November 2012 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • 15 Tips To Voicemail Survival by Mark Hunter >>
  • Prospecting by Dan Adams >>
  • Seven Steps To Reaching Your Goals In Sales by Roy Chitwood, CSP >>
  • What Do Your Exit Polls Say? by Tim Wackel >>
  • Cold Calling Stinks - Make It Easier! by Michael Nick >>
  • Your Buyer Is Smarter Than You by Mark Hunter 'The Sales Hunter' >>


15 Tips to Voicemail Survival
by Mark Hunter

  1. If your goal is to get the phone call returned, don’t leave information that would allow the person to make up their mind. Add a call-to-action to your message by providing a key date or something of interest that will encourage the person to return the call. You have to create a reason for them to call you back.
  2. Repeat your phone number twice. If the person can’t quickly write your number down, you’ve given them a perfect reason to not call back.
  3. Avoid asking ask the person to call you back at a certain time. This provides them with an excuse not to call you.
  4. Never state in the message that you will plan to call them back. Again, this only gives the person an excuse to ignore your message.
  5. Messages left on a Friday afternoon are the least likely to be returned. For most people, Monday mornings are very busy and, as a result, only high–priority activities will get their immediate attention.
  6. Do not leave voicemail messages at odd hours of the night. Most voicemail systems offer a time stamp and the person hearing the message will immediately suspect you really did not want to talk to them.
  7. The best hours to leave voicemail messages are from 6:45 AM to 8:00 AM and from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. Aggressive people are usually working during these time periods, and the person receiving your message could potentially view you as one.
  8. Wisely use time zone changes to make as many calls as possible during the optimal voicemail periods listed in the previous tip.
  9. Voicemail messages are an excellent way to introduce yourself to a person. Be personable, yet professional, and link your message to something of interest to the person you are calling (such as another person or event). The recipient may view your message as a waste of time if you have no purpose other than getting your name in front of them.
  10. When leaving a message with multiple points, be sure to immediately disclose how many you will be making. This will prevent the recipient from accidentally fast-forwarding or deleting it before it is completely heard.
  11. If you can’t say it briefly, don’t say it at all. Voicemail is not “story time”. Leaving a long message is an invitation to have the entire message skipped. The optimal voicemail message is between 8 and 14 seconds.
  12. When leaving your phone number, do not leave your website address as well. This will give the person an opportunity to make a decision about you without calling you back.
  13. Leave a “PS” at the end of your message. A “PS” is a very quick, additional piece of information that will connect with the person.
  14. Mention the person’s first name at least twice in the message, but don’t use their last name. Doing so comes across as very impersonal.
  15. Refer to a mutual acquaintance in your message as a way of connecting with the recipient. (Caution: Make sure they think positively of that person!).

About The Author:

Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter," helps individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. As a keynote speaker, he is best known for his ability to motivate and move an organization through his high-energy presentations.

He spent more than 18 years working in the Sales and Marketing divisions of three Fortune 100 companies. During his career, he led many projects including the creation of a new 200 member sales force responsible for volume in excess of $700 million. Mark has held sales management roles in teams ranging in size from 20 to 900 members. This level of experience is at the core of every program he delivers each year to thousands of people throughout the country in the areas of Sales, Communications, and Leadership.

People around the world benefit from the wisdom, motivation, and inspiration of “The Sales Hunter” every week. His insightful videos and podcasts are popular downloads on YouTube and iTunes, and he has been quoted in numerous magazines and newspapers. His free, weekly Sales Hunting Tip email is received by thousands of salespeople across the globe. Additionally, many of his articles on Sales have been reprinted in some of the industry’s leading magazines and business websites. From sales training tips to an analysis of retail trends, Mark Hunter’s Sales Motivation Blog provides commentary to help you build your business. To find out more information on “The Sales Hunter”, please visit our website at

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by Dan Adams


I would like your thoughts on prospecting. Last week, our company held a sales seminar where a number of sales strategies were discussed. One was about telephone prospecting, which includes scripts and manipulative approaches.  For example, we have been told that when a gate keeper asks, "Who are you with?" we should respond, "I'm embarrassed to say I'm alone right now. Sounds like this maybe a bad time, should I call back?"

I personally am uncomfortable responding that way. What are your thoughts on telephone prospecting and getting past gatekeepers.

Madison, WI


The oldest profession in the world is selling. Ever wonder why our children typically don't aspire to be a salesperson? That is because the training methods you describe are manipulative, demeaning and contentious. Your instincts are correct David. If you want to feel uncomfortable about what you do, use an old-school and derisive tactic like that. Besides, how successful do you think those types of techniques are? 

Your example brings to mind some thoughts along with some best practices to share with you on prospecting.

Being a successful, professional salesperson is really not about "selling" at all. It is about fully understanding the challenges and opportunities your customer faces and helping solve them.  

I despise cold calling and would NEVER suggest to my clients that they ask their sales team to cold call. "Dialing for Dollars" is a sure way to waste precious corporate resources. Referrals are by far the best way to acquire new clients. There is now a powerful new software platform that drives efficiency in referrals. It is called LinkedIn. Invest the time to understand how to leverage this powerful tool to connect you with key players in your target market. The new "Navigator" tool is extremely impressive in its ability to help you understand how your personal and business connections can assist you in connecting to potential clients.

Another suggestion for you and your employer is to leverage the power of social media (LinkedIn is just one aspect of your social media efforts). Orchestrated properly, your social media strategy should include re-purposing and creating new content which will serve as "magnets" to attract qualified clients. A recent webinar Jacco van der Kooij and I just completed provides a step-by-step process to help you get started. Click HERE for the Prezi version and click HERE for the YouTube version.  

If you cannot leverage enough referrals to fill your pipeline with solid opportunities and have yet to embrace social media to attract new leads, you must find an alternative. One alternative is called "hot calling". The difference between hot and cold calling involves the amount of research and preparation you put into each call. Exactly how do you turn a cold call into a warm call? The three important elements are deep research, the connection, and the 3- R's:

Deep Research
Deep research is used to uncover who your target should be along with their key strategic goals and objectives. You will find that their goals are tied directly to the key strategic initiatives of the CEO and senior executives. Exactly where do you find this information? There are a wide variety of sources that are free or available at a cost. Here is a partial list:

  • Key Partners
  • Target Company Web Site
  • Annual Report
  • Research Page of Financial Websites (Schwab, Vanguard, Fidelity, etc.)
  • Blogs
  • LinkedIn
  • Google
  • Google Alerts
  • Crush Reports
  • Hoovers
  • Manta
  • InsideView
  • Jigsaw

Each industry has its own list of great research sites. For example, in the healthcare market there is:

US Hospital Finder   
Why Not The Best? 

US News and World Report: 
Drug Safety 
Hazardous Materials Exposure 
Leapfrog Group 

US Dept. of Heath & Human Services: Hospital Compare 

State of Wisconsin Quality Measures 

American Hospital Directory 
Make the Connection:  
You must make a tight connection between the benefits of the product/solution that you are offering and the key goals/objectives of your target. You then must share this information with your client.

The 3-R's:  
You now must convert your research and connection into a 3-R's power message. For example, listen to this script: 

Research: "I have done some extensive research on your company over the past several days and  have uncovered (describe a key challenge)."   This helps to cement the point that this is NOT a cold call. 
Reference: "We are working with (company A, B, and C) with excellent results in solving this same challenge."
Request: "I would like the opportunity to get your opinion on the results we have achieved for these companies. Then we can see how we may be able to assist you as well."
Close: "I will be in your area next Thursday and Friday. Would either of those days work for you?"

The Gate Keeper:  
Never feel like you need to "get around" a gate keeper/administrator for a senior executive. This is a ticket to disaster. You must consider the gate keeper essential. Use the same 3-R's to demonstrate how you can assist the administrator to understand why you deserve access to the senior executive.

Will you be 100% successful using this "hot call" approach? No, of course not. Your best bet is referrals and social media "magnets".  But you will find that "hot call" results in a better success rate in reaching senior executives than the manipulative approach you have been taught.

Good Selling!



About the Author:
Daniel Adams, author of Building Trust, Growing Sales, and creator of Trust Triangle Selling™ helps corporations improve their profits by optimizing the performance of their sales teams. He is a frequent and popular speaker at national sales meetings, workshops and association events. You can visit his web site and read his other articles at

Daniel Adams
Adams and Associates
263 Barefoot Beach Blvd. Suite #405
Bonita Springs, FL  34134



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Seven Steps To Reaching Your Goals In Sales by Roy Chitwood, CSP

Business people are better educated and informed today than ever in history.

They are drivers of our ever-changing economy with their innovative ideas, creative solutions and high expectations.

They're thinkers, they're doers and they want results.

To arrive at those results, however, they need a road map. Innovation and creativity mean little if you lack a solid plan for success.

It's my belief that anyone looking to achieve success in any aspect of his or her life must utilize a proven sales method that removes all the guesswork and leaves nothing to chance.

Everyone is selling, all the time - whether they realize it or not.

Selling is the backbone of our economy; it's what drives business. It's also an effective form of communication and a key component in community building. As such, it's through selling that we help each other reach our goals.

That's because, regardless of what you're looking to achieve, you're going to have to sell someone on at least some portion of it at some point. You might as well learn how to do it effectively.

For almost 40 years, I've been teaching a field-tested selling method called the Track Selling SystemTM.

Track Selling uses seven steps that lead you through the selling process easily and logically. It involves agreement throughout the process so both the seller and the buyer are comfortable and always have their needs met.

At its core, Track Selling is a system of respectful, effective communication.

Once you learn the steps, you'll know exactly what to do in any situation whether you're selling yourself, a product, a service or an idea. And you'll be able to do so without doubt or hesitation. Best of all, this system produces results quickly and efficiently.

It wastes neither time nor energy; it simply produces results.

The following seven steps provide an exact blueprint for effective selling in any situation:

1. Approach:
A prospect's first impression of you is critical. Is she comfortable with you? Do you seem to have her best interests at heart? People buy from you because they like you. Reinforce this feeling with friendliness and sincerity to open the sale and begin the relationship in a positive way.

2. Qualification:
This is the information-gathering period. You will decide if the prospect is right for your product, service or idea by asking open-ended questions to uncover her needs or any potential problems or concerns she may have. By listening, you will show her that you respect her, are honest and are interested in the things that are important to her.

3. Agreement on need:
Next, you will summarize the information you gathered in the previous steps to clarify the facts and demonstrate your understanding of her unique needs. Showing that you understand is critical because people will buy from you not because they understand what you're selling but because you understand them.

4. Sell the company:
Whether you're representing a company or yourself, in order to build trust in your sales relationship, your prospect should be well aware of your history and your track record. Have you consistently operated with integrity? Have you demonstrated your capability to perform and meet deadlines as promised with other clients and projects? Remind her of your past successes so she can feel safe and confident about buying from you.

5. Fill the need:
Present evidence that shows the effectiveness of your product, service or idea by showing your prospect how it fills her needs. Understand that this person's most pressing question is: "What will it do for me?" To effectively sell to her, you must answer this question to her complete satisfaction.

6. Act of commitment:
Once you've eliminated all doubt, this is the time to ask for a commitment. Don't apply pressure! Just remind her of the things you discussed: She likes and trusts you, she has certain problems that your idea/product/service solves, and you have a solid performance history so you are a trustworthy individual. Finally, the wording for your close is simple: "If I can deliver the idea/product/service we discussed in the time frame (state the delivery date) and at the price (restate the price) we agreed on, can you think of any reason why we shouldn't move forward with this?" When you hear the word, "No," you've got an act of commitment.

7. Cement the sale:
In this final step you'll "cement" in your prospect's mind the logical reason for her purchase, such as how ideally it fits her needs. You never want a prospect or client to regret that she trusted you, so this is also the point at which you should commit to a time to follow up. Always keep her updated on your progress and delivery schedule. Ongoing communication is the key to keeping your new sale sold.

As you can see, the seven steps are well organized and make for an easy-to-follow checklist. The system is flexible and can be adapted to fit any personality or sales situation.

As long as you use the steps in order, you can be creative, using them in any situation, with any type of person.

Most importantly, each step allows you to focus on creating a win-win situation for both you and your prospect, using persuasion, not pressure.

You can feel good about selling because you'll only make a sale when it's of benefit to both you and your client.

Spend some time going through the steps and memorize them. Practice role-playing regularly with a friend or colleague to improve your technique. Honest feedback is one of the most important components of gauging your success, so practice with someone who can offer you insight.

Memorize the seven steps, fine-tune your approach, incorporate feedback and very soon, you'll be using the seven steps successfully in your life - and achieving your highest goals.


Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.


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What Do Your Exit Polls Say?
by Tim Wackel

The last several months, America has watched Presidential candidates travel across the country, shaking hands, kissing babies and spending millions of dollars trying to win votes. Meanwhile talking heads analyze every move that the candidates make.

Most of it has become information overload to me, but I’m intrigued with the concept of the exit polls. These quick and painless interviews are used to collect data and find out why people voted as they did.

Question: Is it possible that exit polls could help you sell more?

Answer: You bet!

Unfortunately, there are many sales people who believe the selling process ends as soon as the ink on the contract is dry. Why work countless hours to win the business and then disengage to chase the next deal? This is your opportunity to shine! Follow up is a key to sales success, and implementing your own exit poll should be just one tactic in your overall methodology.

Not sure how to leverage an exit poll? Here are six easy-to-implement steps that you need to get started.

#1. Do it now!

Don’t wait to get your customer’s feedback. You want to hear from them while the selling experience is still fresh in their minds. Ask for their opinions sooner, not later.

#2. Set the stage.

It’s important to demonstrate value in your exit poll. Treat this as an important process, you’ll get better feedback from the customer.

Send an invitation asking the customer to participate in a short interview specifically designed to help you learn how to serve (not SELL!) them better. Tell them their feedback is important and that honest communication is a valuable part of any successful relationship.

#3. Use a third party.

Let the customer know that someone else from your organization will conduct this brief interview. Please don’t conduct the interview yourself. When you get involved in exit polls, one of two things happen: you either won’t get the truth or you won’t hear the truth.

Don’t have the in-house resources to conduct these interviews? Then contract with someone to do them for you. I’ve had great success using a virtual assistant and you can find plenty of them via the internet. Find someone you like, trust and believe you can develop a relationship with. Sure it costs a few bucks and you may even have to pay out of your own pocket. Trust me, you will be glad you did.

#4. Be prepared!

If you want this process to work, you need to diligently prepare the questions that you want explored. Script these carefully and be sure that the interviewer is comfortable in asking for clarifications, examples and explanations.

I like to ask:

  • What did you like best about working with me (and why)?
  • If you could change just one thing about my program, what would you change (and why)?
  • What, if anything, made me different from other sales trainers you’ve used?
  • How else could I help drive results forward?
  • What changes do you expect to see and how will those impact the bottom line?

And the critical question that most sales people don’t ask…

  • Why did you buy from me?

You’re probably only going to get one shot at getting this data—make it a good one!

#5. Leverage the learning.

Treat the exit poll as your opportunity to get ahead of the competition. I’m amazed at how often clients tell us that they’ve never experienced this type of follow up after a sale. This alone sets you apart from the rest of the pack!

Very few sales people take the initiative to discover the real reasons why customers buy from them. Everyone has theories, and most of these revolve around how great they are as a sales rep. But is that the whole truth?

Once you begin to understand the real reasons why they buy, you can fine- tune your entire approach. And that is when the magic begins to happen!

If your poll discovers an extremely satisfied customer, have your interviewer circle back in a few days. Revisit the highlights of the exit poll conversation and ask permission to use their words or invite them to become a referral account.

If your poll discovers a dissatisfied customer, you’ve created the perfect opportunity to swoop in and fix it!

#6. Always say “thank you.”

A hand written thank you note after completing your exit poll is personal, powerful and professional. And it’s a great way to prop the door open for future opportunities.


Tim Wackel

Tim Wackel is hired by sales executives who want their teams to be more successful at blowing the number away. Tim’s “no excuses” programs are insightful, engaging and focused on providing real world strategies that salespeople can (and will!) implement right away. Sales teams from BMC Software, Cisco, Fossil, Hewlett Packard, Allstate, Thomson Reuters, Raytheon, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Catalina Marketing, Philips Medical Systems, Red Hat and TXU Energy count on Tim to help them create more success in business and in life.

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Cold Calling Stinks - Make It Easier!
by Michael Nick

A few weeks ago The Whetstone Group and I did a webinar called Adapt or Fail. In this Webinar we took on an issue we often hear from sales professionals and offered our best advice. Below and in the coming weeks I will reprint some of our responses. Your feedback is welcome. Please email me at if you have comments or questions. 

“Cold calling really stinks, I wish there was a better way”

Michael: I couldn't agree more, cold calling does stink. That is why I suggest you use the “Advanced Search” feature of LinkedIn. With this feature you can enter the name of the person you want to meet and LinkedIn will tell you, who you know that knows that person. You will be surprised at what a small world this is. Ask the person to introduce you in an email. It will help you connect and it will give you something to bond with.

Other tools you may consider are InsideView or CRUSHArmy. They provide details about people and companies you can use to familiarize yourself with the prospect. Remember the more information you have the easier it will be to start and maintain a conversation with cold call. 

John: First of all, the reason that most salespeople don’t like cold calls is they don’t know how to make a pressure free call.  They get put off by the rejection, dealing with gatekeepers and fear of the unknown.  So really learn how to make a proper call.  There are several great trainers out there.  The pros always work off scripts, but you can never sound like you are reading it.  If you would like one of ours, email us and we will send you an example.  When salespeople know how to make the calls, how to deal with gatekeepers and VM, and these are all skills,  it takes the fear out of it.  It is all about putting a process in place.

Jim: You know, our attitude about something really impacts how we go about it.  And if our attitude about cold calling is negative, chances are we’re going to find other things to do.  I’ll grant that most of us aren’t crazy about cold calling, but it simply has to be done.  So step us and just do it.  Obviously if you have a good “script” if you know what to say (and most salespeople don’t) then you’ll be more effective.  Finally, it’s important to understand that you can’t control anything besides picking up the phone and calling.  You can’t control whether you’ll get through to someone, and you can’t control if they’ll give you an appointment.  So stop stressing about things you can’t control and focus like a laser on what you can control which is picking up the phone and making the calls.  Figure out how many calls you need to get an appointment and how many appointments you need per week, then make sure you make enough calls every day to get you the number of appointments you need.  When you’ve made your quota of calls, you’ve had a successful day prospecting, regardless of the outcomes.  I’d add that there is no silver bullet about prospecting.  Find several ways that work for you and focus on them.  This is probably a good time to talk about drip marketing.  Research shows it takes 7-15 touches before a prospect will agree to take your call.  And most salespeople quit after 3 attempts.  So find other ways of touching the prospect…networking events, emails, announcements, newsletters, invitations, whatever.  Send them something you think they might find interesting, mix it up and start to create a relationship with them.  It takes time but it pays dividends.  

©2012 Michael Nick

About The Author:

Michael Nick is considered to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of value estimation selling. Michael’s first book, ROI Selling (Dearborn Publishing ©2004) was a business best seller. In 2010, Simon & Schuster picked up the reprint rights giving ROI Selling another five years of availability in the market.

Over the past 13 years Michael has worked with Companies like, HP, Autodesk, Fiserv, Ingersol Rand, Trane, NEC, Checkfree, Bomgar, Rockwell Automation, Oracle, Great Plains,and more.

Visit him at:

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Your Buyer Is Smarter Than You
by Mark Hunter 'The Sales Hunter'

Too many salespeople view their buyers as anything but smart, especially those salespeople who deal with purchasing departments. In far too many sales communities, there exists an attitude that buyers and purchasing departments are nothing more than barriers that need to be broken down.

Well, yes there are barriers. Ironically, though, they are barriers that more often than not are there due to the very actions of the sales community. One simple thing salespeople need to keep in mind is the fact the professional buyer sees far more salespeople in the course of a week or month than most salespeople realize. Buyers have every reason to put up barriers, because the sales community in general can crank out some pretty pathetic salespeople.

How do I know this? Simple – buyers have told me (not just once, but often twice. And not just in one industry, but in several industries). As a consultant, I often have access to buyers in a way that most salespeople don’t. More importantly, the people I meet share with me insights they would never share with the sales community. The buying community is really quite smart. They do their job well. Stop and think for a moment about this question: If they didn’t do their job well, wouldn’t their company let them go, especially in today’s economy?

Buyers are smart . You should also know that they’ve seen every trick and every sales pitch known to mankind. I never cease to be amazed at how well many buyers can play back to me specific examples of sales techniques used by salespeople. What’s even better is that not only have they shared with me examples of what they’ve seen, but they also have shared how they have responded to these sales techniques.

I know it may be painful to hear, but you are not as smart as you think you are, and the new trendy sales approach you have learned probably isn’t as revolutionary as you believe it is. It more than likely isn’t going to equip you to blast through barriers the purchasing department has in place.

It’s for this very simple reason why I tell salespeople the number one thing you can do when dealing with professional buyers and purchasing departments is to be yourself and be positive. Your buyer will see right through you if you’re not being yourself. They’ll also see right through you if you’re putting on a front and not genuinely showing interest in their business and the concerns and needs they have.

If you’re not genuine, it will show. Sure, you might be able to pull off your trick for a one sales call or maybe even a couple, but your trick will be exposed. When it is, the consequences you’ll face will be severe. This is something to always keep in mind. Many times when a professional buyer decides to cut you off, they may not tell you right away – they may leave you hanging in the wind for days, weeks or even months. One reason they may choose to do this is to simply see how you’re going to respond or, more likely, to continue to gain information from you that they can then use to negotiate a better package with your competitor.

When a professional buyer does this, they’re doing their job. You may naively think they’re being stupid, because they’re not being more forthcoming with you. This is where the real stupidity starts to come out with the salesperson. Because the salesperson believes the buyer is not smart, they start to play bullying games back with the buyer. Such examples include trying to go around them or opening up other doors. The only thing this does if further alienate the salesperson from doing any business with the purchasing department, because the buyer with whom you first began working alerts the rest of the buying department about you and what you may potentially try to do.

All of this comes back to my original point: Buyers are smart and purchasing departments have a job to do and they do it well. They’ve seen the games that can be played and they know how to leverage such games to their advantage.

As a salesperson, you can thrive with buyers and purchasing departments if you follow these simple approaches: Be yourself, be professional, and be engaged in genuinely wanting to help the buyer and their company. If you can’t do these things, then you shouldn’t be selling. If you are not sure if you’re already doing these things, then I hate to tell you this, but you’re probably not.

Don’t walk around telling people you care about them and that you are so concerned about helping them. The salespeople who truly do care and are concerned let it come out in their actions day in and day out. Other people see it and do not need the salesperson to offer a verbal alert to it.

Do you think I’m way off base in these observations about the buying community? Don’t take my word for it. Ask your buyer. They will give you a straight answer – but only if you are being yourself, demonstrating trust, and genuinely caring for them and their business.

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.” He is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects and close more profitable sales. To get a free weekly sales tip, visit Read the first chapter of his instant-classic “High-Profit Selling” here.
Copyright MMX. Reprint

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