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Boosting your Prospecting Success

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sales prospecting lack of success

 

Are your telephone sales prospecting techniques working?  What is your ratio of outbound prospecting calls to actual decision maker conversations?  And when you fail to reach a decision maker and instead leave a voicemail, how many call backs do you get?

Indeed, salespeople need phone skills training and great sales prospecting techniques that immediately get decision makers on the phone.  While effective cold call approaches are rare, our unpublished sales prospecting techniques typically have a first-call success rate of 50-80%.  Regardless of the initial sales prospecting approach, it is often necessary to leave voicemails and generate decision-maker call backs.

   

Sales Prospecting Techniques

1 – Persistence can help, but don’t become pushy.  A method we teach in our phone skills training involves “polite persistence” and building relationships with support people.  The bottom line:  You’re more likely to get a call back if the decision maker sees that you’re respectful and committed to getting a hold of her.

 

2 – Find sales prospecting techniques that work well for you.  For instance, good voicemail techniques include: showing you’ve done some homework and understanding critical business issues,  dropping names of appropriate companies you’ve worked with and making it easy to reach you at a later time (e.g. via a direct cell phone number)

 

3 – Do something different!  We’ve seen salespeople send express mailers, email innovative e-cards and use outside champions to gain decision maker attention.  The key is to stand out from the crowd and to attract positive attention.

 

4 – Get marketing support.  For instance, adding prospects you contact to your firm’s e-newsletter or product announcement list can help create name recognition and improve the chances you will get through on the next call.  And a consistent, long-term strategy of reaching decision makers via marketing methods is a proven method for boosting sales results.

 

5 – Gain focus.  Set up a specific time block from sales prospecting, and get rid of all distractions.  Salespeople do their best work when they are focused, thinking and motivated.

 

6 – Enhance your prospect database.  For instance, adding decision maker names and email addresses to your CRM system helps ensure you reach more decision makers and get more call backs.

 

7 – Get coached.  Ask your sales manager or a colleague who is successful at cold calling and generating decision maker calls to help you.  Learning from someone who has succeeded is much quicker than inventing sales methods and sales prospecting techniques yourself.   A solid phone skills training or sales prospecting course could quickly accelerate your results.

 

 

All Rights Reserved.  The Sales Alliance Inc.  San Diego, CA

 

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Listen or Lose

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Sales performers usually have excellent listening skills.  And those who lose sales often talk too much, in many cases overpowering the customer!

 

Research has shown that in a typical 60-minute sales call, a salesperson takes up:

  • 50% of the time making product statements
  • 15% of the time asking questions and
  • 10% making other statements

So, what’s wrong with this picture?  How much time does the most important person in the room (the customer/prospect) get to talk?

 

Indeed, when people aren’t heard or listened to, they know it!  Consequently, trust and rapport, the keys to making sales, are often not developed.

 

Improving Listening Skills

So, how can salespeople improve their listening skills and comprehension abilities?

  1. Listen to understand, not to respond:  Give your prospects all the time they want to speak.  And, resist the urge to interrupt with remarks or solutions until you hear them out!
  2. Use the power of silence:  Strategic pauses after the prospect makes a remark helps reinforce that the salesperson is actively listening to the prospect and taking time to think of a response.  A lack of pauses can lead people to believe that they are getting an automatic or “canned” response to their concerns.
  3. Maintain eye contact:  Even if you are taking notes during the conversation, make sure that you make eye contact often.  A lack of eye contact has been shown to negatively impact levels of trust and rapport.
  4. Use reflective listening:  Actively listen to your prospect, then summarize your understanding of his or her needs.  Repeating and paraphrasing what the prospect has just said ensures that you correctly understand her needs and helps her gain trust in you.   Reflective listening skills are a trait of many successful salespeople.

 

The saying “You have 2 ears and 1 mouth—use them in that ratio” applies to salespeople more than any other profession.  Indeed, good listening skills yield great sales results.  So, next time your prospect starts talking, be sure to shut up!

 

All Rights Reserved.  The Sales Alliance Inc.  San Diego, California.

 

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