4 Steps to Close More Sales Today

Tired of writing proposals for prospects that disappear? Read on to discover…

Recently I was working with a client who was lamenting the number of proposals that she writes that then end up going nowhere. My client reported that she can spend up to a day or more putting a proposal together. She then sends that proposal off to the prospective customer and either is never able to speak with that prospect again or if and when she does reach the prospect is told that they’ve chosen another firm. How frustrating!

While proposal writing may be an important element of the sales process there’s no point in writing proposals that go nowhere. Here are 4 steps to follow to ensure that more of your proposals will close.

  1. Make sure that you’re speaking with a qualified prospect. Do your homework, target well and make sure to ask all the relevant questions to ensure that this is a real opportunity. This is where many sales professionals get stuck, mistaking someone that will talk to them for a real opportunity.
  2. Always get agreement from your prospect on the value of your offering and if you can quantify that by a dollar amount, you’ll be even better off. Make sure that they have the budget for your offering and that you know who all the decision-makers are. Ideally you should have conversations with those decision-makers. Ask your prospect who else they are speaking with (i.e., your competition) and how they will make the decision.
  3. When you send that proposal call it an “Outline of our Agreement” or a “Confirmation of our Discussion.” The word, ‘proposal’ suggests there will be more back and forth and that you do not have an agreement. If you proceed as outlined above in Steps 1 and 2, you can actually reach an agreement before you write that proposal.
  4. Set up the next step. The next step could be another appointment with the prospect or others in the company or perhaps the next step is simply that the prospect will make a decision. If the next step is that the prospect is going to make a decision, set up an appointment to discuss their decision. Whatever that next step is, gain agreement and schedule it. A prospect that does not agree to a next step and/or will not commit to a next step is not a great prospect.

By following the steps outlined above you should find yourself writing fewer proposals and closing more of the ones that you do write.

Why Your Sales Team Should Always Leave Voicemail Messages

Isn’t email better than voicemail for prospecting? Read on to discover…

Should I leave a voicemail message? Isn’t email better for prospecting?

These are the questions I am asked all of the time.

The answer is actually, both. Leave a voicemail and send an email.

This recommendation is based on research done at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. They studied the impact of written communication and spoken communication. Written communication might be an email, a text, a social media post or even a letter. Spoken communication includes being face-to-face with someone, on the phone or a voicemail. They discovered something interesting. When people hear you talk, even if it’s only on a voicemail, they think you are smarter and they are more likely to act on whatever it is you’re talking about. What we see, is that leaving a voicemail and sending an email increases response.

There are, however, more reasons to leave voicemail messages.

According to ZoomInfo, in 2020, the average voicemail response rate is 4.8%. You might look at that low number and say to yourself, “Why bother?”

It is true that with a 4.8% response rate you and/or your team might not even notice the number of returned calls. So, let’s do some math and calculate the impact of getting prospects to return calls.

Let’s assume that you dial the phone 20 times/day. By the end of a week that would be 100 dials/week.

There are 52 weeks in a year and I’m going to give you 2 weeks for vacation. So, by the end of the year (50 weeks) you would have dialed the phone 5,000 times.

If only 1% return the phone call, by the end of a year that would be 50 additional conversations.

If 4.8% return the phone call, by the end of a year that would be 240 additional conversations.

If 10% return the phone call, by the end of a year that would be 500 additional conversations. (BTW: 10% return or higher is very doable.)

What would an additional 500 conversations with qualified prospects do for your bottom line?

That’s why you and/or your team should be leaving voicemail messages.

No More Conversations

Does your team have excellent, engaging telephone conversations with prospects only to have those prospects decline to schedule an appointment? Read on to discover a controversial answer to this very challenging issue…

Has this ever happened to you? You call a prospect for the very first time. You reach that prospect and engage him/her in conversation. The prospect seems interested and is even asking questions. You’re giving solid answers and explaining your value proposition. You’re thinking, “Wow! I have a live one here!” Then you ask for the appointment and the prospect says, “We’ll call you if we need you,” “We already have a vendor,” “Call me next year” or something else along those lines.

If your answer is, “Yes, Wendy, that happens to me a lot,” you are not alone.

I’ve been working with a new client. There are about 10 people on his sales team and they are all working very, very hard. They are scheduling almost no appointments.

All of the team members research their prospects so that they are prepared. When they get a prospect on the telephone, they try to build rapport and ask good probing questions. They try to use all the information they’ve gathered in their research to engage with the prospect and to have a conversation. Some of them do have conversations with prospects. They schedule almost no appointments.

Appointment-setting is often taught as a sub-set of selling skills. It’s not. Appointment-setting is actually a distinct and unique skill set. The skills one needs to engage with a prospect after that prospect has agreed to have an in-depth conversation are different from the skills one needs to gain the prospect’s agreement to have that in-depth conversation. (This, BTW, is the definition of the word, “appointment,” that a prospect agrees to have an in-depth conversation.)

My client’s team was struggling because they were all using the “conversation” skills they would employ once a prospect agrees to an appointment. This almost always backfires. Their attempted conversations were actually keeping them from setting appointments with qualified prospects.

So, here’s the controversial part that may shock you: If the goal is to set an appointment, your sales people are not on the telephone to have a conversation. They are on the telephone to set the appointment. Period. By not having conversations, you and/or your team will actually set more appointments. Save the conversation for the appointment.

Are Your Sales Scripts Killing Your Pipeline?

To script or not to script… the controversy continues…

Last week I had a conversation with a business owner who told me that he did not believe in letting his sales team use sales scripts. What he actually said was that he did not believe in, “canned scripts.” And I would have to agree.

For some reason, the idea of scripting in many people’s minds is tied up with the concept of being “canned.” I’m not sure where this comes from, but many seem to believe that if you are using a script, you cannot possibly be yourself or be authentic.

On the other end of the spectrum, I often receive emails from readers who ask me if I can recommend a “good, generic script.” I always laugh when I get these emails. You see, what you or your team say to a prospect has to be relevant. Generic simply won’t cut it.

So, what does it mean to be relevant and use a script?

It simply means that you think before you speak and that you are prepared.

Prospects today are busier than ever. They are stressed out. They are doing more with less. They may be working from their kitchen table. They may or may not answer their phone. If you want your sales team to get a prospect’s attention and engagement on their prospecting calls, they better have something compelling to say. This requires preparation. If you want your sales team to get return phone calls or responses to their emails, they better have something compelling to say. This also requires preparation. BTW: This is true for cold calls. It is also true for warm calls.

There are two types of preparation: The first is understanding the market and the relevance of your offering to that market. The second type of preparation is taking that relevant information and putting together a clear and concise introduction. The prospect needs to quickly understand how your company might be able to help them. This is your script. In today’s prospecting world, there is simply not a lot of time and if the prospect doesn’t understand or doesn’t see the relevance, the call will be over before it has even started. And when your team leaves voice mails and/or sends emails, if the prospect does not see the relevance, they will simply delete.

Scripting is not a “canned presentation,” something that you or your team say over and over again no matter what the prospect says. Scripting is about being relevant—quickly. Scripting is about being the best “yourself” that you can possibly be in order to get your prospect’s attention and willingness to engage.

Cold Calling the Perfect Way to Build Relationships

Are you looking to build strong, relationships with prospects that then turn into solid and profitable client relationships? Then read on to find out how cold calling can actually help.

Cold Calling the Perfect Way to Build Relationships

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

A conversation:

A Business Owner: “I don’t cold call. I want to build relationships.”

Wendy: “Huh?”

Recently I’ve had a number of conversations with business owners and entrepreneurs who tell me they do not cold call and they do not have their teams cold call because they want to build relationships with prospects.

I’m confused.

Who says the two are mutually exclusive?

Every relationship, whether business or personal, begins somewhere. Everyone whom you currently know, your significant other, your colleagues at work, your friends and/or your neighbors were unknown to you at one time. Then, somehow, you met and over time formed a relationship. Relationships don’t happen instantly (even with love at first sight). Relationships build over time.

In sales there are many ways to contact and reach out to new prospects. There’s direct mail, networking, referrals, trade shows, social media, public speaking and content marketing. And yes, cold calling, that is, calling prospects on the telephone. These are all ways to introduce yourself, your company and your product or service to potential customers.

One of the major stereotypes about cold calling is that a cold call is about instantly closing a sale on the telephone in just one call. When talking about cold calling many sales professionals throw everything they know about relationship building with prospects out the window. They think they have to somehow manipulate a prospect into buying from them in one phone call. This is one of the reasons why so many struggle with cold calling. Very few people want to be seen as manipulative and manipulation actually doesn’t work very well.

If you look at the cold call as only being an introduction all of the discomfort falls away.  A cold call is not a sale and it’s not a relationship. Your very first call to a prospect is your introduction and perhaps the start of a relationship. That is all it is. You would still need to do everything that you normally would do to build a relationship with a prospect you had met in a different manner.

Think of this like dating. In order to go on a date, you first have to ask the person you want to date to go on the date with you. That’s your cold call. If they say, “yes” then you go on the date. That’s your appointment. Just like a first date is not a relationship, but possibly the start of one, your cold call and/or your appointment is not a relationship… but possibly the start of one.

© 2020, Wendy Weiss

 

Why Consultative Selling Does Not Work for Prospecting

If your prospecting efforts are running into massive roadblocks, if you or your team are struggling to have consultative conversations with prospects, but those conversations are going nowhere fast… It is important to understand…

Why Consultative Selling Does Not Work for Prospecting

By Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

I was recently working with a new 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. 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.

We help business owners that are sick of micro-managing their sales team turn their team into efficient, effective qualified appointment-setters. If you’re a business owner managing a small, not-producing-at-the-level-you’d-like, sales team, let’s talk. Simply click here to schedule a time for a New Appointment Breakthrough session, give me a little background and we’ll talk.

 

How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part II)

Are you a small business owner struggling to manage the sales team…?

How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part II)

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

I have been wondering about the challenges small business owners face when they manage a sales team. I set out to interview some business owners to see what they had to say. Between the time I came up with this idea and actually executed it, COVID19 arrived on the scene. That made me curious to find out whether the challenges faced by business owners in managing a sales team has shifted due to the virus. They had so many interesting observations that I had to create two articles! Below is Part II. Click here if you missed Part I.

Mona Friedl
President
MGF Services, LLC
https://www.mgf-services.com/

 Mona’s sales team consists of 3 independent contractors. The corporate office is in Wisconsin; however, the sales representatives are based in Chicago, North Caroline and California. The sales representatives have all been with the company for a long time. Some of them were originally Mona’s customers!

Mona said that before the current crisis, her #1 challenge in managing the sales team was communication, that is, making sure that her team had the data they needed to be successful. She said, “I know that it sounds simple, but it’s one of the biggest bottle necks.”

At the beginning of this year, Mona had a lot of plans for the business. Given the current crisis situation, “You just have to take out your plans, throw them up in the air and say, we’re going to start over. How do we move forward and how do we conduct business differently?” She went on to explain that a large part of that has to do with marketing and sales. For example, there were trade shows that were scheduled that have now been postponed. In addition, she and her team are used to meeting with customers and/or prospects and going on site.  Right now, that’s off the table.

Mona said they are restructuring in order to accommodate remote sales and service. “We have to start re-thinking how to handle service and support if we can’t go to a site. How is our customer going to share their information with us? The problem is, this is new to our customers too. They have their own requirements of operations and policies not to mention changes due to COVID-19 that they have to deal with and now we’re adding more to it.”

One more thing that is new: Having to remind the sales team to take a softer selling approach. She said, “There’s a sensitivity here. Talk to people and ask how they’re doing. It’s not just about the sale. We need to redefine our operations and strategies to be a good team partner with our clients. Together we will build a better future of growth.”

Shelley Armato
CEO
My Smart Plans
https://www.mysmartplans.com/

 Shelley is the CEO, co-founder and the sales team of My Smart Plans. She’s been in business since 2006.

Shelley said that her #1 challenge is telling their story to as many people as possible.  It has been an adventure because she says they are disrupting the construction industry. She said her goal is to tell their story and to find her tribe of people that understand and support her vision of building the ability to  have vetted knowledge whenever decisions are being made on a project.

Shelley’s primary business development tool is cold calling. She also uses LinkedIn to reach out to likely prospects and is involved in some industry associations. She says her biggest roadblock to gaining new clients is the status quo.

What helps Shelley succeed is her belief that she is serving the community and protecting the integrity of the project. She is not selling. These beliefs make cold calling easy for her.

The other challenge for Shelley is using the correct language. Every industry has its own dictionary of  terms, so understanding  and finding that right language is the key to success.

Re: The current crisis Shelley said, “This has been such an amazing journey. I am so sad that so many people have died, however, this crisis has been a blessing for me because it has made me focus back on what’s of value in my life. It has settled me down. I ran helter skelter for all those years. Now I’m able to sit down and articulate our story differently.”

Jonathan Roth
President
Document Imaging Group
http://www.docigroup.com/

 Jon has been in business for 14 years and it has always been a struggle to find and manage good sales people. He has hired and let go many different sales people over the years.

About 10 years ago Jon’s team consisted of  3-4  sales people. Over the course of a year or two they all left or were let go for one reason or another. Jon then went for 4-5 years without a sales team. He was the sole sales person.

Jon had such success in growing his business that he hired in other, non-sales-related, areas. He then realized he needed to hire sales people again in order to keep everyone busy and working.

About 18 months ago Jon hired a sales person, an industry veteran, and then 6-8 months later he hired another industry veteran. Jon told me that, “When you’re a small business owner and also the sales person and you handle the major accounts it becomes extremely difficult to manage the sales team. It became apparent to me that if I am going to hire sales people, I need to manage them more and hold them accountable. That is why I also hired a Director of Operations and made him responsible for managing the team.”

Unfortunately, Jon’s first hire did not work out so now he is down to one sales person.

Jon said, “I’m a very self-motivated individual and I look for people that don’t need a lot of management and that are also self-motivated individuals. What I’m finding is there aren’t a whole lot of people that are self-motivated and will take the initiative to do things on their own without someone managing them. I don’t want to be that type of manager. I now have one sales person other than myself and he is extremely self-motivated. It took me 14 years to find this person.”

***

We help business owners that are sick of micro-managing their sales team turn their team into efficient, effective qualified appointment-setters. If you’re a business owner managing a small, not-producing-at-the-level-you’d-like, sales team, let’s talk. Simply click here to schedule a time for a New Appointment Breakthrough session, give me a little background and we’ll talk.

 

How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part I)

Are you a small business owner struggling to manage the sales team…?

How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part I)

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

I have been wondering about the challenges small business owners face when they manage a sales team. I set out to interview some business owners to see what they had to say. Between the time I came up with this idea and actually executed it, COVID19 arrived on the scene. That made me curious to find out whether the challenges faced by business owners in managing a sales team has shifted due to the virus. They had so many interesting observations that I had to create two articles! This is Part I…

Brian Lambert
President and Chief Performance Officer
Growth Matters
https://www.growthmatters.today

Brian’s sales team consists of 2 salespeople. He described them both as hunters. Brian said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is, “Can they deliver the message and are they passionate about it?”

He went on to say, “Our hiring process is rigorous, so they have the skill, but what do they say? The space we’re in is very new to people. It’s also highly intangible. We are selling our know-how, smarts, methods, frameworks, consulting and services that are not necessarily productized. A lot of sales people struggle with that.”

Brian went on to say that his company tries to figure out how to help people work differently and to simplify business processes. That’s hard for sales people to articulate and there’s often a messaging gap, around the business case for working differently and/or the business case for simplifying. His sales people need to be able to connect the dots in the customer’s organization.

When I asked Brian if his #1 challenge had changed post-coronavirus he said, “Now we are getting meetings, but when we have those meetings, we are struggling to get everyone in the prospect company on the same page. So, the #1 challenge now is, once we have the meeting, how do we continue the momentum? There are usually 8-12 people involved in making the decision and it’s difficult to get people to want to fix the problem and agree on the solution. This is worse now with COVID19.

Gadi Binness
CEO
Relocation Insurance Group, LLC
https://relocationinsurance.com/

Gadi’s sales team consists of 2 Sales Admins, 2 producers and a Director of Sales and Business Development who manages the 2 Sales Admins and the 2 producers and who also does business development. Gadi is also involved in sales.

Gadi said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is technology. He said that they are still doing some things manually and that cuts down on their efficiency and productivity. The challenge is to upgrade and update the technology they use in order to be more productive. Interestingly, the company has always worked remotely and so they were not affected, the way many other companies have been, by having to make a major shift in how they work.

I asked Gadi what he sees as his #2 challenge in managing a sales team. His answer, “Bringing more leads and accounts into the pipeline. Bringing in more business.” He said that for his business, “The challenge moving forward, if this crisis continues, will be bringing in business.”

Ron Clevenger
President
Mustard Seed Financial & Insurance
https://www.mseedfinancial.com/

Ron’s sales team consists of 10 insurance producers. They are all 1099, independent, commission-only, contractors whose focus is to go out and find new business.  Once an account is closed, there is a customer service team that manages that account. This allows the producers to continue to sell and find new business.

Ron said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is to have visibility into the early stages of the sales funnel, pre-quote and pre-negotiation. His blind spot is having a strong indication, at the highest level, how the early stage sales funnel looks. He does not have an easy way to know if the sales funnel is shrinking or if it is expanding.  It is difficult to have a measure of what the producers are doing in terms of meetings scheduled and/or in-depth conversations with prospects. Ron said that It’s easier to understand what the funnel looks like once producers get into the quoting process because then there is a good paper trail.  Ron says that the current pandemic has not had an impact on this challenge.

In thinking about what has changed since the current crisis began, Ron said, “Momentum and the learning that happens when the team can come together face-to-face.” He went on to say that, “When you have traditionally been a sales organization that operates under a brick and mortar roof and now, you’re operating remotely, your level of engagement is not as great. There’s less discussion of successes and failures, what’s working and what’s not working. It’s not the same as when everyone was sitting around a conference table together.

Ken Dawson
CEO
Mindrover Technology LLC
https://www.mindrovertech.com/

In the past, Ken had a sales team but right now, he is the sales team. Ken says that his biggest challenge has been, “Finding the right person in the company to talk to. It’s a matter of getting your message to the right person.”

Ken also experiences a conflict between outbound marketing and inbound marketing and determining which one is the better approach. Ken is trying to do both at the same time. For outbound he’s working on a mix of cold calling, cold emailing and text messaging. For the inbound piece he is implementing a content marketing strategy in order to be seen as a subject matter expert by the prospects he’d like to meet.

When I asked Ken, what has changed for him since this crisis started, he said, “Now everyone is shut down and the message isn’t getting out. I’m having to rely on inbound marketing; people coming to me looking for technologies or strategies to work remotely. I was lucky, however, because I had just put up a landing page on my web site about strategies and products for working remotely and how my company can help. I did this one week before the quarantine hit.”

***

We help business owners that are sick of micro-managing their sales team turn their team into efficient, effective qualified appointment-setters. If you’re a business owner managing a small, not-producing-at-the-level-you’d-like, sales team, let’s talk. Simply click here to schedule a time for a New Appointment Breakthrough session, give me a little background and we’ll talk.

 

An Idea Whose Time Is Now

Looking for a revolutionary idea to grow sales during this crisis? Read on to discover…

An Idea Whose Time Is Now

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

There is a global pandemic. You and your team are all working remotely. You’re worried about what’s going to happen to your business and you’re worried about what’s going to happen to sales. You’re worried about how to stay in touch with your existing clients and you’re worried about how to find new opportunities.

Here is a revolutionary idea: Make phone calls.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, The Humble Phone Call Has Made a Comeback.”

 In recent years a common refrain has been, “the phone is dead,” because of caller ID, voicemail and millennials who don’t like to talk on the phone at all. With our current crisis, however, something has shifted.

The New York Times reported that:

“Verizon said it was now handling an average of 800 million wireless calls a day during the week, more than double the number made on Mother’s Day, historically one of the busiest call days of the year. Verizon added that the length of voice calls was up 33 percent from an average day before the outbreak. AT&T said that the number of cellular calls had risen 35 percent and that Wi-Fi-based calls had nearly doubled from averages in normal times…. The surge in voice calls is for both business and personal purposes, said Chris Sambar, AT&T’s executive vice president of technology and operations.”

Anecdotally, my experience over the past several weeks has been that clients and prospects are answering their phones more, and when they do answer, they are very chatty. People who are not used to working remotely are happy to have another human being with whom to speak. The two members of my business development team have reported the same experience. I have also heard this from a number of colleagues who are prospecting. Granted, this is a very small sample, however, the New York Times article backs this up. People are talking on the phone more.

 

There’s opportunity here. Now is the time to reach out to existing clients, see how they are and offer your support. Now is also the time to also reach out to new prospects. You may not make an immediate sale; however, you can start to build relationships that will result in future sales. The vehicle to make this happen? The telephone. The time to make this happen? Now.

The Proof is Social

Looking for a tool to help prospects quickly understand how you can help them? How about an instant credibility tool? How about a prospect shorthand for decision-making? It’s all in…

The Proof is Social

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

The great Robert Cialdini wrote about the concept of ‘Social Proof’ in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” (If you don’t have a copy run out and get one now.) He said, “…the concept of social proof equips us with a wonderful kind of automatic-pilot device…. With it we can cruise confidently through a myriad of decisions without personally having to investigate the detailed pros and cons of each.” Social proof is a very powerful selling tool.

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

“…everybody from Art Sobczak to Brian Tracy to Wendy Weiss recommends using social proof as one of the key components of scripts. In the finance world, this is illegal. I cannot refer to satisfied sources. What is an elegant way to get around this? How can I compensate for not having this tool available?”

This reader brings up an excellent point. In most industries it is perfectly fine to give examples of customers that have been helped by your product or service. There are other industries where confidentiality is an important issue. There is a solution, however, and it’s rather simple.

It is perfectly ok to talk about how your product or service has helped customers, you simply cannot use customer names or identifiers. Instead of saying, “ABC Company found (fill in how the product/service helped the customer)…” and naming the specific customer you say, “One of our customers found (fill in how the product/service helped the customer).” While this is not quite as strong as being able to name a specific customer it is far stronger than not using social proof at all.

Social proof is very powerful. Always try to incorporate social proof into conversations that you have with prospects. You will be astounded to see the response.

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