Do you care about what you sell?

by Shannon F. In school, you probably learned more from the teachers who were passionate about their subjects, not the ones who just clicked through slides about cell division while droning on and on. The same goes with sales. The one factor that really separates mediocre salespeople from great salespeople is caring passionately about the product they’re pitching. Sure, your product might be so boring that it makes cellular mitosis look like Cirque du Soleil, but chances are that it solves some key problems for businesses. Here’s how to start caring more: Find something that you love about your product If there’s nothing to love about your product, you probably shouldn’t be selling it. Find something to get excited about! We don’t know what you sell, so we can’t tell you what that one lovable aspect might be. Our advice: search deep within yourself. Or get inspiration from listening to your company’s founder/CEO talk about the product. Learn as much as you can about what you sell. Knowledge=confidence. If you have questions or doubts about what you’re selling, get them resolved, because gaps in your product knowledge will sap your confidence during your sales call. And the more you learn about what you sell, the more interested you’ll be! Think of each sales call as a chance to consult prospects in how to make their company better using your awesome product. Listen to the top salesperson in your company. Chances are that he or she radiates enthusiasm for the product. […]

What to do after a sales cold call

by Shannon F. Sales cold calls are not usually stand-out events, either for the person making the call or the person receiving it. After the receptionist writes (or pretends to write) your name down, she or he generally forgets that you exist. Even if you get through to a decision-maker, you are probably just one of many disruptions that day. The general forgettability (we made that word up) of the average cold call is partly to blame for the staggering number of touches you’re probably going to have to make before you manage to set an appointment (between 12 and 18, ouch). Following up the right way can help you set more appointments, more efficiently. Always send a follow-up email Immediately after you hang up the phone—even if you just left a brief voicemail—send an email. It should be something like, “Hi, I recently spoke to you (or tried to reach you) regarding _____. I would like to set up an appointment to discuss_____. Please contact me at your convenience.” Busy people are more likely to check their email than answer the phone, so even if repeated call-backs don’t elicit a response, a simple email may do the trick. Connect with them online As soon as you’ve spoken to a prospect, connect with him or her on LinkedIn. This will give you another means of contact. Plus, you may be able to reach out to other members of the same company who are connected to your initial contact. Remember: the […]

What the First Day of Spring Means for Sales

By Shannon F. Depending on where you live, there may still be graying slush in the street and a half-melted snowman on your lawn, but the first day of spring is still a time to heat up your B2B sales numbers. We’ll spare you the clichés about spring as a time of rebirth. Here are three real reasons for making the first day of spring count! 1. It’s true: people make more, and better, decisions in the spring. They tend to have increased energy and enthusiasm now that the Second Quarter is beginning and the sun is shining a little harder. Start reaching out to these people at once! You’ll find that prospects who were sluggish about wanting to buy from you in the post-holiday months are suddenly starting to reactivate projects and ideas that were dormant over the winter. 2. Hiring peaks in the spring. The Second Quarter is often a time for companies to evaluate their personnel and consider adding new members to the team. If a company is expanding significantly, they will likely have the budget and the need for products like office furniture, IT equipment, and more. 3. Most office moves take place in the warmer months. An office move is one of the biggest events in the life of a company, and it’s when businesses will spend the most on B2B products and services. In the spring, construction and renovations typically take place at the leased office space. This makes spring an ideal time to […]

Questions to ask when cold-calling

by Shannon F. Yesterday, we suggested avoiding the types of questions that frustrate and annoy busy prospects. Now that the Don’ts are out of the way, let’s focus on the Dos: provocative questions that keep the prospect interested and on the phone. “What kind of changes or events do you anticipate taking place in the next 3-12 months?” If the prospect indicates that a change such as a company expansion, merger, or office relocation is anticipated, you have your in. The Harvard Business Review identified that businesses in a state of flux make the best prospects, because they have the need, budget, and time frame for B2B products and services. (Blatant InsightPRM promotion: Customers who purchase our office moving leads already know that their prospects are relocating or opening a new location before they pick up the phone to make a call.) If the prospect has confirmed a trigger event, like an office move, say, “What kinds of challenges are you anticipating [related to that event]?” or “What steps have you taken to accomplish ______?” This gives you the opportunity not only to respond to your prospect’s concerns, but to bring up challenges (and solutions) that he or she never even considered. “We’ve been noticing that a current trend or problem in your industry is_____. How has your company responded to this?” The whole point of your call is to identify a need for your product/service. If the prospect doesn’t know they need you yet, educate them about how you […]

Questions not to ask when cold-calling

by Shannon F. Phone conversations start to go south for many salespeople when they begin asking questions. After all, no one enjoys being cold-called by a stranger only to be put through a detailed interrogation. And while certain questions are necessary for a productive phone call, you’ll find it easier to engage with prospects if you already know a little bit about their company. Don’t get all creepy or stalker-ish on them, but take the time to learn more about what they do. You can get a better idea of what their goals are and what needs they may have. Here are some questions you simply shouldn’t be asking your prospects: “What kind of company are you?” or “What do you do?” Seriously? You can find this out yourself in literally 2 seconds, so asking this on a phone call is a definite no. “Who is the decision-maker I should speak to?” Or, similarly, “Can I speak with the owner?” You’ll have a much better chance of being transferred to the person you wish to speak to if you actually know his or her name. A quick search on LinkedIn or Jigsaw should yield results (if you store your leads in a lead management system, you should be able to do some pre-call research directly from the program). “Can you tell me what your objectives are?” or, “What kinds of problems are you having?” While it makes sense to find out what your prospect hopes to accomplish (so that you […]

Do sneaky cold-calling attempts pay off?

By Shannon F. The easy answer is: sometimes, but not usually. When sales reps find that being straightforward isn’t working for them, they may resort to other tactics with varying degrees of success. Most gatekeepers are pretty good at making sure salespeople never get through to key decision-makers, so we’ve heard cold-callers try everything under the sun to keep from being brushed off. Some sneaky cold-calling practices that we dislike include: Mumbling the name of your company. If you’re not proud to say who you work for, you probably shouldn’t be selling your product. Plus, you’re crazy if you think a gatekeeper is just going to pass you off to the boss without asking you to repeat yourself. Some sales reps refuse to say the name of the company even when pressed, which brings us to the next cold-calling don’t: “It’s just a business call.” This often-used line is intended to brush off gatekeepers, but be warned: you’ll definitely ruffle their feathers. They know it’s a sales call, and because you weren’t transparent from the beginning, there’s no way they’ll put you through to the decision-maker. Pretending to be the boss’s best friend. “Oh hey, it’s Greg. Is Sarah around?” is not going to fool anyone, since you would have called Sarah’s cell or direct line if the two of you were actually close. And if you do reach a decision-maker, don’t cross the line between friendly and manic. Gushing “How are you!” is pretty off-putting if you have no […]

Your sales competition isn’t calling back.

by Shannon F. A frustrating experience Last fall, we tried to do something that should have been very easy but ended up being a two-week-long exercise in frustration: find a local vendor to fulfill our printing needs. We needed several thousand postcards immediately to send to contacts who we believed might be interested in InsightPRM. In addition to the initial postcard order, there was the likelihood that we would form a long-term relationship with the print shop and place a lot of orders with them in coming years—we were the perfect lead, right? The first print shop responded to our phone call—in fact, the owner answered the phone and mentioned that he really wanted the job, because business had been slow lately. But he never gave us the quote we requested. Only after several calls and emails from us did he finally send an estimate—for the cost of the mailing service only, not the actual printing costs! He never followed up to see if we had any questions about the estimate, at which point we would have told him it was wrong. The second print shop actually sent over a representative to our location (true story: she brought her own stash of organic sugar and demanded to be led to the coffee). But after that initial meeting, she didn’t get back to us with a quote. Months later, she called to berate us for going with her competition. “I don’t have time to sit around figuring out quotes and getting […]

Have you hugged your sales team today?

by Shannon F.   While sales has its highlights and thrilling moments, most salespeople experience some frustration and monotony on a regular basis. It’s up to you to keep your sales team feeling valued and supported while also motivating them to continue working hard for you. That’s why March is International Hug A Salesperson Month. But while your salespeople would surely appreciate a random, awkward hug from you, they’d probably like these rewards even more: 1. A well-stocked kitchen. By rewarding your sales team with their favorite snacks, gum, breakfast items, fresh fruit, and drinks, you can thank them for their hard work without breaking the bank. Bonus: you’re also saving company time, since employees are less likely to run to the [insert regional convenience store here] every time they get hungry or thirsty. Tip: Arranging for other timesavers, like dry-cleaning pickup and delivery, can both reward salespeople and make it easier for them to work later. 2. A 3-day cruise. Send your top-performing salesperson on a short vacation. You’ll probably recoup what you spent when he/she returns refreshed and inspired to sell. Plus, a long weekend getaway doesn’t have to cost very much—look for deals online or from your company’s travel agent. Bonus: Employees who weren’t rewarded this time around will be motivated to work harder so that they’ll be recognized next. Tip: think about cashing in the frequent flier miles accrued by the company credit card to reward a deserving employee. 3. Something cool for the office. Suggestions: […]