How to Cut Your Sales Training in Half and Improve Retention

Cut Your Sales Training in Half

When you hire a salesperson, you look for a few basic qualities: confidence, assertiveness, strong communication skills, and so on. The right strengths always help new salespeople, but there’s another piece to the puzzle of success.

If you want new hires to succeed, you can’t just hire the right type of person. You need a person who puts in the right type of activity.

Why Don’t New Salespeople Work Out?

Here’s what often happens when you hire a new outside salesperson:

  1. You train them for a few weeks on products and services.
  2. They put together spreadsheets/activity logs to show what they’re doing.
  3. Six months later, you realize their sales numbers aren’t there.

Our first instinct is to blame the salesperson. Are they not capable of closing deals? Do they understand the product?

But their ability isn’t usually the problem. The issue is their activity level. If they don’t talk to enough prospects, they won’t have the numbers needed to make enough sales.

Salespeople have to make phone calls and meet people face to face regularly. Yet, most salespeople would rather walk into a burning furnace than make a sales call. So they find things to do that keep them busy: making logs, running reports, putting together proposals. And activity suffers.

Salespeople fight this by making tons of cold calls at once. Then they spend weeks following up on those calls by traveling to appointments and making quotes. After they finish, they start from scratch again. That way, they end up in a good quarter/bad quarter cycle.

Instead of leaving salespeople to figure out how many cold calls to make and when, sales managers should set clear expectations and hold them accountable. Work backwards through the data to see how much activity produces the desired number of sales. Then track activity in real time with CallProof. If you see a person isn’t hitting their daily numbers, the sales won’t follow.

When you work through those numbers, you’ll be able to calculate exactly how many phone calls and meetings individual salespeople need weekly, even daily, to achieve their goal. Then you can check if they’re doing that.

Without a real-time CRM, it takes about six months to see a salesperson’s activity. Only then can you determine retention. CallProof cuts that time in half by showing you activity in real time. When you use the tool that lets you inspect what you expect, you’ll see how successful they’ll be within 60 days (including two weeks of training).

The Value of Training Your Salespeople

Training aims to turn sales talent into sales productivity. And that’s done through activity. So focus your salespeople’s training more on interactions than product knowledge. First, help new sales reps understand the importance of activity. Then teach them how to ask prospects questions to find their pain point. That’s what brings success.

Back in the ‘80s, there was an IBM saleswoman who sold record numbers of mainframes. She went out and asked her prospects questions, then brought the information back to the technical people to find solutions. Realizing how astounding her sales numbers were, IBM decided to give her in-depth training on the technicality of their products. After about a year of this intense training, she returned to the field. Her numbers were thoroughly average. Never did she achieve great sales figures again. Why? Once she knew everything, she no longer asked questions.

Many companies emphasize product knowledge in training. But the best training is learning to complete the activities that lead to sales (like making phone calls and meeting face to face). That’s more important than the person knowing what they’re talking about.

How to Cut Sales Training Time in Half

Managers, you don’t have to wait six months to find out if a rep is going to be a good fit. With a solution like CallProof, you can find out in two months or less. First, train them in the science of activity level and give them clear activity goals. Then teach them how to make calls and meet with prospects. Give them just enough product knowledge to solve pain points and offer a great service to your clients.

All the while, keep your finger on the pulse of their activity to see if they’re booking the numbers. If not, you can correct or move on quickly. If they’re doing well, you can encourage them to keep doing what works.

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How Salespeople Can Maximize Their Time with Automated Routes (Introducing Callproof Routing)

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We all know the best sales tactic is to minimize drive time and maximize face time. Now CallProof routing does that for you!

Every salesperson knows visiting clients and prospects based on location optimizes their time. CallProof has always shown these businesses on the map so you could maximize your proximity. Now you just select who you want to see, then CallProof maps your day.

Plus, routing reports automatically. Sales managers love real-time data, but they love REAL data even more. Although we give salespeople all the tools they need for easy reports, that data still depends on someone entering it. Until now. The routing feature automatically reports the route salespeople take, and the appointments and prospecting that happens along the way.

How Routing Works

Using this feature is both easy and efficient. Routing allows salespeople to maximize their time and location by producing a turn-by-turn guide in just a few steps.

First, choose an area of town. When you pull up the map, you’ll see prospects and existing clients nearby. Then select the businesses you want to visit.

CallProof routing organizes those stops into the most efficient route, choosing the order and giving you directions from one place to the next. Along the way, you’ll know which contact is closest and the best way to get to them. And you’ll view it all through an interface you’re used to: Google Maps. If you plan to visit the area again, you can even save the route for future use.

Sales managers also reap a major benefit from routing. They get to see the exact route their salespeople took and the stops they made. They get data they can trust. Managers can then use that data to keep their sales team accountable and offer additional training as necessary.

At the end of the day, salespeople have maximized their time, mileage, and prospecting opportunities. Meanwhile, sales managers have equipped their team with the tools they need for great sales opportunities and received reliable data in return.

Phase 2: The Desktop Version

Managers, get ready for a desktop version of routing coming your way soon. With this tool, you’ll be able to build routes for your team. After creating a route, you can assign it to a salesperson, giving them a specific course for the day.

You’ll then be able to review these routes (and the ones they created) on your desktop, using the information to tailor your training and sales plan.

How It Simplifies

CallProof takes a map you already use and makes it even more efficient. You don’t have to figure out another mapping system. You just use the CallProof app (and soon desktop version!) to plan your day and optimize your time on the road.

No use copying and pasting the addresses from an app to a map. With routing, you’ll just click your stops and let the system do the work. Now you can visit even more clients, and boost your business.

If you’re an outside salesperson, you already use your phone and maps to get the best routes. This system ties them together without creating extra work.

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How the Right Mobile App Can Skyrocket Your Auto Glass Sales

sales tracking app auto glass sales

Would sales call software make a difference in your sales? Sometimes apps seem more like a convenience than a necessity, but the right sales app can change your game completely. Why? It actually gives you information and protects it like no spreadsheet can.

People only buy auto glass when they have an accident, right? When people need a new window, they call their insurance agent, not the auto glass company. So you face a unique challenge of influencing the referrer, not the buyer. To complicate it, you need to see as many people as possible during a day, maximizing time by location.

So how do you influence an influencer? Build relationships. Get to know local insurance agents. Become friends on Facebook so you know what to talk about (or not talk about). Remember their kids, hobbies, likes/dislikes. Why? You want them to remember you and be the one they recommend.

Benefits of a Sales Tracking App

Sales tracking apps help you do all that (and more!). It keeps you in those face-to-face meetings and minimizes drive time. Plus, it provides you real-time information on your clients while keeping your notes stored securely. Here are the top five ways sales call software improves your business.

1. Keeps Data Accessible

You need a place where you can quickly find your prospects’ data and access it easily. Here, you can see all your notes and data from past visits. CallProof takes this a step further and allows you to generate a map of these clients to optimize your day.

You can log into CallProof and see the 10 insurance agents you want to see that day on a map. Click on the agents you want to visit to optimize the route. Now you know which one to start with and which one to go to next.

When we navigate your stops, we generate an extra 25% increase in the number of people you visit. Any CRM can organize data; the key is organizing your route. Plus, it factors in current traffic issues to save you even more time.

2. IDs Prospects You Haven’t Called

Our system also reminds you to contact the prospects that you haven’t talked to recently. As it tracks your follow-ups, we organize the reminders from oldest entry to newest. This way, your clients hear from you in regular intervals.

3. Gives Up-To-Date Business Info

There’s a high turnover with insurance agents. We integrate with Google Business directory to see the most recent information on each company. With this tool, you can find new agents in the area and know when your old contacts have moved.

A lot of organizations buy leads but the data can be 10+ months old by the time it gets to the sales team. Some organizations we work with even come in using data that they bought years ago. When they start using CallProof, their contact world completely changes because their data is up to date.

4. Tracks Referral Sources

Sometimes it’s hard to know whom to thank for your referrals. And a thank you goes a long way. With CallProof, you can create special numbers for agents to distribute to their clients. Then, when a customer calls, you know who referred them and can give credit where it’s due.

5. Continues Relationships If Your Salesperson Leaves

You’ll have turnover in your organization. So set yourself up to easily fill the shoes of someone who leaves. If you’ve been using a sales tracking app, you know the clients for each of your employees. CallProof keeps track of call history, plays previous conversations, and documents each meeting. Plus, it’s out of the salesperson’s hands. If they decide to leave, good terms or bad, they can’t manipulate or deny access to their data. The manager always maintains access.

Sales call software works. Let it work for you.

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Sales Pitch Template: How to Create a Cold Calling Script

cold calling templates

Every journey requires a good map, whether you go old-school with the folded guide, or just download an app. Your sales journey is no exception. It starts with a cold call – and you don’t want to make it unguided.

A cold-calling script provides direction for both objections and recurring situations. It’s also a system that gives unity to the organization so your salespeople are on the same page. You don’t need a separate script for every person. Rather, each person starts with the same sales pitch templates and tweaks it to fit the prospect.

Most people get uncomfortable with objections, but a script provides a reference for how to reply. You can also create scripts for situational selling. If your competitor’s customers are dissatisfied, write a specific script that resonates with them. Use language that reminds them of the challenges and shows them how you’ll do better.

Tips for Writing Cold Call Scripts

Remember: the purpose of a cold call is NOT to make a sale. The goal is to schedule a meeting. Make a simple introduction as a means to build a long-term relationship, such as, “I’m new here at X and we work with companies like yours. I know you’re active in the community, and hopefully, we can meet one day.”

Think of cold calls like drip email campaigns. Don’t ask for anything initially. If you do, they may have a negative reaction and cut off communication. Instead, consider this phase one. Have a simple conversation and add value to your prospect aside from making a sale.  

Maybe you say, “Hi. I just wanted to introduce myself. I know you’re the key buyer at X. I’ve been here for a few months and you’re listed as a prospective customer for your organization. I’ll be sending you an email, just to give you some information. If you ever need anything, I would like to support you.”

Too many people are so eager to get the appointment, they skip building the relationship first. A cold call is just the first step. Don’t jump ahead.

What NOT to Say In Your Cold Calling Script

“I know you’re busy but…” is never a good way to start a conversation. If you have something valuable, it’s worth the interruption.

The full sales pitch doesn’t belong in a cold call either. Save your sales pitch template for the meeting. Remember: the purpose is to schedule a time to meet, not make the sale.

“When are you available?” gives your prospect an easy way out. Don’t ask for an appointment but rather tell them when you’d like to stop by. A good salesperson sells by territory and focuses on one location at a time. Don’t book one meeting in one part of town on a Monday and then book another meeting on the other side of town that same day. Instead, make your prospecting calls based on location and bring up a time you plan to stop by.

Creating Your Cold Calling Template

It only takes a few steps to build a cold calling script.

  1.  Introduce yourself.
  2.  Tell them you’ll stop by.
  3.  Base your script on time and location.

When you put it all together, it may sound something like this.

“Hi. I’m Robert. I work at X payroll services. We work with companies like yours so I wanted to introduce myself. If you ever need anything in the future, I’d like to support you. In fact, I’ll be on the east side of town Tuesday afternoon. I’d love to stop by and just hand you my card so you have a face to go with the name. Do you mind if I come by?”

You can also add, “I know you use an X vendor. I’d like to be your backup plan should that ever change.” I love using this language in a script because you never know when the provider is going to slip up and give you the chance to win over their clients.

If you’re in sales, you know you have to start somewhere. These cold calling tips get you on the road to meeting future clients with a positive, meaningful first conversation.

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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.

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5 Must-Read Books for Sales Managers

 

must-read-books-for-sales-managers

Books gravitate to the hands of those experiencing something new: a new city on vacation, a new challenge at work, a new hardship that has you sitting in the hospital. In these transition times, we take ourselves off autopilot. Life becomes less routine and we become more aware. In that awareness, we open ourselves to new concepts.

Reading is all about seeking new ideas. So if you’ve found yourself in a place where you’re searching for information to improve your approach as a sales manager, here are my top five must-reads.

1. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Dan Pink

drive daniel pinkWhat motivates us to work hard, achieve success, and feel satisfied? Pink claims the secret is our innate desire to make our own choices, learn and create new things, and to positively contribute to the world. Pink challenges the conventional wisdom of incentivization and encourages leaders to try a fresh approach to motivating your team- an approach that centers on building autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

As you read Drive, you’ll learn more than how to motivate your team. You’ll learn what motivates your buyers. And, people who understand buying behavior make the best salespeople.

 

 

2. Hyper Sales Growth: Street-Proven Systems & Processes – Jack Daly  

hyper sales growth jack dalyIn this book, Jack Daly discusses three important areas that will help your business to grow. First of all, you should work towards building a winning culture in your company. You can do this by creating an environment that motivates your employees to come to work and moving away from the idea that work is boring.

The second area that Daly discusses is Sales Management. As a Sales Manager, you are not supposed to grow sales but to grow salespeople. Increasing the quantity and quality of salespeople will grow your sales as well.

Finally, Daly focuses on sales. He discusses the systems and processes that make the best sales professionals different from the others.

Jack is renowned for offering super-practical advice in his books. Hyper Sales Growth breaks down realistic, actionable steps you can take to motivate your salespeople.

3. 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

five dysfunctions team patrick lencioniLencioni provides his reader with an insightful explanation about the struggles that teams experience. According to him, five dysfunctions are the core of the problem. He has created a model and designed actionable steps with which a team can improve itself and move away from common problems.

Once again, Lencioni has published a compelling story with an intriguing yet logical message for aspiring great teams. If you’re a team leader, 5 Dysfunctions of a Team will provide you with a model you can use to improve your team and overcome obstacles.

 

 

 

4. Think Like a Freak – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

think like a freak levittIn this book, Levitt and Dubner take problem-solving to a new level. Through an array of stories, they teach us how to retrain our brains to see the world a little differently.

Their blueprint for solving problems includes putting away the moral compass, thinking like a child, persuading people that don’t want to be persuaded, and appreciating the upside of quitting.  

When we think outside the box, we’re more productive, creative, and rational – which isn’t the norm.

 

 

 

5. Start With Why – Simon Sytek

start with why sinekSome people are successful no matter their plot in life. Others may managed success once but can’t seem to repeat their profit. As Sinek studied global leaders with the greatest impact, he found they all think, act, and communicate the same: they all start by asking, “Why?”

Whereas any business can tell you what it does or how much profit it nets, only a few explain why their organization exists and why it does what it does. These are the organizations that inspire others and generate loyal customers. Start With Why prompts people to ask the “Why?” questions about our products and services questions that make a difference in the entire sales approach.

 

 

 

What books have made a difference in your sales leadership approach? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

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9 (Stupid) Phrases That Can Sabotage a Sale

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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!

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The 5 Elements Every Elevator Pitch Should Include

elevator pitch examples

You never know when you’ll get a small window of time to talk to a prospect. Maybe you meet someone unexpectedly. What about when that cold call is about to hang up? In these cases, you need a sales elevator pitch in your back pocket. Plus, no one likes a long-winded salesperson.

An elevator pitch offers a quick delivery for the opportunities that come out of nowhere. These 5 must-haves will help you shape a pitch that piques interest and leads to sales.

1. Ask Questions

Open with a question you know the answer to. A phone provider may ask, “You know how frustrating a dropped call is? Our company has the lowest number of dropped calls.” 

A mattress sales associate may say, “You know how it feels to toss and turn all night and never really get comfortable? We guarantee a good night’s sleep.”

Related: How To Craft An Effective Sales Pitch For Any Attention Span

At Callproof, I may say, “You know how it feels when outside salespeople leave the office and you don’t know if they’re actually doing anything? We have a tool that solves that.”

These sales elevator pitch examples each ask a question about the pain. Quickly identify the problem the customer experiences and offer a solution.

2. Use a Story

Stories make you (and your product) relatable. People like to think they’re logical, but we’re emotional. A story appeals to emotion. It pulls people into a narrative while showcasing your product.

Think of stories as a song. Each one should have a beginning, middle, and end. Your pitch should start with a problem, transition into the solution, and end with a result. The more you craft that into an engaging story, the longer people will remember it.  

3. Make it Real

We all know pictures speak louder than words, but something tangible speaks volumes. When a prospect can touch the physical product, you make them understand that it feels better, works smarter, etc. with very few words. That’s going to communicate a lot faster than you.

When you’re selling an experience or a saving, still work to make it real. If your product is more cost-effective than most, you may ask, “How many employees do you have?” “100,” the prospect replies. “We save an average of $10/month per employee. That means we’d save you $1,000/month for xyz.”

This instant ROI quote capitalizes on the specifics of the prospect’s business. All managers can tell you how much they sell each month or how many employees they have. Use the data to create a tangible situation for their company. 

4. Set a Time to Meet Again

The point of a sales elevator pitch is to set a time to meet at another date. Your goal isn’t to sell instantly, but rather to book a time to continue your conversation. This may sound more difficult than it is. Just ask, “Hey, do you have your phone on you?” Most people will immediately grab it.

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

If you can get them to do one thing without knowing it (pulling out their phone), then you can make them take the next step and book the meeting. Ask, “Are you free next Friday at 2:00? Yes? Then what’s your email address, I’m going to send you an invite.” Now you have both a date and their contact information. Don’t just say, “We’ll be in touch.” Lock it in while they’re in the moment.

5. Expand Your Time

Find ways to get more time with your prospect. Share an Uber or Lyft with someone for a chance to pitch right then and there. If you are at a conference chatting with someone who’s about to get in an Uber, ask “Where are you going?” Maybe you’re headed to the same hotel or airport. If you can share a ride, you’ll then get the opportunity to build rapport over 10 minutes rather than 20 seconds. Often there are speakers that everyone clambers to talk to. Cheat the system and wait until they leave. If one of them will share a Lyft, you’ve just stretched out your elevator pitch.

If you can share a ride, you’ll then get the opportunity to build rapport over 10 minutes rather than 20 seconds. Often there are speakers that everyone clambers to talk to. Cheat the system and wait until they leave. If one of them will share a Lyft, you’ve just stretched out your elevator pitch.

A sales elevator pitch is all about maximizing your time. Spend some time working on your approach so you’ve got it down when the time comes.

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What to Look for When Researching Prospects

researching-sales-prospects

We’re always talking about tools to use for research, but how should you go about actual research? Knowing what information to look for is as important as knowing where to find it. With these ways of qualifying prospects, you’ll gain an edge when you make the pitch.

Find Relationships

As you look through LinkedIn or Facebook, find ways that you’re connected. If you’re in your prospect’s social circle, they are less likely to treat you negatively. Without connections, it’s easy for someone to dismiss you as a routine salesperson. But connections are game changers. They make you a person worth hearing.

These connections can take various forms. Personal connections work well. Having a close friend in common boosts your credibility. Yet, if the connections are too far removed, they’ll lose their effect.

Related: Which Sales Follow-Up Strategies Work Best for Your Prospects?

Business relationships help you relate as well. If you see a shared client, use that to your advantage. One of the best examples of this was a financial advisor I met with. He called saying, “Hey, I know PanAmerican Electric does business with you and I want to get on your schedule next Tuesday.” As a business owner, my instinct was to meet with him. Because my customer may have referred him, I took the appointment, if for no other reason than to satisfy my customer.

You may also find local groups you share. Perhaps you’re both involved in the same benevolent program or business association. Use those shared experiences to build your rapport and earn their ear.

Understand the Company

Look up the size and reach of the company. If you see there are only a few connections on LinkedIn, the company may be too small to require your product. If the company has a large volume, you can gauge how your product would best fit in their organization.

Troubleshoot the Problems

Look for problems an organization may be experiencing, either localized or industry-wide. A simple Google search of the company (type in “company name” + review) sheds light on areas for improvement. Also, search for news articles that comment on the company or their competitors. Maybe the industry is going through a lot of change and you can help them navigate it.

Related: How to Build Trust Over the Phone with Cold Prospects

Glassdoor and Quora offer insight into employee complaints and HR issues. If you sell payroll services, you may see businesses where employees complain about the way they’re paid. That’s an immediate indication that you can help them. Through these sites, you’ll also find industry problems, as well as CEO responses. Again, look for struggles you can address. Then align your product pitch to solve that problem. If you can ease their pain, you’ve found a way in.

Research Works

The time you spend qualifying prospects shows. The clients notice when you go the extra mile to understand their companies. A templated email means nothing up against the person that has done some research. I know when I’m being sold, but I like to see how it plays out when someone knows my business.

If you can only do one thing, find your prospects on LinkedIn and go from there. The 80/20 rule applies. If you can just put in 20% more effort researching, you’ll find yourself reaping 80% more results.

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3 Characteristics of Successful Salespeople

characteristics-successful-salespeople-

Salespeople come in all forms. Some are pushy. Some play hard to get. Either way, the best in sales have a charisma that seems to come naturally. They connect with prospects, gain trust quickly, and can find conversation points with anyone.

Yet sales require more than charm. There’s a difference in being a charismatic person and a top salesperson. Whether you were born charming or not, success in sales means capitalizing on the skills you have.

Think of your natural strengths as muscles. Yes, you were born with them, but if you don’t build them up, they won’t amount to much.

By practicing these three characteristics of successful salespeople, you’ll develop your sales instincts to their potential.

1. Tenacity

Obstacles are inevitable when you’re trying to make a sale. Top salespeople power through those hindrances to move the sale forward. You’ll hear “no” repeatedly. The tenacious person persists and keeps chipping away at the stumbling blocks.

Related: A Day in the Life of a Successful Salesperson

There are plenty of opportunities to give up. Yet the most successful salespeople understand that the customer may not really mean “no.” Often, the customer just needs help overcoming an obstacle and better understanding the product. Determination can turn that initial “no” into a successful sale!

2. Prospecting

A strong salesperson markets constantly. Most people close a sale, get busy working with that client, and temporarily stop generating new leads. This natural mistake leads to inconsistent sales numbers. Never stop looking for new deals, even right after a big deal.

The best salespeople do this to a fault. A true hunter can’t help but go out and get the kill, making sale after sale. As soon as one deal closes, they’re on to the next potential client. Often, they’ll even neglect a new customer because they’ve filled their time prospecting.

Instead, be intentional about your post-sale relationships. Pass your new clients to a customer support team if one is available. If not, build time into your schedule for existing and potential customers. When you allot time for each, your schedule can work to your benefit.

3. Mastering the Schedule

Schedules aren’t cages, but rather guidelines to maximize each day. Choose a time frame for phone calls to follow up with prospects and make appointments for the next day. Then spend the rest of your day going to appointments.

Successful sales people schedule appointments based on location. They focus on one area of town at a time rather than driving back and forth from one meeting to the next. Choose a location. Then see as many people in that area as you can. If you find a nearby prospect, stop by (even unexpectedly) to maximize your time in each place.

Related: How to Write the Perfect Sales Email

When you categorize your day by task, just looking at the clock tells you what you should be doing. I always spent my mornings booking appointments for the next day and following up from the office. Then, after lunch, I went from one appointment to the next. If it was after noon, I knew I should be out making face-to-face contact. If I didn’t have an appointment, I found a way to meet someone and generate business.

Developing Your Sales Team’s Skills

As a manager, promote these traits among your sales team. Choose people that have really developed one of these characteristics and showcase their success. 

For example, if you have a tenacious salesperson, set up mock presentations where they can demonstrate how to overcome objections. As your determined salesperson unpacks the “no” and tries to turn it into a “yes,” they’ll teach others some strategies for jumping common hurdles. If you have team members who really need improvement, use the mock presentations to help them cultivate these skills.

Sales strategy may be rooted in natural ability, but it doesn’t stop there. If you want to learn how to be a successful salesperson, develop these traits and build yourself into the sales typhoon you hope to be.

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