Communicating your expertise and product knowledge to your prospect leads to a successful sale:
I came across this question in a session with a world-class expert in the Sandler selling method. This is one that can spark a lot of debate.
I’m aware that many salespeople are trained to be product experts. In fact, product or service training may be the lion’s share of the formal training that they receive from their company. Often, salespeople are coached to share their knowledge in order to establish their expertise with a prospect. This might be because the business perceives that the offering is so differentiated that once a prospect fully understands it they will jump at the opportunity. So, an encyclopedic knowledge of the offering and the ability to communicate it is often perceived as a major sales success factor for a salesperson.
However, consider the problems that could arise with this approach. What if we miss something critical because we are so busy “communicating” about our offering? When we first meet with a prospect, I believe it’s important to let the prospect communicate with us. What are their current issues? Why are they even talking to us about our offering? What problems are they trying to solve? If we move into “presentation mode” without knowing the answers to these questions, we risk losing the prospect’s attention by not addressing their core concerns. In order to get at these concerns, we need to take the time to ask the right questions and then engage in active listening so that the prospect can communicate with us and so that we can internalize what they are saying. We need a two-way conversation and, particularly early in the discussion, it’s ideal if the prospect does most of the talking. This is where we learn what we need to know in order to confirm if they are a good fit for our solution and then close the sale.
So what’s my answer to this question?
False: I’ve concluded that product knowledge and expertise aren’t enough to close the sale.
Avoid getting into the “nuts and bolts” of a product presentation immediately with a prospect.
Slow down and take the time to get to know prospects in order to learn what motivates them.
When you truly understand their situation, you can then start to use your understanding of your offering to highlight how your solution will make a real difference for them. In my experience, taking this approach will improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love to sell and are lifelong learners when it comes to selling. Cold calling is our specialty. If your business needs help with getting appointments with qualified prospects, give us a call at 908-879-2911.
In this post, I will show you the results of our End of Year, 2021 Prospecting Survey and share my takeaways.
First, a big thank you to everyone who participated – I truly appreciate your taking the time to share your experience!
The survey was short, only 3 questions. The goal was to see what is working for YOU and to identify YOUR preferred methods of prospecting.
People were allowed to pick multiple options and to write in any that were not on the list.
The first question was: “What mode of communication is most effective for you when prospecting?”
As you can see from the screenshot above, Email came in first. As a die-hard Cold Calling fan, I was happy to see that Phone Calls came in a close second.
And I will note that one person wrote in, ‘direct mail’ as their choice.
Which tactics do YOU prefer?
The next question was, “What is YOUR preferred mode of communication when prospecting?”
Someone wrote in Direct Mail for this question as well.
It was interesting to see the same first and second place entries and I wonder if some of this is because people tend to use the tactics they are most comfortable with.
The third question asked people to indicate their age range. We did have a good mix of participants and because there weren’t any large discrepancies in the results, I didn’t drill down to cross reference by age.
I was surprised that LinkedIn came in so low. Clearly, more people need to tap into the power of that platform. I will address this in a future post.
And it seems that video is also underused. As much as I LOVE Cold Calling, it really is only one part of a comprehensive outreach plan. Remember to use all tools at your disposal!
Some takeaways and insights
Again, it is clear that people are still uncomfortable picking up the phone and talking to a stranger. They are still more comfortable with text or email – but neither of those tactics offer human connection. And we KNOW that human connection drives engagement and sales.
A lot of people think they need to reach out to a potential prospect via email before cold calling – to ‘warm them up’. That is a falsehood. Emails don’t warm anyone up and opening an email doesn’t mean they read it. When they pick up a phone, at least you KNOW you are talking to them.
And you know that you are standing out. Not lost in a sea of emails in an inbox.
We have found, over and over, that people are happy to talk to strangers – it is just how you approach it.
When you launch into selling mode or start off by listing your features and benefits you can be sure they will be turned off and disconnect.
No one cares about Features and Benefits – they are busy and care only about their own world. Showing them that you understand that world and explaining how your service and insights can help them succeed and get ahead in that world, IS of interest!
ADDING value to the prospect’s day and business is all that matters. Focus there.
You must keep in mind that what the person values is key – not necessarily what you are there to sell. And to understand what they value, you need to ask the right questions and LISTEN to the answers!
Click on the links below for some articles on the right questions to ask and how to actively listen:
To all of those who didn’t choose Cold Calling as a tactic that works for them, I challenge you to TRY it!
I don’t mean to just pick up the phone and dial. I mean to really set up an effective Cold Calling Campaign and see the results. Or better yet, have us implement one for you (click here to learn more about how we can make Cold Calls and set qualified appointments for YOU.
What do YOU think?
If you didn’t participate and you would like to take the brief survey, click here
I will keep it live through the end of March and I will revisit/ revise this post if there are any significant changes.
I want to get straight to the point and address the elephant in the room. Covid is still raging and its presence is still impacting our businesses. We have made some headway and there is reason to expect the year to improve but for now, I want to give you some advice for selling during covid – a 2022 edition.
2021 brought us a vaccine and a bit of freedom. It also brought us face-to-face with some things we never really had to address before.
Supply Chain Issues
Supply chain interruptions have disrupted businesses of all stripes. The medical supply, electronics and automotive industries have been hit hardest but if you manufacture ANYTHING, it’s a good bet that these supply breakdowns have affected your ability to build and deliver your products. Things are starting to get back up to speed but you need to keep these disruptions in mind and be sensitive to those whose businesses and bottom lines have been negatively impacted.
Yes, you should stay optimistic, but be cognizant of your prospects’ struggles.
Business As UNusual
Business structures have also changed, in some cases, quite radically. On one hand, you have companies that are back up and running, in person, as they were before the pandemic. On the other hand, there are some that have embraced a new, virtual only, existence. And many are still figuring it all out, trying to make some hybrid of the two, work.
Don’t assume that everyone you call is sitting at a desk in an office or that they are still just down the hall from the decision makers. Be aware of the multitude of configurations now in play and be flexible. Ask what method of communication works best for them and then use it. Selling during covid means that now, more than ever, being flexible and adaptable is mandatory.
Patience is a Virtue – and a Real Necessity
In addition to adapting to these new work logistics, most of us are also juggling numerous personal, family and health changes and challenges. People may have shorter fuses and less patience. Remember that this is in no way a reflection of your worth or skill.
Ask people if it is a good time to talk. If it isn’t, ask when might be better. Be patient and you will be rewarded with their time and attention.
Do NOT Waste Time
When you are able to speak with someone, make sure that you are ready! It is very rare that people ever really have time to kill but for most prospects, time is tighter than ever. Be considerate and don’t waste their time – or your own.
Do NOT Sound Salesy
It is NEVER a good plan to go into hard-sell mode or to sound salesy. But with people’s time and patience stretched thin, sounding like you are trying to sell them something just isn’t going to work.
How are Things Still the Same?
As much as things have changed, most of our tried and true tactics are still effective.
As Mark Hunter pointed out recently, the new year levels the field. We are ALL starting at zero. The high performers, those that missed their goals last year and everyone in between. Don’t focus on the last year, but the one ahead.
Your Mindset Will Determine Your Outcome
Keep your eyes on the horizon. Focus on what you want to have accomplished by December of this year and stay optimistic.
First, I check that they have a plan. I can’t tell you how many companies that just ‘wing’ this. Doing it when they have time, having random people do it for them, ignoring it when they aren’t successful and generally just kind of hoping something will work.
If this is the case, the first thing needed is to get a plan in place.
We help companies set up and train their own inhouse prospecting teams. Or our highly trained Cold Calling experts can do your appointment setting for you. Either way, it starts with a plan designed to meet YOUR goals.
Our plans include scripting as well as role playing to ensure proper implementation.
You can have a well-designed, highly customized plan, with excellent scripts but if your people are not following it or have no clue how to properly approach and engage with prospects, it probably WON’T work.
We train our clients’ teams so they understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, how often they need to make calls and what to say on those calls. We prepare them, monitor them, review their progress and assist as needed.
Properly trained people have better attitudes and higher success rates.
Lack of Patience
If someone is complaining that a properly implemented plan, by a well-trained team is not working, my next question is, ‘how long have they been working the plan?’ Unsurprisingly, when the answer is ‘a week’ or even, ‘a month’ the reason is that they haven’t given it enough time.
Our time-proven process works by reaching out to people, continuously, over time to build relationships with qualified prospects. It is then up to you to nurture those relationships and convert them to closed sales. We can help with that as well, but it does take some time.
Some Industries have a shorter timeframe from initial call til close, than others. This is to be expected and planned for. An unrealistic expectation can lead to frustration and a pre-mature end to what would otherwise have been a productive plan.
Not sure how to set realistic expectations for YOUR team? We have extensive experience in many industries – give us a call to see how we can help YOU more effectively reach YOUR most qualified prospects and close more sales!
Sales Prospecting WORKS!
Sales prospecting isn’t a silver bullet – it isn’t a single shot, quick fix. But it does work successfully, across industries, to keep your sales funnel full of qualified leads. If you aren’t prospecting, you are leaving money on the table. Call us today at 908.879.2911 to see how we can help YOU prospect effectively to keep YOUR sales funnel full!
Salespeople often want to know, ‘how long should a Cold Call last?’ Here are some guidelines and advice.
According to a Sales Hacker stat from Jan 2021, “The most striking difference between cold calls that result in a meeting and those that don’t comes down to how long you can keep the prospect on the phone.”
Successful calls, which they defined as resulting in a “held, follow-up meeting”, lasted on average, [5:50] minutes vs [3:14] for unsuccessful calls.
This aligns with my advice which is that Cold Calls should be between 4 – 9 minutes long.
Calls that last less than [4:00] minutes don’t give you enough time to get the information you need and/or reflect the prospect’s lack of interest and attention.
Cold Calls that go beyond [9:00] minutes DO NOT usually result in a meeting. And if you are on for 11, 12 13 minutes, that is usually just wasted time.
It is important to remember that you don’t want to get into a lengthy conversation. If you are on too long, you will find yourself going into sales mode – which is NOT good!
Cold Calls are for discovery – we are trying to evaluate whether or not they are a good fit and to set an appointment – not sell.
Once you set the appointment, you will have time to research and prepare for that first-time appointment which will be longer. That call should be a 30 – 45 minute conversation.
To get there, make the most of those first 4 – 9 minutes. Have a Cold Call script which is filled with the questions you need answered to determine if this is a qualified prospect. Then be sure to LISTEN to those answers and if appropriate, set that appointment.
The timer is ticking – pick up that phone and get dialing!
How many of YOUR Cold Calls are going to voicemail? How many of your voicemails are getting returned?
According to a 2019 survey by RingLead, 80% of cold calls go to voicemail. And that is actually an improvement over the 2013 stat, by sales strategist Jill Konrath who stated that, at the time, 97% of calls were going to voicemail.
Either way, having your call go to voicemail is a VERY common outcome when Cold Calling. This is true for ALL calls. This post will address how to leave a voicemail when Cold Calling and more importantly, how to leave a voicemail that will get a return call.
First, let’s be clear – you should ALWAYS leave a voicemail when Cold Calling. It’s free. It’s a chance to make a connection and a positive impression – do it!
Don’t do an info dump!
I cannot stress enough that you should NOT use this opportunity to dump all your info on your prospect’s voice mail.
You should NOT do an info dump face to face either, but that is a topic for another time.
Make it compelling
Be interesting. Be curious. Be intriguing. Give them a reason to return your call.
For example, say, “your name came up recently in a conversation and it motivated me to reach out to you.”
Keep it short and simple
Use a script
As we noted above, the odds are good that you will be sent to voicemail. Don’t treat it like an afterthought.
This interaction is just as important as your live conversation with the prospect. Have it worked out and written down so you can follow it seamlessly.
Don’thave a script? Don’tknow what to say? Call us at 908.879.2911 – we can craft an effective script that gets helps YOU set more qualified appointments and leave voicemail messages that get returned.
But be sure that you don’t sound like a robot when you are leaving your (scripted) voicemail message. People get enough robocalls! Differentiate yourself by being natural and human.
Be prepared to WOW them if/ when they do return the call.
There is nothing worse than someone returning your call to follow up on what you said in the voicemail, and you don’t remember or know what they are talking about!
A WARM call
When they return your call, it is no longer a COLD call. They have ‘met’ you – they have heard your voice and have an idea of how you can help them.
This is now an opportunity to build a relationship with someone who has expressed some interest. Don’t blow it!
Tech is your friend
We use VanillaSoft Sales Engagement software to pre-record our voicemail messages. This allows us to perfect the scripting, tone and cadence so we can drop a great version into their voicemail every time!