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You're not the only salesperson who feels apprehensive about the close. However, without that feeling of risk, successfully closing a sale wouldn't be so thrilling -- which drives salespeople to continually strive for more.
Because sales professionals are expected to generate the best possible win rates for their effort, a large number of closing sales techniques have been developed over the years.
Here are a few proven closing techniques, and why they're so effective.
How to Get Better Results from Your Prospecting
Every time you reach out to a customer to ask for time, you are making a couple of decisions. The first decision you are making is around the medium you choose. If you are asking for a meeting, there are different choices available to you, and a greater or lesser likelihood of achieving the outcome you want, in this case, a meeting.
If you choose email as the medium, you are choosing a medium that isn’t particularly good for acquiring meetings. Email is something that is easy to ignore, and because you aren’t present, there is no way for you to resolve your dream client’s concerns about giving you their time. Sometimes they politely reject your request, and other times (maybe most of the time), they just delete the email and move on with their work.
The phone still reigns supreme as the best medium, not least of all because almost anyone you would want to reach is never more than 36 inches away from their phone (it turns out that any distance further than 36 inches away causes headaches, sweating, difficulty in breathing, and in some cases, violent convulsions). A phone call allows for conversation, a synchronous communication and not asynchronous, like email, where there is a long pause between exchanges. If your prospective client has concerns, you are there to address them, massively increasing your odds of securing a meeting, if you’ve got the chops.
The second decision is what you are offering of value in trade for your dream client’s time. If you want greater success, you have trade something where your dream client benefits even if they never buy from you. The Trading Value rule is critical (read more here in The Lost Art of Closing). If your client doesn’t recognize the value in meeting with you, you make it easy for them to reject your request and do something else with their time.
If you can trade insights, ideas, new thinking, or interesting experiences from which they can benefit, there is value outside of deciding to buy from you. When you pitch the great privilege of listening to you talk about you, your company, your locations, and your solutions, you repel people from you like a skunk at the garden party.
If you want to make prospecting easier, get better at it.
How to Develop Empathy with Your Prospects and Close More Sales
The robots are coming. And they're here to take your sales job.
At least, that's what we're afraid of. It might be true that technology can be integrated into many steps of the sales process. But, thankfully, it can't do everything.
For now, there are a number of skills computers can't learn, and one of those is our human ability to create empathetic connections with prospects and customers.
This is a key ability for the modern seller. Develop empathy and you'll enjoy more effective sales conversations. More importantly, you'll build a skill set that’s in demand and hard to replace with technology.
What is Empathy?
Quite simply, empathy is the ability to understand the emotional state of another person and respond appropriately. It doesn't mean you have to feel the same thing (that's sympathy).
Empathy is your capacity to sense what’s going on in someone's else mind and guess at the best way to engage based on your understanding of that perspective.
How Empathy Drives Sales Conversations
At its heart, sales has always been about the interpersonal engagement between two people. We always hear about sales professionals being "people people." That's simply another way of saying they’re empathetic.
When we talk about emotional intelligence, one of the most important things we're referring to is the ability to recognize, understand, and respond to the emotional state of others in an appropriate way.
Think about your sales interactions. Key steps include building trust, uncovering needs, and creating confidence. If you can't do those well you're not going to find a lot of success.
All of them are driven by sales professionals' ability to create a bridge with their prospects. By picking up on the subtle and not-so-subtle clues that our conversational partners apply, salespeople with high emotional intelligence can create stronger connections and more easily influence others.
This is especially important as sales processes get more complex and involve more people. It's critical to be able to understand the motivations and thoughts of everyone involved in the process. In a world where information is a commodity, you need to be more than a source of facts and figures.
You need to possess the ability to engage on an emotional level and become a resource for potential customers. If you want to guide them through their buying journey, it's imperative you connect on the human level.
Tips for Developing Empathy
Luckily, your emotional intelligence isn't a fixed trait. Much of your empathy is developed as you mature, but it's a muscle that can be exercised and improved. There are actually pathways in our brains called mirror neurons. They have evolved to recognize and respond to the hundreds of small, usually unnoticed, signals people give off when they interact.
Taking it a step further, as we grow up, we develop what neuroscientists call the Theory of Mind. It describes our ability to put ourselves in the place of someone else and see things from their perspective. It also allows us to understand others might have thoughts, feelings, and motivations causing them to do what they do. And it's why you can pick up on the unspoken signals of your friend and ask, "What's wrong?" before they even have to tell you they just had a bad day at work.
Building your ability to pick up on these signals, and learning how to interpret them, can pay huge dividends. And it's not complicated. You don't have to take special classes or training seminars.
In fact, your daily sales activities provide constant opportunities to build your capacity. Here are five exercises you can use to cultivate your empathetic skills.
How to Make the Perfect Follow-Up Sales Call
I don’t know many sales people that enjoy making prospecting calls. It’s definitely one of the most difficult parts of the job. There are so many things to consider. How quickly are you responding to your leads? What time and Day are you responding? How long are your average calls?
Let’s take a look at some findings from recent studies to help put our finger on the key points.
The complete article from HubSpot can be found here: https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/best-times-to-connect-with-leads-infographic)
Best Days to Call:
Wednesday has shown to be the most successful day for sales calls. Thursday comes in at second place. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be calling on other days, however, you may want to be sure you are highly productive on those 2 days to take full advantage of the trend.
Best Time to Call:
The best time to call has changed over the years. Several studies found the best time to be between 4:00 PM & 5:00 PM. Another study found the best time to be between 10:00 AM & 11:00 AM. Most studies, however, agree that the worst time for successful calls is between 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM.
The response best time to call new leads. 5 minutes from the trigger of the event. After 5 minutes your odds drop significantly. Waiting longer than 10 minutes to respond means your odds of qualifying have dropped 400%.
Once you’ve responded in a timely manner it’s now time to connect with a meaningful dialogue. Studies have shown that successful follow-up sales calls are almost twice as long as unsuccessful calls. Be informative and keep control of the conversation to maintain focus but don’t waste your potential client’s time.
Educate, be concise, and prove your value offer.
Check out the full article from HubSpot for more takeaways:
Medicare Advantage / AEP Updates:
5 Prospecting Methods That
It’s no surprise that prospecting is the No. 1 challenge advisors face, year after year. When, as part of National Underwriter’s recent Independent Producer Study, we asked about the most challenging aspects of selling insurance products, 55 percent of respondents named prospecting as their top trial. It was a landslide winner, in fact, beating such formidable obstacles as clients’ lack of understanding around the need for insurance (34%), negative opinions of insurance products (25%) and product affordability (22%).
As you look to overcome this challenge in the year ahead, keep these five techniques in mind. While there’s no silver bullet to make prospecting a breeze, these are the methods your peers know from experience to really work.
A steady stream of qualified referrals is the lifeblood of any agency. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents cited referrals as the most effective way to prospect for new business, and for good reason: No other method will provide greater bang for your buck, so to speak. Having a solid referral-generating process in place will ensure not only that you are constantly introduced to new prospects, but that you are constantly introduced to the right prospects — the ones that meet your Ideal Client profile.
Referral expert Bill Cates suggests growing your referral network by being careful to keep referral sources informed about how you are following up on their help. This communicates that you value their insight and advice. Says Cates: “When someone gives you a referral, there are three things you MUST do to keep the referrals coming from that source: a) Follow up on every referral you get as soon as possible; b) Let your source know that you are following up on their help; c) Thank your referral source with a handwritten note and a small gift.”
At 34 percent, community involvement was named the second most effective prospecting technique. It’s Branding 101: The more people who associate your name with a positive message, the more clients you will have. Jim Brogan, president and founder of Brogan Financial in Knoxville, Tenn., makes community involvement a cornerstone of his practice, and has seen a boom in business as a result – not to mention a greater satisfaction and sense of fulfillment in the work he does each day. He encourages financial advisors to ask these questions as they consider how to get involved in their community: How many people in your community know who you are and what you do? If they hear the name of your business, what is the brand they associate with it? Is your brand different than any other financial advisor in town? Do you have a unique message and marketing initiative that helps you stand out from the crowded field of financial advisory firms?
Leading a seminar serves two important purposes: First, it establishes you as a thought leader in your area of specialty; second, it puts you in front of a group of prospects that have already expressed interest in your product line. Twenty percent of our survey respondents cited this as an effective prospecting technique – and while it may be tried-and-true, there are plenty of ways to tailor your seminar approach for today’s buyers. Industry coach Kerry Johnson suggests shunning the somewhat dated dinner seminar and instead holding a Social Security seminar designed purely to educate prospects. The overhead will be lower and, in many cases, the conversion of prospects to clients will be higher. Johnson notes: “Since you have taken away the motivation to get a free meal, the attendees are left with solving retirement problems. This is your retirement planning sweet spot.”
It may sound old-school, but cold calling can still work according to 15 percent of our advisors. In fact, picking up the phone beat out sexier methods such as social media (7%) and advertising on the radio or television (5%). Coach Kelley Robertson acknowledges that cold calling is tough, but asserts emphatically that it is not dead. To see results, you must put in the time you would with any other prospecting technique — and, of course, have thick skin. Robertson’s advice to agents: “You need to make a lot of dials. You need to target the right companies. You need a compelling opening. And you need to speak to the right people.”
Just under 15 percent of respondents cited direct mail as an effective prospecting technique — and J. Ryan Parker, general manager of Element Financial Group thinks the number of agents that prospect this way may actually be much higher, while also noting that it should not be a stand-alone prospecting method. Says Parker: “I think a lot of prospecting still revolves around direct mail — more so than people realize [because] seminars are powered by direct mail. This is obviously not the most cost-effective way of marketing yourself; you can probably spend a lot less money doing this on the Internet. But the clients producers are looking to reach, the seniors and the boomers, just aren’t as prone to go to Google and look something up. This is why more of your successful planners are still using direct mail. That said, online needs to be part of every producer’s prospecting strategy because it streamlines the business process. If I get a lead from the Internet, it automatically enters into my CRM, and we can follow-up from there. Internet is absolutely critical for today’s producers.”
Psychology of Sales: Use Your Personality Type to Your Advantage
Many years ago, Carl Jung researched and proposed the existence of 16 personality types. Using a test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or the MBTI, which has a minimum of 93 questions, people can find out which type they are. Each type is comprised of four pairs of personality factors: introversion (I) and extroversion (E), intuition (N) and sensing (S), thinking (T) and feeling (F), and judging (J) and perceiving (P). These factors are represented by a letter, and the combination of the four letters is your type.
Once you’ve taken the test, you can find out how much each personality factor affects your disposition. In the sales profession, some people may think only certain personalities can be successful; for example, it’s a common belief that only extroverts can close deals and relate to customers. According to research, however, introversion is slightly more common than extroversion overall, and it takes both extroverts and introverts to build a successful sales team.
Use your personality profile to your advantage. No matter if you’re an INTJ or an ESFP, you can reach and convert customers. Learn more about your personality type, and how to use it to your advantage, in the infographic below.
3 Ways Top Sellers Break Through Resistance
As sellers, we must immediately break down prospect resistance by creating a great first impression. Yet most salespeople fail to do so -- repelling buyers and making them think, "It's a salesperson, how do I get them off the phone?”
The best reps know what they're facing each time they call and have developed repeatable strategies for dispelling resistance.
Here are three tactics they use.
1) Cut the clichés
Most sellers open their calls with clichés, immediately turning off their prospects.
These are the most buyer-repellent statements I hear in my coaching work:
Cutting the salesy statements will instantly increase your success rate because you are not creating resistance. This is especially true for the ubiquitous, “How are you?" Every buyer on the planet has heard that exact phrase at the beginning of a sales call they didn't want to take. After my clients stop using this question on calls, they typically see a 25% jump in success.
When you call, your buyers are usually busy doing other work -- which means you're 99.9% likely to be interrupting them. Instead of ignoring this fact, use it to your advantage.
Try: "Mary? This is Colleen Francis. I know you weren’t expecting my call; have I caught you at a bad time?"
When it comes to receiving a sales call, it's always a bad time, so it’s a refreshing change when the person who's making the call recognizes this upfront. When we use this statement at the beginning of a call, we almost always get with the same answer: A laugh or chuckle, followed by either: "It's always a bad time, but what's up?" or "Sure it's a bad time, why are you calling?"
The magic in this answer is that now it is the buyer's choice that you're on the phone with them -- not yours. When a buyer feels like they're being held hostage in a conversation, they tune out and start planning their escape. When it's their choice the two of you are talking, however, they're far more likely to listen to what you have to say and participate.
2) Switch your focus
Sales calls are about the buyer -- not about you. If the buyer hears the word "I" first, they think, “Who cares what you want? What about me?”
Your buyer is focused on what's in it for them, so give it to them right up front.
Try some of the following ideas:
3) Drop the assumptions
Be careful about making broad claims -- buyers who don’t know you will instinctively poke them for holes.
Many will react with: “You don't even know me. How do you know you can do that? You have no idea what you're talking about, so I'm going to argue with you and then get rid of you.”
Replace assumptive language with examples and questions, such as:
"Mary, business owners like you tell me that we've been able to save them money on their printing costs. Depending on your printing requirements, it might be possible that we can do the same for you. Can we discuss your printing requirements now?"
Ultimately, you can build a relationship and avoid creating resistance by focusing on two key things going into a call:
These two areas will help you relax and project an open, friendly demeanor. Instead of encountering resistance, you’ll get a warm response
Now is a great time to think about some cross-selling ideas you can implement with your current clients and newly acquired ones.
Below are some great ideas to consider when cross-selling.
29 Ideas to Cross-Sell More Insurance to Current Clients
1) Know the Two Types
Did you know there are two distinct types of Cross Selling situations?
Prospects who already own the product - These people already bought the coverage from a competitor but you’re trying to get the business with your agency.
The key with them is repetition, collecting the x date, good follow-up and selling the benefits of your agency.
Prospects who DO NOT already own the product - These people don’t currently have the type of coverage you’re trying to sell them.
The key with them is product awareness, education, creating a need, identifying interest, and then selling.
These aren’t complete opposites, but they do require different approaches and sales tactics.
If you’re currently treating all cross-sale prospects the same, take a few moments to think about how each one requires a different approach and how you can address it best.
2) Develop an Established Cross-Selling System
It’s great if you read my articles and get a few ideas to implement here. That’s why I write the darn things.
The trouble is that most agents “think” they’re going to use a few new ideas, some of them really do, but very few make changes to the procedures and systems they use in their agency to make process improvements last.
The only way to create lasting success is to establish formal systems for processes in your agency like cross selling.
And this article is the perfect resource to help you put something like that together. Use it and do it!
You don’t have to write a manual, just make a list of what you want to do in each of the most common situations and share it with your staff.
3) Identify the Target Product(s) For Each Customer
Assuming your agency doesn’t specialize in specific lines of insurance, there are probably at least 4 different products that each of your customers could also buy from you.
And there are probably a bunch more that aren’t even relevant to each client.
Find a way to prioritize the best products to cross-sell each client and get this information front and center for your sales and customer service folks.
4) Establish a Tracking System
If your plan is to remember which products are the best cross-sale opportunities for each client, or to just always cross-sell the same one or two lines to everyone you’re not cross-selling efficiently.
Ideally, you’d be able to pull up any of your client’s accounts and see, at a glance, what products are the best cross sale opportunities for them. Having information like this top of mind when you’re looking at a client’s account will make a huge impact in how often your salespeople bring up the cross sale conversation.
In addition, it’s also great if you could pull up a list of all the clients who are prospects for each type of insurance. This is helpful for email, direct mail, or other campaigns that are oriented around awareness of your different product lines.
While we’re at it, you’re also going to need a way to keep track of X-dates for each month.
5) Handle Immediate Needs First
Be careful not to push cross-sales too hard during an initial sale.
It’s fine to plant seeds, but your prospects aren’t remotely interested in buying a second product from you until they know you can take care of the first one.
I’ve witnessed a lot of agents pushing too hard for additional lines when it’s clearly obvious the prospect only has one thing on their mind.
Respect your prospect, listen to your prospect, and put their immediate needs first.
Everyone wants to start a business and increase sales as their business grows. "The key is not to call the decision maker. The key is to have the decision maker call you." - Jeffrey Gitomer
In this article, I will list out 25 of the most effective sales techniques anyone can implement in their business to increase sales and make more profits. Increasing sales volume is not just enough. You need to increase profits as well.
Strategy 1: Use Content Marketing
A few years back, when you had a product or service to sell what did you do to get the word out? You tried press releases, television ads, paper ads, cold calls, banner ads, display hoardings and any other means you could afford. Business went to those who had the largest marketing budgets.
Fast forward to present day, people are no longer paying attention to the thousands of marketing messages that they come across each and every single day. With internet usage on the rise and people becoming more aware, all of these traditional marketing approaches are weakening day-by-day.
Individuals who embrace relationship marketing has already understood the power of content marketing. As compared to traditional methods of marketing, content marketing means getting found by prospective customers rather than trying to push your product or service to the uninterested masses.
With content marketing, there is a host of benefits:
You should embrace content marketing, not just for the benefits. Although it takes time, it’s what works very well now, and probably the only marketing technique that will work in the future.
Strategy 2: Use Upsells Effectively
If you are not using upsells, you are leaving money on the table. How many times have you ordered fries just because the sales guy asked you “would you like fries to go along with it?” or perhaps you were given a discount on something when you already made a purchase?
Upsells are very useful to increase sales. Once they buy from you and are in a buying mood, it’s easier to close an additional and related sale.
Strategy 3: Create a Product / Solution Which Has Demand
"Supply always comes on the heels of demand." – Robert Collier
This is a no brainer. Understand what your customers want. Is there some product already in the market that delivers the solution to your prospective client? If not, provide it.
If there is already a product or a solution, try to think of a better way to satisfy the needs of the customer. This can be in the form of a better quality product. You can even bring about a twist in the actual offering to make your product more attractive.