Archive for October, 2009

How to quickly turn a failing sales guy into an appointment setting machine

How to quickly turn a failing sales guy into an appointment setting machine.

I was approached after one of my recent sales seminars and asked by one of the attendees to look over his appointment setting script – it was a shocker – here is a snippet with XXX in place of the name, dates and product.

>>Start

Hi (buyers first name)

Sorry to bother you do you have 5 minutes to talk right now?  Yes / No

If No = ask for a time to call back.

If Yes= ask -How are you today?

I am calling from XXX and as I am in your area next week meeting important clients on XXX I would like to see you to tell you about the benefits of XXX.

Have you got just 15 minutes to see me on XXXX?

<<<End snippet

One script can never fit all and personally I like it when salespeople develop their own style of selling on the phone but everyone needs a good starter script to begin with.  Simple as that may sound finding a good introductory sales script often seems about as easy as searching for the holly grail.

This scrip in particular started me thinking; the reason a lot of people struggle with cold calling for appointments is because they come across as begging for the appointment.  Buyers don’t buy from people who beg, a begging sales person clearly isn’t confident in their own abilities or the product and just do not project the level of professionalism required to win the trust needed to close a meeting and then to close the deal.  You don’t need hugely confident sales people either, a key success factor is just sounding confident and so a confident sounding appointment script can pay dividends.

So what is wrong with the script above? Well it makes 7 DEAL KILLING mistakes in the first 20 seconds of the conversation! Let’s look at them:

  1. “Hi buyers first name” – the buyer doesn’t know you, the first time you use their name include the surname, if you keep them on the phone long enough to use the name again you can call them by their first name without asking permission.
  2. “Sorry to bother you” – Do people really expect to be taken seriously when they start conversations with “sorry to bother you” how about just saying “Hi am not worth talking to”?  If you believe in your product then you are doing them a favour by calling them so stop apologising and start explaining how you can help.
  3. Do you have time to talk right now?  – Here is a clue – he picked up the phone!  If it’s not on voice mail they have time to talk but only if you make it worth their time to talk! This question is just asking for a straight no or a wise crack like “that depends on what you want to talk about”? And no that’s not rapport building.
  4. “How are you today” – Don’t ask me that! What business is it of yours how I am?  What if I am having a crappy day do you really want me to share that?  If I am having a good day am I going to tell a stranger on the phone?  Worse still if you are calling one of my fellow Scots they will answer “not bad” and ask “how are you” “not bad either” great, is not bad the position you want to start this sales pitch from?  You just lost momentum and gave your buyer time to think up an excuse not to engage with you.
  5. “In your area on XXX” – is that the best reason you can come up with to convince the buyer to meet with you – “You are in my area”? “Oh well then, if you are in my area I had better make time in my busy diary to see you” – Get Real.
  6. “To tell you about the benefits” –You mean make a sales pitch that is as bad as this one? Buyers don’t want to buy they want results, they want problems solved and they want expert advice from credible professional sales people.  Just tell me what’s in it for me, what specifically is different about your offering and what will it do for me.
  7. “Have you got just 15 minutes” – You can close sales in 15 minutes?  I asked the guy and he admitted that a sales meeting took at least 45 minutes and that he always over ran and had to rush his appointments.  His boss had told him to ask for 15 minutes as it was easer to get than 45 minutes, wrong it’s a hundred times harder.  You know you can’t close the deal in 15 minutes the buyer knows it and you both know you are unprofessional for not asking for enough time. Worse still the buyer now knows that you are dishonest.  Engage the buyer on the phone, ask deep and searching questions be professional, be intelligent, show a genuine interest in the prospect and his problems and you become someone that the buyer would like to meet – Ask for an hour and deserve an hour.

To sum it up the script makes the sales guy sound like he is begging for an appointment and has nothing to offer.  You may also have picked up an angry undertone in my writing – well I am angry about this script – the guy was selling sales training!

If someone sells to me this is the least I would expect:

“Hello is that Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp”? (yes) “Great the reason I want to talk to you is…” (Give me a hook and then ask a question to engage me in conversation). Find out my pain, tease me with part solutions from your expert experience of helping people like me and then offer me a meeting to tell me more and maybe even bring along a case study or two. Oh and don’t tell me you will clear your diary to see me (that’s begging) offer me two dates when you are genuinely free and take it from there, I want to believe that I am not the only person who is willing to meet you.

The best way to get an appointment is to be the type of person that people want to meet.

Buyers don’t want meetings with beggars they want meetings with experts who have engaged them on a deeper level, who have something to teach and a product that can solve a problem.

If the sales person changes his approach the appointments will flow, if he doesn’t he will blame the script and the management and quit – at the same time the management will just say there goes another sales guy who couldn’t sell.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise Be Brilliant

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Everyone hates “Sales People” BUT they love “Experts”

Solo oily heed text

Everyone hates sales people – admit it you do as well – even sales people hate sales people!

When a sales person approaches you in a store and asks “can I help you” unless you are in the Apple Store or maybe PC World you automatically say “no thanks just looking”.  Even if you are not just looking, even when you really could do with a second opinion on which shirt goes with the trousers you just picked out.  When a telesales person gets you on the phone you will rarely give them the chance to tell you about the deal they have for you or the service they offer.  At the networking event when someone you just met delivered his elevator pitch before you have even had a conversation and tried to force his card on you, the only person watching who didn’t know that you were not going to do business is the salesman.

The rare exception I mentioned was when you go into the Apple Store or PC World you actively seek out the salesman to ask advice we value their expertise, you understand that you may know less than them and so you are desperate to tell them what we need, how we will use it and how much you can afford and boy will their advice influenced your buying decision.

Why?

Because everyone hates “Sales People” BUT they love “Experts”.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

In the 80s and 90s sales people were trained to push information, to state the features and benefits overcome objections and then try to close the deal.  The world has moved on but sales training in the main hasn’t.  People don’t want to be sold to they want to be engaged, advised and empowered to make the buying decision themselves.   Engaging means sharing expertise, questioning and delving deep into the needs and wants of the buyer, engaging is far more powerful than running through the old style sales script.  Engaging empowers the buyer to make the decision, it is easier than selling, it’s more fun AND everyone I coach to engage increase their sales by at least 25%.

So stop selling people what you want them to buy and start engaging and helping people buy what they really need.

Fortunately becoming an expert is easy, yes you need to read your product manual and service level agreement etc but that’s just background info.  The best way to become an expert and be loved by your clients is to ask questions.  A field sales person will meet between four and a dozen buyers a day, a telesales person will talk to at least 20 decision makers a day and a retail sales person will talk to up to a hundred.

Now imagine if those sales conversations were used to engage and to understand the reasons that the buyers may want to buy and to understand the problems and pain experienced by the buyers of their service.  How long would it take for every one of them to become real experts in their marketplace, to be able to offer really credible advice and to share information that will empower the buyers, make them respect the sales person and make it far more likely that they will buy?

Results can be instant but to make engaging a habit and get 25% plus sales increases usually takes people I coach about three weeks.  The person in every business that is best placed to access the knowledge required to become an expert is the sales person but most of them just keep trying to force the sale through rather than listening to reasons that their prospect needs to buy and that’s a pity because everyone hates sales people BUT they love experts.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise Be Brilliant