Monthly Archives: October 2006

Sales Needs Less Leads? Only If You Can’t Manage Them

Articles like this–Three Reasons Why Sales Needs Fewer Leads–drives me crazy! It also demonstrates why you shouldn’t look to CRM for a customer acquisition solution. They just don’t get it. There is talk about giving sales less leads because somehow less means better???

Take for instance this paragraph:

In the past, sales reps have wasted huge amounts of time following up on unqualified leads from marketing. For this reason, sales reps–especially those who make their money through commission– become resistant to marketing-generated leads, assuming they’re the same old, same old. Thus, these leads are largely ignored.

Where is the solution? Why not verify the lead before the sales person ever gets the lead? Don’t generate less, just verify better.

If you have the efficiency of lead verification and lead management your marketing lead quantity and quality are a moot point.

I say feed me lots of conversations at the right price and I will blow up your Top Line!

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5 Instant Rapport Builders–4 Min Rapport Pitch

Did you know reporter and rapport have the same Old French word origin, “to bring back?” I came across this by accident as I was making sure I correctly spelled rapport (not repoire, which is not a word, but remains a frequent search term to my blog). I think this origin is important to building this sales skill. You have “to bring something back” to the customer that makes your interaction valuable. So, let’s look at 5 things we can do “to bring back” to the customer, or the 4 min rapport pitch:

1. Don’t waste your prospects time

Tell them immediately you are not going to take more than 4 minutes of their time (they won’t believe you if you say 5. It’s like the old line, “Officer I only had 2 beers,” and the police officer’s replies, “Yeah, you and every other DUI on the road.”).

After that commitment, start your stopwatch and then tell them the purpose of your call in 10 seconds or less. When your stopwatch hits 4 minutes, regardless of how good the conversation is going, tell them that your time is up and you don’t want to encroach further on their day.

If your product or service is compelling they will beg you to stay or follow up. Regardless, you just built the top buying motivator–TRUST.

2. Turn something you know about the prospect into a story

How hard is this with Google? Look at your lead screen (I assume you have a rocking lead management system that makes this possible) and find something to build a story from…Have you been to where they live, did your spouse or girlfriend grow up there, is their local sports team having a good or bad year, can you find some interesting factoid about where they live or them? This process tells your prospect that you took time to prepare for them and are not just one of hundreds in your queue.

Our little secret…they are one of 100s of personal experiences you will create with the 30 seconds magic of a Google search. Everyone likes a personal story or touch. Here is an example: I recently sent an email to a prospect in Hawaii. I went to their website and noted that their entire company directory was full of native Hawaiian surnames. I closed my email with “Aloha,” instead of my usual “Best Regards.” I got the deal.

3. Attitude Plus Aptitude Leads to Altitude

I’m not sure where this came from, but my Dad always told this to me and it brings results.

Get out of your chair, stand up straight, puff out your chest, and smile. You will be the brightest voice they will hear all day–I guarantee. Then add in a little aptitude, with a follow up thank you email that include a valuable one pager educating them on their buying decision or a pointer to an Internet article that adds to your just concluded call.

Attitude + Aptitude = Soaring Sales!

4. Spend 1 Minute Listening

Spend at least 1 of your 4 minutes listening. Never talk more than 30 seconds straight without engaging the prospect for feedback. Never interrupt the prospect or force them back to your bullet point script. Answer their questions and shape your 4 minute message to their needs.

5. Always Follow Up!

Regardless of the outcome of any call or sales process ALWAYS follow up. Let them know that you appreciated their time, that you are always available for future questions (even if they don’t become your customer), and that you will follow up to ensure their needs are met (even if they aren’t your customer).

The fastest sales cycle and the most loyal buyer is one that is disappointed by their first choice and you were their safety net. This is my favorite sale and no one does it!

Rapport is “bringing back” value to the customer

Every one of these rapport builders is about “bringing back” something of value to the prospect, not a rigid script. Practice engaging in good conversation and tuning your ear for subtle indicators of where you can give before you get.

Be Referable

I just received my latest weekly edition of Sales Caffeine from Jeffrey Gitomer.

A quick side note: if you have not subscribed to this free ezine (Go subscribe now!) or read one or more of Jeffrey Gitomer’s books (Go buy one now–I recommend starting with the Little Red Book of Selling) you are probably not at full sales capability. He is a great resource and recurring motivation.

In this edition, he leads with an article on becoming referable. His key point is that “a referral is earned, not asked for.” That’s great, but how do I earn it? Gitomer offers these steps:

1. Be likeable. This is the first prerequisite. Without a friendly relationship, there is no need to go further.

2. Be reliable. The company, the product, the service, AND you, must be “best,” and “there when needed.”

3. The customer considers you an expert in your field. To be referable, you must have an expertise that breeds customer confidence.

4. They trust you. The customer is CERTAIN that you will do everything in the referred party’s best interest, like you have with theirs.

5. You have a track record of performance. You have already done the same thing with the customer and they’re comfortable that you can repeat the performance.

5.5 They consider you valuable – a resource, not a salesman. Not just, “do what you say.” There’s no real value there. I mean, provide value to the customer beyond your product and service. Helping the customer to profit more, produce more, or some other form of value, either attached to your product or not. Not value in terms of you, value in terms of the customer.

That makes it pretty straight forward, but let’s talk about putting this into action:

  1. Being likable. As you are drilling through 60-80 calls per day and getting no contact or rejection on the majority your likability can spiral down with your attitude. What are some solutions to a declining attitude? Stand up on calls, smile while you talk, remember the prospect did not give you a bad day, but their YES can surely turn it good, listen more than you talk, ask them what they need and how you can make this a great experience–they will tell you and then you have a 100% customer satisfaction action plan
  2. Being reliable. Call them back! Even when nothing is going on. The mortgage process is a start and stop, hurry up and wait process, and silence is deadly to pull through and customer satisfaction. Touch base every few days throughout the process, even if nothing is needed from the customer, just to tell them everything is okay and progressing
  3. Being an expert. Build this confidence by educating your customer. This is your thread of credibility behind your pitch. Don’t exude your expertise throughout the sales process. Keep you calls short and respectful of their time, but send them brief articles you have prepared or pointers to items on the Web as you think the information is appropriate
  4. Being trustworthy. Doing something or leading you customer into a decision with your commission as the focus is deadly. Keep their needs at the center and your commissions will roll in, in multiples of this sale
  5. Creating a track record. Every referral is a golden opportunity to reinforce and produce more. Treat them as such
  6. Being a resource, not a salesman. Add value outside your transaction. If they are trying to do a cash-out refi because they have hit hard times? Can you call a recruiter and get them a referral. Nothing is more powerful than making a call for your customer!

Although last year’s JD Power & Associates Mortgage Originations Customer Satisfaction Survey indicated that “more than 40 percent of borrowers indicate they utilize the Internet as a resource for gathering information during their lender shopping process” it also noted that “61 percent of recent borrowers asked their friends family members, their realtor or other personal acquaintances for recommendations on choosing a mortgage company.”


Assess Rejection, Then Move On

Business-to-consumer call center sales will include rejection, but your attitude and your constant drive to improve will give you success. When you are rejected ask why, learn, then press forward.

Landing The Deal Blog talks about accepting rejection:

“Selling, like baseball, is a numbers game pure and simple. Rejection is to be anticipated as a natural aspect of the qualification process, so do not take it personally. Learn from rejection by using it as a valuable feedback mechanism. Salespeople who take rejection personally lack perseverance and seldom make the sale.”

Only diligent discipline yields results in sales. Easy is for quiters.

(Via Landing The Deal.)

Mission Effective Sales Management Tool

My neighbor, a recently retired F-15 pilot, and I were reminiscing about flying in the Air Force. It was amazing, as we talked, all of little nuances, techniques, and efficiencies that are standardized in high performance flying. These are the things that made us sharp, precise, and mission effective. Whenever I flew, and even with my neighbor now, I was confident that we could be mission effective the first and every time we flew together even though we had never trained or served together.

A big part of this efficiency and standardization occurs in the cockpit. Here is a photo of an F-15 cockpit.

It is complex and dense with information and controls. However, a pilot when he straps on his jet has minimal range of motion–so it all has to be right there. The cockpit has to be designed so the pilot can gather all of the information they need and make adjustments in a split second with minimal movement; all of the while keeping their hands on the controls and their head and eyes outside, in the fight.

As we sat there telling flying war stories it made me think of the parallels in building a mission effective sales management tool:

  • It needs to fit the user like a glove, like strapping on your jet–once you are in the system you should have everything to close a deal, without leaving the cockpit
  • It needs to be like a fighter pilot’s cockpit–dense with information and controls, but able to gather information and make adjustments split second
  • It needs to be efficient like a cockpit design–allowing you to operate at high velocity, without slowing down to use the system

I think a picture illustrates it better than words. Here is a mission effective sales cockpit.

icoSales is a mission effective sales tool. Much like the fighter pilot’s cockpit above, it has one primary screen with everything at your finger tips to close a deal.

  • If you need to dial or email the customer, it is there
  • If you need to remember your last conversation, it is there
  • If you need to document your conversation, it is there
  • If you need to send an email follow-up, it is there
  • If you need to start a drip email campaign, it is there
  • If you need to schedule a follow up conversation, it is there
  • If you need to take an application, it is there
  • If you need to take a deposit, it is there
  • If you need to send offers or program options, it is there

There are no distractions. It allows you to keep your head out of the cockpit and engaged with the customer.

Mission Effective is not stumbling through Outlook, Excel spreadsheets, Mail merge, Goldmine, and notes on legal pads.

Mission Effective is doing more deals while maintaining a fanatical customer experience.

CRM is not for Sales

Here is another post–B2B Lead Generation Blog: E-book: Why Naked CRM Doesn’t Work–supporting the concept that CRM is actually working against sales and ultimately marketing.

This disconnect often occurs when software is developed with the buyer in mind not the USER. CRM and arguably ERP software categories were designed from the management reporting down. “I want this reporting information so create fields and check boxes that my business sales people can fill in to tell me what is going on.”

Sales software, customer acquisition, or lead management systems (pick your favorite term) should track the sales flow and enforce a disciplined, proven sales process. Let me explain in more detail.

When you log onto the typical CRM system you are immediately overwhelmed by the fact that you have to spend hours setting up you sales environment.

  • Day 1: I have to get my contacts in, set-up my defined tasks, connect with my email account, go through my prospects and assign various statuses or percentages. Ugh. There went a day of production.
  • Day 2: My email still doesn’t work with it. My voicemails is full and I still don’t have my new leads inputted. Another day and no sales calls. So, I go through and BS my statuses to catch up and keep the Sales Director off my back.
  • Day 3: Beyond ridiculously frustrated. But, I figured out how to game the system. I go back to managing my sales in Outlook and a legal pad. Thank heavens I am SELLING again.

Now let’s replace the CRM system with a good lead management system (maybe even make the CRM the back-end for purposes of management reporting and cool customer loyalty stuff). When you log in you see your first lead and support features like scheduling and email templates.

  • Day 1: Leads flowing in automatically and new ones in real-time. They are load and shoot style. They are loaded up one at a time, which intensely focuses me on shooting them down with an action or a closing to move to the next prospect. Wow, I am selling! And each action on every lead goes to management reporting.
  • Day 2: My pipeline is beginning to fill with leads at various stages, but the load and shoot method still keeps me revisiting each lead on a regular basis, nurturing and cultivating each lead, moving them forward. I feel a rhythm.
  • Day 3: I am selling! Making calls, scheduling appointments, sending email teasers, ticklers, and campaigns all from my sales console. No need to go to Outlook, everything is here. No distractions…I feel my sales velocity increasing. Oh, and no one is on my back because my actions are automatically captured for reporting.
  • (Via B2B Lead Generation Blog.)

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