Field Sales 101: Follow These 10 Solid Tips for Success

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If you’re new to field sales, there’s no sense wasting time. You have people to see and sales to make.

But there’s a learning curve. Being a field sales representative is tough work. You’re out of the office more than you’re in it — meeting people, building relationships, and trying to remember who said what so you know how to follow up.

So, as you navigate the obstacles, try these 10 tips and tools to take your field sales to the next level.

#1: Have a Sales Process Before You Meet With Prospects

Every sales representative needs a solid process before they meet a new prospect. When you have a process, you stay in control of the results. A plan keeps you on track and establishes a call to action. Then you know the possible outcomes and can be prepared to guide the prospect through their responses.

In doing so, you’ll show them you’re organized, and they’ll know they’re in good hands.

#2: Stay Organized

Have a plan for dealing with people at every stage of the sales process. Always know your action. And have a system for everything. Then, no matter where a prospect is in the funnel, you know the next touchpoint.

Moreover, don’t over-complicate your touchpoints. They’re molehills, not mountains. It’s easy for a new field sales representative to think of making contact as a giant task when it only takes a few minutes. Make sure you realize the simplicity of the task so you don’t put it off.

#3: Don’t Keep Anything in Your Head

As you work your system, use tools to keep you on track. That way you won’t overlook something (or someone) by accident. It’s a little easier to keep track of things mentally when you’re younger, but the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to mentally track it all.

So trust your calendar. Trust your CRM. Even if your memory is great, you cloud your judgment by mentally trying to keep track of everything. Instead, use a reliable CRM to track your data so you can stay focused on what you’re doing. A clear mind frees you up to be more strategic.

#4: Tell Your Story

Qualify your prospects before you meet with them. Then focus on your story. Work on telling the story of why your company exists and what your business brings to the table. It will allow you to see how that applies to your customers.

When you meet with customers, center your conversation on the story. Tell your story and listen to theirs. Customers need time, trust, and money before they buy. So build that into your story. How does your product bring value to their company?

Related Post: Sell the Value of Your Product, Not the Price

Once you hear their story and tell them yours, you’ll know if their needs align with your product. When you have conversations with the right people (people who want to buy now, not those who may want to buy “one day”), your stories will match up.

#5: Admit If You’re Not a Good Fit

If you’re not the right fit, be the first to admit it. There’s no problem in saying, “Hey, I can’t help you, and here’s why.”

But even if your product won’t solve their problem, point them in the right direction. Give them a recommendation of a person or company who will meet their needs. Then ask for a referral. I usually say, “I know I’m not the right person for you, but if you know someone else…” They almost always refer. And I almost always make a sale by telling them no.

#6: Balance Your Goals With the Customer’s Goals

Before you take on a customer, make sure it’s a win for both sides. You have a responsibility to your customers, employees, and vendors to make good decisions that benefit everyone involved.

To keep that balance, you need a direct line of sight to success. So figure out what “success” is to each person involved. As you sell to new clients or adjust to current customers’ needs, ask them what they need to be successful. Then see how you can help meet those needs. When your clients are successful, you are too.

#7: Keep the Price Fair

Price your product accordingly. You’re working with customers, not against them. So don’t gouge people. But also, don’t cheapen your product. Instead, charge a fair price where you can explain why you charge what you do.

When you’re offering a product that helps clients be successful at a fair price, you’ll see good results. Why? You’re working towards the same goal. With a fair price, the customer gets good value, and you make enough for it to be worthwhile.

#8: Take a Team Approach With Vendors

If you use vendors, don’t forget to consider their success. In the past, I didn’t want to hear about the vendors at all. I just wanted the results. Worst idea ever.

Vendors should be treated as part of the team. You have a responsibility to make sure the customer gets a good product. So everyone involved needs to be on the same page — including vendors.

Vendors are good at what they do. They’re experts — you just don’t need them full-time. Even if they only work for you temporarily, make your efforts collaborative. When you do, you’ll see better results for everyone involved.

#9: Communicate During Onboarding

You want new clients to become lifelong customers. Good onboarding sets the stage for a long-term working relationship. Onboarding is all about communication. Make sure you know what pieces need to be in place to make it successful. You’ve onboarded customers before. You have experience. They don’t. So guide them down the path and make them feel comfortable with the process.

Communicate every step of the way. It’s just like the sales process. In sales, you close a call with, “Here’s what’s going to happen next…” The onboarding process should work the same way. Make sure there’s no question about what comes next.

#10: Quote Quickly

Quotes need to be prompt. Don’t say, “I’ll get it to you soon.” Instead, tell them exactly when you’ll send it. Leads and deals are like fish. The older they get, the more they start to stink. So move fast — the more touches you make in a short time (especially during the quoting phase), the faster you’ll build trust in the relationship.

Your product is not their world. They don’t spend days thinking about your solution. That’s just something they did once and don’t want to deal with again. So get started, pull off the band-aid, show them what they need, tell them what’s going to happen, and deliver.

I typically leave a meeting, send a handwritten thank-you note, email the proposal, call them to make sure they received it, then give them their next steps. The goal is to meet their needs quickly.

These 10 tips are no great secret. The real secret to success is doing them. So don’t be one of those people who know what to do but fail to follow through. Instead, let these time-proven practices change your work.

Anatomy of the Perfect Sales Follow-Up Call

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Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Well, he may have exaggerated a little, but it sure does seem to apply to sales.

Sales relies on persistence. And often, that persistence relies on following up.

When you’re dealing with clients, you should always have a next step. No matter what. Follow-up calls can be the perfect way to close the loop and provide your next interaction with a prospect.

Contact Them… Then Contact Them Again

Sales is based on a series of touches. Sometimes you call prospects, and sometimes you need to make contact in another way. Before they buy, people need trust, timing, and money.

The faster and the more frequently you can interact with them, the faster you can identify those needs and build trust. Some interactions directly affect the sale. Others focus on building a relationship with the client.

Here’s how we get to know your future clients and move them through the buying process.

Ask, “When should I follow up next?”

Always pin down the next action step at the end of a sales meeting. Just ask them, “When should I follow up next?” so you know where the prospect is in the buying cycle. This closes the loop for the meeting and helps you plan your next steps accordingly.

Mail a Handwritten “Thank You” Note

Always drop a “thank you” note in the mail after your meeting. And, if you can, make sure it’s sent from their town. I write a note as soon as I leave a meeting and mail it right away.

Send Your Quote ASAP

If the call to action is to send a quote or proposal, send it soon. It’s helpful to tell your prospect exactly what to expect. I might say, “I’ll send you an email right now to make sure you have my contact information. I’ll get a quote together for you later today or early tomorrow.” Now, they have your information and know when to expect the proposal.

Follow Up Immediately After Sending the Quote

After you send your proposal, call your client ASAP. That way, you can make sure they received the quote before they can form an opinion on it. This conversation isn’t about finding out what they think about your quote, but rather confirming they have the information. I might say, “Hey, I just sent you the quote and wanted to make sure you received it…. Great! When should I follow up with you next?” They’ll tell you.

Call Back

Now, when you call for the next step, they’ve given you permission to contact them. Check and see where they are in the process since they’ve had some time to think about the quote.

As you take these steps, you build in touches along the way. From your first sales meeting, you’ve worked in three more interactions before discussing the quote. Some people say it takes 6 to 7 touches to close a deal. Obviously, that varies with different products and services, but consistent contact builds trust and moves prospects toward a sale.

If You Don’t Follow Up

Consistency takes discipline. As a salesperson, you need to follow a plan — not just for the sake of checking items off your to-do list, but because follow-through builds confidence and increases your likelihood of success.

People want excellent customer care. If you don’t follow up when you’re in the sale phase, you probably won’t respond to them in time once they’re a client. The sales process is like an interview. Prospects want vendors who stay organized, respond immediately, know what they’re doing, and know the next steps. And with good sales follow-up, you get to show them what it’ll be like to do business together. If you don’t follow up, they won’t want to work with you.

How to Make a Great Follow-Up Call

Before you reach for the phone, do your homework. Check your notes so you know what to say in a follow-up call. You’ll need to remind yourself when you last spoke and how you left the conversation. Here’s the basic outline for a great call.

1. Immediately say your name and your company.

2. Remind them when you spoke last and what you spoke about.

3. Quickly recap any of their concerns and provide solutions. This will remind them why they’re on the call.

4. Be persistent and polite, not obnoxious or pushy.

When to Follow Up

Generally speaking, you want sales follow-ups to be tight. Leads are like fish — the older they get, the more they stink. So keep leads fresh with a quick follow-up. If you’re selling to a really busy person, make their next steps easy so you can keep them in the sales process without taking up too much of their time.

Active and Latent Buyers

Also, consider what kind of buyer you have: are they active or latent? Active buyers are an active opportunity in the pipeline. You’re following up with them in 60 days or less, and they’re ready to buy a product.

But, if a prospect asks you to wait more than 60 days for your next follow-up, consider them a latent buyer. That means you’re nurturing them to become an active buyer in the future.

How a CRM Helps You Follow Up

A good CRM makes sure you don’t miss anything as you work to close the loop and set your next follow-up actions. Successful people in sales do two things:

1. They schedule a follow-up action every time they speak with someone.

2. They make notes about every interaction. Sometimes they even add notes that say, “Nothing to note.”

That’s why you need a CRM that plays well with the tools you use to keep track of your life. It needs to integrate with your calendars and to-do lists so no one falls through the cracks. You’ll also want a solution that files notes with each action step. That way, it’ll be even easier to access the information you need to make a great follow-up call. And, if the CRM is easy to use on the go, you can make your updates and action steps immediately — which is even better.

Sell the Value of Your Product, Not the Price

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Don’t compete on price.

But if you do, you’d better be the cheapest… and stay the cheapest.

See, when you sell the value based on price, both you and the customer treat the product like a commodity. There’s no relationship, and there’s no loyalty.

Instead, take the consultative approach. When you position yourself as an expert and a true partner with your customers, you sell the value in the advice you offer. And if you do that, your relationship will outlast your price point.

Current Customers = Best Prospects

Your current customers are your best prospects — if you have a relationship. When you know your clients, conversations about other products or services you offer happen naturally. Plus, they’re open to giving referrals because they trust you. But if you’re competing on price, you won’t have a good enough relationship with your customer to expand your wallet share with that business. Plus, they lack the incentive to give you referrals.

Start With the Right Pitch

To avoid selling based on price alone, you need to craft your sales pitch in a way that builds a relationship from the beginning. But how do you do that if the typical customer only cares about three things?

1. What is the product?

2. Why do I need it?

3. How much will it cost?

There’s one other element of a sales pitch that matters: the story. If you want to hold their attention and get them to think the way you want, tell the story and make the sale. Tell them why you’re in business. Then they become involved.

This isn’t a slideshow. This isn’t an informational company history. It’s a way to connect. Think of it like a good movie.

Take our story, for example. Several years ago, I was looking for a CRM solution. Like anyone, I wanted something that would store all my information in one place, keep me from missing a client, and allow me to see data in various ways. So I went out and looked at several solutions. I even liked some. But when I tried them, set them up, and rolled them out to the sales team, they’d just do the same things they’d always done. They would stick to their systems and write down their notes. But now they needed 4-5 hours a week to enter it into the system. We got a lot of garbage in the CRM. The top performers arguably didn’t have time to deal with it, and other people weren’t entering data that’d make them look bad. So I needed to find something different.

I realized CRMs were just built to sell. They were made for IT and marketing people from large companies — because that’s who had the budget for the software. But the people who actually use the CRM daily weren’t considered. When I made a list of what my salespeople needed and what I needed as a manager, I realized nothing did that. So I built CallProof.

We started using it successfully. Then our clients started asking what we were using. They wanted it too. Here we are, 9 years later, with a mature solution that provides thousands of users with a bug-free, simple way to keep track of their sales.

That’s our story. A good customer will relate to that. If I’m selling to an IT or marketing person from a large company, I’m going to tell them a slightly different story to show them how our product meets their needs.

Showing Your Product’s Value

Once a prospect invests in your story, figure out their motivation. If you can understand their goals, you can show them how working with you helps them get there. Do they have a problem you can solve? Can you show them how your solution helps them reach their end goal? If they’re starting to connect with you and you connect to their goals, your product just became much more valuable.

Avoid Prospects Who Only Buy for Price

There are two types of decision-makers: asset owners and asset custodians. Asset owners care about the well-being of the business. As you deal with owners, you’re dealing with the people who have a stake in the success of the company. So you sell to them based on what your product or service means to the company and the bottom line.

Asset custodians are just trying to avoid problems. They’re trying to get their job done and avoid extra work. They’re much more likely to “kick the tires”, so you need to be ready to change the conversation to deal with their main priorities and keep them from focusing solely on price.

Your product is valuable. Don’t cheapen its value by reducing your sales pitch to the bottom line. Instead, sell the total benefit you and your product offer your customers.

How Women In Sales Can Succeed In The Male-Dominated Industry

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Sales used to be an industry dominated by men. Why do you think we still default to “salesman” rather than “salesperson”?

However, there are more women in the job market today than ever before. In fact, women make up about 45% of the workforce in the United States. And sales is no different; as the number of women in the workplace rises, so does the number of women in sales.

Men vs. Women in Sales

Like men, women can be excellent at sales. And like men, some women struggle at it. The qualities of a top salesperson are the same. Everyone needs confidence. And everyone needs a process for collecting leads, following up, and closing sales. But a person’s level of confidence and the quality of their sales system depend much more on the individual than on their gender.

That being said, there are parts of sales where women generally have an advantage. For example, many women get better results in prospecting. Women listen differently than men. And whereas men may listen to see how their solution fits your problem, women hear the emotional undertones of the conversation. They can often figure out a customer’s real problem and offer the best next step. Men, however, often push people to the next step without considering what the correct next step should be.

That also means men generally close more sales, more quickly. They’re less concerned with the emotional implications, not overthinking each step, so they negotiate to close and then move on.

Yet, these are just stereotyped advantages. While some women hold an advantage in face-to-face or phone prospecting and men take the advantage in negotiation, individual work ethic is much more important.

The Most Successful Women in Sales

Some of the most outstanding salespeople I know are women. And, though the sales industry is often perceived as a “man’s world”, some of our most groundbreaking leaders have been women. From Mary Musgrave, who used fur trading posts to establish peace with the Europeans during the 1700s, to Estee Lauder, who introduced the idea of incentivizing purchases, to Oprah Winfrey, who is often called “the most powerful woman in the world”, women have been revolutionizing sales for hundreds of years.

Those women were successful in their own right. They didn’t do the same thing as everyone else in their time. They didn’t learn how to succeed in sales by copying the people before them. Instead, they listened to others and found the approach that worked best for the surrounding needs. They didn’t let gender stand in the way of using their strengths to succeed.

Sales Tips for Women

People who make it in sales are disciplined and intentional. They have a plan for how to do business and who to work with, and they make it all better with their personal strengths. So, if you’re wondering how to succeed in sales, here are three tips for moving in the right direction.

1. Have a System

The single biggest differentiator in your performance is how you move prospects through your pipeline. Man or woman, you need a way to keep track of people, no matter where they are in the sales process.

2. Capitalize on Your Own Talents

What are your talents as an individual? Leverage those to your advantage in the sales process. Whether your strengths are gender-specific is irrelevant. It’s all about how you use your best qualities to move clients through your system. Focus on your own strengths.

3. Look for Leadership

It’s always helpful to work with and for strong leaders. It’s not as common as we’d hope for new salespeople to surpass the leaders who train them. Usually, you’ll find the best people in sales have a good leader… and good leaders have good salespeople.

There aren’t just good salesmen. There are great salespeople. And today, we’re glad that more of those people are women.

The Most Successful Sales Teams Avoid These Time Management Mistakes

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As a salesperson, you have a say in how your day unfolds. But as you balance working in the office with prospecting and helping clients, are you really making the most of your time?

Below we’ve listed the most common time management mistakes that salespeople – and sales managers – make. If you want your sales team to run smoothly and effectively, avoid these mistakes and follow the steps listed for a more productive schedule.

The Biggest Time Management Mistakes That Sales Teams Make

Being busy doesn’t mean you’re effective. So look at how you spend your time and schedule your day to see if you’re maximizing your work hours.

Mistake #1: Spending Time on Software Updates and Data Entry

A salesperson’s day should be focused on talking to prospects. You have to work within the office hours of your potential clients. So spend your day making those connections. Other activities can be done other times. The CRM software can be updated anytime. It’s not bound to the 9-5 workday. So save it for a less valuable time of the day.

Mistake #2: Leaving the Schedule Open

Each night before you leave the office, figure out the best plan of action for the next day. If you don’t have a plan, you won’t accomplish as much. Make a schedule of when you’ll prospect and contact clients so you don’t spend your best hours figuring out what to do next.

Managers, help your team by setting clear goals for activity and creating a sample salesperson daily schedule. Then your salespeople have a model of how to structure their day to best use their time.

Follow These 3 Steps to Increase Your Sales Productivity

As you look to increase productivity every month, the key is knowing what works. So, after you set activity level goals for each individual and teach them to schedule their day, you need to check on what’s happening. It’s all about the plan, the reality, and looking for ways to improve.

1. Know the Plan

As a manager, I want to know how my salespeople schedule their day. I want to know who they plan to see and how they envision spending their time. For example, they’ll tell me, “These are the 10 people I’ll see today.”

2. Know What Actually Happened

Next, I need to know how the plan unfolds. What really happens? Do they see all 10 people? Maybe they only see 7 of 10 prospects on their list for the day. Now I can follow up.

3. Calculate the Difference and the Cost

What’s the difference between their plan and reality? In this case, they missed three of their planned contacts for the day. So I ask why. The salesperson says, “The expense report took up my time so I could only get to seven people.”

Now I know the expense report is costing us three visits. If we close 30% of our contacts, that expense report costs us $35K in potential earnings. If my salespeople have to do one expense report a month, it costs us $420K per year per salesperson. Sounds like I need to figure out how to eliminate the expense reports for my sales team. And with that amount of potential profit, I can afford to hire someone that handles expense reports for my team.

When you crunch the numbers and see the differentials, you’ll see what’s standing in the way of closing more sales. Don’t let the we’ve always done it this way mentality stand in your way. Instead, take an honest look at the numbers and eliminate the tasks that create unnecessary obstacles.

Time Management Tips for Sales Managers

Managers, with intentionality, you can teach each member of your team how to be a successful salesperson. Don’t leave it up for them to navigate on their own. Here’s how.

1. Figure Out What They Should and Shouldn’t Be Doing

What’s getting in their way of meeting prospects and closing sales? If you can eliminate unnecessary tasks, do it.

2. Find Solutions

Are expense reports getting in their way? Hire someone to handle those. Is CRM reporting taking up too much time? Find a CRM that automates activity reports. There are solutions out there for these time-consuming tasks — you just need to implement them.

3. Check Activity Levels

Work backwards with your numbers. How many average clients will they need to meet their sales goal? To close that many clients, how many people should they quote? In order to get that number of quotes, how many prospects should they see? How many prospects is that per day?

Then, if you can tell a salesperson exactly how many prospects they should see each day, you’ve taken out your guess work. With an automated CRM, you can hold them accountable to maintaining the activity level they need to meet their goals.

Time Management Tips for Salespeople

1. If It’s on Your Calendar, You HAVE to Do It

It’s easy to snooze a task for later. Don’t do it. Make your calendar sacred. If there’s a task on it, it’s not optional. If you get into a cycle of picking and choosing which tasks you’ll do, you’ll always avoid the most difficult (and maybe most lucrative) ones.

2. Focus on the Highest Payoff Activities

When you have the choice, pick the activities with the highest payoff. Sure, updating your data for the week is important, but what’s the payoff? Cold-calling prospects may be more taxing, but it holds the biggest potential return. So, when your list gets long, don’t start with the menial tasks that don’t make much difference. Instead, start with the ones that pay.

If you’re not using your flexible schedule to your advantage, it’s time to start. Choose activities that bring the most reward and delegate the tasks that don’t.

Free Sales Call Report Template Download

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Sales success is simple: know where you are and how you’re doing so you know where you need to go next.  The best way to gain that information is through sales call reports. And if you’re not setting aside time during the day to measure your sales activity in a call report, you’re wasting your time trying to reinvent the wheel.

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Why Do I Need Sales Call Reports?

Activity leads to sales, and one of the best activities your team can do is a sales call. To us, a sales call is a face-to-face visit. The more effective you can make the sales call, the more sales you make. Since these calls are such a vital piece of the sales puzzle, it’s crucial for salespeople and sales managers to track them. Enter sales call reports. As a sales manager, there are two specific benefits you get from these reports.

1. Calculate Needed Activity Levels

First, you use the reports to make sure activity levels represent the result you want.

Work backwards: If I want my sales to be x, how many average clients will it take? To close that many clients, how many people do I need to quote? In order to get that number of quotes, how many prospects do I need to see?

Once you do the math, you’ll know just how many prospects each salesperson needs to see daily.

2. Train New Salespeople on Activity From the Start

New salespeople can learn the value of activity from the beginning. Rather than wasting time teaching the product and the brand in the classroom, train your sales reps in the field. Then they learn how to produce the right activity levels right away.

Too often, managers start with months of training before putting a new salesperson in the field. But what happens when you find out they’re scared to meet people, avoid the phone, or just don’t follow through? You’ve wasted months of investment in this person without anything to show for it.

Instead, what if you start with activity levels? Train your sales reps to reach the needed level of activity from the beginning. Then they’ll only grow stronger as they learn more about your company and product.

Download Our Free Sales Call Report Template

You can download this free sales call report template to help track your daily progress and make sure you don’t miss out on closing those leads you spent so much time nurturing.

Out of sight really is out of mind and without a report to track sales calls, it’s far too easy to forget about leads and lose money from lost sales. Having a report directly in front of your eyes forces you to consider those next gentle nudges to push each of your leads towards that final closing sales call.

Download this Sales Call Report template to track your activities in face-to-face meetings. You can even customize it to your needs. Then give it to your salespeople so they can keep track of their activities. When you see their reports, you’ll know if their activity levels are setting them up for success.

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Mastering Your Sales Call Report Entry Habits

This sales report template is great for doing reports manually, but with CallProof you can get the same report with the click of a button. Instead of your salespeople filling out paperwork and returning it to you, they can simply use the CallProof App. With CallProof, they click an icon before they go into a meeting, click another when they leave, speak their notes into their phone, press a final icon, and they’re done. With one click, you can get that report any time, in real time.

The little time needed to invest in your call reports will pay huge dividends but you need to make sure you’re entering your data regularly and accurately.

If you’re struggling to find time to keep up with reporting your sales progress, CallProof has a system that automates the process for you and will deliver reports directly to your e-mail inbox every morning. Sign up for a 14-day free trial (no credit card required!)

5 Ways Salespeople Ruin a First Impression

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A good first impression is timeless. And in a highly competitive industry, it’s invaluable.

In just the first 7 seconds of interaction, people start to form their opinion of you. They evaluate your status, authority, approachability, competence, confidence, and likeability faster than you can make a proper introduction. From a study that proves a connection between personality and appearance, we learn that even something as superficial as the way you look says a lot about who you are.

So, if you want to improve the way you interact with clients (and become a more likeable person altogether), look out for these 5 ways you might be undermining your first impression.

Mistake #1: Treating Others Poorly

Every contact you make holds opportunity — whether it’s for a sale or for a referral. Too often, salespeople become dismissive if they realize they aren’t speaking to a decision maker or the product isn’t a good fit. But never underestimate the power of a referral.

If you discover you’re not talking to a good prospect, your next question should be, “Who else in your circle would be a good fit?” If you’ve made a good impression, even a “no” can lead to a great opportunity. So stay respectful, even when there’s not a sale.

Mistake #2: Not Dressing the Part

Face it, looks matter. One of the easiest ways to improve your first impression is to dress well. Most of us live behind our computer screens, which makes our clothing choice less significant in daily life. But when you’re meeting new people, you should spend the extra energy on your appearance.

I’ve actually sat down with salespeople simply because they were well dressed. Why? We associate well-dressed people with respect and attention. So when you dress the part, you’re more likely to get the respect (and listening ear) you’re looking for.

Mistake #3: Discussing Controversial Topics

Political discussions ruin a first impression, especially today. People are so entrenched in one side that you’re likely to find yourself at odds if you even allude to being affiliated with the other party.

Also, keep discussions about how much you drink, who you’re seeing, or how late you party off limits. Those topics only hurt your reputation.

Tempted to make a derogatory comment about the opposite sex? Don’t. Talking about topics, jokes, and lifestyle choices that are deemed controversial quickly ruins a good first impression.

Mistake #4: Not Listening

Ever tempted to walk into a sales meeting and launch into your full sales pitch? If you spend more time talking than listening, that tells clients you’re out of tune with their needs. Clients want to know about you and what you have to offer. They don’t want to hear a 45-minute monologue about the history of your company.

Mistake #5: Poor Email Etiquette

Email gives you the chance to make another great impression. Before you meet, send them an email invite that includes the date, details, and location. To really set yourself apart, create an event that links to their calendar. It tells them you’re organized and won’t let their needs slip through the cracks.

Also, proofread. Use proper grammar and spelling. Most people will write you off if you don’t.

Bonus Tip: Be Punctual!

Don’t hurt your chances of a good first impression by arriving late. When you’re late, you waste people’s time. Efficient people will eliminate your business immediately — they don’t want to waste more time in the future.

Plus, latecomers often have plenty of excuses for their tardiness. Excuses drive people crazy. So plan accordingly, giving yourself plenty of travel time to arrive on time or early.

It’s tough to overcome a bad first impression — so don’t make one. Start on the right foot and leave an impression that makes people want to do business with you.

The Salesperson’s Guide to Using Texting for Sales Prospecting

salespersons guide to texting prospects

Did you know it took the US about seven years longer than Europe to catch onto texting? It gained momentum in Europe in 2001, and quickly became a popular alternative to calls.

But in the US, text messaging didn’t take off until 2008. With the growing popularity of the smartphone, namely the iPhone, texting skyrocketed.

Today, texting is the #1 used app on the smartphone worldwide. In fact, no one even thinks of it as an “app”. It’s not a bonus — it’s an essential.

But are salespeople taking full advantage of texting? Not even close.

In most sales scenarios, salespeople deal with the buyer’s discomfort. In any good sales process, the salesperson builds rapport, the buyer begins to like them, and they become friends. But maybe the price is too high, or the products don’t seem to fit their needs. Now the buyer feels uneasy because they don’t want to give their “friend” (the salesperson) bad news. For most people, telling someone you like that you don’t want to buy from them creates an uncomfortable conversation. So the prospect often avoids the conflict by avoiding the salesperson altogether.

In this scenario, salespeople end up in a cycle:

1. Build rapport with the customer.

2. Ask pre-qualifying questions.

3. Propose a solution via email or hand-delivered proposal.

4. Silence.

In the end, they’re left without a sale and without a reason why.

How Salespeople Can Use Text Messaging

The text message gives people a more comfortable way to communicate. Building a relationship with your clients via text opens a channel of communication where they can more quickly respond and more easily deliver objections.

The secret? Text from the beginning. Here’s how to build this communication channel from the start.

Begin the text conversation with an appointment reminder. Confirm the appointment and include the address so there’s no question where you’ll be at what time.

After your first meeting, text a follow-up message. Summarize the meeting and reaffirm any promises you made during your conversation.

Start the text relationship before you get into the groove of emailing. If you wait to text until you need a response to a proposal, that’s uncomfortable. They’re not used to you texting — it’s a “stranger” text. But if the relationship exists prior, texting can be your secret weapon.

Related: 3 Ways to Integrate Text Messaging Into Your Customer Service

The purpose of the texting relationship is to better move sales through the sales funnel. You’ve built the rapport, asked the sales questions, developed and proposed a solution, but you haven’t closed the sale. In many scenarios, this is where the sale falls flat. What comes between the proposal and the close? Negotiation.

If the customer isn’t talking to you, it’s likely an issue of product, price, or prior relationship. Texting makes it easier for them to communicate these objections. So ask for feedback via text. Be direct and be brief.

Your message may say, Mr. Jones, it was great meeting with you last week. I sent you the proposal on Friday, and I would love to get some feedback. How can we move forward?

Now you’ve opened the door for him to communicate his objections and to start negotiation if he’s still interested.

Short and sweet texts can be your golden goose for moving sales through the funnel. But they won’t work if you don’t play by the rules.

The Golden Rules of Texting

1. Save Emojis for Friends

Anyone talking to the opposite sex faces a challenge in texting. Save emojis (and selfies) for your friends. Texts can appear more friendly than you mean, so play it safe and steer clear of the pics.

2. Keep It Strictly Business

Don’t veer off topic or add flirtatious comments. If you receive a message that’s inappropriate, it’s best not to respond.

3. Keep It Short and Sweet

As you message your busy prospects, focus on the facts. Don’t use text messages as an opportunity to build rapport. You’re searching for facts, so get to the point. Texts don’t need the introductions you’d include in an email.

4. Be Aware of WHEN You Text

Consider the person you’re texting and their normal business hours. It’s best to message them after they’re up, but before they get into their work day. So for people with typical hours, text between 7 and 9 a.m. For someone with night hours (like a restaurant manager), texting around 3 p.m. may be better.

Regardless, avoid early-morning or late-night texts. Most people don’t turn off their notifications, so respect their time.

5. Avoid Abbreviations

You may know all the trending abbreviations, but your prospect may not. So don’t use them. People shouldn’t have to decipher your message, so avoid abbreviations altogether. Steer clear of even the most common acronyms (such as LOL or TTYL) to keep your message as clear as possible.

6. Add Product Pictures

Depending on your product, a picture may communicate better than words. If you’re selling cars or a hot, new product, send a picture. A glimpse of your product will be much more enticing than any description you’ll write.

7. Respond in a Timely Manner

95% of people read their texts within five minutes of receiving them. The average response time is just 90 seconds. So when you get a text, don’t over-think it. Respond quickly.

Ways to Use Texting With Text Templates

1. Follow-Ups

Whether you’re following up with a new potential client or a prospect that’s been in the funnel a while, text messaging can be a great way to stay on their radar. Use one of these templates to touch base:

First Follow-Up

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless. We talked about looking into Sprint for the best possible deals for your cell phone service. Please let us know your availability, and we will reach out to schedule an appointment to get you saving sooner!”

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. I’d like to work with you like we discussed earlier for the best possible cell phone plan to fit your needs. Please let us know your availability, and we will reach out to schedule an appointment to get you saving, sooner!”

Second Follow-Up

“Hello again! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. I am touching base regarding an appointment to help you switch over to save more. I’d be happy to send you home with a phone accessory without any obligation just for stopping by our store to explore your options. Thanks!”

“Hello again! I am touching base regarding your appointment with Absolute Wireless for Sprint to save you more on your service bill for your cell phone. Could I give you a quick call this week to follow up on your options?”

2. Automate Monthly Follow-Ups

To make following up even easier, use an app (or your phone’s built-in feature) to automate texts. So, if you’re thinking about work late at night or prepping when it’s not appropriate to text, write a batch of texts to send later. You can even schedule your messages months in advance.

Related: Follow-Up Emails: When Should You Stop Pursuing a Prospective Client?

3. Ask for Referrals

Texts offer a great way to ask for an introduction while your phone number is easy to access. LinkedIn messages often go unnoticed. So use the network to find connections, then send a text. When you see a connection between a client and prospect on LinkedIn, ask for the referral via text message. Then they’ll see your number and hopefully forward it to their contact.

“Hi John! I saw that you work with Sarah from Sprint on LinkedIn. Would you be willing to introduce me? I’d love to offer her the same great service we provide for you. Thanks!”

4. Send Happy Birthday Wishes

Use your social networks to find clients’ and prospects’ birthdays. Then send a message on their big day. So you don’t forget, set these up to send automatically. You can even offer an incentive as a birthday gift:

“Happy birthday from Team Absolute Wireless and Sprint! Best wishes on your special day. Respond to this text within 7 days to learn more about birthday incentives for our customers.”

5. Confirming Appointments

Like we mentioned earlier, text messages eliminate the questions of where and when before an appointment. Sending the address and the time assures the customer you’re ready to meet them.

“Hi John! This is Prat with Absolute Wireless and Sprint. It was great speaking with you recently. I am confirming our appointment on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Thanks!”

6. Recapping Meetings

Let the client know you were paying attention during your meeting. This shouldn’t be a long text, but it should summarize your discussion. If you made a promise, affirm it.

“Hi John. I am recapping our meeting from earlier today. Let me know when you have a moment to briefly chat.”

“Hi John! It was great meeting you this afternoon. I’ll talk to my design team this week to see the cost to add this to the proposal. Look forward to working with you.”

7. After Meeting People

Texting can be a great way to connect with someone new. If I meet someone I could do business with (but don’t have a card with me), I can ask for their number and text them right away with my contact info.

But even if we do exchange cards, it’s still a great idea to text after we meet. Business cards are easy to misplace, while messages are easy to find. I may not need a particular service when we meet, but then something happens weeks later. Now I’m in the market for your service. Rather than searching for the business card, I’ll just look through my messages to find your information.

Consider texting as your virtual handshake. You meet someone, shake their hand, exchange contact info, and send them a message like this:

“Hi John! It was great to meet you. Earlier this week, we talked about saving you money on your cell phone service with Absolute Wireless for Sprint. As a service rep, I’m able to work out the best deal for your plan. What time would you like to schedule a quick phone call to follow up and start saving?”

“It was great to meet you recently, John! We talked about looking into cell phone service with Sprint for savings on your monthly bill. As a service rep, I’m able to work out the best deal for you. What time this week can we briefly chat to explore your options?”

8. When They Haven’t Responded to Your Proposal

The most irreplaceable benefit of text messaging in sales is the ease of communication objections. So, when you haven’t heard back about a proposal after you’ve cultivated the relationship and messaged for the seven reasons above, reach out via text. Say something like:

“Hello again. I am checking on the status of the proposal I sent you earlier this week. Please let me know what you think. Thank you!”

Texting shouldn’t only be the most used app with friends, it should also be the most used app in sales. Take full advantage of this essential tool to communicate with your clients as effectively as possible.

3 Keys for Keeping Sales Leads Fresh With a Sales Tracking App

keeping leads fresh sales tracking app

I’m a multi-tasker. And because of that, I love Audible — I can listen to a book while doing just about anything. But recently, there was one book I was ready to read that wasn’t on Audible, so I picked up the hard copy. I hadn’t finished page one before I got distracted!

Why? My attention span is short. But it’s not just me — it’s all of us. Now, in our instant gratification culture, even a goldfish has a longer attention span than we do!

Naturally, our leads have the same issue. They have an itch to scratch when we get their referral. As soon as they find a solution (even if it’s not the best one), they move on and that opportunity disappears.

But what if you have old leads? No matter how good your CRM is, if your leads are old (10 years or 10 weeks), you’ve got a problem. So, before you blame the CRM for your sales plateau, ask yourself these questions to get to the root of the problem.

Is Marketing Talking to Sales?

Marketing and sales departments need to work together. Marketing spends major money to buy ads that bring in phone calls and find leads through outside sources. But, if they aren’t communicating with sales, your company may miss the value of your leads.

Marketing knows what a campaign costs, but they don’t always know how many leads it generates. Instead, they need to figure out the number of leads that come in because of each marketing strategy. Then they can calculate the cost of each lead — helping to develop their marketing strategy for the future and place an immediate value on leads for the sales team.

How many people filled out a form, gave information, or contacted you because of your $5K campaign? Once you get hard numbers, marketing can tell you exactly how much each lead is worth.

How Quickly Do You Respond to Leads?

Sales reps should respond to leads immediately. How do you think of leads — as a treasure or a task? Some salespeople treat leads as a task they need to complete within a week, while they need to respond within minutes. Otherwise, they loose the prime window for a sale.

InsideSales.com found that if you follow up with a lead within five minutes, you’re nine times more likely to convert them. Sales managers need to hold their team accountable to responding immediately.

Immediately? Yes. As soon as you see it. Do you want to close the sale? If so, call them right away. If a lead comes in at 4:00, don’t wait until the next day. If someone submits a form at 9 pm, call them then. And if you don’t get to it right away, call as soon as it’s acceptable to do so.

It’s not a matter of waiting until you get to your office to return calls. Sales don’t work that way unless you’re the only person selling something. Otherwise, leads are gold.

Is There an 800 Number on Your Contact Form?

People with wallets spend on phone calls. It’s also quicker to close on a call. A lead form (without an 800 number) tells potential buyers that their entries aren’t very important — they’ll be answered when you have time.

But any good sales organization makes time to answer sales questions. And any good salesperson would love to get a phone call from a client. The problem is solved when you add a number to the contact forms. That’s why we use custom phone numbers.

How Sales Tracking Apps Solve Your Problems

Sales tracking apps make it easy to solve these problems with two functions: displaying each prospect on a map and tracking communication with your prospects.

Provides Location

Sales tracking apps show you each lead’s location. Often, someone will fill out a lead form but not respond to your calls or emails. If you’re using the app, you’ll see your leads on a map. And a pop-in visit can be extremely beneficial.

So, if you just received a lead in Franklin, Tennessee while you’re in the area, you stop by to say hello. This person was interested in your business but didn’t want to talk to a sales rep. Now, since you’re standing in front of them, they may ask you about an objection you can resolve.

Tracks Responses

Sales managers, do you know how many leads are NOT contacted? An app like CallProof shows emails, calls, and texts sent to clients so no lead gets overlooked. See, a lot of salespeople make judgment calls on the leads. If they see a fake-looking email address, they skip it. But if their manager asks about it, they don’t say, “I didn’t call him because the email was fake.” They’ll just say they called and that he wasn’t interested. So, unless you have a record of the call, don’t assume they made it.

Other leads are only contacted once. Most of your leads are busy. You are not the only issue in their world. So, even though you could solve their problem, they put you off. In fact, 80% of sales require five follow-ups to close the deal, but 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up. So, if leads say, “I’m busy right now, you’ll need to call me back,” don’t assume they aren’t interested. You have to reach out several different ways to get their attention.

Here’s how I tell the salespeople in my organization to handle a lead: call, email, and text.

The next day: call, email, and text.

And the next day: call, email, and text again.

And the text message matters. Texts can’t be random, generic, or impersonal. Make the message understanding: “I understand you’re busy. What’s the best time to call?” Don’t text about your product and if they want to buy. Rather, ask a question about when they’d like to communicate.

Leads are valuable. When your marketing and sales departments work together and each lead is contacted promptly and repeatedly, you’ll see your numbers climb.

What’s the value of a lead that you don’t call? Nothing.

The Value of Having ALL Sales CRM Data in One Place

value of having CRM data in one place

Have you ever made a list, only to lose it before it was even used?

It’s frustrating to take notes and keep track of information, only to misplace it later. But while it may be frustrating in some circumstances, it’s costly in others. Client information is one of the most valuable resources in business. If you misplace it or the right people can’t get to it, your business suffers.

We want ALL client information in one spot. No matter who talks to the client at what time, all calls, emails, files, interactions, and notes need to be in one place.

How It Helps

Centrally located information helps in many areas, but transition periods reap huge benefits. When you promote a salesperson and reassign their territory, a new person shouldn’t start from scratch. Often, outside salespeople work a territory for a few years, and when they leave, they take their information with them. Then the new person gets a new prospect list and spends months re-creating those relationships.

But what if they could pick up where the last person left off? With a CRM that stores information in one place, they can. And the transition becomes smoother for everyone prospects, customers, and salespeople.

How It Works

So how does that happen? You could require salespeople to log all client interactions diligently (and hope they do it). Or you could use a system that automatically updates itself.

That is what CallProof does. It logs all the phone calls, emails, and meetings automatically. Salespeople handle clients the way they always have, while CallProof syncs up and logs the interactions.

Here’s what used to happen. First, I had to remember to call or email Joe. If I remembered (and didn’t snooze my calendar alert for six months), I logged into the CRM afterwards, and made my notes.

Now, CallProof tells me to email Joe. I email Joe, and CallProof automatically updates itself. If I included an attachment, it automatically uploads that attachment to the client’s file. If anyone else on our sales team emails Joe, it stores the information too. CallProof aggregates the information for us.

I hate change. So I do the same things I always did. But CallProof figures out the way I work (so I don’t have to change), and then puts the information where it needs to be.

Why It Works

CallProof offers this solution, but no one else does. Why? We found out what the people who buy and use CRMs want. Only after talking with usability experts, aesthetic consultants, and many marketing and IT buyers, did we build our CRM.

Salesforce.com was one of the earliest “software to service” solutions. Buyers consider it a safe buy because it’s well known. No one will fault them for buying this age-old service. But just because it’s popular, that doesn’t mean it’s the best solution.

The Right CRM

If you want to buy the right CRM, recognize each solution for what it is. Figure out why it works the way it does. Was it built to market or built to work?

CallProof was built to work, then we just happened to sell it later. We built it because we realized that the other CRMs didn’t work. They operated, but they didn’t fit with sales culture. When they were effective, it was because salespeople changed their mode of operation. They took on extra work to get data into the system.

Marketing buyers think about the end goal. They want to be able to market to any potential demographic middle-aged dog owners who live on the east side of town and drink coffee. They want options to create “cool charts” with the variables. But they forget to think about how that information gets in the system to start with. Sure, the marketing options and campaign potentials are appealing, but they’re useless without accurate data.

IT people look at solutions in terms of technology. They want a solution with a solid operating system. Since they know how to build systems, CRM services sell to these buyers with discussions on certifications and firewall technology. CallProof has all that too, but that’s not the most important factor.

No matter how solid the technology or what demographic specifications it pulls (which CallProof does too), the solution won’t work without data. And that’s the last thing people think about when they’re buying, even though it should be the first.

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