Fresh ways to stay persistent in sales

by Shannon F. You’re probably sick of hearing about the importance of resilience, persistence, and staying motivated. The best salespeople are incredibly tenacious and are able to deflect the day-to-day negative feedback that pretty much everyone in this field faces. They may think they don’t need to fine-tune their attitudes to rejection or receive regular pep talks. The truth is, most salespeople need encouragement on a regular basis, even if it comes from within. Here are our suggestions for remaining persistent no matter what. Remind yourself that 80% of sales are made on the 5th through 12th attempt. It’s true. If you are getting a little frustrated with a prospect who isn’t returning your calls, remind yourself that it could take as many as 12 calls to set the appointment that gets you the deal. Be patient, and remember that 90% of sales reps make only three attempts or fewer. (You could even print the inspiring chart, above.) Complain for a little…and then stop.  Positive thinking is important, but sometimes the one thing that inspires you to keep going is having the opportunity to vent (briefly). If a prospect is ignoring your calls or has treated you horrendously, it’s okay to seek the empathy of others on your team. Feeling heard, and getting your anger out of your system, can energize you and give you the strength you need to move forward. But don’t complain about every little thing or dwell too much on a bad experience. Complaining only has […]

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.

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 […]

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. […]

Tips for leaving an awesome sales voicemail.

by Shannon F. Do you die a little inside whenever you hear, “Please leave a message after the beep?” Many sales reps find that they are directed to voicemail more frequently than they reach an actual decision-maker. And while leaving a voicemail isn’t nearly as effective as speaking to someone personally, you should treat it as a welcome opportunity to capture your prospect’s interest and give him or her a reason to call you back. Remember that most decision-makers within a company receive dozens of voicemails a day, so you’ll have to catch their attention immediately to get them to hear your message through. Here are some of the best ways to keep prospects from pressing “erase voicemail” before your recorded self has a chance to finish a sentence. Name-drop shamelessly. For example, say you’re a moving company. Start your message with, “So-and-so told me you might be relocating and in need of moving services.” Of course, this involves actually taking the time to get a referral. Use LinkedIn to see what contacts you have in common with your prospect. If you have a mutual connection, ask for an introduction. When you drop that shared contact’s name in your voicemail, your prospect will at least take the time to hear the message through. Mention what you did for similar companies. Say, “We recently saved other local technology companies thousands of dollars with our proven IT relocation experience.” You can even name a couple of the companies you assisted. Your prospects […]

Why can’t I set appointments from cold-calling?

by Shannon F. Close your eyes and envision an all-too-common scenario. You got into work early today and are planning to stay late, because you’ve been so overwhelmed with client demands lately that you haven’t had any free time to prospect for new business. Your boss is in a bad mood—she informs you that you are due in a two-hour department-wide meeting to discuss flagging performance. Domestic problems are weighing on you—your water heater broke this morning, so you have to dash home at lunch to talk to the service person. And on top of that, you drop some Hot Pocket filling on your Burberry tie, leaving spots of grease across the iconic plaid. As you’re grabbing for a napkin, the phone rings—it’s a salesperson asking for “just a few minutes to tell you about an exciting new product.” That’s what it’s like to be the prospect on the other end of your sales call. How do you react to a sales cold call when you already have multiple conflicting demands on your time? If you’re an exceptionally easy-going person, you might hear the caller through. If you’re like most people, you’re going to say, “I’m not interested,” or “Don’t call me again,” and hang up. Depending on your mood, you may even scream a variation of “I hate you!” or just cry wordlessly into the phone. B2B salespeople should keep in mind that every cold call they make is an unwanted interruption. Even if your prospect actually needs your […]

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 […]