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Sales (Selling) Tips:

1. To gain more referrals, follow two simple rules:

a.  Make it as easy as possible for the customer or networking prospect to come up with a name by asking for a very specific situation.  It’s easier to think of a name if we’re given a specific context to use.

b.  Tie your request to the solution you just delivered.  First, ask yourself, what benefit did it provide?  What did you help them do better than they were before you arrived?  Then ask for a referral based on that benefit.

Example:  “I’m glad our system helped you cut wasted materials.  Who do you know (within your company, or within my geographic territory) that might be having the same challenge and might benefit from hearing how we were able to help you?

2. Be conservative when calculating the number of full weeks you have per year for selling time, use forty-four or forty-five, not fifty.  Think about it; two weeks for vacation, eight to ten days of holidays, the last two weeks of the year, sales meetings, days when you just don’t feel like it, etc.

3. Having trouble getting around to making those cold calls?  Try:

a.  When you plan your week, set ‘Call Blocks’ with yourself first to do it.  It must be sacrosanct.   You will not change it, you will not answer the phone two minutes before you are to begin.  If someone wants to meet with you during one of those call blocks, don’t be afraid to say no.  They’ll meet with you another time.

b.  If you are an early morning caller, do not open your e-mail until after you’ve made your calls.  If you’re like me, e-mail winds up pulling me down too many rat holes and all of a sudden I’ve spent an hour on e-mail.  Do it AFTER you’ve made your calls.

c.  Use our activity calculator (it’s free) to estimate the number of appointment making calls you need to make each week.

d.  If you can’t make yourself dial the number of times the calculator estimates is necessary in the beginning, try five a day to begin with.  5 Dials x 5 Days x 44 weeks = 5,500.  Would your sales increase if you made 5,500 dials?  If you won’t do five, do four…

     Having enough selling activities on your calendar will have a positive impact on your psyche. Success breeds success; the more appointments you have on your calendar, the better you’ll get at qualifying and prioritizing (you’ll have to).  The better you’ll get at qualifying and prioritizing, the more effective you’ll be at selling…and the more money you’ll make.

e.  Calculate the value of each dial.  Simply divide your target earnings by the number of dials necessary (as calculated by the Activity Calculator).  At the end of each Call Block, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and calculate how much money you put into your ‘Virtual Bank’.

f.  Figure out your best time for appointment setting.  It varies per industry (as well as per person).  Paul Goldner in his book, Red-Hot Cold Call Selling, suggests you set your Call Blocks on a rotating basis to begin with to determine which time is best for you, track the results, and then schedule those times as your Call Blocks.  Example:

     7:30 – 8:30 the first day, 8:30 – 9:30 the following day, etc.  And don’t skip lunch, and don’t quit until 6:30.  Remember, if you’re calling on executives, they most likely didn’t become executives by working 9:00 – 5:00…and the gatekeepers aren’t there.

g.  Do nothing but call during your Call Blocks.  Do your prospecting (finding names, organizing them, outside research needed, etc.) during non-selling hours, or at least during non-Call Block times.

h.  Remember, no new sales opportunities will enter your sales funnel (board) until you pick up the phone and set an initial meeting.

4. Practice your calling script until it is second nature and sounds totally conversational.  Practice it out loud in front of others or tape record yourself and listen back to it. Is your message pertinent to the intended audience?  What value (in the eyes of your audience) does your solution bring?  Saying the same thing each and every time will allow you to control the flow of the call.  If you can do that, you can predict the responses you’ll get.  If you can predict the responses, you can be prepared to handle them.  If you think this isn’t worth the effort, why do you think you practiced a play over and over again when you played sports, or why you rehearsed a scene over and over again in a play?

5. When a suspect says 'no' to an appointment making request, ask for permission to call back again at an appropriate interval to see if anything has changed.  Prospecting is cumulative.  It might even take three or four attempts, but after a while the barriers will break down and the person will recognize your name and will open up at some point. 

6. Use Klpz (not ACT!, etc.) to manage your calling programs.  It will cut in half the time it takes to run a Call Block (or allow you to double your calls).  It will also make it easier to keep track of those suspects you receive permission to call back, as well as track your ratios so you’ll be able to predict your income stream and trouble shoot problems in performance more easily.

7. Getting e-mail addresses – Klpz has an e-mail capability.  Ask for an e-mail address to be able to check back at more frequent intervals.  Use the e-mails to tell a short success story.  Just like advertising, your story needs to be told over and over to make an impact on those not in the market for what you sell, when you call.

8. An effective daily prospecting routine improves your negotiating position.  This is because you are better positioned to walk away from a bad deal if your business in development is plentiful than if you have nothing on the horizon.

9. Finding the right person – see scripts folder, newsletter, e-mail folders – selling and training ideas or cold calling class aids.

10. The Gatekeeper can be your friend.  Cultivate the Gatekeeper.  Ask for his or her name and use it the next time you call.  On the second or third attempt, ask for their help in getting through.  If they refuse, you’ll know you need to call when they are not there!  If they help with a good time, or method, well…

11. The Gatekeeper can be your enemy – even after you’ve gotten an initial meeting.  Never underestimate the power of a Gatekeeper.  If you lie or mislead a Gatekeeper to get an initial meeting set, your Gatekeeper might mention that to your target.  You’ve now not only lost a prospect, but you’ve lost the time it took to set the appointment (if not go on the appointment). 

12. Follow up ideas – give yourself a reason to follow up between meetings by purposely leaving something out of materials you’ve previously provided. “Oh, I forgot to include…”

13. Networking – attend one networking meeting a month

14. If you’re really committed to your customers, provide them with your home phone number.

15. Do you have thank you notes with your company logo on them? Do you send them after you receive orders, or people do things for you?

16. Make yourself a goal of meeting 10 new people per month

17. There aren’t enough suspects in your universe who ‘need’ you in your timeframe (remember – you have a time bound quota) and are aware of that fact. Therefore, it DOES make a difference what you’re asking when you call to set an appointment. The reason they should agree to meet with you should be because you can share with them what you’ve done for others that brought the benefit you provide.

18. When writing your, “The reason I’m specifically calling you today is…”, portion of your script for cold calling, ask yourself this question: If I were the suspect, is there enough value in the ‘why I’m being asked to meet with this person’ to grant the appointment, assuming that we do NOT move forward into a buying cycle. If not, go back to the drawing board.

19. Understand that your real biggest competitor is not the XYZ company who also sells what you do, but the Status Quo. Whatever they are doing today, there is a reason for it. You must find out what they are doing today, and then determine if you can help them do it better. If you can’t, they’re not a prospect. Go find another one.

20. Do you know the average length of your buying cycle AND the average length of each stage within it? For every day outside that average length, the odds of you closing that sale start to drop. If you know that, it will help you prioritize which prospects to be investing your time on.

21. Repeat your telephone number S-L-O-W-L-Y when leaving voicemails, even if you are calling from a landline and leaving a message on a landline phone. Your customer/prospect may be checking messages from their cell phone. Don’t make it hard for them. They may not make the effort to repeat the message to hear the phone number.

22. If you are leaving a long voicemail (only when you’re already working with this person – never on a cold call), leave your phone number at the beginning and again at the end. Why? Because if they miss it at the end, you don’t make them listen to the whole message again to get the phone number…they might just not do it.

23. ALWAYS leave a phone number in a voicemail. Have you ever been away from the office when someone left you a voice message without a number and you couldn’t call him or her back until you had access to your phone book?

24. Buy a micro-cassette (or digital) recorder to carry with you. Use for prospecting ideas or other ideas that pop into your head while driving.

25. Send hand written thank you notes when people do nice things for you. People remember the hand written ones.

26. Do things for others without the expectation of a return. It will come back to you many times over.

27. Always send a follow up note after a first appointment (these don’t need to be hand written), but they should NOT be emails. Type it up, as very few sales people do this anymore. Make yourself stand out from your competition.

28. Looking for ways to shorten sales cycles? Don’t wait for your next meeting to ask a question that might help you further the sales cycle. Make a call to your prospect and let them know you were thinking of them, or call to confirm the upcoming appointment, and while you’ve got them on the phone, ask the question you forgot to, or want to ask. It could cut an entire week or more out of your sales cycle.

29. Always be thinking sixty minutes ahead in a sales call. Anticipate the direction of the call, even if it changes in mid-stream. Know what next step(s) you’ll be closing on at the end of the call and begin setting the stage for it (them) early.

30. A great question to start a sales call that is not a first appointment in a sales cycle, or if it’s been a while since you last talked is, “Has anything changed since we last got together/spoke?” You’d be surprised how often the answer is yes.

31. Bring extra materials or handouts to every meeting just in case more people join the meeting than you were anticipating. As a matter of fact, if you do that, sometimes you’ll actually have the opportunity to ask your contact to see if someone they bring up in the meeting would be available to join you right then, if you’re prepared with materials. That may even eliminate the need for additional meetings down the road if it turns out you need to meet with that person anyway.

32. One of the best ways to find out answers to difficult questions is to let yourself be corrected. For instance, if you’re looking for the reason why your prospect selected a competitor to do business with in the past, you might suggest a reason that you know is wrong and let the prospect correct you. (People love to be right…and you don’t have to be to get the information you want.)

33. “Take the time to sharpen your saw” every once and a while. Did you know that less than 10% of sales people will take a sales training course, read a book or listen to a tape or CD this year? Take the time to get better at what you do for a living. Life is a learning experience, and nothing is more constant than change.

34. Do you have a credibility binder? A credibility binder has customer testimonials, references, third party endorsements, etc. Always carry one with you.

35. A great way to test the waters as to where you are in the sales cycle with a prospect you’ve begun to build a relationship with is to ask the following question (or a derivative of) as you’re leaving a meeting – kind of “Columbo” like. “Oh, before I leave, one more thing. Just between you and me, what do you think is going to happen here?”

36. Getting a “no” in a sales cycle is a good thing. It frees you up to invest your time on prospects you believe have a chance of choosing to use your product or service.

37. Sales cycle stalled? Have your manager call your decision maker and ask, “Did we do something wrong?”

38. The tougher it is to get in to see a lead, the better the opportunity. Why? Because all of your competitors gave up.

39. When you send literature or an article to a lead, prospect or customer, highlight the areas of the article you think applies to them or you WANT them to read. If they’re busy, they might not read it at all, but if you make it EASY for them, they’re more likely to not only read it, but get your point. (I know it takes more time…)

40. Change your outgoing message on your voicemail EVERY morning. It is not only common courtesy, but since you’re in sales, you’ll always be setting the expectations of your customers as to what to expect from you. If you’re off for the day (or week), don’t leave your leads, prospects or customers expecting a call back today when you know you won’t be doing so.

41. Only call a lead for a first appointment once a week. Only call them four times before recycling them into your database for six months or so from. AND, always leave a voicemail message when cold calling. If you’re using our formula for leaving voicemails, you’ll get 40-65% of those messages returned. You’d be surprised how many phones now have caller ID. If you’re calling the same person too often, they’ll know it, whether you think they do or not.

42. Know your ratios and build your plan around actual numbers. How many calls turned into how many appointments, turned into how many sales? And when you become good at that, track the days of the week and times of the day? Are any better than others? (By the way, NO time is a bad time to make a cold call.)

43. Don’t rely on impromptu visits, especially to cold call. In particular, don’t expect to be able to knock on enough doors to resolve an income crisis. (If you do the math of the time it takes to knock on a door versus make a phone call, you’ll probably realize that the ratios are not in your favor.)

44. Before leaving your current appointment, always set a firm next appointment with objectives, resources, time and place. You’ll shorten your sales cycles and harden the soft “no” much more quickly if you do.

45. Always verify your information. And if possible, triangulate it (verify it with two additional sources).

46. Always escalate the sale. Always be moving it forward and upward in the organization.

47. Always find out what they really do, when they do it, whom they do it with, where they do it, how they do it and why they do it that way. You’ll then be able to determine if you can help them do it better.

48. Plan two weeks ahead.

49. Remember you need a “no” in order to “know” if you don’t have a prospect anymore.

50. Always get the prospect to do something, anything. If you don’t, how do you know they’re committed to the sales process?

51. Never, never, make a presentation that you don’t think will close. It’s a waste of your precious selling time to prepare for it and deliver it (not to mention others within your organization that might be necessary to help you).

52. Always have a planned fallback position for every step in the sales process.

53. Whenever possible, do it in person, not over the phone or through email or snail mail.

54. Close something on every call. You’re not necessarily ready to close on the sale at each step in the process, but you should at least always be closing on the next step.

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