How to handle the Hang Up

It happens. You are making cold calls and a prospect hangs up on you.

What do you do? Well, if you are most sales people, you simply scratch the prospect off your list and continue making more phone calls.

But should you? Maybe you should call the prospect back. That’s right! Because if you call him back, he may be so shocked by your persistence and guts, that he will give you a few minutes to make your pitch.

I’ve done this before in my sales career. I would call a prospect, he would hang up on me, and I would suddenly call back and say “Sorry Mr. Prospect, but it appears we got disconnected. Do you have a few minutes to speak?” About 90% of the time, the prospect will apologize and allow me to speak.

Below is a great video from YouTube that illustrates the same strategy  that I’ve used. Check it out and let me know what you think –

Social Tools Summit in Boston

The  Social Tools Summit will be held in Boston on May 12th.

From the website, the summit will “cover the tools and best practices that allow you to get the most out of your social media programs. Our session topics are timely and will likely shape your working priorities when you go back to the office. You will leave having heard from both power users and social tools experts on ways to improve your bottom line.”

Speakers will include Neal Schaffer, Glenn Gaudet, Cindy Meltzer, Debbie Miller and Aseem Badshah.

For more details, check out http://socialtoolssummit.com/#overview

5 ways to close more sales

handshake, closing salesClosing sales can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are 5 tips to help you close more sales –

1). Be prepared:

The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared.” The same applies to selling. You need to do your homework first. Research your prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Read his website – especially blogs. If they are available, download any relevant white papers, cases studies or e-books from your prospect’s website. Subscribe to your prospects newsletter. In short, you need to get inside your prospect’s head and understand his concerns and problems. Initially, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on research. But if you are dealing with a serious prospect who is trialing your service, or requesting a demo, that’s when you need to dig a little deeper to learn more about him.

2). Ask good qualifying questions:

If you really want to know what your prospect thinks, or how to help him, ask good qualifying questions. By qualifying, I mean open-ended questions that will result in more than the standard “yes” or “no” answers. You may be a professional salesperson, but start acting more like a professional journalist.

3). Be an expert in your industry: 

No matter what you are selling, you must become an expert in your industry. These days, prospects are looking for more than just order takers – they are seeking expert advice. They want you to teach them and show them the way. Frankly, most prospects have already done their research long before they contact you. They are now at the stage where they are seeking confirmation on what to purchase, or they want to use you as a sounding board. They want someone they can trust. The more you know, the more you will sell.

4). More empathy, less greed:

If you come across too desperate or greedy, it will show. Show some concern. Listen. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Remember, you are not a telemarketer making a quick sale by credit card over the phone. You are a professional salesperson who is trying to close a large sale, but more importantly, one who is developing a long-term relationship that could result in more sales and referrals down the road.

5). In fact, don’t close at all:

Most clients are too savvy these days to fall for the stereotypical closing techniques. Contrary to the advice from Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross, you shouldn’t be closing all the time. That’s for con artists – not professionals. If you done everything right throughout the sales process – ask good qualifying questions, determine needs, making sure you understand the decision-making process, ask good trial questions, and handle objections, the close should actually be the easy part.

Surprisingly, some sales people actually forget to ask for the order! Or, they are so shy, they assume the prospect will make the purchasing decision without their help. Wrong. You always need to ask for the order. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong business.

Closing should be easy. It’s getting to that point that may be difficult. As the self-help experts like to say “it’s not about the goal but the journey that matters.” Take your time. Do it right.

 

5 Ways to help Angry Customers

angry customerWe all have to deal with angry customers  at some point in our careers. That’s especially true if you work in inside sales or customer service. What are the best ways to handle those types of clients?

1). Listen and don’t interrupt

One of the best ways of dealing with angry customers is to let them vent. Sure, it’s hard to do. But the more they complain, the more they will let it out of their system. When I’m listening to a client vent, I always take good notes. It helps me better understand their problems, and I can refer to them during our conversation. Just remain calm and don’t take it personally.

2). Admit the mistake and apologize

If you know for a fact that your company made a mistake, admit it, and offer a sincere apology. Whatever you do, don’t argue. That will only make the client angrier. Also, try to use the client’s name a few times during your conversation. It’s better than saying “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am.” Using the client’s name goes a long way in making it sound more personal.

3). Try to find a solution without transferring to a manager or someone else

Nothing makes a customer more angrier than being transferred to someone else. If you know you can solve the problem, solve it yourself. Don’t pass the buck.

4). Try to avoid putting the client on hold

Yes, sometimes you don’t know the answer and you have to put a client on hold. If possible, try not to do that – it will only make your client angrier.

5). Always follow-up

Once the problem has been resolved, it’s always a good idea to follow-up a few days later. You can call or send an email. But let the client know that you sincerely care about him and want to make sure everything is OK.

Angry customers can be toxic to your company. With social media these days, a few angry comments on Yelp, Google Reviews or industry discussion boards can be a death sentence to your company unless you rapidly respond. The sooner you deal with it, the better.

 

5 mistakes to avoid when making Cold Calls

avoid cold calling mistakesCold calling is a fact of life in sales. Despite all the books and blogs announcing that cold calling is dead, the reality is that you will be making cold calls throughout your career. That being the case, here are 5 mistakes you should avoid when making cold calls –

Mistake 1 – Not having a goal in mind:

It’s not enough just to pick up the phone and start dialing. While “dialing for dollars” is a catchy phrase, the fact remains you must have a goal in mind.

Are you trying to set an appointment?

Are you trying to get the prospect to trial you service?

Are you inviting the prospect to watch a webinar?

Know why you are calling before jumping on the phone.

Mistake 2 – Not using the direct phone number:

Vorsight, a sales consulting firm, has an excellent blog post on the importance of using direct lines. See ““Direct lines: the often overlooked element of sales prospects”.

(Full disclosure: I took sales training from Vorsight).

In a nutshell, Vorsight argues that you can dramatically increase your effectiveness by using direct lines as opposed to going through the nightmare of calling the prospect’s main phone number. As we all know from experience, when you dial a main company phone number, you could literally spend several minutes going through options before you reach the decision maker. That’s time you simply don’t have when working on commission.

There are several lead generation tools on the market that you can use. For example, I’ve used Data.com (formerly Jigsaw from Salesforce.com). While not 100 percent accurate, it’s still very helpful. If you work in the IT industry, consider using RainKing. DiscoverOrg.com is also good if you are working in both the financial and IT industry. Sometimes I’ve been successful in finding a prospect’s direct phone number by using Google.

Mistake 3– Not doing some research in advance:

You are not a telemarketer. You are not using sales scripts. You have to put a little thought into making each call. You should try to be a little unique in order to stand out from the rest of the sales people making calls to your prospects. How can you do that? By doing a little research before making each call. You don’t have to spend hours researching a prospect or his business. Just go to LinkedIn – read his profile. Maybe check out the company’s website. Find some nugget of information that could help you. Example – if your prospect worked at one of your current clients, mention that. If you know for a fact that your prospect is having a problem that your product or service can help, mention that to. Being a little original can go a long way to helping you increase your sales.

Mistake  4 – Phone calls are not enough: 

With all the noise and business in the world, you can’t rely on your phone anymore to generate sales. Cold calling isn’t just picking up phone and making zillions of calls everyday. You have to use a combination of tools to get through, including email, voice mail and direct marketing pieces. Sometimes sending out unique swag like a magnet or mouse pad with your company’s logo and contact information may be the trick.

In advertising there is any old saying when trying to reach an audience – “you have to advertise on different days in multiple ways.” In cold calling, you have to contact your prospects on different days in multiple ways.

Mistake 5 – It’s not about you:

The focus should be on the prospect – not you. Doing a product or benefit dump doesn’t make sense until you learn if what you are offering has any value for your prospect. Your prospect isn’t buying products and services – he’s trying to find a solution to his problem.

Cold calling can be hard work. But it can get easier if you have a plan, get to the point, and focus on your prospect.

 

Today is Blah, Blah, Blah Day (for real)

blah blah blah daySales people are always being accused of talking too much. You know, “blah, blah, blah.”

Well, believe it or not, today is Blah, Blah, Blah Day. That’s right. It is a copyrighted holiday created by Wellcat.com. The site is created by Ruth and Tom Roy, who are credited for creating more than 70 copyrighted “holidays.”

So what does “blah blah blah mean? According to Dictionary.com, it means “and so on; and so forth.” It also means “meaningless chatter” and “idle gossip.”

So just for today, don’t be accused of saying “blah, blah, blah” to your clients or prospects – even if it is a special holiday!