I’m sorry ____ is no longer with the company (prospecting tip 3 of 5)

Hi my name is Lynn and I’ve received the following news when calling a customer who I was in the middle of a project with:

“I’m sorry ________ is no longer with the company”

and NOT had another contact.

Aaaaargh

Talk about kicking yourself!

Plus  –  fired, retired, quit: it doesn’t matter why they left all that matters is your relationship went *poof*

Some of you may be saying “well I only talk with decision makers”. Really? First of all I don’t believe in ONE Decision Maker:

  • How about the person tasked with gathering information? … if you don’t get gathered you will not even be in when a decision is made.
  • What about the person who determines something is broken to the point it needs fixing BUT doesn’t buy anything? … they can give you insight into what is coming up “next” or in the near future.
  • There are also those evil committees and boards who decide if ANY money really needs to be spent. Are they the decision maker?
  • Add a dash of purchasing departments. Maybe they only process the order, or compare prices, or decide who to buy from, or put you on an approved vendor list. Are you speaking with them?
  • Plus the boss who may need to “sign off” on something. Would you call the boss?

This next one needs a story before you will believe me. As a relatively new salesperson in the IT industry I took over a buying account when one of my successful colleagues earned a promotion.

Not knowing any better, I called everyone who’s name was in our CRM database. *gasp*

This guy John answered and I did the “hey we do business w/you but haven’t spoken with you – what do YOU do?” intro (I know doesn’t fit what we’ve been talking about lately but I was young). His answer was “oh the same thing as Bill who works with you.”

Again, not knowing any better I asked “why don’t you do business with us?” wait for it…

“because no one from your company has ever bothered to call me.”

You heard it – the only reason he didn’t buy was because we weren’t calling him. He didn’t feel special, needed, or wanted.

  • Are you talking with everyone on the TEAM who does the same job, but may just make their own decisions regarding what to buy and who to buy it from?

That is just my short list. If we talk about what UpYourTeleSales.com sells, I want to talk with the head of the sales organization ~ line level managers ~ anyone who has anything to do with training (maybe HR or a development group) ~ salespeople.

The larger the organization, the more people I want to know about UpYourTeleSales.com!

Why? When someone is making a purchasing decision ~ you want everyone involved to say “Oh I know them” (and in a good way!)

It is amazing how smoothly a decision to purchase from me can be if

  • a line level manager says “yeah, lots of my salespeople get their A Chip off The Block newsletter”
  • or the director of sales passes on my info to the training manager
  • or a salesperson says “I would really like to attend this UpYourTeleSales.com teleseminar”.
  • or “I’ve been to some of their free events and think their spin on Objection Handling is innovative and will really help in our business.”

Now there are some people who are asking “What if I sell a really specialized thing?”

I’ll admit that in some sales and/or organizations it may be one person determining something needs to be done, what to buy, and who to buy it from.  Even there you don’t want to be caught! Here is the Minimum Three

  1. decision maker
  2. their boss
  3. someone in purchasing

Final Safety Tip: Now don’t go trying to start relationships if you’re in the midst of a deal ~ then you’re “going around” the person you are currently talking with. Instead, work for a conference call where it makes business sense FOR THEM to involve someone else.

Our next prospecting tip (#4) discusses the evils of voicemail. Just kidding I’m a proponent of leaving well crafted voicemail messages. Need a preview? Check out A Chip Off the Block: Go Fly A Kite Edition

Watch your language! (prospecting tip 2 of 5)

Even if you can’t see it, when salespeople talk about their stuff (short hand for products & services) prospects & customers are rolling their eyes.

If you were here for our last post, I hope you have worked on your list of what your stuff:

  • increases
  • decreases

and started to think in terms of what it does for your customers!

Now think about your messaging: opening statements, voicemail messages (more on those later in the month), follow through emails….. you know the language you use when you are speaking with prospects and customers.

If you are like me – right now you’re horrified at the “me, me, me” sound of your messaging.

The good news is, you can change that.

The bad news is it will take LOTS of effort!

step 1: the easy part

When I tell you step 1 is easy, I should say “easier” instead. Don’t get me wrong, wrapping your head around word changes and making them sound like you takes effort too.

Creating Your New Language

Now with that great list of what your products and services increases and decreases start brainstorming for words that describe those things. Need an example?

Time:

  • Occasion: moment, lash, instant, jiffy, minute, second, shake, split second, trice, twinkle, wink, while
  • Adventure: experience, happening, escapade, lark, act, action, deed, doing, exploit, episode, occasion, baptism, ordeal, test, trial, tribulation, enterprise, risk, venture, expedition, exploration, feat, mission, performance, quest, stunt
  • Duration: ate, life, life span, lifetime, run, standing, spell, stretch; span, tenure, term, hitch, tour, turn
  • Age:  day, epoch, era, period, cycle, generation, year, span, spell, stretch, while

All that from going to http://www.merriam-webster.com and using the the thesaurus function.

If on your increase/decrease list you have “decrease time to implement” you’re not going to use epoch… or maybe you are “Tired of feeling like you’ve completed an epoch journey after your software upgrades? That is why our developers took care to ensure an easy upgrade path even with customization.”

yup, just made that up while typing. You know why, because I didn’t worry about it being PERFECT. So make sure while you play around with this you follow a few simple rules.

  1. brainstorming comes up with crazy ideas ~ don’t limit your own thinking, that comes in the editing stage LATER
  2. if you’ve never used mind mapping this may be the time to use the technique
  3. work with other salespeople selling the same stuff? this would be a great working lunch project ~ multiple people bring different perspectives.
  4. once you have all the ideas out there, step 1 is to make sure you try out the words out loud (antiestablishmentarianism may be a cool word, but it will not help you sell if you can’t say it easily and with confidence).
  5. edit your brainstorming to what YOU would say ~ that means the lovely team you created needs to break up and work this part out on their own
  6. create a few catch phrases for yourself along with how you would use them in an email (the written and spoken messages will probably look different, but with the same intention).

safety tip = there are salespeople out there who at this point are saying “but I work for a company, they do all the marketing and they DON’T do what you’re talking about.” Well if you’re looking for an excuse not to put in the effort on your own, congratulations – that is a great excuse, use it!

If instead you’re looking to increase your ability to sell, realize you can change… how you talk with prospects and customers… how you communicate the value of what you sell… how you word the short emails you send after sales conversations.

step 2: the hard part

Changing Your Own Behavior

Now that you have your messaging, it is time to try it out.

Play around with the new language you’ve created for the next week ~ give yourself permission to edit as you go along (as long as it still meets the criteria of what does the prospect get/what does it do for them).

The only thing I can promise is that:

  • it will feel weird (changing habits always will)
  • it will take constant effort (think about taking a different route to work each day)
  • the more stress in your day, the more difficult it will be to NOT fall back into your habits from before
  • it takes around 90 days to really get a new roll going (30 days to refine what you want to do, 30 days to repeatedly break your own pattern, 30 days to solidify the new one in your repertoire).

Please remember that for some of you (or us I should say) we have developed what we say over YEARS. It will be very easy to go back to your old ways in the beginning, forgive yourself when that happens ~ take a deep breath and say

“but you don’t care about that,

what you want to know is

what _________ will do for you…”

and start over.

Now that you have what you need to begin changing the language you use when speaking with prospects and customers, the effort begins!

Prospecting tip 3 in the next post will discuss WHO you talk with. Need a preview? Check out A Chip Off the Block: Go Fly A Kite Edition

But why do I care? (prospecting tip 1 of 5)

Every time a salesperson opens their mouth ~ even if the person they are talking with is already a customer ~ the person listening is THINKING “but why do I care?”

Seriously, as salespeople it is our job to connect the dots from the problem/issue/concern/challenge/pain (pick a word for yourself) the prospect is having …. DIRECTLY to what our product or service does to fix it!

Notice I don’t say “what your product does” because your prospects and customers just don’t care. If I were in marketing, I would start to explain about features… but I’m not so I won’t!

I will stress that the facts about your product or service don’t interest anyone. You know, it is the stuff we’re really proud of:

  • small or big
  • how long the warranty is
  • all the beautiful colors
  • fast or slow
  • how it is made
  • where it is made

I’ll also tell you why the stuff you sell is WONDERFUL doesn’t interest anyone either!

  • smaller or bigger
  • longer warranty or faster replacement than the competition
  • brighter, more options, longer lasting colors
  • faster or slower
  • 10 step process….
  • made locally

no one cares but YOU, so stop talking about what it is or why it is great and

start talking about WHY THEY CARE

Sound easy? It’s not – believe me I try all the time to follow my own advice, then hear myself talk about my “stuff” and mentally kick myself.

To begin, take the advice of Jill Konrath in her new book SNAP Selling and begin by making a list of everything your product or service

  • increases
  • decreases

that will begin to change your thought process from what it is ~ into what it does for your prospects and customers.

Need another great idea?  Talk with your best customers about what it does for them! No better way to find out what your products and services do than ask the people who are already using them (plus there is the bonus that they will recommit themselves to you).

Next week we will work on how to incorporate all your new found information into your sales conversations, so be ready with the answer to But why do I care?

Need a preview? Check out A Chip Off the Block: Go Fly A Kite Edition

Issue 15: Go Fly A Kite Edition

I am someone who has a kite in my car – just in case.

Not that I’m expecting a kite emergency or anything, rather if someone tells me to “go fly a kite” I’m prepared.

Once I heard June 15th is

Go Fly A Kite Day

I decided I needed to figure out a way to celebrate, using the theme for this month’s newsletter is it!

After you read this month’s newsletter, perhaps you’ll go out and fly a kite yourself.

PLUS, stick around this month to see an expansion on all 5 Prospecting Tips!

LOVE what you do!

I can’t stress enough that the only thing adults do more than work is sleep – so if you can’t have fun at work, where can you have fun?

As you look at your job, work, career there will always be tasks and things we’re responsible for that we don’t want to do. I’m NOT saying to stop doing those things. Instead:

  • stop complaining about them; when you are doing the stuff you don’t enjoy, consider that activity what they are paying you for!
  • minimize the time it takes; if we didn’t drag our feet on the stuff we don’t want to do, it would probably take 1/2 the time to complete.
  • maximize the time we spend on the parts we LOVE to do; make sure you give yourself enough time each day to do the parts of the job you enjoy.
  • desert first? know what motivates you: doing what you love 1st and having the enthusiasm carry  you through OR the anticipation of fun later driving you to finish.

Now that we’re over the stuff we don’t like. Lets look at our overall attitude about what we do.

One of my customers always says “I’m invincible” when you ask him how he is doing.

One day, I asked him why – his response surprised me “if I begin the day invincible – even on my worst days I’m still good by the time I go home”

That reminds me of how much of life is attitude. So even if you’re not in your dream job, what would it take to love what you do?

Of course,  my “last resort” option is – if you don’t love what you do; start planning a profitable departure!

  • list your successes (or ask someone to help you if you can’t think of any) to prove to yourself that you’re valuable
  • research the latest format/formula and update your resume
  • start figuring out what you are passionate about
  • find a way to be paid to do that

Need help? Check out Jonathan Fields book Career Renegade it doesn’t put in the effort for you, but might just give you the structure to help you figure it out.

LOVE what you do already?

It will still help you to find the things you love & do them more often! Keep your passion and your purpose in the front of your mind.

Enjoy every day at work and it will stop feeling like a 4-letter word.

What advice would you give this sales manager about customer contact?

Hello – one of my clients received the following email from his manager. Now I have definite ideas, I’m curious what advice you would give this sales manager about customer contact. Regards, Lynn (yes I deleted all identifying info AND corrected the spelling – that is a whole different discussion)

Subject: Call your customers

Team,

This is a great time to call back your customers. Many of you have not called all your customers for a while.

Just call and check with them how they are doing. It goes a long way in helping you get additional business.

Sincerely

if you are on LinkedIn and belong to:

you could join the conversation there instead.

I’ll be writing an article with my thoughts & yours! Of course I’ll share that as well 😉

Lynn