Tag Archives: prospecting

How to Use Referrals to Get Bigger and Better Clients

By Jeff Beals

What’s the most efficient form of prospecting?

Referrals.

In an era when buyers are jealously protective of their time, a referral from a trusted source is your admission ticket. The higher up a prospect is in a company, the more important referrals are.

Reaching busy decision makers is not the only reason you should ask past/current clients for referrals.  By asking for business leads, you could find out about prospects who otherwise would remain hidden from your view.  There are essentially thousands of prospective clients out there who you do not yet know and who have not heard of you.  A referral is your ice breaker, a chance to know someone who could someday become one of your best clients.

A referral can get prospects thinking about making a change even when the thought of changing hadn’t previously entered their minds.

For example, let’s say there’s a client who is marginally happy with their current vendor.  They’re happy enough that they don’t feel compelled to look around but they’re not so satisfied that they wouldn’t consider an unexpected solicitation from someone who referred you.  A referral could be just enough of a catalyst to make them consider a new provider. Referrals are catalysts.

No Hesitation

Despite the power of referrals, some sales professionals are hesitant to ask their current/past clients.  Perhaps they are worried the request will be an unwanted interruption in the client’s busy day.  Perhaps they’re worried they didn’t do a good enough job for the client.  Perhaps they fear “going to the well one too many times” — they already took time from the client when doing the deal, so they feel guilty taking more of the client’s time now.

If you have done a good job of serving the client while at the same time building trust, have no fear or hesitation asking for a referral.  In fact, you could make the argument that the referral actually strengthens your relationship with them.  It’s kind of flattering when a vendor wants me to make referrals on their behalf.  It shows me that I was an important and prestigious client.

Asking for a referral puts you and the client on the “same team” and creates more of a friendship between the two of you.  Furthermore, saying nice things about you to others reinforces and reminds your client why you’re so awesome.

Some clients might actually be a bit offended if you don’t ask for a referral. I once had a client with whom I worked a long time and built a nice friendship. After a couple years, I finally asked for a referral and testimonial.  Her response?  “I was wondering why you never asked me for that!”

Here’s a list of who you should ask for referrals:

  • A person whose name, title and profile make you look impressive
  • Someone who will say positive things about you
  • Someone who is very pleased with your product or service
  • Someone with whom you have mutual trust
  • Someone who has a large number of valuable contacts

When Should You Ask?

There’s no set time in the sales process when you are supposed to ask for a referral. That said, it’s probably best right after you have done a great job and your client is basking in your good work. Some sales pros are hesitant to ask a client from long ago.  Don’t fret if time has gone by.

Simply call and say something reminded you of them and how much you enjoyed working with them.  Then ask for a referral.

Referral Process

If prospects agree to give you referral, the best option is to have the referrer connect you directly They could make a coffee or lunch appointment for the three of you or perhaps send an email introducing you (“There’s someone you need to meet!”). If this isn’t an option, perhaps the referral giver could arrange a three-way phone call.

The second-best option is for the referral giver to send an email or make a phone call letting the targeted person know you’ll be calling and why they should talk to you.

If the referral giver isn’t willing to do either of the first two options, you will have to initiate the contact with the targeted person mentioning the referral giver’s name.  Before making this call, make sure you have referral giver’s blessing to go ahead and make the call.

Before you talk to referred targets, learn all you can by asking the referral giver about them and by researching them online.

Follow Up

Keep the referral giver informed throughout the sales process. It’s simply a matter of courtesy and is especially important if the referral giver is due a commission or referral fee.

Years ago, I once gave a referral to an affiliated office in a different city. The sales rep who received the referral was excited and thanked me profusely. I thought, “Well, I chose a great guy to do this deal!”

But that turned out to be the last time I heard from him.

Six months later, I ran into the client I had referred, and he told me he ended up doing a deal in that city. I asked how the rep at my partner office did. My client’s response was troubling: “I actually never heard from him, so I used someone else.”

I was incensed. I called the sales rep and asked what had happened. He stammered a bit and basically told me he let the client “slip through the cracks.”

He should have given the client extra attention simply because it was a client referred by someone within his industry. He should have sent me a short email each month during the deal keeping me up to date or at least notifying me each time the deal passed a milestone. I entrusted him with one of my precious clients, and he let me down.

Always be grateful for any referrals you receive. When clients allow you to use their names to seek business from their cherished contacts, they are putting their reputations on the line just to help you.  That means you have an obligation to treat those referrals with the utmost care and respect.  Caring for referrals is a sacred trust in the sales world, so take your job seriously.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

What to Do When Your Prospective Client Goes Dark

By Jeff Beals

It happens to all of us – a prospective client, one you’re sure is going to end up purchasing from you, suddenly goes inexplicably dark.

Prospects have been going dark since the sales profession’s very beginning.  It’s a common problem, but it appears to be growing worse.

And it happens even when the prospect initiates the first contact.

A prospect will seek you out, ostensibly excited about your product or service.  They want to meet with you immediately because “time is of the essence” or they want “to nail this down right away.”  Your meeting goes well. You hit it off with the prospect and start to build a relationship.  The prospect is giving you a ton of buying cues, and you agree to draw up a detailed proposal.  You promptly write the proposal and email it with a smile on your face and anticipation in your heart.

And then the crickets start chirping.

The client has gone dark, and despite your multiple emails and voicemails you can’t get them to acknowledge your existence.

Some people call it “ghosting.” I love that term, because dark prospects seemingly disappear into the ether.  Whatever you call it, it’s frustrating for the sales professional.

Why do prospects go dark?  There are several possibilities and most of them have little to do with you:

  • They are super busy and overwhelmed
  • They don’t have the same level of urgency as you do
  • They are procrastinators
  • They are not proactive communicators
  • They are indecisive
  • They have to get buy-in from other people/departments in their company
  • They have various internal processes that must play out
  • Their financial conditions may have changed suddenly
  • They might be navigating internal politics
  • They may have been using you for leverage with another vendor they like better than you.
  • They are simply not interested and the thought of telling you is unpleasant especially if they have non-confrontational or avoidant personalities
  • They are not interested, and because of a personality flaw, they don’t care enough about you to let you know.  They are essentially sociopathic instead of empathetic.

Of all the possible reasons above, only the last three are truly negative.  If it is any other reason, your prospect is likely still interested, and therefore, you should not give up on them.

When a prospective client does go dark, what can you do?

1. Most importantly, go back to value.  In order to catch the prospect’s attention in the first place, you likely had to use valuable insights.  Do that again in future communications.  In other words, don’t say things like, “I’m just checking in,” or “I’m still waiting to hear from you.”  Instead, send them value-driven messages with new insights you haven’t mentioned before.  Your follow-up communications should be compelling, not whiny.

2. Be persistent.  Because prospects likely have many other things going on in their lives, they’ll assume an interested vendor like you will keep on them.  Even if they’re interested, they will often wait for you to initiate everything.

3. Mix it up a bit. Try different messages and use varied communication channels to get a person who goes dark on you.

4.  Try a couple creative tactics.  I find that a text message is more likely to be returned than an email.  You can try communicating with them via a social media direct message.  Some sales reps will send a calendar-invite email to jar loose a dark prospect.

5.  After a few attempts, you might try a certain language technique.  Sales expert Jim Keenan recommends this phraseology: “I’m confused. You said you (insert issues the prospect said they wanted/needed plus the last commitment they made to you plus the impact of not changing). Has something changed?”

Keenan says this technique holds them accountable and challenges them. I agree and have used it many times.

6. I know a lot of sales reps who, after many attempts, use a short and simple phrase sent via email or text: “Did I lose you?”  Some sales pros won’t even write anything else.  If they do elaborate, it’s not much.  This technique plays on our fear of loss and our desire not to let people down.

7.  If you still have no communication after several attempts and an extended period of time, you have a choice to make.  If the prospect would make a great client, you can move them into “nurture” mode by putting them on a periodic email drip.  If the prospect wouldn’t be a star client, maybe you just delete them from your pipeline.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Achieve Celebrity Status Without Becoming an Awful Person

By Jeff Beals

In order to enjoy the lead-generation and prospecting benefits that a sales practitioner can get from personal branding, I recommend you become a sort of celebrity.

But I always feel a little uncomfortable using the word, “celebrity,” because a lot of celebrities are frankly lousy people.

We see it all the time – celebrities behaving badly:

1. A beautiful teenage movie star grows up into a drug-addicted has-been with a long rap sheet and a collection of orange-jumpsuit photos.

2. A professional athlete goes to jail for assaulting his girlfriend.

3. A famous musician and his bodyguard are arrested for punching an autograph-seeker in the face.

And then there are those who do outrageous things in hope of becoming famous.

The continuing popularity of reality television shows and viral social media videos have made it possible for seemingly anyone to be a celebrity if they have the right look, at least a little bit of charisma and the willingness to perform outrageous stunts in front of millions of incredulous eyes. Turn on television and you’re apt to see someone allowing a camera crew to document their most intimate moments just so they can be a celebrity.

The word “celebrity” has become tarnished.

You may be surprised that I, as author of a book on self marketing, am troubled by the over-emphasis on celebrity status in America. I’m concerned despite the fact that I advise professionals to become “a celebrity in your own sphere of interest.”

In a loud, crowded and brutally competitive world, it’s easier to find and attract new business when you are well known by the people who make up your personal target audience: – clients, potential clients, anyone who could refer business, industry VIPs, community leaders, etc. If you’re a celebrity in your own sphere of business, you possess social and professional power that can help you reach your goals.

I think of “celebrity in your own sphere of interest” as being known for an on-going series of respected achievements. In order for your “celebrity status” to be effective, exhibit good behavior. If you work hard and do impressive things, you deserve be “celebrated,” and that’s where the word “celebrity” comes from.

But how do you let the world know the wonderful things you are doing without coming across negatively?

You need the right attitude and the right frame of mind.

Despite the necessity of personal branding, many sales practitioners are not entirely comfortable doing it. They’re afraid they might cross the fine line and become the type of person that others try to avoid. That’s a reasonable concern, because nobody likes braggarts, show-offs, know-it-alls and blowhards.

Ironically, living as a celebrity in your own sphere of interest requires the virtue of humility. Promote yourself while making it look like you’re not trying. Let people know what you’re doing without being obnoxious. Above all, make sure you have real accomplishments to promote.

You can avoid turning your personal branding efforts into egotistical boasting by asking yourself two questions:

If people knew the real reason why I want to become a celebrity in my own sphere of interest, would I be embarrassed?

If the answer is “no,” you’re probably okay.

Do the things I do for personal branding purposes also have legitimate economic, cultural or social benefit?

If the answer is “yes,” you’re probably okay.

Simply put, you will find it easier to generate new business if a lot of quality people know you and have a positive image of you in their minds. Being a celebrity in your own sphere of interest makes you more powerful. Just make sure that as you journey down the path to personal stardom, you take your ethical and moral beliefs along with you. If you do, you should be just fine.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

The Secrets of a Successful Sales Presentation

A sales presentation is your pitch.

More specifically, the presentation is your formal chance to present how your company’s offerings are beneficial to the prospect. It’s a chance to show how you provide value and how you can solve a prospect’s unique problems.

Sales presentations tend to occur after earlier preparatory sales work has been completed.

Before meeting in person, you probably found the prospective client thanks to your prospecting efforts that caught their attention because of some compelling value you presented.  You have most likely had at least one phone call where you were able to ask probing questions.

During those pre-meeting phone conversations, you should have asked the prospect numerous questions to find their pain points and determine what they truly value.

Although the presentation is your chance to highlight yourself and your company, there is still plenty of opportunity to listen. That’s important, because you can never know enough about a prospect and listening strengthens relationships.

Here are 9 pieces of advice to help you make sales presentations more successful for you:

1. A sales presentation is your formal chance to present how your company’s attributes are beneficial to the prospect. It’s a chance to show how you provide value and how you would solve a prospect’s unique problems.  Just make sure the presentation is tailored to how your offering exactly satisfies what matters to that client.  In other words, limit the talk about how long you’ve been in business, how many clients you serve, the combined years of service your staff has, etc.

2. Don’t just focus on presenting. Think about building a trusting relationship with the prospect.  You can build trust by establishing rapport, communicating thoroughly, being appropriately self-deprecating and listening earnestly when the prospect talks.  A presentation isn’t all talk. Make sure to listen as well.

3. Structure your sales presentation both rationally and persuasively, taking advantage of human nature.  Don’t forget the emotion.  Salespeople love to present logical arguments as to why a prospect should buy, but prospects purchase based on emotion.  Yes, that’s true even in complex B2B transactions.

4. When you coach and facilitate your prospects, the hard sell is not necessary.

Determine what part of your sales presentation is boilerplate and which part is to be customized. Focus your preparation on the customized part.

5.  Cast a vision of how great life will be with your product or service by using a little showmanship during the sales presentation.  Highlighting value-added benefits can be just enough to push the deal over the top.

6. Over-reliance on audio/visual aids or props is a mistake but not using them all can make you come across as unprepared, unprofessional or unsophisticated.

7.  Tell the truth, communicate earnestly and be yourself (but be the most appealing version of yourself).

8. Two presenters are usually better than one, but three presenters can feel like a crowd.  The larger the number of prospects in the meeting, the more representatives you can have from your company.

9. Doing something a little special and out of the ordinary makes prospects feel as if you truly value them and their business.  If there is a pleasant surprise during the sales presentation, it can help you chances, just as long as the surprise isn’t cheesy or over the top.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Sales Is Something You Do for Someone Special

By Jeff Beals

“Sales isn’t something you do to someone,” said the late great Zig Ziglar. “It’s something you do for someone.”

Most people think of Zig as motivational speaker and inspirational author, and he indeed was both of those things, but Zig was first and foremost a sales guy.

He started teaching salespeople how succeed back in the 1960s, and even after he became a mainstream motivational speaker, he was always a resource for those of us who have to sell things for a living.

Zig nailed it when he said sales is something you do for people instead of to people.

People love to buy but they hate being sold.

Buyers are less satisfied with decisions that are made under pressure.

Old-style, high-pressure sales tactics are the reason some people have a negative view of sales and why some sales professionals are actually embarrassed to be working in sales.

So how do you act like Zig Ziglar and help people happily buy something instead of shoving a product down their throats?

Focus on what prospects value!

The world’s most successful salespersons don’t sell products and services. They sell VALUE:

Delivery – Consistently deliver outstanding results. With so much competition in the world, clients have the right to assume that all providers are competent. Make sure you are more than competent in your operations.

Interpersonal Communication – You will have a hard time determining what the client values if you don’t communicate thoroughly and listen carefully.

Relationships and Trust – Do what it takes to build a strong bond with your clients.  If the relationship is strong enough, you can trust your clients to tell them what they need to hear as opposed to what they want to hear. Even if the client gets mad, your relationship is so strong, that he or she won’t leave you.

Don’t Assume – Just because you are an expert in what you do for a living and the product or service your company provides, doesn’t necessarily mean you know what is best for your client.  Only your client determines what is valuable.  Do what it takes to find out exactly want the prospect values without any ambiguity.

Once you know what the prospect values, sell only that.  Make sure your solutions meet the prospect’s value and solve his or her problems.  If you do that, you will be a trusted adviser, a person who does something FOR a client instead of TO a client

Ultimately, you are not in the product- or service-selling business. You’re in the results-selling business. The right results, along with a trusting relationship are what your clients truly value.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

How to Find the Real Decision Maker

By Jeff Beals

Sales professionals searching for insight into prospective clients would be wise to think of themselves as detectives.  The more research you do on a client the faster you speed up the sales cycle and the more likely you are to increase transaction size.

As you do your detective work, it eventually becomes clear who the real decision maker is and who the primary and secondary influencers are.

More than anything, it is important to determine the true decision maker, the person who has veto power and whose signature seals the deal. But almost important is determining who the key influencers are.

No matter how independent and self-confident a decision-maker may be, that person usually has valued and trusted advisers whispering in his or her ear.  We need to know who those influencers are and get to them as early in the process as possible.

Some sales detectives prefer the direct approach and ask questions such as:

“Who is the most influential person helping you make this decision?” 

“Whose advice and counsel will be most valuable to you as you make your decision?”

Other sales pros are more subtle, but once you identify the key influencers, you need to build a trusting relationship with them too.

Sometimes a prospect will be vague and non-committal when asked to name influencers. A mid-level person might not want to give up control or admit that he or she lacks decision-making power. Such a person could also be protecting c-suite executives from interruptions.

Some prospects worry that disclosing influencer names will cause the sales process to grow deeper before they are ready.  When you’re having trouble drawing information out of a prospect, be patiently persistent.  Keep asking, digging and researching.  You can also look at precedent…What kind of influencers did similar prospects in the past have?

A word of warning: be careful of false influencers.  There are those people who get some sort of psychological payoff pretending to have influence over the buying process.  Do your homework. Don’t jump to conclusions until you have performed thorough due diligence on the prospective client.  A little extra work will increase your closing ratio!

Attention Sales Leaders – Are your sales reps letting too many leads slip through the cracks?  Is your sales team actively prospecting or are they sitting at their desks waiting for the phone to ring?  Is your sales team “pretty good” but not reaching their potential?

If so, check out my Sales Training Menu, which has a couple new courses for 2019.  There are many options when I visit your company: a motivational kickoff message; a half-day sales training program; or a full-day prospecting workshop.

Let’s schedule an on-site program at your office so your team can bring new prospects into their pipeline, shorten sales cycles and crush it in 2019!

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

The Referral Gap

By Jeff Beals

Most companies are getting only one-third of the referrals they could receive from current clients

That’s according to a 2018 Texas Tech University study showing that 83 percent of satisfied clients are willing to refer products and services, but that only 29 percent actually do.

The underutilization of referrals is nothing new.  Back in the day, the legendary Dale Carnegie claimed that 91 percent of customers said they would be willing to give referrals, yet only 11 percent of salespeople ask for them.

If your company is like the average company in the Texas Tech study, you are failing to get referrals from approximately two-thirds of your clients who would otherwise be more than happy to give them to you.  The study referred to this as the “referral gap.”

It’s time to close that gap, because you can’t afford so much missed opportunity in a competitive marketplace.

I believe that latent referral potential is the biggest wasted resource in the sales profession.  There is simply no better way to get a cold prospect to talk with you than to have a referral from someone that prospect trusts.

But why does this referral gap exist?  Why are sales reps hesitant to ask?

There are several reasons, but we’ll start with fear of rejection.  Fear is a natural part of everyone’s psyche, even confident, gregarious people.  After building a trusting relationship with a client and cashing a commission check, it would painful to hear “no,” upon asking for a referral.

Similarly, some sales reps fear asking for too much.  They think along these lines: “I spent so much time with the person, and they agreed to buy, so isn’t it going too far to now ask them for a referral after everything they have already done for me?”

But if you have done a good job of serving the client while at the same time building trust, you could make the argument that the referral actually strengthens your relationship with them.  It’s kind of flattering when a vendor wants me to make referrals on their behalf.  It shows me that I was an important and prestigious client.

Asking for a referral puts you and the client on the “same team” and creates more of a friendship between the two of you.  Furthermore, saying nice things about you to others reinforces and reminds your client why you’re so awesome.

In an era when buyers are jealously protective of their time, a referral from a trusted source is your ticket to the show. The higher up a prospect is in a company, the more important referrals are.

Reaching busy decision makers is not the only reason you should ask past/current clients for referrals.  By asking for business leads, you could find out about prospects who otherwise would remain hidden from your view.  There are essentially thousands of prospective clients out there who you do not yet know and who have not heard of you.  A referral is your ice breaker, a chance to know someone who could someday become one of your best clients.

Additionally, referrals can get prospects thinking about making a change even when the thought of changing hadn’t previously entered their minds.

For example, let’s say there’s a client who is marginally happy with their current vendor.  They’re happy enough that they don’t feel compelled to look around but they’re not so satisfied that they wouldn’t consider an unexpected solicitation from someone who referred you.  A referral could be just enough of a catalyst to make them consider a new provider.

Always be grateful for any referrals you receive. When clients allow you to use their names to seek business from their cherished contacts, they are putting their reputations on the line just to help you.  That means you have an obligation to treat those referrals with the utmost care and respect.  Caring for referrals is a sacred trust in the sales world, so take your job seriously.

Attention Sales Leaders – Are your sales reps letting too many leads slip through the cracks?  Is your sales team actively prospecting or are they sitting at their desks waiting for the phone to ring?  Is your sales team “pretty good” but not reaching their potential?

If so, check out my Sales Training Menu, which has a couple new courses for 2019.  There are many options when I visit your company: a motivational kickoff message; a half-day sales training program; or a full-day prospecting workshop.

Let’s schedule an on-site program at your office so your team can bring new prospects into their pipeline, shorten sales cycles and crush it in 2019!

Simply reply to this email or call me at 402-510-7468.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Ingredients of a Good Voicemail

By Jeff Beals

In last week’s article, we analyzed a poorly executed sales voicemail I had received.  This week, we go a little further and talk about what you SHOULD do when leaving a voicemail for a cold prospect.

Focus on the Recipient’s Value – Make your voicemails interesting by focusing on what the recipient cares about. Remember that people are more interested in their lives and their businesses than they are in you and yours. Research recipients before you call them. Talk about what interests the recipient or what matters to his or her business.  Do not talk about your company or your product’s features and benefits in a prospecting voicemail.

Be compelling – Think of a strong idea you want to convey in your message and say it. Surprising or insightful messages have a much higher likelihood of being returned. Boring, rambling messages as well as messages that are too focused on the caller’s (salesperson’s) interests are easily deleted and not returned.

Don’t “Touch Base” – Never say you’re calling to “touch base” or “check in.” Those are useless reasons to waste a prospect’s time. Always say something of value.

Use an Old Advertising Trick – Use an enticement. Hint what benefit the person will receive if they return your call. Then spark their curiosity, saying you have something to share with them that they will find valuable or interesting. Another trick is to ask a thought-provoking question at the end of the message. That could compel the listener to call you back.

Conserve Your Words – Say a lot in a little amount of time. Voicemails need to be short, ideally less than 20 seconds but no more than 30 seconds. In that short time, convey a captivating message. Be like a newspaper reporter writing an article in that you put the most important idea in a powerful and information-rich lead sentence.

Be Easy to Reach – Leave your call-back number. One of the easiest excuses a prospect has to NOT return a voicemail message is if the call-back number is not readily available.  Only 7 percent of sales voicemails are ever returned, which means it’s hard enough to get call backs.  Don’t do anything that lowers the likelihood.

No Deception – Some sales reps like to deceive prospects in their voicemails either by implying that they are returning the recipient’s call (even though the recipient never called them in the first place) or by name-dropping a person they don’t really know. You don’t want to do anything that comes back to embarrass yourself if you do end up getting a meeting.

Don’t Give Up – You’re being naïve if you think one message – no matter how creative it may be – will do the trick. Your prospects are so busy that they just assume callers like you will eventually call them back. I’m not saying you should carpet-bomb people with daily messages, but it is now taking 8 to 12 attempts to get a cold decision maker to return your call. This is especially true with high-ranking, senior decision makers. The average sales rep gives up after only 2.5 attempts.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Breaking Down a Bad Sales Voicemail

By Jeff Beals

As a sales consultant, I enjoy analyzing the various voicemail solicitations I receive each week.  Like you, I receive a lot of them.  Here is a transcript of a voicemail I received just yesterday:

“Hi Jeff.  My name is Zach, and I’m with [Company Name].  I hope you’re doing fantastic, man.  Uh, the reason for my reach-out is pretty simple.  My company, [Company Name], has a tool that identifies businesses that visit your website—show you what they look at even if they don’t actually contact you through your contact forms.  I work with a couple clients in your space.  I wanted to see if this was maybe something you wanted to learn more about.  We offer a free trial so you can see how the tool works for yourself.  Give me a call ###-###-####. Thank you.”

Now that you’ve read the transcript, I have one question for you.  Be honest. Would you call this guy back?

I chose not to call him back, not because I wanted to be rude, mean or inconsiderate.  I chose not to call him back, because he gave me no compelling reason to call.  Given that I am overloaded with stuff to do, I’m not going to allocate any precious time to call someone I don’t know, from a company I have never heard of and who gave me no compelling reason to call him.

Let’s break it down – what’s wrong with this voice mail?

1. The wording sounds like every other “salesman” in the world.  I recommend you avoid using terms like “reach-out” and “clients in your space,” because they sound like cheesy corporate speak.

2. Because I don’t know this person, I think it’s a little too informal to refer to me as “man.”  Some people might disagree with me on this.  The guy’s voice sounded very young.

3.  He started talking right away about HIS company and what HIS offering does.  Instead, he should talk about what matters to ME, the prospect.  His message would have been more effective had it started with something like this: “Business owners like you are missing out on countless customers, because you don’t fully understand who is visiting your website and what they are reading.”  See the difference?  Talk about what you believe matters to the prospect and not about yourself.  Frankly, I (and pretty much every other prospect in the world) couldn’t care less about the offerings of a company I’ve never heard of.

4. If you have to mention a free trial in your initial conversations, it means you lack confidence in your offering and/or you have done nothing to establish value.  When someone pushes the free trial too soon, in my mind, it’s code for “the offering is not good.”

Voicemail is a critically important prospecting tool.

The vast majority of prospecting calls go to voicemail.  Some sales pros gripe and grumble when they are automatically routed to a prospect’s voicemail.  They complain, that “nobody ever answers the damned phone!”

It is true that prospects are getting harder to reach.  It is also true that decision makers are more likely to let calls from unrecognized phone numbers go to voicemail.

But don’t consider voicemails to be a bad thing; see them as opportunities, little advertisements that can be customized exactly to each prospect’s unique situation.  Because you are most likely going to get voicemail whenever you call, it makes sense that you put a lot of thought and effort into each voicemail.

The key is to leave a voice mail that captures a prospect’s attention by relating to what truly matters to him or her.  If you leave voice mails about your company or your product’s features and benefits you are almost guaranteed not to get a call back.

Is your company planning a sales kickoff meeting this year?  At most companies, these meetings are filled with product-centric training sessions, boring PowerPoint slides and bleary-eyed sales reps wishing they were somewhere else.

I deliver entertaining kickoff sessions that are filled with ideas your sales team can start using the very next day.  Let’s help your sales team:

  • Bring new prospects into their pipelines
  • Shorten sales cycles
  • Increase average deal size
  • Sell value so they don’t have to compromise on price
  • Get motivated to crush it in 2019

Check out my Sales Training Menu with some new training courses for 2019.  Give me a call at 402-510-7468 to discuss a first-quarter sales training program or simply reply to this email.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Overcome Social Discomfort at Networking Events

By Jeff Beals

While preparing to go to a networking event, have you ever worried, “What if I don’t know anyone?”

It’s a common concern, but knowing nobody at a networking event is actually a blessing if you have the right attitude.

Not knowing anyone forces you to use your networking skills. Too many people will go to a function and sit in the corner with their friends, co-workers, spouse, whoever. That’s a waste of time. If you’re going to do that, just go to a restaurant.

If you find networking intimidating, you’re not alone. Many professionals who are good at networking have had to work hard to make it look that way. Sure, some people are naturally gregarious, but they are the exception, not the norm.  It is natural to feel tinges of uneasiness when you attend a networking function by yourself where you know nobody.

Here are eight things you can do to make you feel more comfortable:

1. Practice

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rehearsing how you will act in a networking encounter in the quiet privacy of your home or office.  Some people even practice in front of a mirror.

2. Observe the Masters

Think of someone you know who is socially gifted, very at ease working a room. Watch that person. Study that person. Think how you can imitate him/her. Each time you go to a networking event, do something he/she does. Instead of reinventing the networking wheel, figure out how you can mimic someone who has already figured it out.

3. Hold a Drink

Holding a drink at a social function can help you be more comfortable.

If you’re a non-drinker, there is nothing wrong with holding a soda or virgin cocktail. The drink is useful, because it gives you something to do with your hands.

Just be careful not to become intoxicated. You don’t want to do anything that would embarrass your company or damage the reputation you are working so hard to build. Some networkers will order one drink and nurse it for a couple hours, just taking infrequent sips. I know of one person who orders a 7-Up with just a tiny amount of alcohol in it. That way, it smells like a drink, but there’s not enough live ammo in it to compromise his faculties.

4. Positive Vision

Another way of dealing with shyness is to envision success before going to an event. Like a coach mentally preparing athletes for a big game, you can increase your likelihood for success by imagining yourself doing well in a social situation. Sit down and envision yourself saying the right things, using good interpersonal skills and being professionally assertive. If you do this regularly, you will evolve into a graceful networker.

5. Brush It Off

Operating out of your comfort zone can increase introversion tendencies.  Some networkers worry they will say the wrong thing and sound stupid.  Others are afraid to “interrupt” someone at a party. Others fear they might be “rejected” when they reach out to another person. Even as an established professional, it is an unpleasant experience to introduce yourself and attempt to carry on a conversation with someone who is clearly uninterested in you. When it happens to you, just brush it off and go to the next person.

When someone gives you a cold shoulder, it likely means that person’s problems are greater than yours.

6. Pair Busting

Periodically, you will find yourself at a networking event, standing by yourself with nobody to talk to. You look around the room and everyone is already engaged in conversation with someone else.  There are no other “single” people. It can feel unnerving. When this happens, it’s time to be a pair buster.

Simply look around for a pair of people and walk toward them. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re interrupting. Just go up to the pair and introduce yourself.  Be assertive.  Sometimes it helps to say, “Mind if I join you?” in a joking sort of way. Ninety-five percent of the pairs you bust open, will welcome you.  The other five percent are not worthy of your attention.

7. Welcome Other Busters

When you are already talking to someone else and a third person tries to bust into your pair, be sure to make that person feel welcome. Treat the conversational newcomer the same way you would like to be treated. Don’t act as if you’re inconvenienced. Just introduce yourselves and allow the person to feel part of the group.

The tone of your voice and your body language will help make such a person feel more welcome. Slightly turn your body toward the new person. If the person comes in mid-conversation, explain what you have been talking about in an effort to bring the new person up to speed.

8. Connecting

Networking gives you the opportunity to be a “connecter,” a person who introduces two people to each other. Go out of your way to connect others to each other. If you connect two people who end up doing business together, you have earned social capital. The two people who profited from that relationship will always appreciate you and owe you a debt of gratitude.

Connecting also helps mitigate shyness. Instead of focusing on the stress of networking, make it your mission to find people you already know but who don’t know each other. You could make a game out of it.

Attention Sales Leaders – Are you planning a sales kickoff meeting during the 1st quarter of 2019?  At most companies, these meetings are filled with product-centric training sessions, boring PowerPoint slides and bleary-eyed sales reps wishing they were somewhere else.

Jeff delivers entertaining kickoff sessions that are filled with ideas your sales team can start using the very next day.  Jeff will help your sales team:

  • Bring new prospects into their pipelines
  • Shorten sales cycles
  • Increase average deal size
  • Sell value so they don’t have to compromise on price
  • Get motivated to crush it in 2019

Call Jeff at 402-510-7468 to discuss a first-quarter sales training program or simply reply to this email.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300.