Friday, August 30, 2013

Are You Making These Cold Calling Mistakes?

Cold calling is hard. But you might be making it harder.

You work your tail off, but you are striking out. What you had once chalked up to a cold streak of poor leads and bad luck might actually be a series of bad mistakes you're making on your sales calls.

Stop making these 10 cold calling mistakes now and see your sales results improve.

1. You are insincere

You may not mean to do this but you may come off sounding insincere. It’s painfully obvious to the buyer or potential customer when reps sound insincere or disingenuous. Instead of making unrealistic promises you know you can’t keep, offer rational fact-based reasons as to how you can help the buyer.

2. You're overconfident

Similarly, don’t rave on and on about how superior your product is. You may be passionate but this could be misinterpreted as boasting. Nobody wants to hear such aimless bragging. Instead, within the first minute of connecting with a prospect, you should communicate why your product is great for them specifically.

3. You sound like a robot

You may be new and innocent. And this isn’t to say that call scripts are bad. Rather, reading robotically and sticking rigidly to the script is immediately obvious to your prospect and will turn them off from whatever you are saying.
Learn the script but speak like a human.

4. You talk too much

As a sales rep, you want to be helpful. Many talk too much thinking they should tell the prospect as much as possible. This backfires and bombards potential customers with tons of information and minutiae without addressing their specific pain points. Stop talking and start listening. After all, this is why you have two ears and one mouth. Ask questions, learn about the prospect’s needs, and be helpful.

5. You lack confidence

If a sales rep isn't confident, how can the prospect be expected to have confidence in him or her? Exuding or projecting confidence through a sales call requires practice, knowledge and desire to be helpful. You know you possess all three so be confident.

6. You aren't prepared

If you fail to prepare then prepare to fail.
The adage is as old as it is true. Don’t put yourself in that position. Make sure you have all the information before your sales call. It’s easy. There is no excuse for this today. You have the ability to get informed from sources such as Google, social networks, and your trusty CRM system.

7. You have "happy ears"

Sales reps should have real expectations about their chances with prospects. Everything is a funnel and not all of your leads (or even opportunities) will end up closing. So don’t waste your time pitching or pursuing prospects that are unqualified or have little interest.
A fast no is better than a slow maybe.

8. You are as clear as mud

Have a clear message for the prospect and know it before you pick up the phone. You need to articulate your benefits crisply within the first 30 seconds of the call or you will surely lose their interest.

9. You don't set next steps

Just because an initial sales call is successful does not mean the deal is done. It is critical that reps get a buy in on the next steps in the buying process. The prospect will not follow up with you. Your job is to discuss and get agreement on the next steps - that’s why you are in sales.

10. You aren't measuring

If you are not using metrics to measure your call effectiveness then you will not know how to improve. Also, ask your manager for sales coaching based on what you measure from your call performance. No rep is perfect and your sales manager can analyze your calls with you and will help coach you with metrics.

Friday, August 23, 2013

How Body Language Can Become a Sales Advantage

You’ve worked hard to get that important interview or new client meeting. You’ve honed your slide presentation to be pitch perfect, and your resume is a work of art. At critical moments like this, don’t let sloppy body language place an invisible, unspoken barrier between you and success.

“Your gestures, voice tone, rate, and volume can all have a profound effect on the success of your negotiations, job interviews, and sales meetings,” says Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, author of The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help. You only have seven seconds to make a first impression and establish credibility, trust, power, status, warmth, and empathy.  

Learn to send honest signals with these 10 simple reminders:

1. Lean Forward

Not only do we need to Lean In, we also need to lean forward. Leaning towards your conversation partner signals commitment in the conversation and shows you’re engaged and paying attention.

2. Open your arms

Crossing arms is a defensive approach across many contexts and cultures. With arms crossed, you look defensive and closed, or worse yet, that you're ignoring what your conversation partner is saying. Keep your arms open so that you seem to be fully involved. Data shows that you retain 38% less information when your legs and arms are crossed. Open up your arms, and your mind!

3. Don’t point

Your mom was right: pointing can be rude. Take a cue from politicians and soften your gestures with a full hand point or chop unless you are actively trying to convey aggression.

4. Smile (really!)

A purely social smile is just the mouth, but a genuine smile uses the eyes. There is nothing more powerfully addictive than a genuine smile. It can melt hearts and soothe nerves.

5. Positive eye contact

Making good eye contact can build trust and show that you are engaged and interested. Choose to use Skype or a video chat rather than email when you anticipate tensions may be high, and you will boost your chances of positive communication. Studies say that people are less hostile and negative when they look into your eyes. So, use those baby blues to disarm your opponents.

6. Use fewer gestures

Notice when some famous people are being interviewed, they don't fidget or distract with too many gestures? The focus stays on them. Let your hands rest naturally at your sides or on your lap, depending on whether you are sitting or standing. Avoid doing things like cracking your knuckles. Rubbing hands can also be an indicator that you think you have closed the deal.

7. Use a lower vocal range

Especially for females, bring your voice down to an optimal range. Do this by saying, “um hum, um hum, um hum” before a big talk to bring voice down to optimal range. And speak more slowly. Whatever you do, avoid the 'valley girl' speak that makes anything you say sounds like a tentative question.

8. Strike a pose

Powerful people with high status aren't afraid to take up space in a room. Research shows that if you do a 'high power pose' -- think  Wonder Woman -- and hold it for two minutes, your testosterone level raises and cortosol level lowers. You feel more confident and perform better. Try it!

9. Embrace the power of touch

Did you know if you reach out and touch someone, they are more likely to say yes and comply with your request? Touching on the arm creates a human bond within milliseconds, as long as it is done in combination with other honest communication.

10. Watch the feet

"Feet hold secrets", says Goman, "because they are the least rehearsed." Did you know that feet point to a person they prefer? Feet positioned close together can be seen as a timid stance, while wide apart feet display confidence. Use this tip to read someone else's body language or stay in control of your own.
Whether you are aware of your body language or not, you are sending powerful signals to the receiver. By using smart body language, you are more likely to reinforce your goals rather than distract from your message. In fact, with the rise of technology, nonverbal communication is becoming even more important due to visual technology revolution. Take center stage by boosting your body language IQ.

Friday, August 16, 2013

5 Customer Characteristics That Will Change the Way You Do Business


Meet your new customer: the ever-connected, always-on, highly opinionated, on-the-move, super sophisticated customer. It’s a new world. Social, mobile, and cloud have spun a tapestry of new technologies from location services to communities to new business apps. It’s fundamentally changing how people interact with businesses and with each other.

Armed with more information - and options - than ever before, this new breed of customer operates in ways that businesses should embrace and leverage to their advantage before their competitors beat them to it. Because in this new world, customer loyalty is the currency by which companies will live or die.
But first, you first need to understand these new customers. Having a firm grasp on their habits and needs will make your job far easier. Here are five characteristics of your customers that are changing the game for your business.

1. Connected

Your customers have no “off button”. They live in the cloud, with the world’s knowledge in their pocket. Information, people, and things are at their fingertips always. They are 24/7 in real-time and assume that everyone else is too - including you.

2. Mobile

Your customer is everywhere - on the web, in your store, talking to sales associates and using local, social, and touch apps wherever they go. They expect to connect with businesses across many channels, in real-time, and make it easy for them to buy from and interact with you.

3. Social

Whether it is asking friends for a recommendation, reading a review, or getting help from a community site, social networks are the way your customer learns and talks about your company and your products. All of these interactions are opportunities to get to know customers better and understand how to delight them.

4. Demanding

Your customers have a more sophisticated set of needs than ever, and their purchase decision is based on many factors, not just price. They are expecting your best. Things happen quickly in the digital age, so when customers have a question, it needs to be answered fast. Sales and service teams need to have everything at their fingertips - even from the road.

5. In-the-Know

With a wealth of information at their fingertips, your customers use knowledge as power. From finding experts in communities to mastering comparison-shopping on the go, they learn about products from many places to find just the right match for their needs.  
Once you have a solid understanding of your customers, how do you connect to them?
The companies that rally around these customers and align their entire business - sales, service, marketing, IT - to engage customers on their terms are called “customer companies.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Get More Referral Sales Leads - Referral Selling

Selling is the best job in the world. We solve problems for our clients, become instrumental in their success, expand their thinking, and build amazing, lasting relationships. No other job gives us the opportunity to truly connect with people and to plug into the pulse of businesses around the globe. 
Picture a sales world where you only meet with clients who want to meet with you—a world in which you never again have to cold call, send cold prospecting emails, or entice prospects with special offers. Enter the world of referral selling and blow your quota out of the water.

The Only Leads That Count

If you love sales, stop the time-wasting, irrelevant, unproductive, frustrating prospecting activities you think you should be doing. Stop sorting leads into cold, warm, and hot. There's only one kind of lead that should be in your pipeline. Only one kind of lead that counts. Only one kind of lead that management cares about. Only one kind of lead you should care about.
That's hot leads—the kind you source through referrals from trusted allies.

The ROI of Referrals

Every seller agrees that referral selling is, hands down, the most effective prospecting strategy. When you prospect through referrals:
  • You bypass the gatekeeper and score meetings with decision-makers every time.
  • Your prospects are pre-sold on your ability to deliver results.
  • You've already earned trust and credibility with your prospects.
  • You convert prospects into clients at least 50 percent of the time (usually more than 70 percent).
  • You land clients who become ideal referral sources for new business.
  • You score more new clients from fewer leads (because all of your leads are qualified).
  • You ace out your competition.

A Referral Without an Introduction is Ice Cold

A referral means you receive a personal introduction (not just a name and contact information) to your prospect. You are introduced to exactly the person you want to meet—someone who expects your call and who actually wants to hear from you. You create a business opportunity that is yours to win. You meet with a potential client, or with someone who may become your advocate within their organization. Either way, you start with someone on your side.
Wouldn’t it be great if all of your business came from referrals? Wouldn’t you rather take a sales call than make a sales call? You'd save time, work with people you like, source only HOT prospects, and close deals faster.
You can. But most sales organizations don’t.

Referral Selling is Common Sense, but Not Common Practice

The business case for referrals is loud and clear:
  • Decision makers will always meet with a referral from someone they know and trust.
  • If your competition gets to the decision-maker first, you’re out of the game.
  • When you get the referral introduction, you win. 
No other sales or marketing strategy delivers such powerful, predictable results. Yet, referrals are the missing link in every company's business-development strategy. Ninety-five percent of companies do not have a written referral-selling strategy, written weekly referral goals, referral-selling skills, accountability for results, or a system to track and measure referrals.
It's time to make referrals the way you sell. Fill your pipeline with only HOT referral prospects, and you’ll never have to worry about hitting your numbers again.

Are You Tapping Into the Power of Referrals?

Take the No More Cold Calling “Referral I.Q. Quiz” to find out if you’re leveraging your referral network. And stay tuned for more blogs on how to get only HOT leads through referrals

Friday, August 2, 2013

20 Customer Service Actions You Should Stop Doing Today

Is your service department performing actions that, despite the best of intentions, may in fact be creating negative impact with your customers?
As part of a national survey, Customer Care Management & Consulting collected the following list of 20 actions performed by service departments that are not well received by customers. Some are obvious. Others, however, may be a surprise to some service leaders.

Negative Actions

The following 10 actions created negative impact with customers.
  1. You're invited to take a satisfaction survey, at the end of the call, using an automated telephone system
  2. While you're on hold, they play a recorded message telling you that you're an important customer
  3. They encourage you to say you're completely satisfied if you receive a satisfaction survey
  4. The agent you talk to uses slang like 'ya', 'ok', or 'uh huh'
  5. They don't play music or any messages while you're on hold - it's just silence
  6. When they transfer you to another department, you have to wait on hold
  7. The agent answering your call has a heavy foreign accent
  8. A recording tells you to call back because of high call volume
  9. They ask you for personal identifying information before you're able to explain why you're calling
  10. When you must use an automated telephone system, the option to talk to a person is offered at the end of the instructions

Very Negative Actions

While the above actions weren't well received, the following 10 actions created even greater negative impact with customers.
  1. A recorded message encourages you to use the company's website
  2. They use an automated telephone system that requires you to speak your answers to a computerized voice
  3. The agent puts you on hold during the call and doesn't update you on what he/she is doing
  4. You must use a telephone book or directory assistance to find the telephone number of the company you're contacting
  5. They play recorded advertisements while you're on hold
  6. They repeat the same message over and over while you're on hold
  7. You can't understand the agent because they talk too quietly or have a heavy accent
  8. They use scripted answers
  9. The agent you talk to uses bad grammar
  10. They interrupt you to ask questions before you're able to explain why you're calling
Are there any points above that surprise you? Is your service department guilty of any of these customer frustrations? Remember, most customers won't actively complain to a company about many frustration points. It's up to your service team to actively solicit these criticisms. Service departments determined to seek out more problem areas and proactively resolve more issues will be the ones winning customer loyalty and, crucially, retaining their revenue for the company.