It’s All About Them

At One of a Kind Sales, I lead a team that does cold calling of prospects to set up initial meetings for our clients. Companies like ours often use one of two methods to accomplish this: either the ‘features and benefits’ approach or the consultative selling method. I have a strong preference for the consultative selling method.

‘Features and Benefits’ Selling Focuses on You

When you’re selling using the ‘features and benefits’ approach, you’re focusing attention on yourself and your offering. The core messaging centers on how the offering’s features will benefit the prospect. These kinds of conversations feel more like a hard sell, and I believe that they are perceived that way as well by the prospect.  From the moment the conversation starts there’s little focus on understanding where the prospect fits in the equation. Because of this, features and benefits selling tends to lead to more immediate rejections.

When cold calling using the ‘features and benefits” approach the objective is normally to schedule 15 minutes with a prospect to talk to them in greater depth. But this is 15 minutes spent with a client that has not been qualified. I can’t image that anyone would think this is a good use of time.  We also find that appointments arranged using the ‘features and benefits’ approach result in a high percentage of ‘no shows.’

Consultative Selling Centers on the Prospect’s Needs

In Consultative Selling, the prospect is the focus of the discussion. The discussion is about their needs and challenges with the objective of determining whether they are a fit for our solution. Then, and only then do we schedule an initial meeting. We request a 30-minute initial conversation. During that meeting we continue our conversation with the prospect about their specific situation. This approach fits with what we know about psychology of most buyers: it’s all about them, not about us. In our experience, the consultative selling approach has yielded higher quality initial meetings and an overall higher conversion rate.

If you’re in sales and you’re transitioning from a ‘features and benefits’ approach to consultative selling, you’ll end up sharpening your skills. Admittedly the transition may be somewhat uncomfortable because you are accustomed to talking about the offering right away. As salespeople, we are excited about what we are selling and have a natural desire to talk about it.  But delaying this gratification and focusing on the prospect’s needs first results in a better qualified prospect.  You’ll have a greater likelihood of being able to close a deal.

At One of a Kind Sales, we love to do cold calling.  We also train inside sales teams to do cold calling.  If you’d like to discuss how we can help move your business to the next level by increasing your sales opportunities reach out to us at 908-879-2911.

Optimism increases Sales

They say that optimists see the glass as half full. I say that optimists see a full sales pipeline!

Let me explain.

Which would you rather spend time with – a person who is grumpy and glum or a positive, happy person? I would take the positive one every time! And when making cold calls, that positive attitude can be the difference between keeping a prospect on the phone until they set an appointment and having them hang up.

Now don’t get me wrong, hang ups happen, and sometimes, if they weren’t a good fit, that works in your favor – saving you time and effort. But if you want to keep people on the phone long enough to see if they ARE a good fit, a positive outlook is key.

Put on those ‘Rose Colored Glasses’.

Optimism is defined as “A tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.”

In a business where so much of your day can be determined by the actions of others, it is great to know that this is something you can drive. What you ‘expect’ and what you ‘dwell on’ are both within YOUR control.

Control those and you gain more control over your results.

Data supports the claim.

Studies show that optimists outsell pessimists, in some cases by many times over! Here is an example of the results from a study done by Dr Martin Seligman, an expert in ‘positive psychology’, from just two industries:

                  Insurance 

                  Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 38 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 88 percent.

                  Real Estate 

                  Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 33 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by a whopping 319 percent. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to be unrealistically optimistic. You need to be able to acknowledge challenges and obstacles. I am suggesting that you confidently address them and move one. That you focus on the silver lining rather than the clouds. Don’t dwell on the hang-ups or the unanswered calls, rather, focus on the person you are going to speak with next. Be present and enjoy meeting them. Learn about their needs and see how you can help!  

And yes, you can take this too far. Being blindly optimistic can be detrimental to your sales goals. Sitting at your desk, or worse yet, on a distant beach, imagining that prospects will start calling YOU probably won’t fill your pipeline.  

But a good dose of optimism WILL boost your confidence, your outlook and your bottom line! 

For more on this see our post Control What You Can in Sales and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter for daily sales tips, advice and periodic boosts of optimism!

A Better Approach to Cold Calling

According to the RAIN Group, a sales training and consulting firm, 58% of prospects say they currently find cold calls useless. Wow! Are YOU wasting YOUR time making ‘useless’ calls? Here is a better approach to Cold Calling.

What is a ‘useless’ call? 

If a prospect is finding your call ‘useless’, it is a good bet that you are calling people and doing what I call the “F&B Dump”. You are dumping a bunch of information, about the Features and Benefits of your product or services, on whoever is unlucky enough to pick up your call. 

That, or you are monopolizing the call with info about you, you, you.

Or maybe you are just launching into a hard sales pitch.

Or worst of all, you do all of the above!

A better approach to Cold Calling 

A better approach to Cold Calling is to start by confirming who you are speaking with. Make sure they are a decision maker and that they actually have a minute to speak with you. If they don’t, set up a time that works better for them. You are both busy, why waste each other’s time?

Asking permission like this can set you apart from all the other cold callers they encounter and sets you up for a CONVERSATION, among equals.

Make sure they are worth YOUR time 

Once you are speaking with them – not talking AT them or SELLING them, you should have a few, tightly scripted questions you can ask to determine if they have a need for your product or services.

Ask your questions and then really LISTEN to their answers. Use that information to determine if they are worth pursuing. If they are not a good fit, ask for a referral or a recommendation of someone they know who might need your product or services and then exit the call (click here for more on how to ask for a referral)

Make it worth THEIR time 

Another sales study found that 84% of buyers complain that sales reps are annoying in their efforts to convince them to buy.

If prospects are finding YOU annoying (as evidenced by rushing off the call, hanging up or otherwise uninterested in speaking with you) it is probably because you have either rushed to the sales pitch or bowled over them with all your talking.  

The initial cold call is not for hard selling – it is an exploratory call to see if they are a good fit. Going into sell mode will definitely annoy your prospect. 

Respect their time, identify if they have a need you can fill and if they ARE a good fit, move to set up a first meeting. (click here for what to cover in that meeting) 

Useless calls are a waste of time for you AND your prospects. Use our approach to have real conversations that convert to qualified appointments and sales. 

Need help? We train salespeople in the skills and tactics that deliver RESULTS – give us a call at 908-879-2911 to learn more!

High Kicks, Basketball and Sales

Back in High School, I was the co-captain of our Kick Line Squad where we cheered on our sports teams by performing precision dance routines in the style made famous by the Rockettes.  

This came up the other day on a call with a basketball playing colleague. I mentioned that basketball had been my favorite team to cheer for. I loved the energy, the pace and, most importantly at the time, that it was played indoors! 

Though, I said, I don’t know why they didn’t give each team 100 points and let them just play that last 5 minutes of the last period since that always seemed to be when the game was won or lost. It always seemed to be a tie til those last plays. 

My colleague quickly pointed out, ‘No, no, no! You are missing the point.’ Basketball, he explained, is a game of ENDURANCE. It is a game won or lost based on the focus and stamina of the players over that entire 48 minutes – all four of those 12-minute periods. Yes, it may come down to the last play at the buzzer but the team that trained and practiced and stayed focused the entire game, will be the one who wins. 

I got it. And I immediately realized the similarity to the SALES process! 

Sales too, is a ‘game of endurance’. It can be a tiring slog and can frequently come down to a last minute play – a close – at the buzzer, but it is the player and team that has trained, focused and practiced that will more reliably deliver and more importantly, succeed. 

Do you and your team train regularly? When was the last time you actually had someone ‘coach’ you on your sales approach, scripting and tactics? 

At One of a Kind Sales, we train you and your team on the sales tactics and techniques that WORK. Then we monitor progress and meet to track and improve delivery. This work helps ensure that you can get past all the ‘no’s’, properly identify and convert the ‘yeses’, to deliver the leads and sales you and your company need to succeed.  

Think YOU or YOUR team could benefit from some sales ‘coaching’? Click here to set up a time to discuss how we can get YOU and YOUR team into the big leagues!

More Sales tips and advice:

Successful Cold Calling Starts with Asking Permission

Overcoming Cold Calling Objections

A Step by Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success: Step 3 How to Overcome Objections – Pt 2

This is Part 2 of our post on how to Overcome Objections when Sales Prospecting. (Click here to see Part 1)  

Objections are often a Salesperson’s nightmare, keeping them up at night and making them reluctant to pick up the phone to make calls in the first place. Knowing you will face objections and having a plan and scripting to address and overcome them, is a sure way to reduce some of the frustration. Here are some techniques for re-directing discussions once objections have been raised.

  • Say something they DON’T expect

Frequently, when on a call or in a meeting with a Prospect, we can find ourselves going into ‘sales’ mode. And Prospects, in response, will go into ‘defense’ mode. You are using all the stereotypical ‘sales’ techniques and they are responding in kind. But that gets you nowhere.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, I suggest saying something they do not expect. Rather than doing and saying what is EXPECTED – a classic hard sell – we can approach it differently in order to get a different, more positive, response. We show our people how to ‘sell’ differently – in our case, through conversation and building relationships – and Prospects respond differently, by trusting us and doing business with us.

When someone says, ‘we’re good’, they often think that will get them off the hook. With most salespeople, that means the conversation is over. You can change the outcome by continuing to talk with them, asking them ‘gee, what are you doing right?’. By continuing to be curious, you are no longer pushing a ‘sales call’ but you shift it to ‘having a conversation’.

  • Stay curious

The goal is to keep Prospects talking about their problems. You do this through questioning and listening. When a Prospect starts speaking, you begin ACTIVE listening.

Follow up with questions and make statements such as:

“Wow, I can’t believe it’s been going on that long”

OR

“Wow, that must be frustrating! Tell me more.”

Sometimes you may need to play ‘Dummy’ to keep the conversation going, saying something like:

“Gee, you know, I’m really not sure I am getting it, can you please explain that again?”

Stay curious. Include statements and questions which will elicit conversation. LISTEN to their answers.

  • Call their bluff

Sometimes, Prospects will say, ‘We don’t need help, everything is great!’. I suggest asking more questions or making more statements and possibly calling their bluff. You can say something like:

“Wow! So, you and your sales team will hit your quota, even despite the pandemic? How have you managed to do that?”

This will allow you to continue the conversation and to learn more. If they ARE in fact in great shape, you may not be able to help but might learn some insights about how the organization works. If they are NOT doing as well as they originally said, it is an opportunity to add value and to continue the conversation.

No matter what, be POLITE! We are trying to create relationships here, not burn any bridges.

  • Rule of 3

I train our salespeople to address objections and stalls three times. After that, if the Prospect is still not on board, I suggest you ask for the referral and move on.

  • Memorize your script

Yes, hearing obstacles may feel like a kick to the stomach but by expecting them, have SCRIPTED responses (which you have memorized) and being prepared, you can take much of the sting out of them.

  • Stay UNemotional

Stay unemotional – this is NOT a verdict on your self-worth or a personal failure. It is a ‘no’. And this is a business where you will hear a LOT of no’s. Move on, your next call is waiting to be made – Keep Dialing and get to that ‘YES’!

If you or your sales team need help with scripting or preparing to address obstacles, give us a call TODAY at 908-879-2911- we provide the words, encouragement and support you need to face obstacles like a PRO!

Other posts in this Step by Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success series:

Step 1 – The Cold Call

Step 2 – The First Meeting

Step 3 – Part 1: How to Overcome Objections

Step 4 – The Close

More tips on how to overcome objections:

Send me an Email

A Step by Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success: Step 3 How to Overcome Objections – Pt. 1

This is the third post in our Step-by-Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success. In the first post, we covered the Cold CallThat call culminated in setting an appointment for a ‘First Meeting’ which was step two. Here, in step three, we will show you how to overcome objections you are likely to face when working with Prospects. Since this is such an important topic and so key to a Salesperson’s success, we have broken this into multiple parts. Here is Part 1. 

Objections are often a Salesperson’s nightmare – they keep them up at night and make them reluctant to pick up the phone to make calls in the first place. Knowing you will face them and having a plan and scripting to address and overcome them, is a sure way to reduce some of the frustration. 

  • Objections at the BEGINNING of the relationship 

If you are frequently encountering objections right at the beginning of the relationship with a Prospect, it may be that you are coming on too strong. You may be sounding pushy or ‘salesy’ and making the prospect uncomfortable. If they are feeling that they are being ‘sold too’ or not listened to, it is likely that they will balk and throw up more obstacles.  

As we mentioned in Step One: The Cold Callthe Cold Call is NOT a sales call. It is a time to listen and learn. Eliminate objections by making it about THEM, not you or your services. 

  • Pricing 

Price will almost ALWAYS be a point of contention. No one wants to feel like they are paying more than necessary or that they aren’t getting the best deal possible. Focus on the value you and your services ADD and what they will LOSE by NOT investing in them rather than spending time talking about the specific dollars and cents. 

  • Deflections and Stalls 

A typical stall is when a Prospect says, ‘send me an email’. Or when they say, ‘We tried this in the past and it didn’t work’. Sometimes this type of response comes as, ‘We are good‘ or ‘We are happy with what we have’.  

When you hear something like this, I suggest leaning INTO it. Say something like, ‘Gee, how did you get so lucky?’ or ‘Wow, I don’t usually hear that – what are you doing right?’. This is NOT what they are used to hearing from a salesperson and underscores that you want to have a CONVERSATION. You want to LISTEN to what they are saying and doing. The information you gain from these conversations will help you better tailor your responses and offerings.  

  • Happy with the status quo 

A frequent obstacle is when a Prospect says, ‘I am happy with my current provider’. I will be honest with you, when someone has a provider that they are happy with and have been with for over 15 years, it IS hard to capture that business but there are a few tactics to try.  

Ask, ‘when was the last time you had a third party review your policy or services?’ or ‘would you be open to seeing what options a new vendor can offer?’. The goal is to keep the conversation going so you can uncover more info and identify the Prospect’s pain points. 

  • Ask for the truth 

In our post, ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’, we talked about how you want to be honest with Prospects and you want them to be honest with you as well. If it sounds like they are blowing you off, ask, ‘often, when someone says this to me, it is just to get me off the phone. If that is the case here, it’s OK to let me know. I don’t want to waste your time nor mine. I would rather you be honest with me.’ 

And if it really is the end of the call, remember to ask for the referral. Even if they haven’t done work with you, they may know someone who could use your services, so be sure to ask! 

  • Setting an appointment just to get you off the phone 

Sometimes, in our excitement to set an appointment, we can get too pushy. And that can lead to people setting appointments they have no intention of attending, just to get you off the phone.

Be cognizant of this and don’t push for an appointment if it is not qualified and agreed to.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this post when we show you some techniques for re-directing conversations that are not going as planned.

And if you or your sales team need help with scripting or preparing to address obstacles, give us a call at 908-879-2911 – we can give you the words, encouragement and support you need to face obstacles like a PRO! 

Other posts in this Step by Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success series:

Step 1 – The Cold Call

Step 2 – The First Meeting

Step 3 – Part 2: How to Overcome Objections

Step 4 – The Close

More tips on how to overcome objections:

Send me an Email