October 2011 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • Avoid Words and Phrases that are Sure to Cause Resistance by Art Sobczak >>
  • Managing a Prima Donna in Business to Business Sales by Kevin Davis >>
  • C-Level Sales Management -- Helping Salespeople Handle Gatekeepers by Sam Manfer >>

Avoid Words and Phrases that are Sure to Cause Resistance by Art Sobczak


It's difficult enough generating interest on calls, yet many salespeople make it worse by saying things that are sure to create resistance.

While fine-tuning my own openings and sales presentations, and those of sales reps at seminars and workshops, I not only look for words and phrases that will create interest, I try to screen out anything high on the P.R.C. Scale-- that's the Potentially Resistance-Creating Scale.

In opening statements, for example, your goal is to create interest, and spark desire in them to want to continue the conversation. It's all very forward-moving. Anything that could potentially create resistance blows your tires out before you leave the garage. Even if you spark some interest, the resistance might overwhelm it.

Here are words and phrases to avoid, all high on the P.R.C. Scale.

Telling People What They Should Do, Know, Or Think.

For example, "And I'm sure you're aware..."

"Of course you'll agree..."

"And I'm sure you're certainly familiar with us..."

As I was sitting here tapping away at my computer, a call center rep trying to push corporate credit cards called and launched into her pitch:

"... and of course you have read about our credit card in the top business magazines and seen the TV commercials on CNBC and Fox Business..."

I nosed in, saying, "No."

She asked, "No, you didn't hear about it, or no, you don't want it?"

"Both," I replied.

Making Unsubstantiated Puffed-Up Claims That Create Doubt.

Buyers are skeptical. Many are just downright negative, looking for the downside of everything.

Therefore when prospects hear claims that could be questioned, they are often treated with a raised eyebrow.

For example, "We're the top company..."

"We're the leading supplier of..."

"We're the most respected distributor..."

If it's important, and it's true, back up your claims.

"According to the Independent Testing Association, we're the supplier with the highest rating in the area regarding order fill rates, meaning you have the best chance with us of getting the parts you require, the day you need them, without having to wait for backorders."

Using Technical Jargon.

Granted, you might need to get into technical specs--with some people. Others don't care how the drill was wired; they buy it because it feels good in their hand.

Once you've lost someone by speaking in terms they don't understand, they might feel it's not worth the hassle to go back and get clarification. This obviously derails the forward-momentum process. Using techie terms also might cause the other person to feel ignorant or inferior.

While I was shopping for a small video camera, the techno-wizard sales clerk spewed babble that was atmospheres over my head. He lost me. I nodded in mock agreement, but he might as well have been speaking Swahili.

I just wanted to know if I could get good quality video suitable for the web with a variety of available lighting in typical office settings. (He didn't get the sale.)

Immediately Talking About Products/Services/Company In The Opening.

"... and I'm calling today to introduce our company and products to you."

Buyers only care about the RESULTS of what you are or have.

Saying You're Calling To "Tell Them" Something.

Give yourself extra P.R.C. points if used in conjunction with the previous point. As in,

"... and I'"m calling today to tell you about our products ..."

Using "Eraser" Words.

These erase the impact of what preceded them in a sentence, and include "but" and "however."

A sales rep said to a customer, "Well, yes we do have a better price, but you'll have to buy two cases to get it."

Instead, use "and" in place of the eraser:

"Yes, you can get the better price, a discount of 15%, by getting two cases."

Scrutinize the words you use like a lawyer picking apart clauses in a contract. Ask, "Is there anything here that someone could potentially resist, or object to?"

If so, slice it out. You'll find your calls progressing more smoothly and quickly.

Continue having your best sales 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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Managing a Prima Donna in Business to Business Sales
by Kevin Davis

Most sales managers I know have a love/hate relationship with the prima donnas on their sales teams. They love the star player’s passion and hard work. They hate the self-centered behaviors that demoralize or discourage the rest of the team.

That leaves sales managers with a dilemma: If they come down hard on a prima donna, that salesperson may just take his/her talents elsewhere. Not good. But a sales manager can’t afford to ignore the situation, either, because prima donnas are often engaged in behaviors detrimental to the team.

A simple truth in sales management is that what you don’t confront, you condone.

What can you do then? At least part of the solution is for you to look in the mirror and ask, “What possible role did I have in allowing this situation to develop?” And, more importantly, “What changes do I need to make as a leader, going forward, to take advantage of my best people without letting them turn into prima donnas?”

In answering the first question, many sales managers admit that they have taken a hands-off approach with their prima donnas, simply leaving them alone for weeks or months at a time. “Hands off” is a nicer way of saying a “lack of management.”

The sales managers will also admit that often they don’t communicate performance expectations, or set standards, on anything other than production. And a “standard” is only a standard if you coach to it on an on-going basis. So, naturally, your top producers (and everyone else on the team) think that sales production is the only thing you care about.

To change the environment that created the prima donna, start by making a list of specific inter-personal “success attributes” that you would like your entire team to adopt. It’s easy to do if you think about what your prima donnas are doing that you don’t like, and write down the opposite behaviors!

Some that I came up with are to “criticize privately, compliment publicly,” “attempt to solve problems yourself before seeking help,” and “Supports others in their attempts to deal with change.” See, it’s easy.

Share this list of “success attributes” with your team, starting with the prima donna. Explain to the prima donna that you’d like him or her to take a leadership role in adopting these behaviors as an example for the team, because everyone looks up to them.

At least, that’s what you tell the prima donna. And don’t worry that they will see through what you’re trying to do! People with bad attitudes don’t usually recognize it in themselves. They are almost always blind to the ways that their own behavior is disruptive to others.

I’m suggesting that you can use their ignorance to your advantage. Don’t tell them that they, personally, exhibit these behaviors. Instead, talk individually to a prima donna about how these new success attributes would be important for the entire team to adopt.

Afterwards, talk about the attributes with the rest of the team.

If you still have problems with the prima donna after you’ve taken both of these steps, you need to escalate.

Have a heart-to-heart positive confrontation with your prima donna. Provide specific examples of their detrimental behavior and discuss its impact on the rest of the team. Then ask them, “if roles were reversed, how would they feel to be on the receiving end of that behavior?” Communicate the importance of team work, and the important role that they have in the overall performance of the team. Be very clear and specific about your expectations of their personal behavior going forward.

Passionate, hardworking, experienced and talented people deserve to be treated, in some ways, differently. They consider this special treatment a form of recognition. But in other ways—determined by you—they must be treated exactly the same as everybody else.

As a sales manager, the challenges you face are entirely different from the challenges you faced when you were a sales representative. But if you want to create an elite high-performance sales team you must step- up, and overcome this problem. You must actively manage this situation, and manage everyone on your team to your expectations—
even a peak performing Prima Donna!

In so doing, you communicate to your entire team that success is more than a number. Now, that’s Sales Management Leadership!

About The Author:

Kevin Davis, president of TopLine Leadership, is the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster! Understand Your Customer’s Buying Process and Maximize Your Sales, available wherever books are sold. His company provides custom workshops based on the “Slow Down, Sell Faster!” sales model, as well as a Sales Management Leadership workshop for sales managers. Contact Kevin through his website at www.toplineleadership.com.

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C-Level Sales Management -- Helping Salespeople Handle Gatekeepers
by Sam Manfer

As a manager, you know your salespeople will always have trouble getting to C-levels and other influential executives. So you've got to help them with ideas, your example and a push. 

The first rule of gatekeepers is “Always assume they will be blocked,” and with this in mind have discussions with your salespeople before upcoming sales calls and pursuits that go something like this. 

"Who’s your prospect?

Who's will you be meeting or calling?

What will you be prepared to say when this person resists introducing you to others on your way up and out?" 

This set of questions has many benefits. 

It reminds the sales person that his or her contact is not the final stop. Salespeople tend to stick with their main contacts for many reasons which will discuss in future articles.

It will signal your sales person that you expect him or her to keep moving up and out to those with more authority and influence. 

It gets the sales person conscious of the fact that they're probably going to be blocked. Now, if she or he hasn’t considered the idea of being blocked this will certainly get him to realize it's a distinct possibility.

It forces the sales person to prepare what he or she can do to avoid or handle the block if and when it happens.

Salespeople usually don't think about being blocked and usually feel comfortable going along with their main contacts. Therefore, you must coach them that no matter who their contact is - high level or in between, and no matter where they are in the sales cycle - they will be blocked and they must be prepared to avoid or handle it. This applies to B2B sales, selling to doctors and other professionals, and even selling capital goods to consumers. 

So let's get you as a manager prepared. Suppose you're reviewing prospects and sales opportunities with one of your salespeople.

What will you say?

What will you listen for?

Then, what suggestions will you give if your sales person argues that there will not be a block, or when he fumbles on what to do if there is one?

See, it's important for you to be just as prepared as it is for your salespeople to be prepared. Take a moment and think about this. Write down your ideas. As you’ll see later, they will become very handy. 

For example I was talking with a manager today and telling him about this article. He said, "That's all well and good Sam, but what should we do about voicemail?"

Well, if you think about it, voicemail is a block. So I asked him, "Before you make a phone call, do you think about what you're going to say, or do, if you get a voicemail? What if you encounter an admin and she is resistant to put you through to her boss?" 

"Well, I've been doing this for a long time and I figure out something to say in the moment," he said. 

So I asked him, "Give me a few examples of what you would do knowing you were going to be blocked by the voicemail or an admin." He then quickly rattled off three or four things he would do.

So I told him, “Write these ideas down and keep them close by. Review them before you make your next call. Better yet, go over these with your salespeople so that they get prepared for the blocks they are sure to get via voicemails, admins or their contacts.” 

Now let's apply this to you. You make sales calls either with your salespeople or for your own accounts. You know intuitively you'll frequently get blocked by your contact or an admin or the voicemail. Make a list of the things you might say and do in those situations. Again, preparation is the key. Having a list ready to look at is an easy way to get prepared. It’s an easy way to become more successful. And it's an easy way to coach your salespeople. 

Salespeople tend to charge ahead until they get stopped. Then they try to figure out what to do on the spot. Some can pull it off and some can't. However even the best will be served if they stop and put their gatekeeper game plan together before they encounter the gatekeeper. The only way this will happen is if you help them get prepared. I guarantee they won't do it by themselves.

So share your ideas with them. Role-play with them. Follow-up with them after a call to see what success they had getting past the gatekeeper. Ask them what worked, and what they would consider doing differently in the future. 

This is one step along the way to becoming a great coach and manager. Once your people see you're serious and persistent they will start preparing their blocker strategies before they encounter the blockers. And, you know if they can prevent the block and can handle gatekeepers, they will be far more successful closing sales. 

However, it starts with you, the manager. Practice what you’ll say to each of your sales people when you reviews prospects and forecasts. Write down some ideas to give them and keep adding ideas to it. If they see you’re prepared, they will get serious about getting themselves prepared.

About The Author:

Sam Manfer delivers key note speeches and in-depth selling work shops for those anxious to increase sales. His hands-on coaching turns individuals and sales organizations into selling whirlwinds. Sam’s selling awards and $ Million sales recognitions support his methods. His book, TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER$ along with his Matching Chemistry’s CD and sales seminars replace selling myths and clichés that frustrate decision makers with a proven approach that captures their attention. Follow Sam’s C-Level Selling Blog for more insights. Sign-up for his free Selling E-Zine. 

Visit his website at: http://www.sammanfer.com/

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