being Rejected?

I’ve recently been working with a new coaching client. He is a financial advisor that wants to aggressively build his book of business. My new client has been prospecting off and on and not having the success that he had envisioned. He was frustrated and demoralized.

Part of this new client’s challenge is accountability. Some days he would dial the phone hundreds of times. Other times, days would pass, and pass, and pass… With no prospecting activity at all.

One of the first assignments I gave my new client was to track his calls (dials, conversations with decision-makers and appointments scheduled) and to send his reports to me every day. It’s important to be consistent in prospecting activities. It’s much better to do a consistent number of dials every day than a blitz one day and nothing again for weeks.

Here is an excerpt from an early call report I received:

  • 70 Dials
  • 12 Conversations
  • 10 Rejects of every variety

I emailed him immediately to say that he was forbidden to ever use the word, “reject” when discussing prospecting. The reason is simple. If every time that someone is unwilling to schedule an appointment you think that they are rejecting you becomes very, very hard to make that next dial. Over time it becomes more and more demoralizing. If you think every prospect is rejecting you, why even bother?

A better way is to look at what prospects are actually saying. The things that prospects say are not rejection they are simply things that prospect sometimes say. In this case, prospects were responding with common objections that prospects sometimes respond with: “I’m busy,” “Send me information,” “I’m working with someone”… My client had not yet learned the best way to handle these objections but they are all easily handled with a few simple scripts.

In our next coaching session we discussed how to change and reframe his thoughts about prospecting. We also discussed the best way to handle those common objections. Here is the email he sent me after that session. I share it with you as I believe my client’s reframe is valuable:

“Instead of 10 rejects, I found 10 people who won’t enjoy the benefit of working with me AND I don’t have to think about them for a few months OR I just ruled out 10 folks who don’t know what’s good for them which brings me to closer to those who do OR I passed through a few folks on the way to my next client.”


Are you missing Step 1?

I was recently working with a new coaching client. His mission is to set up appointments on behalf of his manager. My new client was stressed and frustrated and having no success.

He told me that he was reaching and having brief conversations with some prospects but those conversations went nowhere. He said he was trying to be consultative, to elicit details and to drill down on prospect objections. But no matter what he said or did he would hear, “I’m not interested,” and a click as the prospect hung up.

This new client is not a beginner. He has been in sales for many, many years. He told me that he believes in a consultative approach to prospecting and selling yet he was struggling schedule even one appointment.

Here is the fundamental problem: Consultative selling does not work for prospecting. You cannot consult with someone that will not engage with you. You cannot get answers to your questions, elicit specific details or drill down on anything at all until a prospect agrees to speak with you. Step 1 is getting the prospect’s agreement to have an in-depth conversation.

Many sales professionals that are prospecting want to set an appointment with their prospect. That appointment might be a face-to-face meeting, it could be an online meeting or the entire process could be by phone. That appointment is your prospect’s agreement to have an in-depth conversation with you. Get the agreement first.

Once a prospect has agreed to an appointment everything changes. It means that they are willing to talk to you. They are willing to give you time. They are willing to engage with you. You can ask open-ended questions, gather in-depth information and even offer solutions when appropriate. Prospects will answer your questions, give you concrete, specific information and even ask you questions – once they have agreed to speak with you.

Prospecting versus selling is the difference between asking to have a conversation and actually having that conversation.

Prospecting and selling are two totally different skill sets. Unfortunately, the two are often taught as though they are exactly the same. They’re not. When you use the wrong skill set for prospecting it is a struggle. Get the appointment first–then consult. That’s the only way it will work.


Don’t Let This Happen to You… A Cautionary Tale

There is a big difference between knowing something and actually executing on it. We all know that smoking is bad for us. We all know that we should exercise, eat healthy meals and get to bed on time. And sales professionals all know that they should use CRM and take really good notes whenever speaking with a prospect or a client. I use CRM and I certainly know that I should take good notes. As a matter of fact, because I am a sales trainer, I insist that all of my clients use CRM and I chastise them if they do not take good notes. Unfortunately, knowing something is not the same as actually doing it.

My head of business development had scheduled a phone appointment for me to speak with a prospect. My prospect and I connected however; he was extremely busy and asked to reschedule our conversation. We did so. I entered some notes in my CRM… Then this is what happened…

I was multitasking (Wendy’s definition of multitasking: doing a whole bunch of things at the same time – badly.) I was also using the Dragon voice recognition software to type my notes. Unfortunately, Dragon does not always recognize my voice and will often type something other than what I mean to be saying. I’m using Dragon to write this article… But I will proofread it carefully and my Director of Operations gives it another read through before we send it out. I also always proofread my emails carefully before I hit send. I did not bother to read through my notes in my CRM to make sure that they were clear and/or accurate. These are not excuses, just facts. This is what happened next…

I called my prospect at the rescheduled time. I looked at my notes, they were gibberish. There was nothing in the notes to indicate that I had previously spoken with this human being. While I often have a good memory for conversations, when you’re on the phone all day long with prospects and/or clients it is impossible to remember every conversation.  It had been several weeks since my initial brief conversation with this prospect and I had taken a week off for vacation.

I started the conversation with my prospect the way I start all my conversations with brand-new prospects. The problem was I had said exactly the same thing to him three weeks earlier when we spoke for the first time. He said, “You already asked me that question. You clearly don’t remember me.” He was understandably annoyed and offended.

My prospect then said he was busy and he couldn’t talk. He said I could call him back another time if I wanted to. And that was that.

I am now reaching out to this prospect again with the hope that he will find it in his heart to forgive me so that we can talk. This is a mistake that did not need to happen. It was entirely my fault. I did not take good notes in my CRM and so did not handle the phone call appropriately. I know how important it is to take good notes – I just didn’t do it. I’m hoping this will not be a completely lost opportunity, but it might very well be.

Here are my takeaways. I share them with you in the hope that you will learn from my mistake:

  • Do not multitask
  • Take good notes in your CRM – really
  • Read through the notes to make sure that they are clear before you go on to your next task
  • Read through the notes before you speak with your prospect or client again
  • Repeat after every conversation with a prospect or client


The Four Biggest Roadblocks to Sales

1. Repeating the same action over and over and expecting different results

The biggest enemy to sales is the status quo. When sales trainers say this, we are usually referring to prospects. The idea is that most prospects find it to be very difficult to change (even if something is not working for them). Hence, the biggest enemy to sales is the status quo.

What is interesting is that the same rule is true of anyone in sales. The biggest enemy to your sales is the status quo—your status quo.

One can always sell more. One can always streamline an approach, become more efficient, develop new skills and/or refine existing skills. Yet all too frequently I have witnessed sales professionals adamantly insisting that sales habits which do not produce results for them “ought to” work. And I have witnessed others refusing to try different approaches because they don’t believe those changes will work for them.

Sales is crystal clear. You are either selling or you are not. You are either closing or you are not. When prospecting, you are either scheduling appointments or you are not. If what you are doing is not working for you, it’s time to do something else.

2. Not doing the homework

Some prospects are better than others. Before conducting any sales activity it is imperative to know that you are focusing only on your best, most qualified prospects. By best, I mean those who are most likely to buy, buy a lot and keep coming back to buy more. Too many sales professionals spend too much time courting prospects who are unlikely to become customers.

Ask yourself: What are the specifics that make a prospect qualified for you? The prospects that you pursue must meet those parameters. And one of those parameters must be that you are speaking with the decision-maker. If you are not speaking with the decision-maker, you are not speaking with a qualified prospect.

3. Expecting instant results

Selling is a process. Your prospects, more than likely, will not instantly say, “Yes.” Too many sales professionals give up far too soon. They believe their prospects are not interested when the truth is that the selling process simply needs more time. Every sale has a cycle and depending on what you are selling, it could be a short cycle or it could be quite lengthy. 

Selling is your number one priority. Buying is not your prospect’s number one priority. It is your job to help your prospect stay focused and on track and understand the value that you have to offer.

4. Letting fear and preconceived ideas stop you

“I don’t want to be pushy.” I have heard this phrase over and over and over when working with clients. It’s a phrase that always frustrates me. What exactly does it mean? No one knows because everyone has a different definition.

What’s interesting is that the only definition of “pushy” that actually counts is your prospect’s definition.  Now we’re into mind reading territory. To truly not be “pushy” you’d have to discover what your prospect means by that word and whatever that is, not do it.

The problem with worrying about being “pushy” (or too “salesy” or too “aggressive” or any of the other things sales people worry about) is that it stops you from taking action. Without action, you will not sell.


All Buyers are Liars?

Earlier this week in the Prospecting Mastery live group mentoring program, one of the participants posed this question: “Wendy, is it true that all buyers are liars?”

I thought this was a great question that some of you might also be asking yourselves, so I decided to share my response with my Opening Doors & Closing Sales readers:

Many sales professionals certainly believe this statement to be true. By simple logic, however, the statement, “All buyers are liars,” cannot possibly be true. While it can be true that some buyers might be liars they cannot all be liars.

More importantly, the mindset that every prospect with whom you speak is lying to you is not a mindset that supports you. And, it is not a belief that will help you become successful. Instead, the mindset that every prospect is lying to you is depressing and demoralizing and keeps you from asking the questions you might otherwise ask to dig deeply and clarify the needs of that prospect. If they are all lying to you, why bother?

A prospecting call is an interruption. Sadly, our prospects are not all sitting by the phone waiting for our calls… They are all doing something else when that phone rings. In addition, a prospecting call is an introduction. Once you introduce yourself to a new prospect it takes some time to build trust and to build a relationship. At the beginning of your relationship, your prospect may not tell you everything – this is a very natural and a very human response.

My recommendation to the participants in the Prospecting Mastery program was to remain neutral – no jumping to conclusions, no mind-reading, and no assumptions about what the prospect is “really thinking”…. Instead, I recommended that they listen to what the prospect has to say and then ask relevant questions. Buyers are not liars, they are simply human beings.

Change the status quo now

The biggest obstacle to gaining a new customer or closing a sale is the status quo. Most people (and that includes prospects) don’t like change. It’s really that simple. In order to get a prospect into your pipeline it’s imperative to offer that prospect a compelling reason to think about making a change.

Prospects can be so resistant to change that they are unwilling to even discuss other possibilities. That is why it can be so difficult to get in the door to set up that very first appointment.

Here is an email I recently received from an Opening Doors & Closing Sales reader who is in the insurance industry:


“I’m wondering if you can help me with my script. Our company offers a range of products, whole life, disability, long term care… so when I introduce myself that’s what I say:”

“‘Our company offers a range of products; whole life, disability, long term care… and I’d like to drop by for a quick 15 minute meeting…’”

“I always get cut off right there without having a chance to offer a time.”

It’s not surprising that this reader gets cut off. He’s making himself and the company he represents into a commodity by simply listing all of the “things” his company offers, “whole life, disability, long term care.” If a prospect already has that “thing” they have no need for another.

He would be so much better off identifying a problem that these offerings solve and leading with that. Does he work with business owners and help them attract quality employees because they can offer better benefits packages? Does he work with young married couples who are starting a family and want to ensure they can send their kids to college? Does he work with middle-aged individuals who want to ensure they have a happy and secure future?

Here’s the rule: Identify the problem that you solve and the population that you solve it for. Then, when speaking with a new prospect, lead with that. Prospects will stop interrupting and start listening.

Time to Follow the Money Trail

I just got off the phone with one of my coaching clients. There are a handful of sales professionals, all high achievers, that I mentor. I love working with them because they are all people that strive to excel.

Today my client was struggling. She was feeling overwhelmed. High achievers get that way sometimes: So many things to accomplish, so many deadlines, so little time.

When you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, how do you decide what to do first? And, if you’re like a lot of high achievers, everything on your list is marked “High Priority.” What then?

I shared with my coaching client my main tool for budgeting time successfully. (I can get a little overwhelmed too.) Now I want to share that tool with you. The tool is easy to use and does not require complicated instructions. Nor does it require that you whip out your charge card. Here is the secret to managing and prioritizing time: “Follow the Money.”

Make a list of every single thing you need to do. Then prioritize that list according to which “to do” is closest to putting money in your pocket. Which ever is closest to putting money in your pocket, do that first. Then, look at your list again and determine which next “to do” is closest to putting money in your pocket. Do that next. And so on.

Following up on a proposal for example, is closer to money in your pocket than making a cold call. Calling an existing customer to ask for an additional order is closer to money in your pocket than calling a referral to introduce yourself. Making a cold call is closer to the money than doing your administrative tasks.

Once you start following the money it is immediately obvious what you need to do next, and then next, and then next…

Summertime Blues

Summertime really kicks off after the July 4th holiday. That does not mean you should stop building your sales pipeline.  This post is so important we wanted to publish again.
It’s summertime!
  1. No one wants to be bothered. 
  2. It’s too hot. 
  3. It’s a beautiful day; everyone is out. 
  4. No one is thinking about work. 
  5. Prospects are getting ready to go on vacation. 
  6. Everyone is on vacation. 
  7. Prospects are just returning from their vacations. 
  8. I’m preparing to go on vacation. 
  9. I’m on vacation. 
  10. I’ve just returned from vacation. 
  11. My assistant is on vacation. 
  12. Their assistant is on vacation. 
  13. No one is in on Mondays. 
  14. No one is in on Fridays. 
  15. Prospects are catching up midweek. 
  16. Prospects leave the office early. 
  17. Prospects go to the office late. 
  18. Prospects take long lunches. 
  19. No one makes appointments till after July 4th. 
  20. No one makes appointments till after Labor Day. 
Copy the list above and email it to your competition. Then, get on the telephone! Life and work continue, even in the summer. If it’s too hot, then your prospects will be in their nice, air-conditioned offices—where you should be, too, making calls. If it is a beautiful day, some people may be out. The rest will not. 

Everyone is not on vacation every day. If you happen to call someone who is on vacation, call them back when they return. If they are planning a vacation, schedule the meeting for when they return. If they have just returned from their vacation, schedule for a time when they say they will be caught up. If you are going on vacation, schedule for when you return. 

Prospects are in the office on Mondays and Fridays, early and late. They are frequently at their desks during lunch—especially when you are calling the boss. 

Prospects make appointments all summer long, just as they do in the fall, winter and spring. If a prospect asks you to call back after a holiday, suggest that you “pencil in a meeting for after the holiday.” Promise that you will call to confirm it. Do so. 

Have a wonderful prospecting summer!

Cold Calling: The Warrior Madness

Here is an email that we recently received from a new reader of this newsletter:

“Wendy, I want to let you know that I apparently suck at cold calling. I’m not a very good bullshitter.”

Wow! I feel for her. Talk about starting out from a difficult place…

But it’s not really her fault. Cold calling has been so demonized, people believe so many negative myths about cold calling that sometimes it’s almost impossible to see beyond the murkiness of the various stereotypes about what is essentially just a phone call.

This new reader unfortunately seems to believe that she needs to make stuff up and be incredibly manipulative in order to succeed at cold calling. Not true.

Here are some of the things that people believe about cold calling:

1. It’s a numbers game. This myth goes: “Make 100 dials every day. If you’re not getting traction, make 200 dials every day. If you’re not getting traction with 200 dials, then make 300 dials every day. And so on… Unfortunately, these days sheer volume of calls is not enough to help you succeed. It’s simply too hard to get people on the telephone. Today you have to be targeted, strategic and skilled. The real numbers game is conversion: Conversion of dials into conversations with decision-makers and then the conversion of those conversations into appointments.

2. Cold calling is manipulation. Many people (see email from reader, above) believe that cold calling is about manipulating people into buying things they neither want nor need. Not true. Your cold call is simply your introduction. There are many ways to meet a prospect, this is one of them.

3. Go through the ‘no’s’ and hang ups until someone finally says, ‘yes’ to you. This is my personal favorite. Who in their right mind would want to do this? I call this myth the “Warrior Madness” because a lot of cold calling training centers on how to deal with rejection. Instead, of learning to handle the ‘no’s,’ it’s a much better idea to learn the skills that you need so that prospects say ‘yes.’ Couple that with some strategic thinking and targeting and you’re in a much better place to succeed.

4. The Born Sales Person. This is a very insidious myth because it keeps people from taking action. (See the email from reader, above.) No one is born knowing how to cold call. It’s a communication skill and like any communication skill it can be learned and improved upon. (The Queen was lucky. Early in her career she learned this skill and it enabled her to build a business. You can learn it too.)

Bottom line what we’re talking about is a phone call—the basic tool of any sales professional. It doesn’t have to be painful. It doesn’t have to be brutal. It’s simply a phone call.

7 Tips for Building Relationships & Guaranteeing Repeat Business

1) Ask all of the questions that you need to ask to ensure that you truly understand your prospect’s needs. Don’t assume that you know what your customer wants or that all customers have the same issues and/or concerns. Ask. This way you’ll be sure.

2) Give your customers exactly what they ask for. “Sort of” doesn’t count. Deliver quality and service each and every time. In addition, don’t oversell. Persuading a customer to take more product than they actually need will quickly make you a one-time resource.

3) Be absolutely certain that your offering will solve your customer’s problems or help them in the way they need to be helped. If your offering is not truly a solution, tell the truth. Selling a product or service that does not solve the problem it was purchased to solve may put money in your pocket in the short term but in the long term, it will guarantee that you lose the customer.

4) Do everything that you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Nothing builds trust and credibility like doing what you say you’re going to do. And tell the truth no matter what. While sometimes being truthful might cost you a sale, in the long run the trust that you build will more than make up for any lost revenue.

5) Keep your customer informed every step of the way. If something changes, if there is a delay, a pricing issue, a mistake or any potential problem, let your customer know about it as soon as you know. Do not wait. They will find out eventually and not telling them personally and/or allowing them to discover it on their own will lose you business.

6) Become a valued team member and go above and beyond your prospect’s expectations. Show your customer that you are interested in their business. Invest time thinking about their needs and how you can help.

7) Show appreciation for your customer’s business by saying, “Thank you.”

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