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Updated: 1 hour 33 min ago

Sales Lead Management for Winners: Prioritizing Your Best Leads

Tue, 2017-08-29 09:30

Poor sales lead management is much like spending hundreds of dollars of groceries to cook a gourmet meal and then letting the food spoil in your refrigerator. You “shop” for leads online through your website or social media, webinars, ebooks, or free reports. Offline, you attend trade shows and network. The problem: you don’t follow up or you focus on the wrong potential customers.

Before you can establish a process for sales lead management, you need to understand the two different types of leads and how to organize them.

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL): These leads have responded to your company but have not been vetted. Their demographics, actions, and firmographics mirror those of your clients.
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Once an MQL is vetted, they become SQLs. These leads have shown an interest in purchasing, possibly after an appointment or other types of sales calls.
Lead Prioritization

How do you determine how to prioritize your leads? Here are a few factors to consider:

    1. Lead-to-Opportunity Conversion by Source – Review which sources of leads have the highest conversion rate. For example, leads from hosting a webinar or other inbound leads tend to be higher quality than those collected from trade shows. Another consideration when looking at conversion by the source is the average size of the deal. Look at your data and invest more in your higher performing outlets.
    2. Time Since Last Interaction – The time contacts spend in lead status has an impact on closing rates. It’s important to respond to inquiries efficiently. Start engaging with prospects while they’re on your website.
      1. Use chatbots to assist in making initial contact with visitors on the web. For example, have a messaging box appear on your website when someone visits. The message can simply ask the visitor if they need help. To further qualify a lead, you can program the message box to pop up only after a visitor has been on your site for a certain amount of time. A person who stays on your site for a few minutes and not just a few seconds is likely to be interested.
      2. Respond to inquiries quickly. One in two buyers goes with the vendor who responds first. Prioritize follow-up around the time elapsed since the last action the lead took (opened an email, read a blog post, etc.), according to HubSpot.
      3. Schedule Follow-Ups – Future appointments and scheduled actions, like email drips or phone calls, affect a lead’s priority level too. A prospect with a planned follow-up will rank lower on your priority list. It is not pressing and doesn’t require immediate action unless circumstances change.
Automating sales lead management

Sales is no longer going door to door or making phone calls and writing the information down in a spread sheet. Several tasks can be automated allowing your sales team to respond to priority leads faster.

  1. Reporting – Eliminate the time spent creating reports by automating them. Salespeople can even schedule when these reports will run.
  2. Interactions – Emails and calls are just a couple of the many interactions that can be automated. A powerful CRM will be able to initiate these actions and keep track of them without any extra steps.
  3. Paperwork – Simplify contracts and invoices with templates and fillable forms.
  4. Scripting – Provide your sales team with a script to follow when speaking with prospects. A script will keep them in line with the brand’s message and help to guide the conversation.
  5. Dialing leads – Instead of manually dialing numbers, look for a CRM that offers one click dialing.
  6. Voicemails – Salespeople with the ability to drop a pre-recorded voicemail in a mailbox and move on to the next call are more productive than those who have to stop, wait for the beep, and then take 30 seconds or so to leave a message.
  7. Notes and logs – Invest in software that allows the caller to record data as they go and automatically logs the call information.
  8. Appointment setting – Simplify scheduling with appointment setting software. Scheduling software makes the process more efficient, eliminates time zone errors, combines multiple calendars, and more.
  9. Selecting content – Software powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence can help in the selection of content. Recommendations are provided to help guide the prospect towards the sale.

Don’t get overwhelmed while prioritizing your sales leads. Invest in a sales lead management solution. The investment in your business will pay off when you close more sales and increase your profits.

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Have You Asked Your Sales Reps What They Need to be Successful?

Thu, 2017-08-17 09:30

As a sales leader, you know the ins and outs of your business. And you probably think you know what your salespeople need to reach their sales quotas. However, there is likely more that you’re not seeing. Just showing them how to be a successful inside sales representative isn’t enough. Have you asked your team what they need to succeed in their roles?

In this article, we will look at eight factors that lead to sales success. We’ll also review a few ways to open up a conversation with your sales reps and find out what else they need to thrive as a sales professional.

8 Factors to Address for Sales Success

Let’s take a look at the qualities and skills required to be an accomplished sales professional. Do your sales representatives embody these qualities?

  1. Product Knowledge – High-performing sales representative know their products inside and out. They can adequately respond to most questions and know how to redirect technical inquiries.
    Your Job as a Manager – Provide ongoing training and keep your team updated on any changes to your company’s products.
  2. Focus –To understand and connect with prospects, sales reps must practice active listening. Eliminating distractions and avoiding multi tasking keeps a rep’s mind on the task at hand, in this case, interpreting how your product is a solution for the prospect.
    Your Job as a Manager – Ensure a clean working environment free of as many distractions as possible. Provide distraction-free sales tools that keep salespeople on task, too. A system with features such as lead routing automation and auto dialing can keep sales productivity flowing.
  3. Ability to Handle and Prevent Objections –Your team should have a clear understanding of your prospective clients’ recurring concerns. Enable your inside sales team to address any gripes before they become an issue. Instead of just handling these problems as they arise, they can be prevented.
    Your Job as a Manager – Deliver coaching to your team on a regular basis and keep an open-door policy. Give them an opportunity to come to you with any grievances they’re facing in their work.
  4. Thought Leadership – Prospects are more likely to become customers when they’re dealing with someone they trust. Salespeople can build their thought leadership presence on social media to form relationships with their clients and prove their competency in the industry.
    Your Job as a Manager – Allow your salespeople the time to devote to social selling. Foster their journey to becoming a thought leader and consider starting an employee advocacy program. An advocacy program enables you to provide your team with content to share that will help them stand out in the industry. The better they do individually, the better your company will do as a whole.
  5. Conduct Demonstrations – Customers want to see the product in action. You wouldn’t buy a vehicle without taking it out for a test drive, so how can you expect your prospects to spend thousands of dollars or more on your product if they haven’t seen it in action?
    Your Job as a Manager –Provide a tool for demonstrations. There are free and paid options like Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting that offer screen sharing for virtual meetings.
  6. Time Management – A successful salesperson spends more of their time on the phone or in sales meetings than they do on menial tasks like inputting notes into more than one system. These reps are organized and have access to technologies that save them time.
    Your Job as a Manager – What can you do to streamline their work? Consider any duties you can take off of their plate, so they have more time to focus on calling leads. Automation software will give them the ability to drop a voice message in a mailbox, send a follow-up email, or nurture their prospects with the click of a button.
  7. Spend Less Time Prospecting – Salespeople who thrive in their space are working with qualified leads. They’re not usually the ones spending their time identifying prospects through cold calling.
    Your Job as a Manager – Take your experienced salespeople off the job of making cold calls. Instead, assign them only qualified leads that they can quickly close and then move on to the next. Your new salespeople should be making the cold calls and working to qualify leads.
  8. Understand the Competition – Prospects consider price and lack of features when comparing your product with competitors and good salespeople are aware. They know how their product compares to competitors in the marketplace.
    Your Job as a Manager – Consume as much industry content as possible so you can learn about any new products or updates in your space. You’ll want to keep your employees in the know of how the product their selling lines up against competing goods or services. This will give them an advantage when questioned by a prospect.
Ask Your Salespeople What They Need

Many employees will not come to management asking for things, even if these requests could lead to improvements to help them to do their jobs better. Consider surveying your sales team just as you would your clients, on a regular basis. Surveys can be printed or emailed, and ask yes or no questions as well as open-ended ones.

Another way to get your sales team talking about what could improve their performance is to devote part of your meetings to this conversation. This could be in a team or one-on-one meetings. Maybe you even have lunch with your employees a couple of times per month to invite a casual discussion. It’s essential to have an open-door communications policy where your inside sales representatives can come to you and know their ideas will be considered.

People who want to know how to be a successful inside sales representative should first and foremost be optimistic and confident when talking to prospects. When stressed out take the time to exercise and relieve some stress. As a manager, bear in mind that each salesperson will have their own vision of success. There’s a difference between hitting goals the company has set and reaching their own ambitions.

 

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Are You Guessing or Asking What Your Customers Want?

Wed, 2017-08-09 09:59

If you have the opportunity to gather insider information that can help you to achieve your goals, why wouldn’t you? Assuming is a horrible business practice. Invalid and incomplete assumptions can lead you down an empty rabbit hole, and in the case of inside sales, away from closing a deal. Conduct the research, fill your customers wants and needs, and augment your sales by applying the sales prospecting tips in this article.

4 Research Tactics for Management

Management should research target audiences before salespeople jump on a call. The more information and understanding your callers have about your prospects and the daily issues that they face, the more they’ll be able to relate and dig deeper into specifics. Regularly scheduled training is an excellent way to provide sales representatives with the information discovered.

Here are four ways to find out more about your current and future customers:

1. Conduct Surveys – Survey your current clients. Ask questions about how their purchases have improved business, what were the major selling points. While you’re at it, ask for criticisms. The customers’ responses will be highly valuable in building your relationships with them, as well as with your prospective clients.

2. Review Industry Statistics – Industry research can reveal a lot about your customers. What other areas are they investing in? Are there any new trends affecting how they do business? How much are they spending on products like yours? Find out anything you can about driving factors in their companies and industries.

3. Ask your Salespeople – Meet with your sales team and ask for insights. They’re the ones calling on your prospects and working to understand them better to make the deal. Find out the questions and concerns your salespeople hear over and over again. Ask reps about the requests they receive, too.

Maybe clients want an app that pairs with your product or customers have voiced concerns about an online chat system. You may never know if you don’t ask. Are any of these concerns and requests that are falling through the cracks? Establish an open line of communication so your employees can easily share this type of information with you.

4. Consume Trade-Related Content – Staying up on current trends is vital in business. In addition to the newest technologies that can simplify your processes, you’ll learn about tools and problems your customers face, too. You may even find out what your competitors are doing. In addition to magazines, follow hashtags on social media to see what’s trending in real-time.

15 Sales Prospecting Tips for Your Salespeople

After researching, be sure to relay any new insights to your sales team. From there, ask them to familiarize themselves with the following sales prospecting tips.

  1. Ask the right questions. You should already know the basics about your prospect, but try to get more details from them by asking open-ended questions to get contacts talking.
  2. Find out what problems your prospects face and how your product or service can serve as a solution.
  3. Build your social media presence and your position as a thought leader by sharing your knowledge. When people see you as an expert in your field, they’re more likely to trust you.
  4. Be confident. On the occasional call, you will stumble. Use those experiences as learning opportunities to build your confidence for the next time when you’re in a similar situation.
  5. Remember that not everyone you call is a good fit. Prospects that you initially thought would be the perfect buyer for your product may actually be better suited for a competitor’s product.
  6. Be more helpful and less salesy. Take on the role of a consultant. Relating back to number five, being helpful includes letting them know if your product isn’t right for them.
  7. Don’t give up after one objection. If the prospect cites price as a barrier to entry early in your conversation, don’t accept it as a no. Instead, explain the value of your product to them and show how it can actually save or make them money.
  8. Maintain a positive mindset. Don’t let an objection or a missed sales quota keep you down. When you’re optimistic, you’re more productive.
  9. Be a human, not a robot. Scripts are very helpful when making sales calls; however, be sure you’re not speaking in a monotone voice. Study and practice your pitch. Don’t just jump on a call and simply read the script verbatim with no rise and fall in your voice.
  10. Remember that the call is about the prospect, not your pitch. Ask about the person and his or her processes and any issues they face. Find out what the buyer wants!
  11. Organization is key. Software can help to keep you stay organized throughout all your calls. If you’re taking any notes, keep them orderly. You don’t want to be flipping through papers or browser tabs while on a call.
  12. Take a break. As with any work, regular breaks allow you to refresh and come back to the phone more focused.
  13. Follow up with prospects. Most sales will require multiple calls and meetings to close the deal, especially if you’re selling a high-dollar product. Use technology to set reminders and send personalized communications.
  14. Ask for referrals. Once you transform a prospect into a customer, it’s time to ask for referrals. There’s a reason the person did business with you and not your competitor – it could be your shining personality, your expertise, or your ability to listen. The customer likely knows contacts in the industry who could benefit from your product too. If you ask for referrals, your customers are more apt to take action.
  15. Be open to coaching. Most inside sales professionals today are familiar with having their calls recorded. To improve your selling skills, review recordings with your manager from time to time and pay attention to any constructive criticisms.

These sales prospecting tips combined with the above research tactics will set your sales team up for success. Knowing exactly what your customer wants simplifies the selling process and saves time for everyone.

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5 Telefundraising Tips to Boost Fundraising Event Revenue

Thu, 2017-08-03 09:09

The art of telefundraising will never go out of style.

Why? To put it simply, calling donors on the phone allows you to connect in a way that’s engaging, direct, and, ultimately, highly profitable for any type of nonprofit organization.

Even better, telefundraising pairs perfectly with other fundraising efforts, including the equally classic event fundraiser!

Because these two tactics fit so nicely together, we thought we’d go through a few strategies for how to use telefundraising to raise even more money from your fundraising event.

We’ll cover the following telefundraising tips:

  1. Identify whom to call on your donor list.
  2. Share why your fundraising event matters.
  3. Reach out for more than just money.
  4. Focus on post-event stewardship.
  5. Turn event guests into recurring donors.

Why stick to just one star strategy when you can reap the benefits of two? With this insider telefundraising advice on your side, your event fundraiser will bring in even more revenue than it would on its own.

Your donors are waiting—let’s dive in!

1. Identify whom to call on your donor list.

We know this suggestion might seem counterintuitive at first. After all, you want to maximize your fundraising potential through telefundraising, not minimize it.

But think about it: would you rather cast an incredibly large net across your entire donor database, hoping to land on a lead, or narrow your focus to those supporters who are your most likely candidates for a successful phone conversation (that is, one that ends in a donation)?

When you tailor your focus to a smaller pool of call recipients at first, you’ll end up with a higher percentage of receptive supporters on the other line.

So, who are these most likely candidates who should be on your call list?

If you’re using telefundraising techniques to promote your event and invite supporters to register to attend, start with the following individuals:

  • Past event attendees.
  • Major donors.
  • Regular volunteers.
  • Recurring donors.
  • Survey respondents or those who’ve indicated interest in the event.

Of course, before you call anyone, make sure they’ve given your nonprofit the permission to contact them on the phone.

In general, it’s a smart idea to store communication preferences in your CRM and sync that information up with your auction or event fundraising software so it’s easy to view in one central location.

When you have the necessary donor data on hand throughout your event planning process, you’ll never have to worry that you’ll inadvertently disturb or offend a supporter who’d rather be emailed, texted, or contacted another way.

The bottom line: You should use telefundraising to ask for donations or invite supporters to your upcoming event. For best results (and less time wasted!), tailor your call list so you’re reaching out to the most receptive donors first.

2. Share why your fundraising event matters.

One of the greatest benefits of telefundraising is its unique ability to foster an immediate connection between a donor and your organization.

In a digital, screen-focused society, the phone call is one of the more personal forms of marketing or communication—one that greatly appeals to a number of donors, young and old!

Because telefundraising gives you a direct line to your constituents, you can use this channel to communicate with your donors in a one-on-one fashion, sharing the mission behind your fundraising campaign and specifically, your upcoming event.

When scripting your calls, consider including the following elements:

  • The purpose of your event. Not only should you tell your donors how much money you hope to raise, but why that dollar amount matters. What exactly will their money help you accomplish? The more details you can provide, the better!
  • The communities you’ll impact. Help your constituents see themselves in the people, animals, or environments they’re effecting change in. Open your call by sharing a story that will evoke a personal connection between the nonprofit’s beneficiaries and the donor.
  • The stakes at hand. What happens if you don’t fulfill your goal through this event? Make sure your donor is aware that there is an urgency associated with your cause, and show them how easily they can make a tangible difference.

Your phone call has the ability to make your cause feel present in your donors’ lives, just like your fundraising event can. When you pair these powerful fundraising strategies together, you have a chance to get your nonprofit’s message across in a new, exciting way!

If you haven’t figured out how to outline your nonprofit’s purpose in a succinct, compelling way, take a look at Fundly’s list of outstanding nonprofit mission statements to glean some inspiration from organizations just like yours.

The bottom line: Your telefundraising calls can show donors the importance of your fundraising event in the community or world. Take advantage of this unique fundraising tool to communicate your message in a personal way.

3. Reach out for more than just money.

Telefundraising is traditionally used to solicit donations or pledges from supporters, but financial contributions aren’t the only thing you can use your phone fundraising efforts for.

Especially if you’re planning a fundraising event, telefundraising can be a multi-purpose strategy to help you collect donations of all kinds.

For example, consider reaching out to donors to ask for:

  • Donated auction items for your live or silent auction.
  • Sponsorship for your event.
  • Matching gifts through the donor’s employer.
  • Volunteers for your event.
  • In-kind donations.

Because donors will appreciate the straightforward, personal approach of phoning them directly, they might be more likely to donate in a way that they haven’t previously considered.

For example, a donor who took home a noteworthy item at last year’s silent auction might feel honored that you’ve come to them for help with procurement for this year’s selection. They’ll be excited to have a say in helping someone else experience the joy of being a top bidder like they were!

And don’t forget to add local businesses and corporations to your call list as well. When your telefundraisers relay the benefits of corporate giving, employers will be lining up to purchase tables for their teams at your upcoming event.

For more on how to use corporate giving to your advantage in your fundraising strategy, check out 360MatchPro’s expert’s guide to matching gifts.

The bottom line: Think outside the box when it comes to telefundraising. Asking for multiple types of donations will ensure that you cover all the bases for your upcoming fundraising event, and it will give donors a chance to get involved in a new way.

4. Focus on post-event stewardship.

Telefundraising isn’t just a great way to obtain donations; it’s also an excellent method for stewarding your donors long-term.

We’ve already gone into detail on the benefits of telefundraising as a direct, personal fundraising approach, but don’t forget that these phone calls can also help your organization develop sustained donor relations long after a single fundraising event or campaign ends.

After your event doors close, use telefundraising to follow up with donors and expand your fundraising potential.

To ensure your calls are retention-focused, keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Ask for feedback first. Before you ask for an additional donation, ask your supporter to share their thoughts on the success of your event. Start with a general question such as, “Did you enjoy our event?” and follow up with questions related to their specific involvement.
  • Make sure the conversation goes both ways. It can be easy to get caught up in the call script and forget that an actual person is on the other line. Take the conversations slowly and allow the donors to speak. When donors know that you genuinely appreciate their time, they’ll be more likely to respond to a donation request.
  • Be thankful! Whether you’re calling to follow up after an event or not, telefundraisers should always be grateful throughout every step of the call. Remember to thank donors for their time, event attendance, previous donations (with specific amounts!), and purchasing auction items, if applicable, before considering to ask for another gift.

A well-timed, strategic follow-up call will not only encourage guests to give again, but it will also remind them how much they enjoyed your event and leave them with a positive impression of your nonprofit—which will in turn lead to more donations and event attendance in the future.

The bottom line: When making follow-up calls after a fundraising event, focus on the relationships you’re building with your donors. You’re sure to see more donations and higher retention rates because of it!

5. Turn event guests into recurring donors.

Many types of events (such as those associated with peer-to-peer campaigns) are known for attracting new donors. While you’re undoubtedly excited that you’ve brought in these donations, you may not be sure how to effectively engage with those donors.

Alternatively, your event may have garnered a host of gifts from sporadic donors—those who are happy to attend an event every year or make a donation once in awhile, but haven’t yet made a commitment by becoming a recurring donor.

That’s where trusty telefundraising can be your nonprofit’s greatest ally!

After your initial follow-ups (including any donation acknowledgments or thank-you emails), you can use telefundraising to reach out to event donors and ask if they’d be interested in setting up recurring donations.

Thanks to effective fundraising technology, donors no longer need to remember to mail in a check to give on a regular basis. Instead, they can make automatic payments to your organization on their own schedule.

Explain to them the benefits of automating their gifts, including:

  • Extended impact on the communities they care about.
  • Simple, instant donations with no added effort on their part.
  • Flexible giving schedules so they can donate weekly, monthly, quarterly, or whenever is convenient for them.
  • Automated receipts for each transaction (no bank statement surprises!).

It’s no secret that donor retention is a challenge for some nonprofits, but many donors don’t make a second donation simply because they aren’t asked.

Step up to the plate and show donors how they can make a lasting impact on your cause—all through one simple phone call!

Telefundraising is a staple in the nonprofit world. While it works well on its own, it can be even more of a game-changer when you pair it with your fundraising events.

With these tips in mind, we know you’ll knock your next fundraiser out of the park. Now go plan your event!

Guest Author

Joshua Meyer brings over 14 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the Director of Marketing for BidPal. Currently, as a member of the BidPal sales and marketing team, Josh manages all of the firm’s marketing efforts. He has a passion for helping to create positive change and loves that his current role allows him to help nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.

Sales Call Tips: One Bad Sales Call Doesn’t Define Your Ability to Sell

Fri, 2017-07-28 09:30

Imagine a baseball player that has a bad day… he strikes out multiple times, and when he does finally make contact with the ball he hits a foul. Does he give up baseball because of one awful game? No.

Everyone faces frustrations now and then, and that carries over into the challenging world of inside sales. One frustrating game of baseball, or one bad sales call, doesn’t mean you’re going to fail in every single future endeavor. The baseball player will find ways to improve his game — practice his swing or meet with a trainer — perhaps that’s all you need to do as a salesperson too. Come back to the plate and modify your approach. In this article, we’ll cover a few sales call tips and look at ways to boost morale among team members after a bad call.

Every Call Won’t Go as Planned

After a sales call that doesn’t go quite as expected, a salesperson may feel discouraged and upset with themselves. It’s only natural to feel disappointed, sad, or maybe even angry. As a leader, it’s your job to help reps figure out what went wrong and how they can do better next time. Is there something the sales rep can do differently, or would the prospect have never been happy?

When a salesperson’s morale is low, he or she will not perform their best. Management should be understanding and helpful in getting the individual back on track. Allow the rep to take a moment and be with his or her feelings. A quick walk outside for a breath of fresh air and mind-clearing walk can help someone move on more easily to the next lead.

Schedule a regular team meeting and allow your salespeople to discuss their worst calls. If you plan it before lunch or on a Friday afternoon, they’ll have time to step away from their emotions and come back in a positive mood for their next set of calls. These meetings will give your employees a chance to sympathize with each other and receive advice from their peers – many of whom are likely facing similar issues. Here are three questions you can ask to facilitate productive conversations (instead of rants):

  • What could you have said differently?
  • Did you appropriately react to the situation?
  • How can you better deal with similar prospects in the future?

Offer one-on-one time for salespeople who would like to discuss their calls further. Sit down with your employee and listen to the recorded call to glean any insights and provide constructive criticisms. Remind your employee that “50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.” If a salesperson is thrown off by the experience, offer to listen in on their next call and provide advice. Many call solutions offer the ability to listen in and coach your sales reps during sales calls.

10 Sales Call Tips for a Successful Call 5 Tips for Sales Managers

Managers can position their sales team for successful calls by incorporating these five tips:

  1. Create daily goals – Instead of focusing on quarterly or monthly quotas, identify goals that can be achieved daily. Breaking quotas down into smaller daily goals gives the salesperson more opportunity to celebrate small wins.
  2. Provide training opportunities – Ensure your employees are well informed about what they’re selling. Provide ongoing training on your product and services as well as sales strategies and tactics.
  3. Implement sales scripts – Management has the data that shows what works and what doesn’t on sales calls. Logical branch scripting can guide even the most novice of salespeople to close a deal.
  4. Understand common sales objections – It’s important that your team knows how to overcome common sales objections. Take the top three sales objections your salespeople hear and provide them with various ways to turn it around and get the prospect to a ‘yes.’
  5. Review previous calls  – Gain valuable insight as to where improvements are needed. Recorded calls can also reveal what is working and should be repeated for your desired outcome.
5 Tips for Salespeople

Once they’re ready to pick up the phone and start dialing ensure that sales team members keep these 5 sales call tips in mind.

  1. Exude confidence and a positive attitude – Tying back to number two above, when a salesperson fully understands the product their expertise will shine through.
  2. Engage the prospect –  Include open-ended questions in the sales script that encourages them to reveal the business problems they’re facing related to your product/service.
  3. Eliminate distractions. When a salesperson is on a call, you want them to be focused and not trying to multitask. Each prospect should be provided with the caller’s full attention so that nothing important is missed.
  4. Follow up, follow up, and follow up. According to The Marketing Donut, 80% of sales require five follow up calls after a meeting. Don’t expect the prospect to be ready to close after two calls. Most CRM solutions include a feature that triggers follow ups.
  5. Pre-record voicemails – When making calls it’s inevitable that the salesperson will get someone’s voicemail. So, make sure they’re leaving a well-crafted message by using a tool that allows them to pre-record voicemails. It not only saves time but ensures all points are touched on in the message.

These tips are mainly for novice salespeople, but those that have been in sales for decades have room for growth too. Maybe they’re great on the phone but need some direction on digital selling. There’s always something that can be improved upon. “Practice makes perfect,” or at least better, so don’t let your salespeople give up after one bad call. Encourage them to move forward and constantly be looking for ways to empower them in their sales career.

If your sales team needs a little extra motivation check out these 12 Helpful Quotes Focused on Inside Sales Inspiration. Consider printing out and posting some of these around your office to build excitement around selling.

Building Healthy Sales Funnels

Wed, 2017-07-26 09:30

By Josiane Feigon

It’s a new year, and it is important to build a strong, healthy sales funnel. The difference between a weak sales funnel and a healthy sales funnel is the type of activity you fill it with.

A weak funnel could just be one or two big deals that are lingering, but nothing is closing. A healthy sales funnel includes both small and large deals that are moving through at a good rate and eventually closing.

Tips on How to Build a Healthy Sales Funnel:
  1. Add at least 5 new qualified opportunities to your pipeline each week. Your pipeline should have at least 40% of new business opportunities each month.
  2. Remember today’s customer is more unpredictable than ever before. They are here today, gone tomorrow, and may come back 9 months later. Don’t disregard leads just because they have been sitting dormant for 6+ months.
  3. Refresh your lead sorting/prioritization criteria. You have old opportunities that have been sitting in your funnel for 18+ months. Are these the ones you want to toss first? They may not be.
  4. Don’t deep clean, deep qualify. When there are so many leads clogging up the funnel, reps tend to focus more on qualifying something out rather than qualifying them deeper.
  5. Toughen up your questions. Remember to ask the tough questions early and often. Salespeople who do this find they have a stronger and more focused funnel. Try the following categories: Current Environment, Business Need, Decision-making Process and Criteria, Competition, Timeframe, Budget, Next Steps.
  6. Beware of the No-Po’s. These professional funnel cloggers will never commit and will continue to make false promises. Ask lots of decision-making questions here to vet out who they are.
  7. Say yes to small deals – they are the building blocks of solid salesmanship.

Conclusion

Stay positive, keep your head down, and don’t get caught in the fear and uncertainty that surrounds us.
About the Author

Josiane Feigon is the President of TeleSmart Communications. She is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community. Consistently recognized among The Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals, Josiane is one of the world’s leading experts on inside sales team and management talent.

 

 

Embrace the New Era of Sales Interactions or Get Left Behind

Fri, 2017-07-14 09:30

The modern digital age brings with it a new era of sales interactions. Text messaging, online chats, video chats, and other contemporary forms of correspondence now supplement traditional options such as phone calls, mailers, and in-person meetings. These modern-day means of communication to customers, especially texting prospects, can produce desired outcomes.

Millennials now fill more and more leadership roles in business and have the power to make major purchase decisions. OpenMarket reported that 76% of Millennials would rather receive text messages instead of calls from companies because of texting’s convenience. Another survey conducted by Zipwhip revealed that 37% of adults (in general) agree.

Reasons to Adopt Online Chat and Text Messaging

Reaching out to your prospects and customers in their preferred manner only makes sense. Texting used to give businesses a competitive advantage, today it’s the norm and is becoming less cutting-edge. If you’re not texting prospects, you’re falling behind, especially considering the average person looks at their cell phone 150 times each day. Still not sold? Here are a few key reasons why you should incorporate online chat and text prospecting into your sales strategy.

Text messaging:

  1. 25% of consumers don’t listen to voicemails from callers they don’t know.
  2. Most people don’t answer phone calls from numbers they don’t recognize.
  3. Customers find it more convenient to respond to a text message than have a phone conversation.
  4. Businesses can see if a message has been delivered or read.
  5. When integrated into the sales process, texting increases the conversion rate by 40%.

Online chat:

  1. Online chat is an effective way to engage prospects early in the buying process. Individuals reading your articles or reviewing your website likely need a solution that you offer. In other words, they’re hot leads that you can reach right then through online chat.
  2. Armed with the ability to answer questions and eliminate buying objections, conversions increase by 20% with the use of live chat according to Insite Software.
  3. Online chat improves customer satisfaction thanks to real-time response to questions, leaving the prospect with a positive impression of your brand.
Best Practices for Texting Prospects

Instructing your sales team to start texting prospects is not enough. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the best practices for sending text messages to leads.

  1. Establish contact through another format before texting. The more familiar a prospect is with the rep, the more likely the individual will respond to a text. Texting should integrate into your current strategy.
  2. Create templates. Save time for your sales reps by creating sample text messages that can customize and use in different situations. This also affords you some control over brand voice.
  3. Don’t ignore questions or replies. Develop a procedure for handling customer service issues in case the query is out of the salesperson’s range of expertise. You’re likely to see these once the prospect converts to a client.
  4. Let the contact know who is texting them. In the first sentence, have the salesperson identify him- or herself by name, position, and company.
  5. Deliver value. Have a purpose for each text message sent whether it’s a reminder of an appointment or to ask a specific question.
  6. Be professional. Instruct your team to avoid jargon and to use good judgment before sending emojis.
  7. Measure your results and analyze data to understand where they need to improvements in their approach.
  8. Integrate conversations into CRM to create a full picture of each account. VanillaSoft’s SMS texting feature offers the ability to send and receive messages within the platform.
Best Practices for Live Online Chat

Online chat is in the same realm as texting; however, it requires its own set of guidelines for ideal use. Review the list of best practices below to see maximum return on your investment.

  1. Humanize the approach. Don’t be robotic. Ask the individual questions about the recently viewed content.
  2. Be cautious with your language. Receiving a pop up for a chat can come off as intrusive or impersonal. The customer experience should be a top priority.
  3. Be patient. Give prospects time to get interested and involved with your content. Avoid messaging them the second they enter the website.
  4. Pull them in with a thought-provoking first message to engage them in a conversation
  5. Be helpful. Recommend a relevant white paper or service based on the content they’re viewing.
  6. Maintain brand messaging. The brand’s voice should shine through in all correspondence, including online chat.
  7. Develop a procedure for customer service inquiries to be referred to the appropriate team or person.
  8. Analyze the data. Review what’s working and make minor changes until you get the right formula that leads to conversions.

Texting and chatting online are only two of the many modern ways to communicate with your customers and prospects. There are a plethora of video chatting platforms from Skype where you only see the other person’s face, to Zoom where you can share your screen. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are popping up more and more too. However, be cautious when adopting chatbots. The technology is available, but these services have a long way to go before they can replace a human response.

For highly effective personalized communications, try texting prospects and/or employing staff to chat with website visitors. Read more about the effectiveness of leveraging text messages with your inside sales efforts in this blog post.

Are you using text messaging or live chat in your sales strategy? If so, share one of your tips with us in the comments below.

Text Prospecting: Proceed and be Bold

Wed, 2017-07-12 09:15

By Josiane Feigon

Inside salespeople are the early adopters of new ways of prospecting. As they struggle to survive in today’s dying telephone culture, they’re still in the business of getting a response. Text prospecting is one of the fastest ways to get responses (text messages are read within the first 5 seconds), increase connectivity, confirm appointments, gain trust, motivate employees, solve problems, and strengthen your brand.

When Should you Text and What to Think About?

You must approach text prospecting with caution and be professional about it. The first rule is the better the prospect knows you, the more effective your prospecting text message will be. The less they know you, the more likely you will cause offense and be perceived as too pushy.

Here are a few basics to think about when your communications are 250 characters or less:

  • Identify yourself
  • Watch your tone
  • Use proper grammar and spelling, and skip the abbreviations (LOL, OMG, IMHO, BFF)
  • Be careful using links
Acceptable Text Prospecting Messages to Send
  1. Appointment reminder and confirmation – Anyone on your calendar should receive a text reminder and confirmation. This is one of the best ways to keep it from being canceled. “Hi Bob, this is Susan Smith with VanillaSoft, are we still on for 4 pm today? Looking forward to it.”
  2. Your external partner and current customers – These are people you already have a relationship with and are comfortable speaking with in a casual tone.“Hey, Bob, it’s Susan Smith with VanillaSoft. Any chance we can jump on a call to discuss next steps together?”
  3. Thanking them and following-up.

Conclusion:

As mobile messaging continues to grow, text messaging will take on a bigger role in the sales landscape.

 

About the Author

Josiane Feigon is the President of TeleSmart Communications. She is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community. Consistently recognized among The Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals, Josiane is one of the world’s leading experts on inside sales team and management talent.
 
 

 

Call Recordings; The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Wed, 2017-06-28 08:15

By Josiane Feigon

If you work in inside sales and you haven’t spent time listening to your recorded calls, you are doing yourself a disservice. Call recordings are an essential part of your development as an inside sales rep and should be integrated into an organization’s sales environment. With all the technologies out there for call recordings, this is becoming more common in today’s sales environments.

Let’s discuss the various points of view on this:

The Good

Call recordings are the best way to train, learn, grow and develop your skills. It is a perfect onboarding tool if you want to quickly ramp your people up. When you are using it as a coaching tool, the rep is usually less anxious and defensive and can listen to feedback in a more relaxed way.

You can break down calls and only work on specifics such as just the opening of the call or just the questioning. There is a stronger chance for improvement when you break it down into small chunks. You can also role-play new techniques.

The Bad

It’s still a controversial topic because of all the laws and regulations for call recordings in certain states. Some organizations do not allow call recordings. They are very cautious about call recordings, and if they allow it, they will add a disclaimer at the beginning of the call which requires the rep to announce the recording is taking place and ask permission. While this works well for inbound customer service types of calls, it is not well received on outbound prospecting calls. The prospect loses trust and cooperation.

The Ugly

Unfortunately, some reps have been traumatized from the feedback they received in working with a manager who listened to their call recording. It was either too negative, or too much to absorb and they walked away with a negative experience which demotivated them.

Conclusion

I highly recommend you consider creating a safe call coaching culture across your organization. This is the best way to grow, develop, and improve performance.

About the Author

Josiane Feigon is the President of TeleSmart Communications. She is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community. Consistently recognized among The Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals, Josiane is one of the world’s leading experts on inside sales team and management talent.

How to Respond When a Prospect Questions Your Pricing

Wed, 2017-06-21 09:30

If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you’ve had a prospect (or a few) insist that your price is too high. But what does that statement really mean? Is the price objection due to budget, a lack of knowledge regarding the market, or is your product missing standard features and falling short of the competition? The first step to responding to these grievances is finding out why price is a barrier to closing the sale.

Once your sales representatives discover the root of the prospect’s price objection, they can begin to remedy the situation. However, it’s not always easy to get people to explain their reasoning. A powerful tactic to getting to the core of your prospect’s objection is to remain silent. This can cause them to reexamine their statement and begin explaining themselves. Let’s review four standard price-related complaints and how sales reps can steer the prospect to a ‘yes.’

4 Common Price Objections and Potential Reactions
  1. Budget – Are they lacking the budget for this period only, or is the price too high to ever be an option? Sometimes the initial investment is too significant, but if you can offer a payment plan, it’s instantly made feasible. Another issue that can arise with budget is that the prospect doesn’t see the value of the product.

Reaction:

If a payment plan isn’t enough to remedy budget problems and elicit a sale, ask if the budget will become available and circle back at that time. The representative can also offer to repackage a new deal to meet their budget. This will reveal what features they can go without and which they must have.

Explain how the solution you’re selling is an investment in the company’s future. It’s not an expense like an office chair or a lamp, it will have an actual ROI. If you can create a realistic formula to estimate the ROI – even better. Providing a dollar amount makes it more tangible, and the prospect can weigh out the value.

Going back to the worth of your product/service, invite the prospect to look at the cost of doing nothing or the cost of going to a cheaper competitor. What will they be missing out on?

  1. Too expensive – Compared to what? Expensive is a relative term, and the rep will need to find out how expensive they believe your product is. This can open the doors for negotiation.

Reaction:

If the buyer believes you’re overpriced compared to competitors, ensure that they’re comparing apples to apples. If possible, get a copy of the competing proposal to make a comparison and review the included features line by line. Doing so will reveal any major differences in the two offers and hopefully explain a portion of the price disparity.

Reassure them of the added value that comes with a higher price tag. Perhaps it’s not a product detail or feature, but something related to the warranty or support they’ll receive from going with your brand. Maybe your product has higher ratings than the competing product. Whatever your competitive advantages are, they should be presented to the buyer.

  1. Lacking features – Are there features that the purchaser has seen in similar products that yours is missing? If so, the rep should work to find out if these are deal breakers or a negotiation tactic on behalf of the buyer.

Reaction:

Play up features your brand is offering that others don’t. Explain to the prospect that although we don’t have ‘x,’ we have ‘y’ that will provide more value to you in the long run.

If the feature in question is brought up by several prospects, the brand should consider a partnership with a stand-alone service that fills the gap or figure out how to get it on your product roadmap. With a technology product or service, future plans to add the missing feature, and have it included later at no cost, could help to close the deal.

  1. Time – This factor can arise in several forms. The prospect may not have the ability to be down when transitioning to new software, they may require an immediate return on investment, or they may not want to put in the time and effort to train employees on something new. Time equals money, and these are reasonable objections. Sellers just need to know how to respond.

Reaction:

Here are a few responses based on the time objections noted above. Assure the buyer that the downtime will be minimal. Point out that they can continue with business as usual until it’s time to make the switch. If possible, offer the option to finalize any transitions after hours.

Depending on your product, an immediate return may or may not be possible. Calculate what the return will be after one month, three months, six months, one year, etc. Seeing these numbers laid out helps demonstrate value.

If your product will require training, explain how the time invested is worth it. What is the cost of doing nothing? Does it make sense to skip the purchase because a few hours will be spent on training? Probably not. If you’re selling a solution, it will likely save time in the future and have significant value.

When to Accept a ‘No’

Sometimes there’s no way around a price objection. In these cases, the lead was likely wrongly qualified. Improperly qualified leads can clog up your pipeline and waste your sales team’s valuable time. When qualifying leads at your organization, the budget should be one of the first factors considered. Even though many sales teams are moving away from the age-old BANT mantra from IBM, which begins with Budget, they are still keeping Budget in their qualification process.

As a manager, you must ensure that your sales team understands when to accept defeat and quit wasting any more time. Management should acknowledge to their representative that there was nothing more they could have done, and avoid pinning guilt on their inability to close the deal. Sometimes matters of price objection are truly out of their control, and no explanations or negotiation tactics will sway the prospect’s decision. Encourage your rep to stay positive and look forward to the next opportunity.

Objection Rebuttals to the 10 Most Common Objections

Wed, 2017-06-14 09:30

By Josiane Feigon

We are selling in a volatile economy, which means you can expect more of everything. More competitors, more excuses, more objections. These sales objections are delivered in various ways from phone to email to texting, but over the years, these objections have stayed the same.

Categories of Objections

Objections haven’t changed in many years, they still fall into the main five categories.

  1. Need
  2. Relationship
  3. Authority
  4. Product/Service
  5. Price

Let’s look at each of these categories more closely.

Need

Occasionally, a customer’s need has decreased since the last time you spoke with them. Markets change too, sometimes overnight.

Objections You May Hear:

  •      ‘‘We don’t see a need for this type of solution.’’
  •      ‘‘I am not interested.’’
  •      ‘‘We’re not ready to do anything right now.’’

Relationship

People do business with people they like. Your customer may be resisting simply because something went wrong with your relationship.

Objections You May Hear:

  •      ‘‘We’ve made a large investment in our current solution.’’
  •      ‘‘The vendor we use provides the connectivity we need.’’

Authority

Your caller may not be the final decision or doesn’t have the authority to make decisions.

Objections You May Hear:

  •      ‘‘Our corporate headquarters buys solutions for our networks.’’
  •      ‘‘I can’t get the higher level to approve of this project.’’

Product/Service

Customers are knowledgeable and picky. They have less patience with anything that is too complicated, yet they expect more functionality than ever before.

Objections You May Hear:

  •      ‘‘Your service offerings are too complicated.’’
  •      ‘‘We’ve had a bad experience with your company before.’’

Price

Not everyone can afford to buy what they truly need. That is why it is so important to qualify your prospect.

Objections You May Hear:

  •      ‘‘Your company is way too expensive, and we’re very small.’’
  •      ‘‘It’s too expensive and includes more features than we need.’’
Getting Past the Objections

The best way to rebound from all these objections is to ask precision questions that get behind these objections. Here are some rebuttals you can use based on the objection:

“I don’t have time to talk.”

  • I know that you are very busy. What is your recommendation to me for getting in touch with you?

“I’m not interested.”

  • What is your familiarity with VanillaSoft? What do you think about these products?

“You’re too expensive.”

  •      What are you comparing us to? I want to be sure you are comparing apples to apples.      

“We don’t have the Budget.”

  • If you did have the budget, which renewal options would be of most interest to you?
  • What have you looked at regarding “price” versus “cost?”

Conclusion:

Don’t let objections discourage you. Look at them as an opportunity to dig deeper and discover the best option for your prospects.

 

About the Author

Josiane Feigon is the President of TeleSmart Communications. She is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community. Consistently recognized among The Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals, Josiane is one of the world’s leading experts on inside sales team and management talent.

 

Helping New Reps Overcome the Fear of Rejection

Wed, 2017-06-07 10:23

New reps come in with one of two mindsets. Either “let’s do this, I’m ready to dial and smile,” or “what if they hang up on me or even worse, say no?” The potential of rejection for novice sales representatives can be debilitating. It’s management’s job to help new hires tackle their cold calling fears.

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” –Bo Bennett
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What Fuels Cold Calling Fears

Let’s examine what drives cold calling anxieties so we can put them into perspective. First of all, fear is an emotion. It’s what puts people in a state of “fight or flight.” Humans experience fear when they lack control, are facing uncertainty, or are confronted with other dangers.

What stirs up this negative emotion about cold calling? The lack of control and uncertainty of whether the conversation will go as the caller would like it to. The prospect may not be interested in purchasing your product or service, a possibility your sales team needs to come to terms with.  Below I’m listing eight ways to support your team in overcoming their cold calling fears.

1.     Have a Positive Mindset

Rejection is inevitable, and it happens to us all. Those who succeed do not dwell on their rejections. No, they revel in their successes. Highlighting your teams’ wins and achievements will inspire your new reps to excel in their career as a sales professional. Concentrating on the impact of the product they sell allows salespeople to get excited about the value that they’re offering.

2.     How Many Calls, Not How Many Sales

Another factor reminder for your sales team is that it takes an average of eight attempts to reach a prospect. Having this statistic in the back of their mind may help them to steer away from discouragement. It lets them know they’re not the only one dealing with the challenge of getting through to people.

Shifting the focus to an activity that your rep can control, as opposed to one that they can’t, alleviates some of the pressure. Consider pinning goals to total call attempts instead of the number of deals closed.

3.     Focus on the Fit

Rather than obsessing over making the sale, encourage your reps to confirm product fit. Is the product or service the right fit for this prospect? Having a “does it fit” mentality puts sales professionals in a better mental state.

When focusing on the product’s or service’s usefulness for a specific contact, a salesperson may not feel as desperate to make the sale. His or her mind is focused on helping versus selling. People want to know that they’re making the right decision when purchasing products and services.

Your sales reps can help potential customers evaluate the product by asking the right questions and explaining the value. Provide employees with case studies to help them better understand the value offered.

4.     Review Calls and Provide Advice

By taking the time to listen to previous calls and providing new reps with feedback, management can gauge training needs. Call recording and review also provides an excellent opportunity for giving advice to team members on how they can improve. Most new reps will welcome insights from a more experienced colleague, be it management or even a peer who has been on the job longer.

Another way to help new sales reps overcome their fears is to shadow their calls. VanillaSoft offers a feature that allows you to listen in on a conversation. There’s even the option to whisper and talk to your sales rep directly while they’re on the call. Though this could be intimidating to a new sales professional, let them know that you’re doing it to assist them and provide any guidance they may need, not to criticize them.

5.     Maintain a Regular Training Schedule

A sense of preparedness brings self-confidence to any task. Provide your new reps with a regular training program during their first few months on the job. You can offer training on topics like how to explain product value to prospects, the science of proper follow-up, and how to handle objections. Incorporating sales call role-playing into their training will be beneficial too.

6.     Use Incentives as Motivators

Another way to overcome fear is to tackle it head on. The livelihood of call center sales representatives is often tied to meeting sales quotas. Incentives and bonuses can encourage them to make more calls. More calls lead to more chances of making a sale, it also means the rep will likely begin to overcome their cold calling fears.

7.     Start with the Easy Leads

Don’t give your best leads to new hires. Save those for more experienced callers. Give your new reps leads that will not cause devastation if they mess them up. If there’s a buyer profile that is likely to close, give your newbies a few of those leads. A few easy wins will boost their confidence and get them ready to engage with bigger prospects.

8.     Invest in Technology

There are several tools available to help build up the confidence of new reps. Here are some additional solutions that can give your salespeople more support and confidence with every call:

These valuable features can simplify the work of both experienced and new sales reps.

Helping your new team members to overcome their fear of rejection and boosting their self-confidence will have lasting effects. The rep and your company will see greater successes and growth. How do you help your team get over their cold calling fears?