What should I do when my prospect lies to me about their trigger event?

In the past, we’ve discussed how trigger events such as an office move are the best indicators of an impending purchase. But what happens when a prospect refuses to admit that the trigger event is actually happening? This is a customer scenario that we see frequently:


Sales Rep Bob contacts a confirmed office relocation lead, and the company (let’s call them ABC Co.) promptly tells him: “You’re the fifth salesperson to contact me today. I don’t know where you got your information, but we’re not moving our business.” Sales Rep Bob becomes discouraged and assumes that ABC Co. is telling the truth: they’re not moving. He gives up on the lead. Several months later, ABC Co. relocates their office, using the services of Bob’s competitor.

What your handwriting says about your Sales personality

by Shannon F. Your handwriting can be a window into your personality, or it can simply make you wish you’d focused harder on staying in the lines during penmanship class. Many experts believe that handwriting can predict personal inclinations, professional attributes, and even chances of success. Take it with a grain of salt, but here is what your handwriting could say about your selling style. (For example, if your handwriting is large, close together, and sloppy, you may be a gregarious and people-oriented salesperson who focuses on the big picture.) Scribble something on a piece of paper and see where you stand. Small handwriting. Do you tend to blend into the wallpaper wherever you are? It could be your choice of sweater, or maybe you just have small handwriting—a sign of introversion. Microscopic writing may mean that you don’t have a big, boisterous personality, but it could also indicate that you are detail-oriented and meticulous. If these traits apply to you, you may be struggling in sales—a field where outgoing people with a big-picture perspective tend to thrive. Large handwriting. Often a sign of outgoing individuals, big handwriting could indicate that you have a larger-than-life personality and enjoy being the center of attention. As a salesperson, you likely excel at chatting up contacts and making new connections. Just don’t forget to step out of the spotlight every once in a while and truly listen to your prospects and clients. Cramped, close-together handwriting. Relationships are likely important to you if you […]

What to do when the Sales Cycle is Lengthening

by Shannon F.   Recent research  shows that the B2B sales cycle is lengthening, causing more and more companies to miss sales goals, fail to achieve growth, and ultimately lose millions. Why is today’s average sales cycle longer than it was five years ago? For one, the buyer’s mindset has changed; even as the marketplace bounces back, the economic downturn did its damage, making business decision-makers cautious, skeptical, and less willing to part with money. Don’t expect this mindset to go away in a hurry; just as our Depression-era grandparents still tip on the wrong side of 10% and buy these cookies, today’s buyers are once burned, twice shy. They also have less decision-making autonomy and may be increasingly required to get approval on proposed purchases from higher management. This results in delays when it comes to finalizing decisions and closing the deal. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your sales pipeline filled, overcome buyer hang-ups, and make sure a longer sales cycle doesn’t negatively impact your bottom line. 1. Focus on trigger events. A trigger event with a timeline (such as an office move) gives the buyer a compelling reason to make decisions quickly. A trigger event allows you to accurately predict when a deal will close. For example, if a company must be up and running in the new office by September 1st, they are going to have to decide on a new phone system at least 30 days prior, or major delays will occur. […]

Tips for Women in Sales (“Seducing the Boys’ Club” isn’t one of them)

By Shannon F. No doubt, you’ve heard about this bad decision currently in the news: Merrill Lynch passed out copies of Nina DiSesa’s dubious career advice book “Seducing the Boys’ Club” to female executives, resulting in a sex-discrimination lawsuit. (How could presumably successful and competent people have thought this “gift” was a good idea?) One of the women in the Merrill Lynch case was also called out for not being “perky” enough. But she was a business professional, not employed in the hospitality or entertainment industry! Female salespeople deal with discrimination all the time—even if it’s not intentional. If she is more successful than her male peers, a female salesperson may face comments along the lines of, “Your prospects are more receptive to you because you’re a woman.” If she is struggling, she may be told, directly or indirectly, to play up her feminine charms when dealing with male prospects and customers—in other words, to seduce the boys. Women have made enormous strides but still remain outnumbered 3 to 1 in B2B sales—particularly in male-dominated industries like technology. The good news is that sales can be a great equalizer—you are judged not on subjective criteria, but on how well you’ve met or exceeded your sales goal. Here are our suggestions for dealing with the gender gap without resorting to Nina DiSesa’s tips. 1. Treat everyone the same: professionally. That means being open, courteous, and straightforward. Everyone respects those characteristics, and they aren’t gender-specific. Professionals like dealing with other professionals. If […]

Songs to put on your sales team’s playlist

By Shannon F. You probably don’t need a scientific study to tell you that music can make you happier at work, reduce your stress levels, and allow you to find a moment of calm in a noisy environment. But did you know that music improves productivity? Studies show that music can make you work harder and faster, and the benefits are not just limited to the gym. Sales managers found that sales actually increased when music was played. Does it matter what’s on the playlist? Runners swear by fast-paced, motivational music, while road-trippers claim that subject matter is what inspires them to cover more miles. Here’s a compilation of sales-related songs to get your team pumped (and productive). Eye of the Tiger—Survivor. The ultimate underdog anthem that reminds us to thrive, not just survive in sales. I Won’t Back Down—Tom Petty. Need to gather your steely resolve before speaking to a tough customer? This should be your theme song. We’re Not Gonna Take it—Twisted Sister. See above. Don’t Stop Believin’—Journey. This karaoke hit makes your pulse beat a little quicker. We bet you can’t not sing the falsetto part. The Gambler—Kenny Rogers. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Could any more life lessons possibly be packed into one song? Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough—Michael Jackson. Good words of advice on a slow sales week. Take the Money and Run—Steve Miller Band. Channel an outlaw and run away with your sales goal. Takin’ Care of Business—Bachmann […]

How can you determine your sales rep’s chances of success?

by Shannon F. Hiring a new sales rep can be a gamble, especially considering that he or she may take three to twelve months or even longer to become fully productive. If you recently hired a new sales rep, you are probably trying to gauge whether he or she is going to be an asset to your team in the long term. Fortunately, there are some key signs to look out for. We’ll break it down into performance-based and character-based indicators of success. Performance-based Cold-calling activity. Sales success has a lot of components, but a big one is simply your activity levels. High activity levels (especially when noted consistently over time) are always a good sign. Sluggishness in the beginning may be due to your sales rep’s lack of familiarity with your products and services, but after the first couple of weeks, activity levels should be steady and consistent with your company’s expectations. Appointment-setting rate (# of appointments set/# of leads contacted). The ideal appointment-setting rate depends heavily on your industry, so be aware what your top sales reps are doing. Often, having a high ratio of appointments set depends on consistency of follow-up. Is your rep giving up after a couple of calls, or is she persisting until she gets her prospect on the phone? Lead follow-up time. When a new lead comes in, such as through the company website, how quickly is your new sales rep following up? If he acts right away, that’s a great sign. A […]

Your prospects don’t have to be nice to you. 5 mean moves you can counteract when cold-calling

by Shannon F. Busy prospects don’t always appreciate getting your call in the middle of their day. Every salesperson has a cold-calling story about someone who reacted badly to repeated attempts at contact. Here’s how to deal with 5 ways that prospects may behave in a less than civil manner. Your Prospect Ignores Your Calls. Aren’t they ever in their office?! When you’ve made your 7-12 cold-calling attempts and still have not gotten your prospect on the phone, it’s time to accept that he or she may be ignoring your calls. Best Fix: Mix up your approaches. Try sending an email or even a personalized letter. If you use InsightPRM, try sending an instant email from the PRM at the same time as you are leaving a voicemail. Set up your email template to say, “I just called and left a voicemail for you regarding_________. I’d love to have a chance to discuss this with you in person.” Some phone-phobic prospects respond to emails in an instant. Last Resort: Schedule your next follow-up call for a few months out, and try again at that time. Your Prospect Lies to You. You know for a fact that they are moving their office, but they insist they are not in the market for commercial moving services. Chances are that your prospect is withholding the truth in order to get you off the phone. Sound improbable? Consider that the average individual is lied to as many as 200 times in a day. That […]

Signs that you are a Sales Perfectionist (and how to fix it)

by Shannon F. Sales is a field that requires a rapid response-rate, quick decision-making, and the ability to let the small stuff go. If you’re a perfectionist, you may struggle to generate the sheer volume of activity necessary to make your sales goal this year. The problem is, perfectionists can be deceptively imperfect, making them hard to recognize. They don’t all sort their paperclips by color or own a personal label-making machine. If you are like me (an admitted perfectionist) you might not ever bother to wash your tea cup, assuming the germs will be microwaved out on each subsequent use. That sure doesn’t sound like perfectionist behavior! So here are some signs to look for, and some ways to save yourself before you get bogged down by perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionists are highly self-critical. In sales, like in anything, you’ll have ups and downs in your personal performance. Having a bad day is something that rarely matters in the long run, but perfectionists tend to beat themselves up about their perceived shortcomings. This turns into time wasted on worrying. The fix: Strive for excellence, but be forgiving of your mistakes. Don’t take it to heart if you are having a “bad phone day” or you stumble during a demo. The more you hone your selling skills, the more consistent your performance will be. Perfectionists take rejection personally. Their feelings are hurt if someone is curt on the phone, and worse, they blame themselves for not achieving a more positive interaction. […]

3 Expensive Ways (Worth Every Penny) To Help Your Sales Reps Kill Their Goals

by Shannon F. There are many reasons why sales reps won’t make their goal this year, but it often boils down to time. After all, the more selling activity salespeople can accomplish in the day, the more appointments they can set and the more deals they can close. So not having time-saving processes in place means less activity, fewer appointments…you get the idea. Here are three investments you should make to speed up your sales team and help them surpass their goals this year. 1. New, faster computer. Everyone can recall their first computer–mine was a Compaq Presario the size of a small planet. But while PCs of decades past can be remembered fondly, they have no place on a salesperson’s desk. You’d be surprised how many sales reps are working on outdated machines; it’s a big problem, because slow computers kill productivity. If it takes your sales rep 30 seconds every time they want to log into their CRM or find a prospect on Linkedin, the day will quickly be consumed by wasted minutes. Today, salespeople must work at a frenetic pace to keep up with busy, hard-to-reach prospects. In fact, many reps are so overwhelmed by keeping up with existing clients that they don’t have time to set appointments with prospects and sign new clients. An expenditure of $500-$1000 per sales rep to equip your team with new computers that allow them to work faster is a small investment with a potentially huge return over the lifetime of […]

Do your customers know how well you did?

by Shannon F. You hate to pat yourself on the back, but you went above and beyond on the last project you completed. Self-congratulations only goes so far, anyway. You want your clients to acknowledge that you provided excellent service. Here’s why they won’t: -Your client doesn’t always understand the nuts and bolts of the project, so they may think your job is simpler than it is. -You didn’t want your client to worry, so you didn’t tell them about the complications/roadblocks you encountered and conquered. -Your client doesn’t think they necessarily need to shower you with praise, since they paid you fairly for the job. But here’s why it is important to get your customer to acknowledge how great you are: -You’ll want to build a relationship with them in the event that they need your services again 5 or ten years down the road. Therefore, leaving them completely satisfied (and with a positive impression of you) is in your best interest. -Happy customers can provide testimonials and references that will help you build your image. -Happy customers don’t mind referring you or introducing you to others in their network, helping you grow your business by leaps and bounds. Here’s what you have to do to extract compliments from unwilling customers: -Let your customer know when you went the extra mile. You don’t have to brag about your greatness, but don’t downplay the lengths you took to get the job done. The client won’t appreciate all the little details […]