Friday, February 29, 2008

How To Stop Cold Calling and Start Selling More

Cold Calling is dead. But we still need to know how to communicate well.A few days ago, I got a call from someone trying to sell me on enrolling into one of their online educational programs. I don’t have problem with this. After all, a week before the call, I had clicked on a web page advertisement indicating that I was interested in looking at some information from online universities. We all know that this is a marketing play. It’s a way for the advertising organization to get your information into their database and to filter in the people who are truly interested in their products and services. Today, everybody uses this strategy. It’s an effective and cost effective way to find which prospects are raising their hands and saying, “You have something of interest to me”.

What I have trouble accepting are the ensuing, poorly executed phone calls. The young woman I spoke with on this occasion launched right into her boring, cold calling script. It was so boring and unoriginal that I was in pain listening to it. Every time I asked her a question that threw her off her script, she snapped back to that phone track faster than an over-stretched rubber band suddenly cut. Not only was it a waste of my time, it wasn’t even entertaining. From the tone of the conversation, neither of us wanted to be on the call and neither of us wanted to be rude. Plus, she had a quota to fill. After about 10 minutes of this exercise, we ended the call where she politely thanked me for my time.

Pretty standard stuff as far as cold calls go.

On another occasion, I got a call from a guy who asked for me by name. He said I qualified for a free magazine subscription and all he needed to do was verify some information in order for me to get my free magazine. He then launched into his “read the entire card”, performance.

It was boring! The lack of enthusiasm in his voice didn’t help either.

You can tell when the person on the other end is reading a script. There is no life in their voice and they pause in some linguistically unusual places. My guess is that the misplaced hesitations occur at the end of the line that they are reading. They then have to scan back to the left hand side and find the beginning of the next line, making their speech sound, well, like they are reading a book.

Now, one thing I ask when I am pressed for time and the person just launches right into their script is, “Is this a good time?” It’s a way of saying that I don’t have time right now and they didn’t get permission to move forward in the sales process.

So, while this guy was reading from his card, I stopped him and asked him if this was a good time. He replied, “Yes, it’s a good time for me.” and continued with his boring script!

Cold calling is one of those things that sales people really hate to do. There is a lot of rejection involved and it just seems very ineffective at times. So as sales people, we approach it with some degree of trepidation and an “I don’t want to do this so let’s just get it over with” attitude. I’ve done it myself and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that it isn’t much fun.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a rash of programs proclaiming that cold calling is outdated. Emblazoned with descriptive titles like, Cold Calling Is Dead, No More Cold Calling, and End Cold Calling Forever, they take the approach that cold calling today is a useless activity. If we take the cold calling definition passed down to us from the 50’s, then I’ve to agree that it’s pretty ineffective and cold calling should be buried. Imagine the classic sales rep, going from door-to-door, trying to sell something that he doesn’t truly believe in to someone he’s never met before who has no real need or interest in him or what he’s selling. But he does it because he is told that sales is a numbers game and if he hits plenty of people, he’ll make his numbers.

These new programs all take the approach that it’s a lot better to talk with someone who has agreed to be contacted. These prospects saw something that they liked and they have said, or at least acknowledged, “Yes, I am interested in your online class, widget, or book”. Now the sales rep has a qualified lead or a warm prospect to follow up with. There is a reason to make the call.

Except that the real problem still exists and it’s the problem I hear when people “warm call” me. They don’t know how to effectively communicate the value proposition or conduct the discovery process.

It does not matter if I’ve raised my hand and said, “I’m interested, please contact me”, or if I am a cold call in the traditional sense. I am not interested in buying from someone who is reading from a card and asking me formulaic questions targeted towards the general populace. It shows that they don’t have an understanding of my needs or an interest in helping me get what I want.

Sales is not a numbers game. The prospect you have on the line right now does not want to be treated like a number. They don’t want to be the 98th call you’ve made today. They want to solve their problems and they want to feel special. That prospect is proclaiming, “I am not a number. I am a free man!” (Sorry, just could not help myself).

Even in these “no more cold calling” programs where prospects raise their hand and say that they’re interested, you still have to know what to say and how to say it. That takes communication skills along with a healthy dose of self-confidence in order to put aside your own wants and focus on their needs.

Let's face it. It doesn’t matter how many qualified leads you pump through at the top end of your funnel. If you don’t have enough skill in gaining rapport and communicating with the person who has said that they’re interested, they’ll leave you to go find someone who can fill their need, no matter how enticing your offer. Even if we use the old assertion that sales is a “numbers game”, then “X” number of interested prospects times “0” skill level yields “0” sales and a lot of dissatisfied people.

During my time with Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana, Lance Tyson, the president of the company, has given us a consistent message; your sales production will depend on how you open a sales call. You ability to get the person’s attention and deliver a value proposition that is of value to them will determine your overall effectiveness.

Here are three quick tips that will improve your ability to gain rapport when you cold call a prospect or follow-up on a marketing lead:

  1. Ask a question bearing on time. Ask your contact if it’s a good time for them to have a conversation. They’ll appreciate the fact that you respect their time. If it isn’t a good time, it leaves the door open for you to set up a scheduled meeting at a future date.
  2. Ask for a meeting, not an appointment. You make appointments with your doctor. You make appointments with your dentist. You make appointments with your lawyer. Anytime you make an appointment, it involves money leaving your hands and receiving a fair amount of pain in return. You want to be a consultant for your clients and bring some sanity to their lives. You don’t want to be lumped in the group that takes money and delivers pain. Regardless of the veracity of this association, it is the prevailing perception. In marketing and sales, perception is reality. Ask for a meeting.
  3. Talk about something that interests them. If you are “cold calling”, you’ll have a little harder time doing this, so you’ll have to do some investigative legwork before you call. But if you are following up on a marketing lead, then you already have something that they are interested in. They opted into your marketing program for a reason, regardless if they downloaded a white paper, signed up for a newsletter or checked a box stating that they want your speaking schedule. Politely ask them the reason for requesting your documentation.
Don’t get me wrong. I like programs like Cold Calling is Dead and No More Cold Calling. They show a fundamental shift in how we are thinking about marketing and sales. In the 21st century, it’s important to get the other person’s attention and interest in your product or service, or as Dale Carnegie said, to “arouse in the other person an eager want”. But it’s also important to be genuinely interested in other people and know how to communicate with other people in order to understand their wants, needs and desires.

So regardless if your marketing campaign involves old style cold calling or new style lead generation with follow up calls, develop your communication skills so that you can effectively deliver your value proposition and understand the needs of the people you are calling. You’ll have more happy clients, make more sales and have less stress than other sales reps who are still using old style “cold calling” techniques.

Good selling.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Course Correction For Cleveland Sales Events

Sorry about jumping the gun on this one.

Just came to my attention that there is an adjustment in the sales events happening in the Cleveland area. The workshop, Are You Selling enough, is taking place on Monday, March 10. This program will be happening in Columbus, tonight, February 25, 2000. See the Are You Selling Enough site for the correct dates and locations.

To register for the full-day cold calling seminar occurring in Cleveland, email either Katie Fisher or Marilee Macaskill.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gain Attention By Turning Your Resume Into A Marketing Document

Create job excitement by turning your resume into a true marketing document.I was reviewing the past post from Guy Kawasaki and I noticed another point that he made in his post on getting the job that you really want. It had to do with resumes

The point that Kawasaki made reminded me of a concept written by Jeffrey Fox in his book entitled “Don’t Send a Resume”. In that book, Fox recommends that we get rid of the “Objective” part of the resume. Guy Kawasaki recommends the same thing. The reason that both of them recommend the removal of the “Objective” section is that you have limited time to capture your audience’s attention and the “Objective” section is an outline of what your objectives and targets are.

Your prospective employer doesn’t care about what you want. Do you really want to open your marketing material with something that your target audience doesn’t care about?

While I was undergoing training for being an instructor, one of the things that came up constantly was that nobody cared what we wanted. During our training sessions, invariably one of us promising instructors would say something like, “… and now I want you to do…” and from the back of the room, the master instructor would yell out in a loud, booming voice, “Nobody cares what you want!”

I’ve heard this constantly in my sales training as well. When you sit down to consult with your clients, they really don’t care what you want. They don’t care that your feet are sticking through the floorboard of your car, if our kids have soccer practice at 5:30 or if you haven’t slept for the past 4 days. They only care about solving their current problems and will listen to your sales presentation only as far as it will help them solve those problems.

The same principle applies to the job search. Your prospective employer doesn’t care what you want. They only care about what they want. Just like the client in the sales process, they want to know how to solve their problems and if you can help them solve it.

The third human relations principles we teach in the Dale Carnegie program is arouse in the other person an eager want.

To make this happen, you will need to ask some questions and do some serious listening to understand what your audience really wants. Once you have an idea about what they want, you can use your resume to show how your strengths and skills will help them get it.

If you can help them do that, you are one step ahead in the employment game.

How To Increase Your Sales

Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana is offering two new opportunities in the Cleveland area for professional sales people to gain and practice new sales techniques.

On Feb 25, Dale Carnegie training of Ohio and Indiana will present the introductory workshop, Are You Selling Enough for the first time in the Cleveland area. This program will provide the novice sales professional with a solid basis to launch their sales career as well as giving the seasoned professional some new ideas to try. Register for the introductory seminar, Are You Selling Enough, here.

On Feb 29, 2008, Dale Carnegie of Ohio and Indiana will present the first of four all day workshops in the Northern Ohio area entitled How to Cold Call and Build New Customers. Presented by Kevin Watts, this first seminar will provide details on using phone tactics in a comprehensive sales and marketing strategy designed to increase your sales effectiveness. If you want to make your sales explode, this seminar is for you. Tuition for this program is $249. Register online for How to Cold Call and Build New Customers here.

For other programs in the Cleveland, Ohio area, be sure to visit
www.cleveland.dalecarnegie.com or www.akron.dalecarnegie.com.

Good Selling.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Success Secret # 167: Making This Mistake Can Cost You The Sale!

Criticizing, condemning, and complaining won't help you make your case.  Use good interpersonal skills to build bridges.Barack Obama!

Hillary Rodham Clinton!

The presidential race is dominating our media. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are vigorously vying for our attention and our vote. Regardless of whom you choose to support, there are several sales lessons that we can extract from this presidential race. Here’s one of them.

The campaigns have reached a point where the candidates are starting to point fingers at each other’s real and imagined faults. One of the challenges with finger pointing, however, is that when one finger is pointing at your opposition, there are three fingers pointing back at the source, possibly exposing your own shortcomings.

More importantly, you’re expending energy drawing attention to your opposition instead of focusing on how your solution solves the challenges.

When I was in technology, we actually won several sales because of this mistake. I remember Richard coming back with two systems engineers talking about an opportunity that they had just closed to the tune of $200K. These guys were dancing around like a couple of cavemen who just killed a giant wooly mammoth for the tribe.

When I asked them about the win, they said that it was a tough battle and they described some of the challenges that they faced. But more importantly, only a month before they closed this deal, the client had never heard of us. They had called in one of our competitors to solve a particular problem. The competitor promptly engaged in criticizing us and talking about our shortcomings. This client told us that the competitor talked about us so much that they had to investigate this “other company” themselves. After our first assessment meeting, the client decided to call us back in for a proposal request. They then decided to buy the solution that best solved their issues, which turned out to be our solution.

If you have a product that solves a problem and you have a company that resolves a set of issues, don’t waste your time talking about how the competition can’t step up to the challenge. You’re drawing attention away from yourself and giving attention to your competition. Your prospect may decide to test the competition for themselves and you could lose the opportunity.

Back in 1932, when How To Win Friends And Influence People was first published, Dale Carnegie noted that in order to be successful, one of the things that we needed to do was to stop criticizing, condemning and complaining. We need to focus on solutions, not problems. And in order to make the sale, we need to focus on what we can do and what we want to accomplish, not on the misgivings or the faults of our competitors.

Take a lesson from Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, my former competitors, and Dale Carnegie. Focus on what you do best and less on the shortcomings of your competitors. Eventually, even the competition will promote you.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mcgohan Brabender And Dale Carnegie Training Of Ohio Shows You How To Build Sales Teams

McGohan BrabenderOhio Valley’s premier sales training coach, Lance Tyson, in conjunction with McGohan Brabender, will be presenting two sales seminars in Southern Ohio within the next few weeks.

In the first seminar entitled Successful Sales Leadership, Lance will address the necessary requirements and skills for coaching a successful sales team. This workshop is essential for anyone in a sales coaching position or for anyone looking to increase the overall effectiveness of their sales teams. This seminar will be held in Dayton on February 21.

Then, on March 4, Lance will be in Cincinnati performing a workshop entitled Sales Execution. In this workshop, Lance will address the other side of the equation, helping sales people and teams leverage their skills to be more efficient and effective in executing the sales process.

If you are involved in any part of the sales process, looking to update your current sales process, or looking to create a new sales process, then you do not want to miss these programs.

Conducted by Lance Tyson, these seminars are sponsored by McGohan Brabender, one of the largest independent employee benefits brokerage and communication firms in the country. You can find more information on these events and register for these events at the McGohan Brabender MB Learning Center Dayton location and the MB Learning Center Cincinnati location.

9th Annual Cleveland Cavaliers Career Fair

9th Annual Cleveland Cavaliers Career Fair presented by Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana You may not be able to dunk like LeBron James, but you can make a major impact on your career in the coming days.

On Tuesday, February 19, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in conjunction with Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana will present the 9th annual Cleveland Cavaliers Career Fair.

This will be an opportunity to meet with representatives from some of the hottest organizations in the region including the Cleveland Cavaliers, The Cleveland Browns, The Cleveland Indians, The Detroit Pistons and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It will also be an excellent opportunity to exercise your networking skills, promote yourself and get a game in at the same time.

Now is the time to rediscover the excitement that is right here in Ohio. So, take some time to update your resume and get it ready for distribution. You can register for the 9th annual Cleveland Cavaliers career fair on the Cavaliers site right here.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

More Ideas On Getting The Job Or The Job Promotion.

Enthusiasm is the little recognized secret to success.About a week ago, a friend of mine out in California sent me an email with a link to a blog post. The post was about getting a job and he wanted to know some of my thoughts on the information posted. The information was from Guy Kawasaki, former marketing evangelist for Apple Computer and now venture capitalist. Kawasaki typically writes with his tongue firmly in his cheek. But he made some very salient points on this post. We would do well to heed these ideas even if we aren’t looking for a job in Silicon Valley.

The biggest piece of advice Kawasaki offers is listed at the top before anything else: you need to have passion for what you do or what you want to do. This doesn’t mean that you are:

  • Investigating the viability of this particular opportunity.
  • Doing your research.
  • Out to see if this stuff really works.

This means that you are 100%, totally, and completely passionate about what you want to do.

You have to be so excited about your endeavor that you are willing to jump in with both feet. Passionate people love what they do and they reach their goals regardless of the obstacles. Passionate people are willing to bet on themselves and make things happen. They aren’t afraid of making a mistake or two. And they sweep everyone else along in the excitement.

I like what Tom Peters stated in his book, ReImagine:
“If you’re only dipping your toe in the water, don’t expect splashy results.”

For as long as I can remember, I was told that at some point in my life, I would have to grow up, stop playing and take on some responsibility. Work was not something that you enjoyed, but tolerated because you had to do it. You did the stuff you enjoyed after you put in your eight hours or after you retired.

Passion was definitely not a part of the equation.

Back then, people who enjoyed their work were considered workaholics with deep-seated psychological issues or they just were not serious about life. This may have been a formula for success in the 60s and the 70s. Today, however, if you aren't enjoying what you do in your job and career, you're headed for disaster.

Dan Kennedy, one of the top direct marketers in the country, states in his No BS business book series that he doesn’t consider himself a workaholic, even if he does work 20 hours out of the day. He simply loves what he does. He doesn’t consider what he does “work”. As far as he is concerned, he’s playing, and he makes some serious money in the process.

Another word for passion is enthusiasm.

Dale Carnegie wrote that enthusiasm is the little recognized secret of success. He even wrote a small booklet on enthusiasm that is given out to all participants of the Dale Carnegie Course. The only other way to get one of these booklets is to convince someone who has taken the course to give you theirs.

Back then, Dale Carnegie recognized that in every successful endeavor that he undertook, enthusiasm was a key factor. His enthusiasms and passion eventually led to the creation of the Dale Carnegie programs that we have today.

So if you are looking for a promotion, are about to go on a job interview, or you are about to start a business, take time out between reviewing the corporate websites and ask yourself:

  1. Am I excited about what these people are creating?
  2. Are the people that work there excited about what they are doing?
  3. Are the people that buy the product excited about the product and the company?
  4. If I project myself 6 months into the future after the day I am hired, am I still excited about what I am doing for the company?

Bottom line, discover where your passion lies, find a company that's doing the same thing, and show the executives there how you can help them. You will have a lot more fun in the process over doing the same thing that everyone else is doing.

At the end of the day, doing what you enjoy and having fun is what life is really all about.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sales Secret #137: Use Evidence To Defeat Objections And Win Sales

Defeat your objections by using supporting evidence.In the Dale Carnegie Course and the Sales Advantage Course, we have a formula for remembering the types of evidence that participants can use to support their position in a discussion or a sales presentation.

When we are engaged in expressing our opinions, or selling our products, services and ideas, we encounter less resistance when we can supply some additional information that supports our claims. In the Dale Carnegie Course, participants have an opportunity to practice a method for supplying the various forms of evidence in making their case more persuasive. In that process, we use multiple forms of evidence which can be remembered by using the acronym DEFEATS.

The various forms of evidence are as follows:

Demonstrations: Show the operation of the product you are promoting.
Exhibits: A physical representation for your audience to focus on.
Facts: Something about your product that is measurable.
Examples: A situation where your service performed well.
Analogies: Compare your idea to something that is easily understood.
Testimonials: Written or spoken support from one of your clients.
Statistics: Numbers gathered about your product's performance in certain circumstances.

In explaining the various forms, I like what one of our sales instructors said in class when the discussion turned to selling hi-tech equipment.

Often, when selling technical equipment, we carried a small, portable machine to show the potential client, giving them a chance to touch and feel the unit. In this particular class, we were discussing the different forms of evidence and how to use the different forms when engaging a technical audience. One participant asked, “How can we tell the difference between an exhibit and a demonstration?”

The instructor said, “If I hold my demo unit up high for all to see, it’s an exhibit. If I start to turn knobs and press buttons, then it’s a demonstration. If I talk about how other clients are using it, it’s an example. If I let the client talk about it themselves, either through a letter or a recording, then it’s a testimonial.”

When considering evidence, remember that certain audiences will relate to some forms better than others. Technical people love to see things in action, so a hands-on demonstration will probably go over well with this crowd. Executives, on the other hand, prefer to see the big picture and the want to know about other executives who are taking advantage of your offer. They may relate better to examples and testimonials. Money people, like the CFO and the accountant, are typically more detailed oriented. So, statistics and facts will probably be more useful with those audiences.

As always, these are generalizations. Do your research on your target audience before going in so you can tailor the presentation and the supporting evidence to make the best case for your product, service or idea.

When you’re out there making your sales presentations, always keep some forms of evidence with you. It will make your sales process and your life a lot easier.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Learn To Sell To Your Boss

Learning to sell to your boss shows her that you have confidence and that you can get the job done.I had an interesting experience about a month ago. I was working with one of our marketing people in the office. We had a marketing project that needed to be executed and we needed to present some ideas to the executive team. Naturally, the marketing person I was working with is bright, energetic and had several good ideas on how to move this particular project forward.

We tested her ideas by running them through various different mental models and took several different viewpoints. I then threw her a curve ball by asking this question: “Can you sell this to our CEO?”

When I attend networking meetings, this question seems to draw many blank stares, curious looks and even a small amount of trepidation from almost everybody I ask. Sales people who have no problem selling to high level executives in their major accounts become confounded when it comes time to sell an idea to their own executives.

Truth is, top-level executives adore people who have good ideas, who are able to sell these ideas, and can make something happen. After all, the more you do, the less they have to do. And the less they have to do, the more they can focus on the things that only they can do.

Besides, we are sales people. We should never stop selling.

It does not matter if we are in front of a customer, at home with our spouses or even with our bosses.

When I was selling technology, I was working with an account manager on one of our major accounts. We were putting together a proposal for this account and we needed to allocate some continuing engineering resources to resolve an issue. In order to secure those resources, we had to make a presentation to the executives at our company.

Scott was understandably nervous and he had some performance anxiety when he thought about performing in front of our executive team. The manager of the major accounts team, Don, was in town helping him and gave him some coaching. He told Scott that he would do fine and there would be no problem as long as he remembered his training. Don then said, “You know, we have all of these great sales and presentation skills that we acquire in our career, and we use them very well when we are in front of a client. When we have to make a presentation to our own executives, however, we forget all about them.”

Sales professionals have said that sales is a transfer of emotion from the person doing the selling to the person being sold. Somewhere in time, the concept of sales got tied to the common definition we currently use involving a transference of money.

Sales is a communication style. We are all sales people and we are always in a position to sell. It doesn’t matter if the person being sold is a traditional buyer in a client company, a junior member of our project team, or an executive in our own company. We need to transfer our excitement and enthusiasm. The only way we can do that is by selling and communicating persuasively.

We would do well to remember Don’s advice and trust our training regardless of our situation or environment. Follow Don’s advice and remember that we are always selling.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sales Secret #142: Wow Your Prospects With This Little Used Procedure That Makes A Big Difference

Use an agenda on your next sales call and you'll be perceived as a businessperson who sells.There I was, sitting in front of my laptop typing up a document when I got an email from Richard.

About thirty minutes earlier, he had approached me with a fair sized enterprise storage opportunity he was working on. He told me a little of what the prospect wanted, brought up four major points and asked if it was technically doable.

Actually, it was a no brainer.

So I told him yes, that we could do what the client was looking to accomplish.

He also asked what times I would be available for meeting with the client. So I gave him a few time slots of availability and he trotted off to do what ever it was he was doing.

A half an hour after our conversation, the email arrived in my inbox. It was addressed to the prospect and I was carbon copied on it. In the email, Richard essentially thanked the prospect for meeting with him earlier in the week and reviewed some of what they had talked about. It also mentioned me as the technical member of his team.

Richard then outlined four key points that he wanted to cover in the next meeting, the same four points that he had asked me about earlier, and asked if either of the time slots worked better for their team. He also asked if the bulleted points were indicative of the things that they wanted to touch on and if they had any additions that they wanted to make to the agenda.

The prospect replied in less than an hour stating that Richard had summed up what they wanted and that they had no other additions.

The next meeting went extremely well and we ended up selling a $150K solution to the new client.

Richard was the consummate sales representative. He spent years as a sales rep for IBM selling some pretty high-end equipment. He acquired a variety of serious skills and techniques along the way that served us well when we were together at this storage company.

Richard focused on being a consultant, creating business value for his clients. He was not interested in learning the tricks of the trade, using the latest gimmicks or any of the various fancy closes. He created success for his clients and they trusted him for it.

Using an agenda to set up your sales calls is one way to establish rapport with your clients. Its one way of stating that you value their time, and that you want to understand what they are looking for. When you send an agenda, you send a message that you mean business.

It establishes you as a businessperson that sells and provides value to your client.

Using an agenda is so easy to do, yet so few sales reps actually take the time to create one. They forget that a sales meeting is a business meeting, and all business meetings flow smoother when there is an agenda to for all parties to follow.

If you want to stand out in the minds of your clients and create a favorable impression, use an agenda to set up your sales meeting. Not only will your meeting flow smoothly, but your clients will appreciate the value that you bring to the relationship.