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.

6 Easy Ways to Get Past the Sales Gatekeeper

getting past the gatekeeper

You’re out building your network, ready to meet people in charge and make sales. You enter the office, walk up to the reception desk, and see someone sitting there engrossed in their US Weekly. As you ask for Dr. Jones, the receptionist flippantly replies, “He’s in a meeting.”

What do you do? You drove across town to get here, and now you can’t even see the person you came to meet!

Getting past the gatekeeper can make (or break) your sales game. And this process isn’t about making the pitch to the person guarding the door. It’s about learning to talk to strangers. Save your sales talk for the actual decision-maker.

As you aim to pitch to the right person, use these six tips to earn the gatekeeper’s trust and navigate your way past the front desk.

1. Take the Temperature

Before you jump into why you came to the office, gauge the gatekeeper’s temperature. You don’t want to walk in and interrupt whatever they’re doing without building rapport.

So make small talk. Look around for items on the desk that lend themselves to discussion. The receptionist is trying to figure out if you’re a friend or foe. You want to convince them you’re a friend.

2. Don’t Hold Literature in Your Hand

Since you’re looking to be a friend, not just another salesperson, avoid giving away that you’re there to sell. If you come in strutting your sales look with presentation materials in hand, they will have no reason to help you.

3. Dress the Part

Consider your audience as you dress for these in-person cold calls. It’s best to mimic the way people dress in the office. Don’t come wearing a suit if that’s not the culture. But don’t be underdressed either (it’s better to be overdressed).

That means you need to do your homework. If you’ve never been to the office before, search Google images for the business and look up their LinkedIn profiles to figure out their standard attire. If you’ve been there before, use the way they dressed as a guide.

Men, your best outfit is usually khaki pants and a golf shirt. You want clothing that breathes while keeping your look professional, especially when you’re traveling to multiple businesses. If you’re wearing a coat and tie getting in and out of your car all day, you’ll end up sweaty and wrinkled. And there’s nothing worse than a well-dressed person sweating on a cold call.

4. Ignore Negative Body Language

A good gatekeeper gives negative body language to scare people away. You have to ignore that. If salespeople left every time they read negative body language, they’d never be successful. Instead, high-performing salespeople ignore negative body language and try to overcome it. Sure, it’s uncomfortable to stay where you’re not wanted, but you have to power through.

You want to give off the right body language too. Don’t walk in looking like you’re about to spew a five-minute monologue. Instead, assume a more casual posture, or even look confused and say something like, “Wow, the parking lot is full today…” The goal is to be personable and non-intimidating.

5. Use the Gatekeeper’s First Name

Name exchange is paramount to building any kind of rapport. So, when you walk in, your first goal is to get their name. Then use their name in a sentence. Look for something on the desk with their name on it, maybe a nameplate or a plaque on the wall.

If you don’t see it, consider asking, “Hey, are you new here? What’s your name?” I usually do a quick age test before asking this question. If the person is older, I assume they’ve been there a while. But if there’s a younger receptionist, I go ahead and ask.

You can even lead into a conversation with something like:

Hey, my name is Robert and I’m here to see Dr. Jones, what did you say your name was? …Great, Susan! How long have you been here, Susan?”

With this approach, you find out their name, show you’re listening when you repeat it, and build rapport.

6. Find Signs of Affiliation

Connect with the gatekeeper in a conversation that could exist outside of the business. If you see a sign of a sports team, networking group, or hometown, use that to start a conversation. Or look up the business on social media before you make your visit. Often, posts are made by someone at the front desk. So see if you can identify a subject for conversation.

Next time you walk into an office on a cold call, act like you know the person in charge.

If the boss is in a meeting, be comfortable with that. Just reply, “No big deal. I need to do a little work on my phone, so I’ll just wait here until they’re done.” The more comfortable you are with yourself and the more personable you are with the receptionist, the more likely you are to meet that decision-maker.

FreeEbook

Learn These Subtle Sales Signals to Increase Your Close Rate

 

sales signals to look for

Everyone has to start somewhere. Building your client list from scratch is tough, so where do you begin? Most salespeople hit the pavement and dial numbers, talking to one prospect after another, grasping at any potential lead. But the best place to start is getting to know your audience.

Think about who needs your product. Then look for the following signs that the prospect is ready to consider an offer. That way, you’ll work smarter (not harder) and generate a client list to be proud of.

Leadership Changes

Take advantage of changes in leadership with an “out with the old, in with the new” mentality. With new leaders comes new potential for relationships. When buyers leave their companies, so do the connections they built. If they had a strong relationship with a vendor, their exit opens the opportunity for a new relationship with a different vendor.  

LinkedIn gives you a snapshot of these changes. That’s why you should always connect with prospects on LinkedIn, especially when they’ve told you no. Why? The person, not the company, told you no. When they leave that organization, you have another chance at the deal. Plus, you may have connections to the new buyer that give you an edge.

Related: Salespeople: Fix Your Elevator Pitch to Get a Meeting With Anyone

Unfortunately, leadership changes are also the reason you’ll lose your best clients. If your key contact leaves and the CEO doesn’t know you, the door is open for other people to come in and sell. Too many salespeople fall into this trap. Realize that changes mean opportunities. If your buyer leaves, it’s time to build a relationship with the new buyer before someone else does.

New Jobs

When buyers transition into new positions, don’t let them go that easily. Reach out to them. They may pave the way for you to work with their new organization or help you do better with their past employer.

Take them to lunch and pick their brain. Ask, “How would you do business with your past employer if you were me?” They may give you special insight or even help you navigate the sale. Now that they’re gone, they have nothing to lose.

Weather- or News-Related Opportunities

There’s also a lot to gain from being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, sales signals just fall in our laps.

Bad weather creates numerous needs in home repair and preventative services. If you’re serving an area that’s just experienced storm damage, capitalize on the needs that surround you.

Related: The #1 Question You Should Ask During Your First Sales Appointment

Also, stay aware of marketplace news. If there’s a story about your company, your competitors, or your product, seize the opportunity of raised awareness. Prospects are primed for you to reach out and build relationships with them.

Obvious Needs 

Keep your eyes open to the obvious needs that surround you. If you sell signs, look for businesses that have bad signage. If you sell uniforms, look for prospects that have worn-looking uniforms. Sometimes you’ll make a sale simply from noticing the blatant needs right in front of you.

Government or Legal Compliance Changes

Be aware of laws that affect your target markets. In Tennessee, we recently passed some of the strictest laws in the country on data breaches. If someone steals data, even if it’s encrypted, we now legally have to notify all affected people. If I were in the business of data security, I’d present to potential clients about what that means for their companies to capitalize on the ramifications for not having the service we provide.

Recent Funding and Hiring Posts

If a new series of funding hits or you see posts for hiring, those are indications that the company is doing well. Their success suggests they may now be ready to buy your product.

New Locations

When companies relocate or expand, they’ll need services for their new site. Pay attention to location changes and take the chance to meet their upcoming needs.

Looking for the right cues makes all the difference in the success of a salesperson. When you tune in to these signals, you’ll discover one sales opportunity after another.

FreeEbook

9 (Stupid) Phrases That Can Sabotage a Sale

sales-phrases-to-avoid

We’re told in simple terms and lengthy quotes that words carry the authority to influence others, often much more than intended. But what about sales? Does the way you say something make a difference? Of course it does.

The problem is we fall into the ruts of using the same sales phrases pitch after pitch. And often, the phrases we use the most are the ones that sabotage our sales.

If your numbers aren’t as high as you think they should be, maybe you’re guilty of using one of these, dare we say “stupid,” phrases that create challenges which just shouldn’t be there.

The good news is, once you pinpoint the habit, you can turn it around with some easy alternatives.

1. When can you sign the contract?

Who really wants to sign a contract? Nobody. If you bring up this phrase, you’re creating a challenge that doesn’t have to exist. The word “contract” creates anxiety because it is a power word. Don’t put a spotlight on it.

Instead say something like, “When you get a chance, do you mind signing this so we can get the ball rolling?”

It’s not about sugar coating the contract, but rather not making it more significant than it has to be. When people make too many decisions, they can get “decision fatigue” and just stop deciding anything after a certain point.

Related: A Day in the Life of a Successful Salesperson

So try not to make the contract a big decision point. When it’s in the natural flow of your conversations, it becomes less of a crisis and you’re more likely to get the commitment.

2. When can you meet?

Don’t ask. Again, it’s another decision that becomes too big. It’s too open-ended and too vague.

Instead have a few time options in your back pocket. Suggest, “How about Thursday at 3?”

Now, they just have to say yes.

3. This isn’t a sales call.

People automatically assume you’re lying when you plug in this phrase. A different approach puts you and your prospect on much better terms.

Instead discuss their pain point directly. You can say, “Hey, I just want to get some time with you to cover how our clients have founds savings in (pain point).”

Or you can be even more direct and say, “You guys have been listed as one of our perfect candidates. We know you’re spending way too much money on (pain point).”

Once you uncover the pain, you know how to sell. Just go ahead and talk about how you’re going to fix the problem.

4. Is this a good time?

When you ask this question, you give the prospect an easy way out. They’re more likely to reply with, “No, I’m busy right now,” because they don’t want to deal with something else.

People also tend to mismatch, or say the opposite of what is presented to them. So when you open with, “Is now a good time?” the likely response is, “It’s a bad time.” However, if you ask, “Hey, did I get you at a bad time?” they may mismatch it and say it’s a good time.

Instead skip this question altogether. If it’s a bad time, let them bring it up.

5. I don’t know.

Sure, you may not know the answer to everything, but this phrase signals you don’t know your product (which is not something you want to indicate to a potential client).

Related: 3 Characteristics of Successful Salespeople

Instead reply to any unknowns with, “That’s a question I haven’t heard before, but I can get the answer to it.” Yes, that’s just another way to say, “I don’t know,” but it lets you follow up without making them doubt your product knowledge.

6. I’m going to be honest with you.

They will probably wonder, “Have you not been honest with me until now?” When you use this phrase, you make them question everything else you’ve told them. Plus, you give that false facade of friendship before you’ve built the trust. Don’t try to be buddy/buddy too soon.

Instead always be honest and build the relationship over time. Then they’ll believe that you’re being honest with them.

7. We take care of our customers! Our service is unmatched!

These cliches fall on deaf ears. They’re so overused, the customer places no value in them. It doesn’t make you any different than the competition.

Instead, if you want to highlight your customer care, tell them, “If you ever question whether we treat our customers well, we’ll provide testimonials you can call to verify our performance.” That’s a different, more provable way of showing your great customer service.

8. Just checking in…

Your intentions may be good, but you’re asking for a response without providing anything valuable in return.

Instead give them useful information. Maybe say, “Hey, I came across this new information the other day I thought you’d find helpful…”. Then you can talk about the reason you needed to touch base.

9. Are you the decision maker?

You insult the person you’re speaking with when you ask them this question directly. However, as a salesperson, you still need to find out who makes the decisions so you can pitch accordingly.

Instead ask, “Before we get started with our meeting, is there anybody else in the organization who needs to see this information to make a final decision?” That way you open the door for them to tell you about any other decision makers.

Whether you’re calling, emailing, or talking to someone in person, eliminating these phrases makes a big difference in your sales numbers. With CallProof, you can track and identify these (and other) trends on your recorded calls.  

Are you familiar with other phrases that kill sales? Share them in the comments below!

FreeEbook

The Biggest Challenges for Salespeople in 2016

online groups for salespeople

Richardson Group, an internationally recognized sales training and performance improvement company, just released their 2016 Selling Challenges Study. In polling 400 salespeople, 85% in B2B sales, they revealed the biggest sales challenges in prospecting, discovering client needs, and negotiation.

Here’s what they found… but I don’t completely agree.

What Salespeople Struggle With in Prospecting

prospecting

When asked what sales associates expected their biggest challenge in prospecting efforts to be, 16% said, “identifying sales triggers/sales signals that indicate issues that you can resolve.”

Essentially, these reps and managers have difficulty finding out what they can fix. Buyers investigate solutions on the web just like the rest of us. When they go in to make a purchase, they usually know what they want. They leave the salesperson out of the decision-making process. So the salesperson never knows the client’s deciding factors, which means they also don’t know what they need to overcome to make the sale.

Related: 5 Ways to Quickly Qualify Prospects

Closely tied to the inability to discern buyer signals, 14.4% of sales professionals also struggle to identify whom to target. Basically, when we don’t connect with the buyer in a personal way, we don’t know their true buying power. 

Qualifying prospects, a growing problem in the industry, is the primary struggle for 10% of salespeople. Why? Most likely because so few prospects respond to a seller’s attempts to reach out. 

Uncovering and Exploring Client Needs

client needs

When asked about the biggest challenge in uncovering and exploring client needs, most find it difficult to gain insight via conversations and understand the decision-making process.

That makes sense: you have to talk to the right people to get a true read of the potential. More often, sellers begin working with an individual only to find that a group of decision-makers with no clear roles will be making the final call.

If you can’t talk to the person with the power to make the decision, the sale comes to the bottom line rather than the package deal.

Challenges in Closing a Deal

closing a deal

If they had done this survey in 1976, it probably would have had the same results. Why? Because there is always someone selling it cheaper.

Related: How To Eliminate Price From Your Negotiation Process

Sure, the internet has made those options more prevalent (hence the overwhelming 48% who claim this as their biggest challenge), but it’s not unique to 2016. There will always be someone trying to sell for less. How do you overcome it? By finding what you can provide that the low-cost provider can’t.

The Bigger Picture? Distraction

Regardless of the survey results, these aren’t the biggest challenges. Rather, they’re symptoms of a bigger problem.

Most salespeople struggle because they are distracted. With what? Their smartphone. What makes it worse is that few admit the barrier phones create to connecting with clients.

All these issues stem from a failure to know your clients. You have to do the work to get to know whom you’re contacting. It’s much easier to mass-email potential prospects and to try the latest marketing gimmicks, but connection overcomes a world of challenges. When you give your full attention to your prospects, you’ll be able to qualify prospects and find the decision-makers.

If you’re getting distracted, admit it. Then take steps to zero in on your sales strategy. CallProof helps us stay focused. It records our calls and gives us the chance to learn from them. As salespeople, we need to take ownership of our day. If it takes activity to win sales, then we need to put in the undivided work of making connections.

Challenges in sales are inevitable. How will you handle them? My advice: look your challenge in the face. If distraction is your problem, do what’s necessary to focus. Build the connections with your prospects and clients to make your service worth their investment.

FreeEbook

 

3 Strategies for Unlocking Deals Stuck in the Pipeline

sales strategies for closing a deal

You just made a killer pitch. You demonstrated how your product solves their problems, then left them with action steps – and expected an answer within days.

But that was over a month ago, and you still haven’t heard anything back. So what’s the trouble? You thought you were on track to seal the deal, but it hasn’t happened. The deal is officially stuck in the pipeline.

It’s easy for a sale to hit a snag that puts it in limbo. These strategies offer the key to unlocking those deals so you can move them to the next level.

1. Teach Your Prospect How to Sell to Their Manager

The biggest reason a sale goes on hold is because you’re not talking to the real decision maker. Maybe you’ve been dealing with the purchaser and they have to get approval from the supervisor. In those circumstances, teach your prospect how to sell your service to the boss.

Start by equipping them with the ammunition to close the sale. Explain the ROI your product carries. How will it make or save the organization money? When they go to their higher-up for a $5,000 check, they need to explain how this investment helps the organization financially. Put the return on investment in a quote, and then coach the person on the talking points.

Continue with conversations about the benefits of the service. In fact, work through product material together. Teach the prospect how this changes their organization. Essentially, you become their sales manager for the deal.

Related: 3 Common Sales Objections and How To Overcome Them

For example, if you’re pitching a website overhaul, your conversation may go something like this:

“It will cost $5,000 for a website redesign. At its core, this new improved website will increase your daily sales conversion rate. For those $5,000, you should be able to get a net return of $15,000.”

Those are numbers your contact can take to their boss.

Quotes give them something tangible. You don’t want their pitch to be, “We want a new website because it’s cool.” Instead, you want them to say something along the lines of, “We want to convert more customers through our website.” The proposal isn’t about features but about the benefits of the service.

When you’re not able to get a sales meeting with the right person, you have to help your contact make the sale.

2. Text Prospects With Direct Questions

If you shake a tree, something is going to fall out. By sending direct questions via text message, you shake the figurative tree of prospects. You’ll either move on to the next client, or they’ll move on to the next phase. Either way, you get results.

If you sent a proposal months ago and the prospect never responded, it’s time for a text. You may send a message that says, “Hey, my boss is hounding me and wants to know where you are in their proposal? How soon can we get started?” If the response is, “Sorry, you’re out of our league in price,” you just moved to the negotiation phase. Price is the obstacle. Now you can start figuring out the dollar amount for that customer to say yes.

Related: 4 Negotiation Skills You Need to Close More Deals

You won’t get that type of response with an email. Email is impersonal and easily ignored. But we all read our text messages and usually respond within five minutes, making it a great tool to move clients down the line.

3. Insert an Expiration Date

Create a deadline on your offer to promote action. Products and services cure pain points. But if you’re scratching an itch that isn’t that bothersome, you need another motivator. The motivation may be a lower price, special training, or extra features. Put those perks on a timeline to keep the deal moving.

Then, find a reason to justify the deadline. Maybe you say, “The proposal is good until the last day of March. March is a slow month for us, but we get really busy in April.” By setting an end date, you’ve manufactured a reason for them to make a decision. Then, you can rule them out or close the deal.

No one wants a deal that sits in limbo indefinitely.

FreeEbook

How to Build Trust Over the Phone with Cold Prospects

build trust cold calling strategies

We’ve all answered a cold call, but how many times have these interactions won us over? Much of our cold call reluctance comes from how few of these calls actually convince us to buy.

I like to use the calls I receive to improve my own cold calling strategies. What made me stay on the line? Which strategy did they use that worked? In each situation where I became a customer, I’ve found that the salesperson used three tactics to win me over.

1. Name Drop

Do you know someone that your client knows? A name drop will get you a little more time on the phone. You may have a client who will make an introduction to a prospect they know, but a simple LinkedIn search shows shared connections.

Related: Hold Your Breath Cold Call Technique

When you begin your conversation with, “Hey, you know my friend…,”  your prospect will listen a little longer. You’ve gained legitimacy by making that personal connection, and now you’re more than just a voice on the other end of the line.

2. Be a Friend

Your prospect immediately wonders “friend or foe?” as soon as you begin your conversation. Paint yourself as a friend – or at least someone they may know. The longer they take to identify that you’re cold calling, the longer you have to build trust.

To buy yourself time, ask questions and make references that make it seem like you already do business together.  As you talk, speak with authority. Don’t timidly ask if they have time to get together. Instead, ask questions in a way that expects an answer.

Imagine you’re in roof sales. You call an owner of a building and ask, “Is this Bill Smith with ABC Supply on 9th Street? Is that your building, the one with the brown roof with the shingles that are kind of ajar?” He doesn’t know you’re selling roofing yet. He may think that you’re coming to his business to buy something and you just need him to verify the location.

Through these questions, you build trust, gain time, and confirm you’re speaking to the decision maker. After all, it’s the building owner that’s going to spend money on the new roof, right? Once you confirm he’s the guy in charge, you say, “Hey listen, I appreciate you taking my call. I wanted to let you know we’re offering a free quote service for roofs. We’re doing Jim’s across town…” and as you explain your offer, you also name drop to build more trust.

FreeEbook

3. Use a Local Number

Always, always use a local number to make your marketing calls. Too often, people transfer to a new town and use their old number. Consequently, they’ve damaged their trustworthiness before they’ve even started the conversation.

Related: How to Hack Your Sales With the “Overheard Selling” Technique

A friend of mine quickly learned this lesson when he used an out-of-town number to confirm appointments. He found that people either avoided the calls or answered the phone defensively. He actually had to work to regain the trust he had already built with them. It’s much easier to get a new number than to start your battle uphill.

Fortunately, this big mistake has a few simple fixes. CallProof sells custom numbers. Google Voice allows you to change your number as well. And even once you have a local number, it never hurts to prime your call with a text. If you left a voicemail, send an immediate text that says who you are and what you do. This lets your prospect know this was more than just an automated sales call. You’re a real person who wants to do real business with them. As a bonus, now you gave them a searchable term when you put the product name in print. If they’ve been looking for your product or the need later arises, they can easily search for it online.

Building trust makes cold calling work. Whatever your method, when you establish yourself as a friend and support for your future client, the sale becomes much more likely.

 

How to Get Consistent Results From Your Sales Team with a Mastermind Group

sales mastermind group

Mastermind: a board game, a Marvel villain, and a business group. The business option may sound like the least interesting definition of the three, but a Mastermind group can change your sales game drastically. By gathering people with similar goals but different experiences, salespeople learn from each other. 

Benefits of a Mastermind Group

Learn From the Best

At its core, Mastermind groups allow you to hear the best experiences that netted the best results from your peers. You’ll spend part of your time each week sharing wins, losses, and challenges. In doing so, you can take note of what worked for others and apply that information to your own strategy.

Maybe someone shares how they sold 100 widgets to ABC Supply this week. Someone else asks, “How did you get ABC Supply as a customer?” As the salesman tells the story of how he captured the sale, you learn his pitch and how he acquires customers. For a salesperson, that’s your main goal: learning how to get more clients.

Overcome Objections

You also hear how the best salespeople answer objections. Jack Daly, a well-known sales coach, claims that most organizations have 10 objections to a sale. The top one or two salespeople usually have their answers to those objections down to a science.

In a Mastermind group, you can take the time to discuss the 10 objections and then pay attention to the answers of the top salespeople. They’ve learned to navigate those obstacles and can pass their tactics along in this type of setting.

Receive Encouragement

You’ll also gain encouragement from your peers in a Mastermind group. A sales schedule is tough. Even when losses start to weigh heavy, you have to keep your game face on. This type of group gives you an outlet for frustrations and disappointments. Meanwhile, it can also help you find workable solutions to the issues that are holding you back.

Related: 4 Tasks Your Salespeople Hate (And How to Automate Them)

As you share with your group, they start to identify the places where you need to improve. As you get to know each other better, they can point those areas out. Recognizing that someone else knows your shortcomings makes you want to change them. It holds you accountable to a higher performance standard.

Running a Mastermind Group

1. Meet Regularly, Schedule Consistently

The first step to organizing a worthwhile group is to schedule it regularly. Meet every week for eight weeks, then switch to monthly or bi-monthly meetings. These first eight weeks are essentially a crash course in getting to know everyone. Only once you build those relationships can you begin to help each other grow.

As you schedule these meetings, make the time, day, and location consistent. You have enough transition as a salesperson; There’s no need to overcomplicate the group by unnecessarily changing the when and where.

2. Study a Book

Choose a book to study. Jack Daly’s Hyper Sales Growth is a great place to start. In eight weeks, you can talk through it chapter by chapter. Books act as conversation starters for sharing stories about the real work of sales. You’ve shared the experience of reading the book, now you can share the experiences of your sales week.

FreeEbook

3. Limit Time and Number of Members

You’ll want to keep each meeting around an hour long. If it gets much longer, scheduling becomes an obstacle. In order to keep the meeting brief, there should only be 5-8 people in a group. The smaller size also allows more depth in the relationships.

Related: Time is Money: 4 Ways to Reduce Costs for Your Salespeople

4. Don’t Include Sales Managers

When management gets involved, salespeople feel less freedom to share. If they meet only with their peers, they have a safe platform for their gripes. The attendance of a manager stifles this.

We want salespeople to talk about these issues because group members can call out their peers. The longer they stay in the group, the more chance they have to learn and improve. If you’re a sales manager who wants to be involved, limit your involvement to scheduling the meetings. You can help make the groups happen, but you shouldn’t be in the group.

5. Have an Agenda

Each time you meet, make time for updates from each group member. Have each person share wins, losses, and challenges since the last time you met. What deals have they closed or successes have they had in their lives? What sales fell through? What updates do they have from previous challenges they’ve faced or deals they were working on?

These conversations open the door for learning and accountability. Members can see what worked for others and avoid the pitfalls. They can share what they’re going through and get honest feedback that will eventually help even if it hurts to hear.

Salespeople: How to Sell a Price Increase in Any Market

how to sell price increase

No one likes a product price increase. You don’t want to sell it. Your customer doesn’t want to pay more. Yet, rising costs are inevitable so how are you going to handle them as the sales person? The right expectations and tools will help you navigate a price change like the professional you are.

FreeEbook

1. Allow Time to Build Rapport

The higher the price of your product, the more rapport you need to build before you can close a sale. The price of a product directly correlates to the time it takes to sell it. Why? You need more time to win over your client, to show them that this is a worthwhile investment. Customers like to buy from people who know their product and their trade.

If you’re a sales manager, keep your sales team educated, whether it’s your day-in, day-out salespeople or the team you send to a trade show. Even the “booth babe” should know about your product. If you have anyone at your booth who can’t talk knowledgeably about your product, your sales will suffer.

If you’re a salesperson, keep yourself in the know. People are more likely to buy from someone that can answer their questions and that understands the product. People want to trust their sales rep. Be that type of person.

2. Don’t Raise the Objection

There’s always a reason for rising costs, but you don’t have to be the one to bring it up. If you start by explaining to your customer, “We had a price increase because of a shipping issue…,” you’ve just raised an objection they may not have had.

Sometimes an increase in price isn’t a problem. Don’t make it one. If the customer points out the price change, talk about it. Just don’t get ahead of yourself and raise the objection on the front end.

3. Educate Customers

Once the customer brings up the change in cost, explain why the price has risen. Maybe there’s a new material used in the product that upped the price (and hopefully the efficiency of the item.) When you take the time to talk about why the cost has increased and the potential benefits, you justify the extra money.

4. Choose Your Words Carefully

The way you talk about the change in cost matters. It’s human nature to make things a big deal to someone else if it’s a big deal to us. Resist the urge to say, “I’m SO sorry. I don’t know how to fix this issue. I hate that they just increased the price…” You’ve just made the issue significant to the client because you feel it’s significant. The client will naturally feed off of that emotion.

Instead, downplay the price change and the client will probably follow your lead. Say something like, “There’s been a slight adjustment on the pricing because the materials used are a little different, but I also noticed that you’re ordering ___.” Just gloss over it, maybe change the subject, and avoid over-exaggerating the cost.

Sure, no one wants to address a price increase, but it’s part of sales. It may take a little longer to close some deals, but when you’re intentional about building your rapport and navigating your approach, you can sell despite the changes that have come your way.

7 Rules for Getting Past the Gatekeeper

getting past the gatekeeper sales meetings

You’ve driven across town for a sales meeting, only to find the receptionist catching up on the latest issue of US Weekly while Dr. Jones is tied up. Now what? We’ve all been there – suddenly in a battle to get past the gatekeeper.

In many cases, gatekeepers are low-waged employees who don’t really understand the business. They don’t care about how awesome your product or service is. It could be the perfect solution to solve all their company’s woes, but it doesn’t matter.

Your purpose is never to sell the gatekeeper. Your purpose is for the gatekeeper to send you to the decision maker, and these strategies will help get you to the person in charge.

1. Dress the Part

We’ve all seen the caricatures of salesmen: baggy shirts with sweat stains, un-tailored pants, and the general look that they just climbed an uncountable number of stairs. This look doesn’t help your case. If you dress like a salesperson, you are the salesperson. But if you look like a hotshot, you’re going to get past the gatekeeper much faster.

In fact, the more you can blend into the office environment, the better. In pharmaceutical sales, some of the smarter reps wear scrubs. If you’re wearing scrubs and you ask to speak to Dr. So-and-so, no one even asks you why you’re there.

Don’t stand out, but if in doubt, err on the side of being overdressed, not underdressed.

2. Use Body Language

You’re trying to blend in with your clothes. Now, act casually. Don’t look like you’re about to pounce into a 5 minute monologue. You can even act confused: “Oh my! You’ve changed so much in here,” or, “It took me forever to find a parking spot. Are you guys always this busy?”

Body language works hand in hand with clothing choice: get in the door without being pegged as a salesperson.

3. Let Go of the Literature

People often make the mistake of holding literature in their hand when they walk in. This is an immediate turn-off. A gatekeeper’s first mission is to discover friend or foe. They have several roles: answering the phones, receiving packages, and trying to keep out the riff-raff (aka: you.)

If you come in holding a brochure, you’re sending a clear sign that you’re a salesperson. The sooner the receptionist discovers you’re in sales, the harder you’ll have to fight an uphill battle to get any information.

FreeEbook

4. Learn to Talk to Strangers

You’ve been trained not to talk to strangers your entire life. Well, it’s time to start. Nobody likes talking to strangers, but it’s no reason to ruin your chances at sales.

Remember, it’s just another person. Practice talking to people in everyday situations without the pressure. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable you’ll make the gatekeeper.

5. Capture Information

I love to walk in when a receptionist answers the phone because I have the chance to capture information. Listen to what she’s talking about, take note of names, look for clues about what she’s eating, drinking, or reading, and try to find some kind of commonality.

If she’s drinking a Red Bull I can later say, “I can’t stop drinking those things. How many of those do you drink a day?” Those little pieces of information pay off in the conversation to come.

6. Start a Conversation – But Not About the Sale

Gatekeepers’ jobs may be to keep out people like you, but they’re still human beings, right? Warm them up through casual conversation. Use the information you were able to observe to ask about their drink, talk about the parking situation, or note how busy they are.

For example, you may say, ”Hey, listen. How big is this office? I didn’t think you guys had this much space.” You want to have a conversation without giving the reason you’re there. The better you can connect with the gatekeeper, the better your chances are to move on to the person in charge.

7. Use First Names

First names are critical. Give them yours, use theirs, and speak about the person you want to see on a first name basis. Exchange names early on or casually use the gatekeeper’s name in conversation if you’ve read it from their desk.

If you’ve been able to find out the first name of the decision-maker via a phone call or LinkedIn, use it with the receptionist. If you say, “I’m here to see George,” it sounds like you know him and you’re more likely to get through. (The exception: doctors. They usually don’t want to be on a first name basis.)

There’s no need for the gatekeeper to stand in your way. Be proactive in your approach so one person won’t stop you from making your pitch and gaining a client.