Tag Archives: sales advice

5 tips for a super productive friday

 

Inspired Fridays

Who doesn’t love fridays?   The stresses and strains of a tough week are almost over, the sublime relaxation and fun of the weekend is just around the corner and most of us are counting the minutes until we get out of the office and on our way to two days of freedom.

Thing is, good though fridays are, this whole “TGIF” (or TFIF for those with a slightly cruder grasp of the english language) mindset can be extremely damaging to your productivity.

So, with that in mind, and the fact that I’m only a couple of hours away from freedom myself, here’s 5 tips for making the most of that friday feeling without taking the polish off the impending weekend

  1. Analyse and plan.     Rather than waste your friday nattering about your plans for the weekend, take some time to review your activity and achievements from the previous week and to plan your upcoming week based on your findings.   Monday morning’s are never a good time to be planning your week and, knowing you’ve already planned out next week before you pop off for the weekend will give you and enormous sense of wellbeing and smug satisfaction.
  2. Change your prospecting day to a friday.    Friday’s are a great day for prospecting.   Yes there’ll be a percentage of people that have taken a long weekend but, those you do speak to will be more likely to be in the office, more responsive, more receptive and in a much better mood than he/she may typically be mid week
  3. Clear out the rubbish – metaphorically speaking that is, although if you feel that emptying your bins is a productive activity that’s going to help you achieve your sales figures then by all means go ahead.  No, by clear out the rubbish I mean getting through all the unfinished but relatively non urgent tasks that have built up over the course of the week.  Responding to emails, writing blog posts (!), chasing up proposals etc etc.   Clear them off now and that’s a whole lot less you’ve got to deal with next week
  4. Organise regular team meetings – this kind of fits in with number one although number one was more for your own personal planning and satisfaction.   A friday review meeting can be far more productive than the traditional first thing on monday morning when a good portion of your team is bleary eyed and possibly hungover from the weekend.  It’s a nice, friendly finish to the week and helps to ensure the team start their new week focused and strategically poised!
  5. Remember – your competitors will be slacking.   TGI friday (not the restaurant) is a widely adopted mindset.   Many salespeople treat friday as a non day, meaning they’re only really working 4 days per week – add in an extra day per week of true productivity, you’ve got approximately 50 or so more workdays per year than those TGI slackers.   Fight the urge to relax until it’s hometime!

And if you need help with any aspects of sales and marketing for your business, do get in touch on 01384 566 078 – we love to talk!

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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Cold calling – listen, don’t pitch!

pitch

One of the things that consistently amazes and amuses me about those that are, shall we say, less than skilled at making cold calls is their insistence on repeatedly
pushing when it’s clear the prospect (me in this instance) is not interested in their offering.

To give you an example, I had a call yesterday which followed on from an email I’d received from the same company a week previously.     If I’m honest, I did see the email but couldn’t really work out what it was they were offering (goes to show the strength of the email itself wasn’t particularly good either).

The email rattled through how they provide these solutions for companies in these sectors and utilised many of the standard, dull terms companies use when they’re trying to seem “businessy” ie synergies, ROI, processes, blah blah blah and included a common line which I’m seeing increasingly that hints that I’m likely to be so interested that they’d like to schedule a call with me at such and such a time.   Very presumptive considering I don’t even understand what you’re selling me yet.

So, phone rings, enthusiastic young (I’m guessing) salesperson who rattled through his name and introduction so quickly my ears couldn’t fully process what this sound was, asked if he could speak to the person responsible for…… and barely even allowed me time to confirm that was me.

From the cacophony of words that formed his pitch I managed to extrapolate that the company offered “Contact centre solutions” – so, phones and diallers.   Something we don’t need.

So, I told him, in detail that our CRM system has dialling capabilities and we’re in the process of updating our phones with a business partner who we already work with.   Subtext – not interested

He then pushed on, completely ignoring my comment, saying that their system isn’t a CRM system, it’s a dialler.

So, I repeated myself.  This continued for another 2 or 3 interactions, every time I spoke it was to tell him that we already had this in hand, every time replied it was to ask me the same question in a slightly different manner.

Politely, I let him know that this wouldn’t be something we’d be looking to pursue currently and thanked him for his time – Subtext – Good bye.

And he then did something which I would guess he’s read in a sales book or learned on a training course.    Can I ask why you’re not interested.

The conversational straw that broke the camel’s back.

Needless to say, they were the remaining, dying seconds of that call and no, we won’t be using their company.

The big, big issue here – aside from the terrible intro to the call was the fact that he just refused to pick up on the rather obvious signals that I was not likely to need what he was offering.    Pick up on the signals.!

Yes, I encourage the use of questions but you’ve first got to warm the prospect up to the point where he or she is willing to answer them.    You cannot expect a prospect who you’ve just irritated to open up and share their wants/needs and problems with you.

To be fair to him, there was a point after the initial objection I gave where he did slightly turn me around, for a fraction of a second.   My initial assumption that this was a CRM system he was offering was not entirely accurate but, as soon as we’d established that our CRM included what he was offering, my interest waned.  His persistence in questioning me didn’t.

So, if you’re making a cold call – get your intro right – show appreciation for the prospects time – earn the right to ask questions – handle the objections effectively without annoying the prospect and, pick up on the signals – listen, don’t just pitch!!!!!

And if you need help with any aspects of sales and marketing for your business, do get in touch on 01384 566 078 – we love to talk!

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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Quick tip for obtaining UK head office numbers

 Front head office 2

If you’re looking to target a prospect that works in a large, publicly known company, one of the first challenges you’ll often come up against is obtaining any phone number that doesn’t divert to a customer service line.

Big companies would rather not have to speak to the general public and often hide their numbers away, meaning your only route is to speak to a customer service or support representative.     Time consuming and exhausting for both parties.   You don’t want to have to explain the intricate details of your solution to them and they most definitely don’t want to have to listen to it.

The best you can do in that situation is to ask for a head office switchboard number and, all being well, your friendly customer service rep will give you the number you need and you’ll be on your way.

However, many companies have a policy of not giving out head office numbers and are often even less willing to pass on numbers of the regional office where your prospect may be based – if indeed they know the numbers in the first place.

So, a quick tip for you and I apologise to any overseas readers – haven’t had cause to explore whether there’s similar websites out there in the wider world.

Go onto www.saynoto0870.com – click on “search to find an alternative number” on the top left hand corner, pop in the name of the company you’re looking for and, providing there’s numbers listed, lots of helpful members of the public will have added additional numbers for various offices & departments.

Incidentally I’m not an affiliate of saynoto0870, it’s just a site I’ve used for a number of years and found to be extremely useful so I thought I’d share it with you, my cold calling warriors.

And if you need help with any aspects of sales and marketing for your business, do get in touch on 01384 566 078 – we love to talk!

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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We’re all selling so why are people so against it?

Sales-Pitch

If your job title includes “sales” “business development” “Corporate development” or any one of a number of different variations on the theme, you are expected, for a large part of your working hours, to be selling.

However, whatever role you fulfil within your business, chances are that sales will form some part of it.   Every one of us has a responsibility to represent our respective businesses in a professional manner and a good part of that professional manner is in ensuring you position your business as being the best solution to your clients problems.   You may not even realise it but, if you work in the accounts department, for example, you’ll be selling your businesses offering every time you speak to a client.

If you work in operations, the very fact that you’re helping to manage a team and, presumably have confidence in that team means that, whenever you’re speaking to a client – both internal and external, you’ll be doing some selling.

So, why are so many against the idea of sales?     On linkedin, for example – the leading, if not only social media platform for business, we’re all looking to increase our connections, increase our exposure, promote ourselves and our businesses yet a huge cross section of people on there take real issue with connections contacting them to sell the services or products of their business, despite doing it themselves.

When cold calling, the vast majority of prospects you speak to don’t truly appreciate the introduction.  There’s suspicion in abundance and, no matter how nicely you introduce yourself, no matter how pleasant and charismatic you may be over the phone, prospects always have a high level of suspicion on that first call.   We’re all looking to make a buck, keep the economy going yet there’s a growing subculture of people who, whilst quite happy to have their own sales teams promoting their offering, don’t like the idea of anyone approaching them to sell them something.

Now I’ve always been a firm believer in repositioning yourself when engaging in the sales process – view it as an opportunity to match a solution to a problem rather than looking to talk someone into something they don’t want.

That will certainly help you and, in time, will hopefully make the sales process easier for all of us.   We’re fact finders, facilitators, problem solvers, not pushy, aggressive, arrogant, money hungry vultures (well, some of us anyway)

Personally, whilst I don’t appreciate every sales call I get (most are terrible), I do try to give the person calling me some time to at least demonstrate what they’re offering because, you never know.  Just because you’re “happy” with your current supplier or solution, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better option out there and, if the sales person approaching me comes at it from a perspective of looking to help me make improvements then I’ll be all the more likely to listen.

And if you need help with any aspects of sales and marketing for your business, do get in touch on 01384 566 078 – we love to talk!

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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Objection Handling – “Send me an email” – genuine or a waste of your time?

Inspired Business Development Email

The world of work is laden with emails these days.   As a working society we seem to have fallen into a pattern of emailing colleagues, prospects and friends for many things which could quite easily – and much more quickly – be covered over the course of a telephone call.

Worse still, those replies create an enormous drain on our time.  Having that notification ping up every time a new email arrives takes you away from the task in hand and puts you and your time management at the mercy of others.

But that’s for a different blog post.

In this instance I’d like to talk about one of the most common objections – if you can call it that – faced by anyone having to make outbound sales and marketing calls, that ambiguous response of “can you send me an email’

This can be an extremely frustrating – and hard to manage – objection because the prospect isn’t outright telling your he or she isn’t interested, they are, however, sending you out a relatively pleasant and easy to swallow message that they’re probably not interested, they’re probably looking to get you off the phone and, if you do send it, probably aren’t going to read it.

But, as the prospect is asking you for more information, you could easily fool yourself into thinking that means they’re interested in what you have to offer.   In the vast majority of cases – you would be wrong!

So, bearing in mind that, in all likelihood, the prospect isn’t really interested – yet – the handling of this objection has to come from a perspective of putting the ball back into their court.

You need to take control of the situation – yes, you’ll be more than happy to email them but use this as an opportunity to further clarify their position – and needs.

eg:

“I’d be more than happy to email you but can I just clarify what your process is for selecting new suppliers…..”

“Certainly, I can email you – what information would you need from me?……” (and then use this information to expand the conversation further)

“I’ll gladly email you some details across – who else within the business would this be relevant for…..”

Also, it’s worth keeping in mind how precious your time is and how important your sales figures are – providing you’ve done your homework, you should be aware that this prospect is likely to benefit from what you’re offering so, if you do send an email, stress the importance of following this up.   The prospect may well be interested but you’ve just caught him/her at a bad time – agree on a date/time for a follow up call.  Let the prospect know what the purpose of that call will be, explain how long it’s likely to take and what they’re likely to get at the end of it.   If you truly believe in your offering, this should come naturally.

So, when a prospect says “send me an email”, be aware that this is most likely a tactic to get you off the phone and employ these tactics to expand the conversation, stress the benefits of speaking with you again and ensure that any emails are eye catching, laden with benefits and help to solve a problem – not just “sell” something.

Good luck!

 

And if you need help with any aspects of sales and marketing for your business, do get in touch on 0330 20 50 500 – we love to talk!

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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Open ended questions – challenge yourself to ask more

 Inspired Business Development Open Ended

Open ended questions are a staple of any sales training program.    They’re the questions that get prospects talking, the questions that uncover prospects needs and the questions which enable you to match those needs with your solution – and get the sale.

I remember on one of the first training courses I ever attended, way back in my career,  the trainer read out the Rudyard Kipling poem “Six honest serving men” which sums up the importance of open ended questions – I’m guessing he wasn’t specifically referring to these being used as part of a sales call but, the sentiment still remains.

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who

As the poem covers, open ended questions are those that end with What, Why, When, How, Where and Who.   To answer them – you HAVE to give a detailed response.   A simple No or Yes just won’t wash.

As opposed to closed questions – which will command a Yes or No response and are brilliant for clarifying or summarising information, open ended questions have a wide variety of benefits within the sales call including, but not limited to:

  • Finding out more detail
  • Uncovering objections
  • Getting a prospect’s true opinion on something
  • Encouraging creativity and “out of the box” thinking
  • Taking the focus off yourself and onto the prospect
  • Exploring alternative solutions
  • Keeping the conversation flowing

Now, for many of us, open questions aren’t a natural conversational pattern, even less so when we’re put into the potentially stressful situation of having to make a sale but, if I was to give one tip to somebody starting out in sales, I would say “ask more open ended questions”

It can even be utilised as part of your introduction – My name is xxxx, I work for xxxx, we help companies to save money on xxxx – can I just ask, what are your thoughts on that?……

We help businesses like you to….. – can I ask, if we could save you xxxx per year, how would you feel about having a short demo of our system?

Try it, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes to your sales figures, your confidence as a salesperson and, in turn, your bank balance!

And if you need help with any aspects of sales and marketing for your business, do get in touch on 01384 566 078 – we love to talk!

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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Cold calling – reposition your mindset to deal with the fear and increase your success

 Inspired Business Development Cold

Cold calling is often considered to be one of the most fear inducing activities that a salesperson has to undertake.

I’ve spoken with many highly successful salespeople who have no issues with delivering presentations to boards of eagle eyed buyers, feel perfectly comfortable with high pressured sales meetings and wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the thought of spending a day knocking on doors to secure sales appointments but, put a phone in front of them and they tremble with terror.

As with anything, successful cold calling is most definitely a skill that can be developed and honed, unfortunately for most, the majority of that development and honing can only be done in one way – by getting on the phone and making the calls.  And if your fear is stopping you from starting, how can you manage that and get on with the process of dialling – and selling?

I’ve been selling over the phone for over 20 years, having gained a lot of my initial experience in the rather challenging environment of market research, calling householders – mainly during the evenings – to ask a variety of mostly dull questions about their favourite brand of cereal or chosen supermarket.   Needless to say, most of the skill I learned during that time was how to deal with the verbal abuse we would inevitably be on the receiving end of.

Thankfully, in the B2B world, the abuse is relatively minimal, however, the fear can still rear it’s ugly head and a scared salesperson can rarely be a successful one.

I find one of the best ways of dealing with the fear of the “cold” call is to reposition yourself – by that I mean to not think of yourself as being a pest but instead to believe – truly believe – that what you are calling about is of genuine value to the prospects you’re ringing.

This isn’t just a matter of fooling yourself, it’s a matter of truly absorbing the benefits of your offering – knowing that your offering is better, cheaper, more efficient than that of your competitors.     Knowing that will do a huge amount to help combat your cold calling fear and, with that mindset adopted, will mean that your initial call to that company will be coming from a position of looking to gather information to help you improve the prospects current situation.

Who wouldn’t want to receive a call from someone that can help them?   Conversely, EVERYONE wouldn’t want to receive a call from someone looking to “sell” something to them.

So, treat the first call as a means to gather information only and BELIEVE you can help rather than sell.

Good luck!

 

And if you need help with any aspects of sales and marketing for your business, do get in touch on 01384 566 078 – we love to talk!

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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Mindfulness – great for life and Rock concerts!

rock-concert-live-stage-outside-silhouette-singers-stage-39240209

Now, you could argue that this blog post hasn’t got a great deal to do with Telemarketing or indeed with business but, having just had an absolutely amazing weekend I feel compelled to share my experiences with you, my lovely blog readers and, yes, there is a tenuous link to telemarketing and, indeed business.

After all, we work to pay for the fun and necessary things in life – the weekends give me reason to keep going in those times where working seems far less than fun.

Saturday July the 4th 2015 will forever be an important day in my life.  It was the day where, after months of waiting for my rather expensive tickets to arrive, I took my family to watch AC/DC at Wembley arena.    I’ve been a fan of AC/DC for as long as I can remember and, as a result of listening to Back in Black relatively frequently when my son was very young, he now, at the age of 10 can pretty much say he’s been a lifelong fan of the band.

So, last december, when it was announced that they were playing Wembley, I simply had to fork out the nearly £300 for tickets – one for me, one for my son and one for my wife so there was someone to look after him whilst I supped overpriced beer and leapt around like the tasmanian devil.

And what a concert, 70,000 people crammed into a hot and sweaty Wembley on a gloriously sunny July day, people of all ages, several generations of AC/DC fans going crazy.  An atmosphere like I have never experienced before.

Now, like most people these days, I’m pretty much glued to my smartphone.  I take pictures and do social media updates for the most mundane of things but, due to the importance of this particular evening I made a conscious decision not to spend the night viewing the proceedings through the lense of my iphone.    Out of the 2 hours I only recorded 2 minutes of one song and, as a result enjoyed it much more, on a far more present and real level.

I do try to practice mindfulness whenever possible – living in the moment.   Life moves more slowly, activities seem more real and vivid and, whilst I can’t show them to people, my memories are far richer, far more colourful and far more meaningful.

This concert really was one of the best moments of my 40 and a bit years on this earth and I’m glad to say, that by living in the moment and not looking at it from the perspective of “I can’t wait to put this on youtube”, it made it even better.

And there’s no reason why I should restrict this to Rock concerts – being present really does bring a greater level of richness to your life.  Yes it’s good for promoting your business to whack a load of stuff up on social media but always be present, always be in the moment and your life, and rock concerts, will be far more enjoyable.

 

Rock on!

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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Prospecting over the phone? Use the “3 prongs” method for more success

Inspired Business Development 3 prongs

It may come as no surprise that one of the methods I use most to prospect for new business is outbound calling.  After all, I do run a telemarketing business and, unlike some of those hypocritical folks that provide SEO/Social media services who state publicly that cold calling doesn’t work (as that would undermine the effectiveness of their own service offering) and then still using cold calling to generate business behind the scenes, I’m upfront about it, I KNOW that done correctly it works so, I use it for my business.

I wanted to share a process I follow when calling new business to promote our services, something I’ve inventively named the “3 prongs method”

This gives me 3x the chance of getting in touch with the relevant decision maker and helps to contribute to longer term chances of success as well as the here and now.

The “prongs” are:

1 Call the company – ask for the decision maker – if they’re available, great, do your pitch, impress, potentially get their business there and then

2 Email the decision maker – I’d suggest having a number of pre written email templates available – either in your email client or your CRM – then you can quickly change the relevant details and ping the email over

3 Using the email you’ve got for them – send them a linkedin connection request – ensuring you personalise the standard linkedin message.  We all know that the generic linkedin message looks lazy and disinterested and that’s not how you wish to come across I’m guessing.

If you want to add additional “prongs” to this, feel free – I’d suggest a follow up call/email if they don’t respond and, for any who you can’t get the email address for, send them an Inmail – again write some prewritten templates to save time

Out of the 3 prongs – the call is the most instant in terms of potential results but, as we all know, there’s no guarantee that individual will be there when you call.   The email may not get read unless you make it look informal and conversational – don’t send huge, wordy emails if you’ve not yet developed a conversation with that person – it won’t get read.

And as a final note, make sure the messages you send on linkedin (as well as the emails for that matter) convey several distinct benefits – give them a reason to want to respond.

I get enquiries coming in – and business resulting from them – years after I’ve made connections on Linkedin.  I still stand by the fact that it is one of the most useful lead generation platforms out there and, unless you take a paid membership (which I’d strongly advise), the basic membership is free!

And if you’re looking for a reliable, experienced and passionate outsourced telemarketing company to help drive more sales for your business – get in touch, we love to talk! 0330 20 50 500

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Business Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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Cold calling? What’s your exit strategy?

Inspired Business Development Exit Strategy

Over the past twenty years or so of cold calling, I’ve had plenty of advice from team leaders, sales managers and general superiors.  Some good, some bad, some, upon reflection, laughably terrible.

But, out of all the tips I’ve had, one has stuck in my mind and, I have to say is a piece of advice that I still use to this day.

“Get something out of every call”

Just to explain further – as it’s difficult to convey the full purpose of that statement in a small sentence – for every call you make, always ensure you come away with something.   Now, that something could be an order, a contact name, an email address, a follow up call, anything that you feel will help you to progress the sales process with that particular prospect.

This could translate into having a series of objectives for a call – as an example, your primary objective could be to secure a sales appointment, followed by a sliding scale of sending out information related to your offering, gathering information on budgets, contract renewal dates etc – again, anything that will contribute towards the final goal – getting a sale!

Or, viewed slightly differently, treat your additional objectives as an exit strategy – what are you going to do if the call doesn’t exactly go to plan?  Yes, in a perfect world, every sales call you make will go perfectly – the decision maker will be available to speak to, will have a few minutes spare to talk to you and will listen intently to your pitch.  In reality though, we all know that’s rarely the case so, make sure you have an exit plan in place, make sure you come away from the call with SOMETHING every single time!!!!!!

 

Dan Smith

MD
Inspired Busines Development Ltd

Inspired Business Development

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