June 2012 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • Are You Going Too Far on Sales Calls? By Jill Konrath >>
  • Packing a Punch with Voice Mail Messages by Paul Cherry >>
  • 10 Ways To Become UnSuccessful by Jim Meisenheimer >>
  • The Audacity of Hope: “Just Do It” Works for Nike but is Fatal for Salespeople by Rick Farrell >>
  • One of YOUR Most Powerful Sales Words by Art Sobczak >>
  • This Is Why Calls Wander Aimlessly by Art Sobczak >>


Are You Going Too Far on Sales Calls?
By Jill Konrath

Call me a prude if you will, but I've had it with sellers who are totally clueless that they're going too far, too fast in their initial meeting with me. The worst thing is, they have no idea how their actions are perceived.

Could you possibly be guilty of this promiscuous behavior? If so, do you have any idea what it's doing to your reputation?

The Fantasy

Let's say I'm your ideal prospect. You call me up, catch me on the phone, deliver a message that piques my curiosity and I agree to meet.

Sounds like the perfect scenario, right? If you're like most sellers, you're probably pretty excited about our upcoming meeting. After all, I'm one hot prospect who's interested in what you've got.

So what happens when we finally get together? Initially you focus on building a relationship with me. You thank me for agreeing to meet. We chitchat for a few minutes about little things. Then you ask me about my company to get me talking about business.

After you've warmed me up, it's time to get serious. Since I agreed to meet, clearly I want to learn about your company and offering, so an overview comes next. You want to make sure I understand all the salient details about your organization, its history and more.

Then it's time for a few questions. Perhaps you start by assessing if I'm a qualified buyer with money in my budget. Or, you might focus on my very specific needs so you can determine the appropriate solution.

Following that, you present information on the products or services you think I'd be most interested in. When I start asking questions, you get more excited. We're connecting, bonding, getting closer to consummating the business relationship.

The Reality

But the truth is, you are dead wrong! You've totally misjudged my interest level and thus, lost the opportunity to do business with me.

Why? You don't understand how I (your prospect) think. You assumed that my interest meant one thing, when it fact it signifies something entirely different.

In SNAP Selling, I've structured the whole book around the three primary decisions your prospects make:

First Decision: Allow Access
When you approach a prospect with an enticing message, they'll agree to meet-perhaps by phone, web conference or in person. They're willing to invest a small bit of time with you. You've moved them from being oblivious about your existence to curious.

Second Decision: Initiate Change
In the second decision, your prospect evaluates if it's worth it to change from the status quo. They'd prefer not to because it takes a lot of extra time and effort. But, if they can see that all the hassle and pain leads to a better outcome, they'll do it.

Third Decision: Select Resources
Once your prospect decides that change is worthwhile, then they want to learn about your product or service. Understanding your differentiators becomes important to them. Even the risk of doing business with you is considered. At the end of this decision, they pick the option they determine is best for them.

Understanding the difference between these three decisions is imperative to your sales success. At each stage of the process, your sales behaviors must change if you want to keep advancing your relationship. Failure to get it right means you get dumped.

So Here's the Deal

Over 90% of the people you meet with are in the Second Decision phase. They're trying to determine if they want to change.

But there you are, trying to seduce them with all the cool things about your product, service or solution. That's Third Decision behavior. It's way too much information about your offering much too quickly. And, it's coming at a time when the focus should be on helping your prospect assess the ROI for moving off the status quo

When you prematurely elaborate, you set up a lose/lose situation. Prospects don't want to have anything more to do with you, even if you could have made a difference to their business. From their perspective, you're only concern is making a quick sale. While that wasn't your intent, that is how you're perceived.

Anytime you meet with new prospects, first find out if they've already decided to change. If not, don't talk for more than a few minutes about your offering or company.

Instead say, "While many of our customers have realized significant value from changing, what we really need to do is determine if it makes sense for you." Then, be prepared to ask questions that lead to that outcome.

Don't sabotage your chances of sales success by trying to move too quickly. Slow down. Way down. Ensure your prospect has made the Second Decision, before you jump into Third Decision behaviors - or suffer the consequences. You can't rush a relationship!

About Jill Konrath:

Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling (#1 Amazon sales book) and Selling to Big Companies, a Fortune "must read" selection. She's a frequent speaker at sales conferences and kick-off meetings. For more fresh sales strategies and free sales tools that work actually with today's crazy-busy prospects, visit  www.jillkonrath.com.

© Jill Konrath 2012 All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce this article, email info@jillkonrath.com.

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Packing a Punch with Voice Mail Messages
by Paul Cherry

Voice mail messages can be a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, voice mail is an easy way for you to leave a brief but useful message for a prospective customer.  On the other hand, we all know it’s just as easy for those same prospects to ignore or simply erase voice mail from unknown salespeople.  If you hone your voice mail messages for maximum impact, however, you’ll create great sales opportunities.


  • Your voice communicates enthusiasm, warmth, and energy that easily gets lost in a printed or e-mail format.
  • Because voice mail is such a basic communication tool, you don’t have to worry about technical compatibility and accessibility from your prospects’ end.
  • You can communicate your message to many prospects within a short time.  A seasoned rep can easily convey a powerful message to 20 prospects in under an hour. If that leads to one callback who’s truly interested, you’re on your way to getting results.
  • Voice mail saves money.  The average voice mail message is 30 to 45 seconds long.  If you factor in time to connect and transfer into voice mail, your average cost per call should be 10 to 30 cents—cheaper than a first class postage stamp!
  • Voice mail is flexible.  From lead generation, scheduling appointments, connecting with past customers, or announcing special offers or a letter or e-mail already on its way, your opportunities are unlimited.
  • Most prospects receive a few dozen e-mail solicitations daily—but in that monsoon of e-mail and direct mail solicitations, voice mail messaging stands out like a ray of sunshine. 
  • With so much information thrown at customers, standing out is no easy feat.  Voice mail hasn’t been exploited like e-mail or direct mail.  Leaving a powerful, concise voice mail message lets you differentiate your own unique message that speaks to your prospects’ needs.
  • Voice mail messaging builds confidence and sales presentation skills.  New sales reps especially must learn all about product features while fine-tuning their selling skills.  Their biggest fear is if they have to interact with a live prospect who asks a question for which they don’t have an answer.  Practicing a well-rehearsed script on voice mail gives new reps experience while they acquire product knowledge.
  • For new reps, voice mail messages can be limited to introducing special offers or promotions, or to schedule a joint sales call.  These approaches give new salespeople a great opportunity to reach out to veteran customers and new prospects in a safe, controlled environment.


Note that the following examples cite articles covering subjects of interest to the prospect. By citing an article or other tool to help your prospect enhance her work environment, job, or career, you’re positioning yourself as a consultant and advisor, increasing your prospect’s interest in calling you back.  When you connect with her, you’ll have positioned yourself as a credible source who understands her issues, not just another peddler eager to launch into a sales pitch.

  • “Hi, my name is _____, and last week I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that claimed drug testing is an ineffective tool to weed out poor-quality job applicants.  Yet, five times more companies test for drugs today compared to ten years ago.  I have worked with a company in your industry that has reported saving over $5 million by streamlining its hiring process and increasing its retention rates.  Is this something you’re looking to address?  If so, please call me back at _____.”
  • “Hi, my name is _____, and I recently read an article in U.S. News & World Report stating that over 75% of high-tech firms today turn to foreign workers to manage their help-desk operations.  One of the key challenges seems to be surmounting the language barrier and the difficulty customers have had communicating with the new help-desk personnel.  My company is currently working with a client who has addressed this concern and increased customer retention by 30% over the past 12 months as a result of our services.  Is this an issue you are experiencing?  If so, please call me at _____.”

A template can help you form more educational questions to suit your situation, like the following examples:

  • “Hi, my name is ____, and I recently came across some information that would be of interest to you.  While reading the trade journal __________, I learned that __________ which seems to be an issue a number of my clients are dealing with.  I’m curious if this is an area you are looking to address and, if so, we have some ideas.  Please call ________.”
  • “… and I’ve learned about some pending legislation that might affect your company.  The legislation is _____.  Does your company have a plan in place to deal with this change? Over (number of companies) in your industry have turned to us for solutions…”
  • “… and I read an article this morning in _____ claiming that ________.  My clients’ experiences have been different, however, and I was wondering how your company’s experience compares…”

Make your voice mail messages an engaging calling card for you and your company, and you’ll increase the likelihood of prospects calling you back.

Paul Cherry is President of the sales and leadership firm Performance Based Results and the author of QUESTIONS THAT SELL, published by AMACOM Books.  Paul can be reached at 302-478-4443 or e-mailed at cherry@pbresults.com. When you subscribe to our quarterly newsletter at http://www.pbresults.com, download our free white paper, “Top Questions that Sell,” based on PBR's latest research on what salespeople need to ask in order to up-sell, cross-sell and win more customers!

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10 Ways To Become UnSuccessful
by Jim Meisenheimer

There is a long list of characteristics that make salespeople successful. There's also a list of qualities, that can make it easy for you to become unsuccessful.

Here are 10 things you should avoid like the bubonic plague and they include:

1. Unadaptable - in sales you can't succeed with rigid thinking, or an unwillingness to adopt new ideas and new ways of doing things. Think of it this way, your
future should never be behind you.

2. Unauthentic - join the mediocrity brigade and blend in with all of your competition. That's what happens when you fail to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Remember you are a walking billboard and you don't want your billboard to say you're "BORING!"

3. Uncommitted - if you're serious about selling you have to be serious and focused on a steady diet of self-improvement. Salespeople have to increase their knowledge of their customers, their customers’ customers, product knowledge, market knowledge, and dedicate themselves to being a team player.

4. Unemotional - Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” You have to be excited about your work and your products if you expect your sales prospects and customers to get excited about these things. Your emotions and passion for your work are contagious. Make sure your customers are catching it from you.

5. Unconvincing - you'll sound unconvincing if you don't absolutely love the products you're selling. If you lack passion and enthusiasm for your products and services, don't expect a long line of sales prospects patiently waiting to become your biggest customers.

6. Unhappy - ever notice how unhappy people are? When you're selling, remember how costly your expressions can be. You can't remove the pain that you suffer, but you can remove your pained expression. Think of every sales call as a leap onto a stage. When you knock on the door it's always show time!

7. Undemonstrative - one of the quickest ways to become unsuccessful is to roam around your sales territory like a walking dial tone, showing little or no outward expression. For Pete's sake, walk with a quick-step and be sure you're always smiling when you're with your sales prospects and customers. And being animated adds to your excitement factor.

8. Unmotivated - years ago I had the opportunity to work with a sales representative who completed a sales training program I did. During the post-training follow-up, he told me he was experiencing what he called the January blahs. He showed me his list of goals for the year. Not a single goal had a completion date during the first quarter. If you want to get motivated establish goals with deadlines ASAP.

9. Unwelcome - so many salespeople wear out their welcome. They stay too long and talk too much. Say less, listen more, and as soon as you've achieved your sales call objectives, end the call.

You'll accomplish more and your customer will appreciate you more.

If your customer has to end the call for you, you've overstayed your welcome.

10. Uninformed - there's a pretty long laundry list of things you should keep up with. Only the well-informed can become extraordinary conversationalists. Today, technology makes this easy to do. You should be well informed about world events, the US economy, business, the stock market, and sports as a bare minimum.

To achieve unlimited selling success you must expunge all these little "UNs."

About The Author:

Make sure you check out Jim's Sales Trailblazer program: http://salestrailblazer.com

Jim is a Sales Strategist and is the creator of No-Brainer Selling Skills. He shows salespeople and entrepreneurs how to increase sales, earn more money, have more fun, and how to do it all in less time. His focus is on practical ideas that get immediate results. He offers Advanced Sales Management Workshops, Sales Coaching, Consulting, In-house Sales Training Programs, and a wide variety of Learning Tools i.e. books, special reports, sales manuals, and CDs.Jim Meisenheimer is a member of The National Speakers Association, where he earned the C.S.P. designation, Certified Speaking Professional. He has authored five books including, "The 12 Best Questions To Ask Customers," and the recently published “57 Ways To Take Control Of Your Time And Your Life”.

Websites: http://www.startsellingmore.com

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The Audacity of Hope:
“Just Do It” Works for Nike but is Fatal for Salespeople
by Rick Farrell

Most salespeople, as a matter of habit and conditioning, still try to do business normally in a world that is anything but. There is a huge gap between today’s selling strategies and today’s market conditions. Salespeople in general ardently reject traditional selling in principle and embrace consultative selling, but have no real process to execute it with. A lot of apparent changes are merely window dressing. Salespeople are quickly finding out the hard way that identifying prospects’ needs and giving solutions isn’t consultative selling.

Salespeople need a better sales strategy and sales model. Imagine a quarterback coming out on the field during the last drive of the game, going into the huddle and enthusiastically saying to the players, “I don’t know, let’s just do it!” It works fine for Nike, but not for salespeople.

Manufacturers don’t put up with line workers running production lines as they see fit. The administrative staff isn’t allowed to run whatever software it is comfortable with. Companies allow certain things to happen in the sales department which they wouldn’t permit anywhere else in the organization. Too many sales organizations believe that selling is a mystery, an afterthought and an ugly stepchild. Selling is truly the last frontier as far as efficiency is concerned. The process salespeople use has generally been unchanged for decades. The only meaningful changes in the sales department have been external. Sales departments have made large gains in mechanization, processing and tracking of orders and monitoring activity at the exclusion of creating a disciplined and systematic sales process. The easy answer to why is, because it is easier to change external processes than it is to change human behavior and interaction. Many companies have spent more money, time and resources on training clerical and factory workers than they have on their salespeople.

An effective sales process, vision, and disciplined strategy are the most important things a company can do for their sales effort. A systematic sales process can be a huge competitive advantage for a company. Salespeople can no longer fly by the seat of their pants with a “wing and a prayer” strategy, and expect to be productive and efficient anymore.

Salespeople need a documented and systematic process of predictable and repeatable steps that when followed consistently lead to a high percentage of success. Salespeople need to reinvent themselves and use a system that tells them in advance about whether they are winning, losing, what red flags to look for, how to change when needed and how to avoid similar missteps in the future. They need a system that puts them in control more and leads to uniform steps of action to produce specific outcomes.

Most selling is due to random events leading to accidents, both positive and negative. Salespeople instead need to lead prospects through sequential stages with a series of progressive, small commitments. “Once salespeople adopt a universal system of problem solving, managing information and change, they can begin objectively to look at everything they do as an opportunity cost,” says Jim Holden. They can better decipher and analyze their prospect’s critical business issues to better determine if they have a compelling reason to change, what their problems are, how much it is costing them, what the decision process is, how much money is available, how change happens and what the competing priorities are.

Once salespeople have an end-to-end process that is sequentially linked and has stopgaps, they can optimize their time and resources more effectively and neutralize, contain, and counter-balance the prospect’s superior buying process. This process of checks and balances utilizes universal questions to understand the process of change that prospects must go through and can be adapted to any type of personality a salesperson may have.

Salespeople tend to be very predictable and transparent. Their process is easily anticipated and neutralized by most sophisticated prospects. Most salespeople try to win the hearts and minds of their prospects by being energetic, confident and passionate in their pursuit. Instead they should be a resource, a leader and a change agent who helps the prospect in a sequential process that determines the cost of change and the will to follow through with it.

By following a defined sales strategy, you allow the prospect the opportunity to disqualify themselves each step along the way early and often, from beginning to end. By doing so, you start to sell consequences, problems and change, not products and solutions.

As you start to adapt this end-to-end process, you’ll find that understanding is far more critical than persistence and giving out information.

Any disciplined sales process is typified by give and take. However, if salespeople or prospects are only taking, then there is no mutual basis for a relationship. It must be a mutual exploration and discovery process. To do so, you must be willing to suspend your ego, your expertise and all your hard-won product knowledge. You must learn to try to have unconditional acceptance of your prospect’s point of view, regardless of whether it is wrong or not. You must learn to use your product expertise as a tool to get more information, not give away more information.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com

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One of YOUR Most Powerful Sales Words
by Art Sobczak


Last week on my Telesales Blog I posted about how we should not follow the old adage about "find a need and fill it." What we have much greater success with is getting them excited about their WANTS.

That's just the first part though. Then you need to get them thinking more about realizing those wants.

News Flash: They don't care what you want, or how great you think your products/services are.

And just like that long-winded person you meet for the first time socially, who talks only about himself, his job, his kids, how great his life is... the other person is bored to tears and looks for an escape.

Here's an example: A sales rep cold called me the other day and was reading a pitch for website development.

Aside from numerous other mistakes he made (not knowing anything about me or my company, reading from a script, having a horrible opening, not asking questions ...) he continually said, " ... and I feel that ...", " ... and I know that you will ..."

What's a justifiable feeling in response to that "I" language?

"Who cares what YOU think? You haven't indicated you know anything about me."

I can't say this often enough, and as I said in the blog post last week: The not-so-secret,to sales success is determining and understanding what someone wants, getting them thinking about it, excited about it, visualizing it... and then showing them how they can get it, or giving it to them.

And that means gathering information before the call, and during the call. Then, when it's time to make your recommendation, you know it's on target. It has to be, because if you did
your job, they told you what they're interested in.

One of the Most Powerful Words: YOU

And once you have identified what they want, to get them thinking about and desiring it even more, use one of the most powerful words in your ammo belt: YOU.

Use a "YOU" language, not "I." To make it even stronger, build in plenty of personalized and
customized examples.

Examples sell. Anyone can make a statement, and most salespeople do. But, when it's backed up by proof ... examples ... then it carries credibility. Plus it adds visualization to the sales process by phone.

For example, determine which statement has more impact.

"I feel our service will cut down on processing time."

"When you use your new service, you will instantly notice how it cuts down on the time you said it takes for you to enter orders, and print your shipping forms and labels. You will get the orders out the door faster to meet the requirements you mentioned. Customers in your industry have doubled the number of orders they're able to handle in a day, and you will be able to do the same. Just think of how much time and expense you will save."

EXERCISE: take every statement you use to
describe the benefits/results you deliver.
Brainstorm for the sensory terms and descriptions that bring those results to life. Insert YOU and YOUR whenever appropriate to put them in the picture. Then find several concrete examples of how others have already experienced those results. Commit them to memory so they're always a part of your presentations.

YOU will like the results.

Continue having your best week ever!

About the Author:
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople--both inside and outside--designing and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin showing results from the very next time they get on the phone. Audiences love his "down-to-earth,"entertaining style, and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques. He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing "rejection." Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren't quite sure what to do, or aren't confident in their abilities. Art's audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right attitude.

Contact Info
Art Sobczak
Business By Phone Inc.
13254 Stevens St.
Omaha, NE, 68137


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This Is Why Calls Wander Aimlessly
by Art Sobczak


On a commercial for an online brokerage, one guy asked another,

"Does your brokerage house give you objective advice?"

"Yeah, their objective always is to sell me something."

Of course that was meant to be a humorous slam on full-service brokers whose intent is to sell stocks instead of give objective advice.

However, it got me thinking about how lots of sales reps do NOT have a clear objective when they pick up the phone.

For example, when I ask reps for objectives before calls I hear such things as,

"I want to see who they're buying from now."

"I'd like to qualify and send out some info."

"Want to see if they have any needs."

Granted, all of those should be accomplished, but none are the end RESULT you're ideally looking for on a call.

You wouldn't you get in your car and say, "I'm going to start my car, and then just go out on the road somewhere."

No, you get in your car because you have a very specific destination in mind. And when you have a destination, then you figure out what route you need to take in order to get there. Then you follow that route. And usually you arrive.

Yet, many sales reps get on the phone with no clear, specific destination in mind. Then they end up cruising aimlessly, and not surprisingly, ending their wayward journey without a pleasing result.

Maybe you've had that feeling after a call. Where you sit there shaking your head, thinking, "What just happened on that call? I was all over the place."

This week's Tip is boring, simple, but yet required for success:

Have a Primary Objective before each call.

I define your Primary Objective as what you want them to DO as a result of the call.

Again, emphasis on the DO. It must be action-oriented.

The ultimate Primary Objective is to get them to buy on this call.

Perhaps your objective is to "Get agreement that the customer will take your proposal to the board meeting and recommend its approval."

Maybe you want to qualify, generate interest, and get the prospect to agree to do a side-by-side comparison between his existing product and yours.

Look at these again. They all involve your prospect/customer DOING something.

And think big. One thing's for sure: if you aim low, you'll rarely hit above your target. When you aim high, you'll sometimes reach it, and on average, will achieve greater results than if you start low.

So here's your homework: For every call you place from here on out, simply ask, "What do I want this person to DO as a result of this call?" That's your Primary Objective.

And when you have your end target in mind, it's much easier to plot your map, and ultimately arrive at the target.

As Dr. Steven Covey says in his "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," begin with the END in mind.

Continue having your best week ever!

About the Author:
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople--both inside and outside--designing and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin showing results from the very next time they get on the phone. Audiences love his "down-to-earth,"entertaining style, and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques. He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing "rejection." Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren't quite sure what to do, or aren't confident in their abilities. Art's audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right attitude.

Contact Info
Art Sobczak
Business By Phone Inc.
13254 Stevens St.
Omaha, NE, 68137


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