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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  While effective cold call approaches are rare, our unpublished sales prospecting techniques typically have a first-call success rate of 50-80%.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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First Impressions and Etiquette Count

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Buyers, who have a plethora of options as to whom they buy from, are cutting potential vendors very little slack. And phone etiquette counts!  In fact, many screen out potential vendors within the first minute of telephone contact based on their initial impressions and “gut feel.”  Negative impressions that “turn off” buyers often include: being put on hold for more than a minute, not being able to easily reach someone knowledgeable about the firm’s offerings, “talky” or pushy salespeople, a perceived lack of professionalism and poor phone etiquette.

Clearly, first impressions are critical to sales success and the use of successful sales techniques is critical.  So, make it a resolution to start out your New Year by improving your phone etiquette and approach.  Let’s start by looking at your customers’ perspectives and asking some important questions.

 

Sales and Phone Etiquette

 

1). CONTACT EASE: How easy is it for prospective buyers to get a hold of your or someone else who is knowledgeable?  How well do receptionists take care of people who call in?  Do callers become frustrated by confusing voicemail systems, “voicemail jails” and auto-attendants?  Do prospects reach voicemail more often than live people?
 

 

2). ATTITUDE: How is the phone answered and what is the demeanor of the salesperson? Are callers treated in a consistent manner on each and every call?  One client of ours has a standard of first mentioning their company name, then introducing the call handler by name, and then making the statement in a very positive tone, “I can help you.”  Indeed, well-designed call handling strategies and proper phone etiquette often pay off with more business and higher levels of customer satisfaction. .
 

 

3). DICTION: We’ve observed many sales and service people use informal language with words such as “dude,” “radical,” “cool” and “let’s boogie.”  While some customers may be entertained by or even like this, others see it as overly casual or unprofessional.  Indeed, sticking to more mainstream words and diction is the safest phone etiquette and runs little risk of offending people.
 

 

4). VOICEMAIL GREETINGS: Many individual voice mailbox greetings (e.g. “I am on the phone now…leave me a message after the beep”) are simply unimpressive and/or non-productive.  Likewise, we often hear greetings that are out of date (e.g. on Wednesday we hear a greeting that states “it is Monday and I’m out of the office today”).  Good voicemails, on the other hand, often convey useful information (e.g. “I will be returning calls between 3-5 pm today”) and provide the caller with useful options (e.g. “If this matter is time sensitive, call me on my cell phone at 858-945-8888 or contact my assistant James at 858-452-9211”).  Good phone etiquette and effective voicemail greetings are critical to presenting a positive image.
 

 

5). HIGH-QUALITY EMAILS: While an advantage of emails is that they are expected to be somewhat informal, many are simply unprofessional.  Email glitches include: spelling errors, grammatical errors and long, rambling sentences. Moreover, salespeople and companies often don’t use a standard signature line on emails.  A good signature line can serve as a promotional message (e.g. use your firm’s slogan/tagline) and should also contain name, title, phone numbers and website address.
 

 

6), APPEARANCE: If you are meeting with customers or prospects in person, how do they perceive you based on your appearance? Is the salesperson well groomed and appropriately dressed?

 

When companies use a customer-oriented, respectful sales and phone etiquette, people notice!  And unfortunately, when a highly-consistent, high-quality manner of treating customers is lacking, prospective buyers notice even more and tend to take their business elsewhere.

 

 

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

 

 

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Tips for Successful Prospecting

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 sales prospecting techniques 

  1. Motivate yourself! Review your personal goals. How much personal income do you want, how many sales prospecting calls will be required to attain that goal, how much will effective sales prospecting techniques help you succeed?
  2. Expand your contacts. Develop or acquire an effective list of contacts in your target markets. Remember, sales prospecting techniques can also be used to gain additional business within current client accounts and their various locations and divisions.
  3. Prepare for your initial prospecting call. Have you done research on the prospect prior to the call?  If so, prepare an effective call opening. As you may already know from our telephone selling workshop, calling to follow-up on information sent or to speak directly with a high-level decision maker are approaches that have the lowest hit rates! Remember, using common prospecting techniques is often a dead giveaway that you’re a salesperson, thus lowering the likelihood of success.
  4. Qualify quickly.  We regularly observe salespeople making multiple call attempts only to find, out after they have a conversation with a prospect, that the firm isn’t  qualified.  This is a huge time waster!  Our field tests of several of our unpublished prospecting techniques indicate that a prospect can be qualified on the first call 60% – 80% of the time.
  5. Prepare responses to common objections.  Everyone gets objections on prospecting calls like, “you caught me at a bad time” or “can you send me information?”  Since we all know what objections we are likely to get, why not prepare a list of the most effective responses?  Remember, mishandling objections is the quickest way to lose sales opportunities.
  6. Have a “Power Hour” each day.  Set up a specific time for sales prospecting where you are focused only on making outbound calls. Be sure to hold all incoming calls (or have others handle them) and other activities that detract from your focused prospecting.
  7. Track your statistics.  Keeping track of qualified prospects you obtain on the first call, call openings used vs. appointments and your close rates for each category of prospects are key data points that help identify opportunities for improvement.  If you only reach 10% of the decision makers you call, how can you improve that ratio? If only 20% of decision makers grant you an appointment, how can you obtain more appointments?

 

To become a sales prospecting guru, consider taking our Phone Skills Training course.  And best wishes for success!

 

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

 

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