Email or Call? The Best Way to Reach Out to a Prospect For the First Time
After all, first interactions with prospects are key -- you're aiming to establish trust, provide value, gather key information, and perhaps even secure a follow-up meeting. If you don't use the right medium, they'll be less receptive to your message (and that's assuming they engage at all).
Luckily for sales reps everywhere, more than 20 sales experts and practitioners on Quora decided to weigh in.
The Best Way to Reach Out to a Prospect For the First Time
When In Doubt, Email First
The majority of experts recommended starting with an email. "An initial email usually makes more sense because it doesn't require [the prospect to] answer at the moment they receive it," writes Robert Graham, author of Cold Calling Early Customers.
Plus, as others pointed out, you can use an email as a reason to call.
"I always start by referring to this first email to show we're one step further in our relationship," explains Stan Frering, head of Client Relationship Management for Easytrip France.
Emailing has a third advantage over calling, according to EchoSign co-founder Jason Lemkin. It lets you educate your prospect on the product's value proposition, and clearly connect it with the prospect's situation.
"The prospect needs to understand the value proposition first," he explains. "It needs to be very strong, and very clear. No one will take a random call about a product they've never heard of it's not 100% crystal clear they have a huge, pre-defined need for it."
When to Ignore the Email-First Rule
However, there is one exception to the "email first" rule.
Lemkin says once your brand has been established, it's time to start calling your prospects.
"If your prospect has already heard of [your company], they'll know if they want to speak to you about the product and learn more about buying," Lemkin writes.
For example, say you're a salesperson for Dropbox. You call a prospect and say, "Hi John, I'm with Dropbox, and I noticed your CEO tweeted that your company is almost out of free virtual storage. I'd love to discuss how we could get you some more so you can keep all your files in one place."
John already knows Dropbox and understands why it's a useful product -- so he's got a good reason to stay on the phone.
However, if you were selling a brand-new cloud storage solution, Lemkin argued that it would be better to send John an email first so he has more time to consider your value prop.
Not sure how much clout your company name carries? To quickly gauge brand awareness, go to Google Trends and compare how many people are searching for your company versus your top competitors. If your company gets the most searches, that means it probably has the highest name recognition in your space.
A Better Method Than Phone Or Email?
But to one expert, the question of "phone vs. email" is innately flawed.
SVP at LivePerson Sean Burke says that, in fact, your default shouldn't be calling or emailing. He recommends using your network to get an introduction -- great advice, considering that having a referral makes a buyer five times more likely to engage.
"You'd be surprised how often this crucial first step is ignored," Burke writes.
Once your mutual connection has agreed to introduce you, ask him or her which communication method the prospect prefers. Most people have an individual preference for calling or emailing.
However, if you don't have a shared connection, Burke suggests looking at the prospect's social media presence. If she is "social" -- meaning she's got 500-plus LinkedIn connections and an active Twitter or Instagram account -- use those channels to interact with her and start adding value. If she's "traditional" -- meaning she doesn't meet those criteria -- Burke gives you the go-ahead to call or email.
Whatever You Do, Don't Cold Call or Spam
While opinions differed on the relative merits of calls vs. email vs. social media, the experts were unanimous on one point: You should never reach out to a prospect via any channel without doing research first.
"Ultimately, you are in a much better position -- either calling or emailing -- if you have background information on the person you are contacting," notes Jeremy Boudinet, head of marketing for Ambition. "That way, you can tailor your message off the bat, since you have an idea of how you can add value to that person or company."
Sales Email or Sales Call? Experiment and Find Out
Although these guidelines should definitely guide your prospecting strategy, don't forget they're just that: guidelines. "Why not take a test-and-learn approach to this problem?" writes Nick Dellis, Weebly's VP of Business Development. "What works for you may not work for others."
Dellis suggests emailing first, then calling with 10 to 20 prospects, doing the reverse with another 10 to 20 prospects, and comparing the results.
"Taking this approach of testing ideas and optimizing is the only way to find out for yourself," he says. "And it'll help you be a better salesperson in the longer term."
First Contact Email
If you choose to start the conversation with an email, be sure you include a rapport-building element and communicate your value proposition.
Not sure what a first contact email should look like? Here's an email template you can use to start your outreach.
Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information
Ten Mistakes That Kill Sales Opportunities
Words of wisdom from Anthony Iannarino
Here are ten mistakes you can make that will cost your deal.
Tags: sales advice
19 of the Most Motivational Videos to Inspire Your Sales Team in 2019
1. "Boiler Room": To get you hungry for success
A young Ben Affleck nails it with this classic "Boiler Room" speech. Fifteen years later and this interview scene still racks up thousands of hits on YouTube. Why? He's not joking.
"You will make a million dollars within three years of your first day of employment at J.T. Marlin. There is no question as to whether or not you'll become a millionaire working here. The only question is how many times over."
2. Amy Cuddy: To remind you nonverbal cues are crucial to your success
Bow down to the queen of keynotes. Amy Cuddy brought in an impressive seven million views for this TED Talk, placing it among the top 20 TED Talks of all time -- and for good reason.
This video is full of interesting tidbits about the nonverbal cues you're giving every minute, every day. Her advice on "power posing" is invaluable when it comes to sales meetings. Remember: Your prospects are not only evaluating your pitch, but your confidence and how you carry yourself.
"If you feel like you shouldn't be somewhere: Fake it. Do it not until you make it, but until you become it."
3. "Hidden Figures": To highlight the importance of being first
"Hidden Figures" is the true story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), three African-American women who serve at NASA as part of astronaut John Glenn's historic launch into orbit.
This clip highlights Jackson's fight to be allowed to attend classes that would further her work as a NASA engineer. Never underestimate the value of a well-worded, thoughtful speech in winning someone over.
"Out of all the cases you're going to hear today, which one is going to matter a hundred years from now? Which one is going to make you the first?"
4. Steve Jobs: To encourage you to love what you do
Steve Jobs. Arguably the best salesperson of our generation explains what really makes us salespeople tick: The love of what we do. Remind yourself of this and you will succeed every time.
"If you look at the ones that ended up being successful in the eyes of society, oftentimes it's the ones that loved what they did, so they could persevere when it got really tough."
5. "Friday Night Lights": To motivate you to work as a team
It has been said that sales is the ultimate contact sport. Football or sales, every day you go out there and hustle your way to the top. Whether you're in the locker room or sitting at your desk, this one pulls on the heartstrings.
"Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down."
6. Motivational Montage: To give you a quick hit of all the motivational greats
A quick search for "motivational speech" will bring you 2,150,000 YouTube results, but when it comes to quality, Mateusz M is the king of catalyst. Mateusz has created an art of his own. "Dream" is a personal favorite. A montage made from the very best of "Into The Wild," "Rocky 4," "Seven Pounds," "Pursuit of Happyness," and "A Beautiful Mind," completes this piece of gold.
"Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, god-like feature that only the special among us will ever taste. It's something that truly exists -- in all of us."
7. "Wolf of Wall Street": To get you fired up
This entire movie is full of outrageous monologues, but if you don't have hours to spare, here's a three-minute refresher. A quick recap of this blockbuster: Jordan Belfort (the real-life "Wolf of Wall Street") gets out of jail, writes a New York Times bestselling memoir, and sells the film rights to Red Granite Productions. The biopic grosses $392 million worldwide and Leo lands a Golden Globe for Best Actor. Everybody's happy!
The (Only SFW) Inspiring Line:
"So you listen to me and you listen well. Are you behind on your credit card bills? Good -- pick up the phone and start dialing!"
8. The Young Guru: To make you cry a little
The youngest motivator to grace this list, this six-year-old superstar's words of wisdom are so moving they have been made into dozens of autotune remixes. A T-Pain in the making.
"Thumbs up everybody -- for rock and roll!"
9. Shonda Rhimes: To remind you to push past your comfort zone
For one year, Shonda Rhimes said "yes" to everything that scared her and got her out of her comfort zone. She's the powerful mind behind the hit shows Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder.
Rhimes is passionate about her work and when she's in the zone, and deep in her work, she calls it a "hum." In her Ted Talk, she tells her story of how she lost her "hum" and what she did to get it back.
"And a crazy thing happened: the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary. My fear of public speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It's amazing, the power of one word. "Yes" changed my life."
10. "Erin Brockovich": To highlight why you should play the long game
Erin Brockovich is a legal clerk and environmental activist who was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California in 1993 despite her lack of formal education.
Julia Roberts famously brought Brockovich to life in the eponymous film, showing just what planning, hard work, and grit can do to turn a meeting or a deal your way.
"By the way, we had that water brought in special for you folks."
11. "Glengarry Glen Ross": To make you feel like a closer
I'm just going to say it: This is the most iconic sales monologue of all time. Alec Baldwin completely demolishes this scene from 1992's "Glengarry Glen Ross." In terms of practical advice, you might be better off with Amy Cuddy but Alec instills a bit of good old-fashioned grit. Who's a closer? You're a closer!
"A-B-C. A: always, B: be, C: closing. Always be closing!"
12. Amy Purdy: To challenge you to look at obstacles as opportunities
How do you respond to challenges? Amy Purdy, now a professional snowboarder, lost both her legs below the knee when she was 19 years old. She tells her inspiring story of recovery and how she drew inspiration despite facing a tremendous obstacle.
"So the thought that I would like to challenge you with today is that maybe instead of looking at our challenges and our limitations as something negative or bad, we can begin to look at them as blessings, magnificent gifts that can be used to ignite our imaginations and help us go further than we ever knew we could go. It's not about breaking down borders. It's about pushing off of them and seeing what amazing places they might bring us."
13. "Braveheart": To inspire your courage
Alright, so Mel isn't really talking about sales here but it's too epic to not make the list. Channel your inner William Wallace while you work through those cold calls.
"They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!"
14. "Joy": To put a smile on your face
"Joy" is the true story of entrepreneur and QVC star Joy Mangano. During a tour of the QVC sound stage, executive Neil Walker (played by Bradley Cooper) explains what makes stars Joan Rivers and her co-host Cindy so great at selling.
He highlights their timing and the warmth they bring to their sales segments. It's more than just who they are and what they're pitching, it's that they're masters of knowing their audience and closing deals.
"The stars, they always make the mistake -- they think it's about the face but it's not. It's really about the hands and the eyes."
15. Eric Thomas: To remind you, you've got to want it
How bad do you want it? Perhaps one of the most underrated speeches on this list comes from Eric Thomas, a motivational speaker, and youth activist. While you're at it, download this as an MP3 and put it on your gym playlist. Get your elliptical on.
"Listen to me -- you will never be successful until I don't have to give you a dime to do what you do."
Bonus Inspiring Line (too great to leave out):
"When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful."
16. Angela Lee Duckworth: To help you build your grit
It takes grit to succeed in sales. In her TED Talk, Angela Lee Duckworth speaks about the power of passion and perseverance. She also emphasizes the need for a growth mindset to build grit. The growth mindset is the idea that "the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort" and it was introduced by psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck.
Bonus material: Here's Dweck's Ted Talk that provides more detail about the growth mindset.
"Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."
17. "Any Given Sunday": To stress no gain is too small
In this classic clip from "Any Given Sunday", Al Pacino's Coach Tony D'Amato fires up his players before a big game by explaining that life is a game of inches. We fight for what we want, inch by inch, to reach our goals. That's how we become successful. That's how we win.
"Life's this game of inches. In life or football, the margin for error is so small ... the inches we need are everywhere around us ... on this team, we fight for that inch ... That's what living is -- that six inches in front of your face."
18. "The Pursuit of Happyness": To remind you no one can tell you what you can or can't do
In the Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith's character is a father on the brink of homelessness trying to make a better life for his son. In this scene, he encourages his son to fight for his dreams -- even in the face of being told he "can't" do something.
"Don't ever let someone tell you can't do something. Not even me, alright? You got a dream? You got to protect it."
19. "The Office": To show you the power of passion in creating a compelling message
If you're a fan of the office, you're likely familiar with this inspiring clip. Dwight's prank-prone coworker Jim, coaches a nervous Dwight before a big speech he must give to other paper salespeople at a Northwest conference. What Dwight doesn't know is that Jim has coached him with speech notes from infamous dictators. Dwight delivers the speech and puts so much heart into it, the room is inspired -- a reminder that when you're passionate about something, it's infectious (even if it's a little ridiculous).
"Some people will tell you salesman is a bad word. They'll conjure up images of used-car dealers and door-to-door charlatans. This is our duty to change their perception. I say salesmen and women of the world unite. We must never acquiesce, for it is together, together that we will prevail."
The 22 Most Highly-Rated Sales Books
To dramatically cut down on your learning curve, pick up some sales books. A read penned by a selling expert will offer you all the benefits of personal experience without negatively affecting your quota or efficacy.
Picking a book can be tough, as there are thousands to choose from. Enter: This reading list. Hubspot has curated the top-ranked books from Amazon's sales best-sellers. Whether you want to ask better questions, prospect more effectively, lead your sales team, or become an all-around better salesperson, there's a pick here for you.
Here is the list:
Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
According to a study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies, the most successful put their energy toward delivering valuable insights -- not becoming their prospect's friend. Join the ranks of the top performers with Adamson and Dixon's signature Teach, Tailor, and Take Control methodology.
Review excerpt: "This is an excellent book, with provocative insights and useful information for salespeople looking for ways to break out of the pack."
Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner, and Nick Toman
CEB's latest research reveals even Challenger salespeople struggle to close without the help of a very specific type of customer stakeholder: The Mobilizer. In this book, you'll learn how to identify Mobilizers, engage them, and work with them to get deals over the finish line.
Review excerpt: "What a great follow-up to the Challenger Sale. (It) provided me with additional insight on how to approach selling to a group of stakeholders. It has real data, real studies and real tactical strategies. If you're in the B2B space, this book is a must!"
Looking for a one-stop guide to bringing on new business? Look no further. In this book, Weinberg lays out a proven formula for finding prospects, developing the relationship, and reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
Review excerpt: "I loved the stories, the irreverent tone, and the honesty of this book. But what I appreciated most was that it delivered on its title -- this book really does simplify what you have to do successfully acquire new customers."
4. "The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible"
Learn how to harness psychological principles in the sales process while simultaneously getting a dose of personal motivation.
Review excerpt: "‘The Psychology of Selling' is a superb, practical, easy-to-read return to the fundamentals of professional salesmanship for novices, journeymen, and seasoned, top-performing salespeople. More than common sense placed into form, it serves as an instructional blueprint -- or as a road map -- to establish, build, grow, and maintain a successful sales career."
5. "The Science of Selling: Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal"
Hoffeld's advice is based on the latest research in behavioral economics, social psychology, and neuroscience. You'll learn a science-based approach to asking questions, securing incremental commitments, resolving objections, reducing your competition's influence, and more.
Review excerpt: "‘The Science of Selling' is the ultimate collection of evidence-based practices for sales ever collected in one volume. Until now, most of the studies in ‘The Science of Selling' have been scattered and tucked away in academic journals, (making them) virtually inaccessible to sales leaders. Most readers will find the material new, and I expect, quite surprising."
6. "The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million"
Sales leaders aiming to scale their sales team and build a multi-million dollar business should definitely pick up this book, written by former HubSpot CRO Mark Roberge.
Review excerpt: "Every company -- regardless of its business and sales strategy -- will absolutely benefit from reading this book. The stories (Roberge) tells, the way his selling initiatives fit together, the combination of selling and technology he describes … even the use cases he lists make the approach he describes applicable to any sales organization -- however well-entrenched."
Robert B. Cialdini
Cialdini reveals the six psychological principles that cause people to comply. Once you've incorporated these powerful concepts into your messaging, leading your prospects to say "yes" will be less challenging.
Review excerpt: "Whether you are on the selling or buying end of any transaction, knowing what Mr Cialdini discovered through years of research and testing will be to your financial advantage. (But) 'Influence' is not just about money. It is a guide to getting what you want or need in a fair and ethical manner."
Daniel H. Pink
If you're currently working in sales, you're probably well-aware the old playbook doesn't work. Pink offers fresh yet practical insights to modern selling, including how to move others, make your message clearer and more persuasive, and gain referrals.
Review excerpt: "No, this is not 'another' book about selling. I've read a lot of them, written a few of them, and I can tell you: This book stands alone in a special category."
This book includes more than 100 different ways to close depending on the situation and 700 thought-provoking questions to use with prospects. You'll also find suggestions from a hundred of America's most successful salespeople.
Review excerpt: "Ziglar teaches you, from the beginning, that there's no room for success in a salesman's career if he's taking the fast route, making the quick sale, and then locking the door behind him."
Iannarino shares his biggest lessons from 25 years of selling, including how to increase your self-discipline, get over your fear of the competition, be more resourceful, discover the buyer's true needs, and more.
Review excerpt: "Anthony Iannarino is my new sales guru. His book shows you exactly how to understand your offer and relate to your customer."
11. "The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World's Best Companies"
Robert B. Miller, Stephen E. Heiman, and Tad Tuleja
Every salesperson will benefit from learning how to reach "win-win" agreements, prevent sabotage by internal blockers, identify the four types of decision makers, engage senior executives, and more.
Review excerpt: "This book, in my opinion, found a perfect balance between theoretical framework and hands-on, immediately applicable knowledge."
Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana
Jordan dives into the critical activities and metrics sales managers and executives should implement and track to lead their teams to success.
Review excerpt: "I liked the focus on real-world quantitative management via metrics (and) would recommend this book to any sales manager who wants to achieve and measure results."
13. "Words That Sell: More than 6000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas"
Keep this informative manual at your desk so you can quickly find the perfect terms and phrases to grab your prospect's attention, create desire for your product, and ultimately, win their business.
Review excerpt: "After a brief primer on writing in which the author lays down basic writing principles, readers are free to comb through the book to find the words they need to make a big difference in the way they communicate with others."
14. "Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling"
Port's book covers a range of strategies for earning more business, from building a powerful social media presence to developing a personal brand to perfecting your pricing strategy.
Review excerpt: "An excellent and enjoyable read. Michael Port lays out a fresh and honest approach to marketing yourself and your business. 'Be true to yourself' and the people you serve. This takes the pressure off of trying to contrive an image of someone (or something) that is really not you, and makes self-promotion almost natural!"
Michael J. Maher
If you're not generating warm introductions to potential customers, you're losing out on a valuable source of business. Discover the concrete steps that will win you referrals. Although "7L" is geared toward real estate professionals, its takeaways are applicable to any sales role.
Review excerpt: "Michael provides an easy-to-follow step-by-step system to create long-lasting relationships with clients and vendors that will result in an endless supply of referrals. This book has completely changed how I do business … I went out and bought 30 [copies to give] to my associates."
Successful prospecting incorporates multiple touches across multiple channels. Pick up this book to learn how to text, email, call, and socially engage buyers.
Review excerpt: "Jeb teaches you how to prioritize your prospects and leverage social selling in your overall prospecting efforts. If you are thinking about a career in sales or you want to jump start what you are doing in your present job, then this is the book for you."
Have you ever been flummoxed by a prospect's irrational decision? Once you read this book, you'll have a new understanding for the assumptions and emotions behind the actions we take. Guiding buyers to the right choices will become far easier.
Review excerpt: "This is a fascinating look into how our brains process information. The author sets up experiments to test his hypotheses about how people respond under a variety of situations."
Bob Burg and John David Mann
This quick read reveals the importance of giving to business success. Not only will you walk away convinced that giving leads to receiving, you'll also know how to give to achieve your desired results.
Review excerpt: "Clear, entertaining, and immediately practical, this book has evolved my approach to business -- and life. When you go through your day focusing on how you can give and being open to receiving, you build stronger relationships and prosper on multiple levels."
Deb Calvert and Renee Calvert
Learn how to structure your calls, ask thoughtful, intelligent questions, and help prospects come to their own conclusions about your product's value.
Review excerpt: "'Discover Questions' was excellent -- giving experienced and novice salespeople guidance on how to ask questions, drive the sales conversation, and show you care!"
This book is short, sweet, and to the point. Readers will learn to focus on why people buy and why it matters to the sales process. With entertaining illustrations and soundbites in every chapter, this book is easy to return to for specific helpful tips when you need them most.
Review excerpt: "Excellent book that focuses on selling the right way. Highly recommend this for anyone who is involved in sales and wants to expand their techniques so they close more."
21. "Think and Grow Rich"
This book is beloved by many career salespeople. The result of nearly 20 years of research, Hill's book outlines 13 steps to success, including developing a definite purpose, building a positive mental attitude, and channeling the power of the subconscious mind.
Review excerpt: "This book is one that everyone must read. From the very beginning, it began changing my mindset and how I view life. Some books are filled with information on how you should be thinking, but this one shows how to create lasting change."
22. "Spin Selling"
"Spin Selling" shares the results of Rackham's 12-year, million-dollar research project examining effective sales performances. In his book, Rackham outlines his findings and shares the principles of SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff).
Review excerpt: "If you love sales, read this book and discover how to improve your technique. The research behind this book is exhaustive, and the technique is so organic you may discover you're already using it. In that case, you'll be able to improve your skills."
Build a Customer Referral Program With These 5 Tips
This is a great summary from a recent Hubspot article on how to create an effective customer referral program. 1 in 3 people come to a brand through a recommendation, and customers who were referred by loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate. (Deloitte)
Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, especially when considering a first time buy or something relatively expensive. (McKinsey)
But what does all of this mean for you? Well, although purchasing decisions for your product or service are as complex as ever, a leading factor in your prospect's decision-making process is advocacy from their trusted sources. The question is, are you harnessing the power of your brand advocates to get these quality referrals?
There are a few quick steps you can take to building a customer referral program so you can start reaping the benefits of referral leads that, on average, are 4-10x more valuable than regular leads, resulting in shorter sales cycles, increased win rates, and larger order sizes (Influitive).
1. Find Your Advocates
Advocates, by definition, are consumers and business buyers who frequently recommend brands and products without being paid to do so (Zuberance). Those advocates should be highly trusted by your brand and/or have a substantial amount of influence over the market that you're selling to. But where do you actually get them?
2. Set a Goal
It's important to set goals for your program, even if it's brand new and you have no historical data to base it off of. A useful factor to consider could be the amount of referrals your business is getting organically. You might figure out this number by reviewing sales notes or talking to your marketing team to see how often someone mentions a referral or that they've been referred. Referrals might even be happening outside of the business all together, such as customers talking to prospects over coffee or through social media messages. If this number is non-existent or too difficult to figure out, set a relatively reasonable goal based on how many advocates you're planning to engage in the program and a conversion rate around 10% (Friendbuy).
3. Choose the Right Incentive(s)
It's common knowledge that trying to buy your brand advocates is bad news for your business. Paying advocates to promote your brand can get pricey and extremely inefficient in the long run. On top of the price tag and it's inefficiency, there's minimal trust in a paid to perform relationship where trust should really be a key factor. Instead, consider rewarding your advocates for their organic promotion of your brand.
4. Find Your Promotional Mediums
Now that you've got your advocates, your goals and your incentives all set up, it's time to decide where and how you're going to promote your program. Just like advocates are found in many different locations, so should your customer referral program. An email campaign is a great start but unless you're constantly reminding your customers (in a way that doesn't annoy them enough to stop opening your emails), then you're going to have to find a few more places to stay top of mind. Get creative and find out where your customers spend the most time or even pages they frequent for short periods of time.
5. Keep Your Tech in Check
The tech behind your program is easily overlooked or taken for granted, but it's going to make or break how you approach and manage referrals. Some key information and metrics that you should easily be able to keep track of include:
Building a customer referral program can be time consuming but if done well, the benefits are likely to far outweigh the costs. Just don't be afraid to try something new. Take charge and harness the power of your advocate community, today.
A Comprehensive Guide to Talking to Prospects on the Phone
If you’re not comfortable on the phone, sales probably isn't the career for you. Learning how to capture and keep someone's attention without physically being in their presence is a skill all salespeople need. It’s also a skill that demands constant practice and improvement.
This guide covers everything from pre-call preparation to sales script tips. More of a visual learner? Scroll down, or click here, to see a detailed infographic from The Gap Partnership.
Phone Sales Tips
Make Sure You’re Comfortable on the Phone
There are a few basic characteristics everyone needs in a phone-centric career like sales. Don't have the characteristics outlined below? Either practice until you do or look for another gig.
Never dial the phone without preparing. Whether you’re taking your first call or your 400th, there are a few things you should do before every meeting:
Achieve a Relaxed Voice
You can sense when someone’s smiling on the phone, right? It’s not just your imagination. Talking with a grin creates a higher frequency in your mouth which changes the tone of your voice and reassures the listener.
To practice this technique, record a sentence in your own non-smiling style. Then record the same words again with a smile and notice the difference.
Also, you can achieve a relaxed and persuasive tone by putting your voice’s most powerful tools to work. Here’s how:
Take these examples:
• Apathetic: “What would you like us to do about it?”
Convince Your Listener
They key to running professional calls is being aware of how your physical cues are impacting your prospect and the energy of your meeting. Here are a few things to be aware of:
Use Your Call Script Successfully
Call scripts are there for a reason. Practice with them, but keep a few other things in mind before you jump on a call:
Be a Good Listener
Easier said than done. Many salespeople railroad their prospects with too many questions, giving them little or no time to respond.
Others ask too few questions and simply throw out solutions without really understanding their prospect’s unique use case. Here are a few tips for being a good listener who really “gets” your prospect:
Have Great Timing
The best time to conduct outreach is on Thursdays between 8:00 am and 10:00 am and again between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. The worse time to call someone is on Tuesdays between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.
You can also use timing to get a leg up on your competitors. Know they’re calling prospects between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm? Try phoning prospects outside this timeframe to stand out, and maybe reach high-level prospects who normally have a gatekeeper screening their calls.
Don’t overwhelm prospects with your intense enthusiasm. Starting a sales calls with an eager “Hey! How are you [prospect name]!?” might come off as a pushy and inauthentic.
Maintain a genuine tone and mirror your prospect’s demeanor. A less salesy way to keep things light is by sprinkling positive language into your call. Here are a few examples of cheerful language:
And don’t forget to establish rapport. The best way to start off on a positive note is to be polite, honest, and personalized with your prospect. Use their name, give them your full attention, and take ownership of follow up and next steps.
Close with Style
All of this is worth nothing unless you close the call well. Be clear, offer a review of what you’ve discussed, and always thank your prospect for their time.
Successful phone calls are an art. Master these techniques and see more deals move forward and your peers and managers take notice. For more information on selling Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage Plans over the phone, check out this resource page: http://www.psmbrokerage.com/sell-medicare-supplements-online or contact us at 800-998-7715 to request information.
5 Crucial Things to Do in the First 10 Minutes of Every Sales Presentation
If you don’t like the first few episodes of a TV show, do you stick with it until the series finale?
Probably not. It’s unlikely you’ll suddenly start loving it, and there are plenty of other options out there. Unlike a show, your prospect probably won’t stop the sales presentation if the beginning doesn’t go particularly well. But the first 10 minutes can determine whether the entire meeting is a success or a failure -- which means you need to nail the opening.
Read on to discover the crucial things you should do at the beginning of every presentation.
1) Confirm Your Audience
It’s easy to tell who you’re speaking to when you’re giving an in-person presentation -- after all, they're sitting right in front of you. But when you’re on the phone or sharing your screen, it could be just your prospect on the other end -- or it could be your prospect plus several other stakeholders.
Knowing your audience is essential, since it lets you tailor your message to each person’s specific needs, goals, and involvement in the buying process.
Ideally, your prospect will let you know in advance if other people are attending. But don't count on them to do the legwork for you.
At the beginning of the sales presentation, quickly clarify who you’re talking to by saying,
“Is it just you and me today, [prospect], or do we have others joining us?”
If there are more people on the call than you expected, ask everyone to introduce themselves -- and pay special attention to their titles, since those will help you figure out their role in the deal.
Not sure why someone is attending? After they introduce themselves, say:
"Great to meet you, [name]. So I can make this relevant to you, is there anything in particular you're hoping to learn today?"
If you think there's a stakeholder who should be on the line, but isn't, consider speaking up. Not only will including the right people help you avoid internal obstacles and speed up the deal, but it'll show your prospect that you're experienced and helpful.
2) Build Rapport
Next, before you get into the nuts and bolts of the presentation, build some rapport.
Setting a friendly, natural tone from the very beginning is important, as it’ll make the buyer more engaged and interested. Plus, getting them to open up early on means they’re more likely to ask questions during the actual presentation, which could allow you the chance to handle an objection or concern before it derails the deal.
3) Set the Agenda
A presentation without an agenda usually feels like a string of unrelated facts rather than a tightly woven narrative.
Setting an agenda gives buyers a clear roadmap of where you are, where you’re going, and where you’ll end up by the end of the meeting. Not only will their level of comprehension skyrocket, but knowing the plan will make them feel more in control. Empowered prospects speak up -- so you'll get better insights into their mindset throughout the meeting.
Try the “Purpose, Benefit, Check” agenda:
4) Say You're Open to Questions
Your resentation should be interactive. Nothing makes prospects stop listening more quickly than when you throw an endless list of facts and numbers at them. Instead of lecturing your audience for 20 or 30 minutes straight, have a conversation with them. Make sure they know you're open to -- in fact, welcome -- questions. As an added benefit, encouraging them to ask questions makes you more likely to hear their objections while you still have time to resolve them.
A few good lines to use, ranging from funny to formal:
5) Recap What You Know
Looking for the perfect segue into the actual presentation? In one to three sentences, summarize your prospect’s pain and/or your current understanding of their situation.
Outlining their biggest challenges has a couple benefits. First, it focuses the conversation. Second, it sets you up to discuss your product’s features specifically as they relate to your prospect’s challenges, which will boost their engagement.
Here’s an example:
"During our last conversation, you shared a few things you were frustrated with or hoping to improve -- specifically X, Y, and Z. Does that sound right to you?"
Once the buyer has confirmed your overview, you can smoothly transition into the presentation itself by saying, “Great -- let’s walk through how [product] can help with those challenges.”
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
The Best Time to Make a Sales Call in 2017
Most salespeople are eager to know the best time to cold call their prospects. It’s an enticing idea: Rather than waiting for a compelling event, researching the buyer, and crafting a personalized message, the rep simply needs to know the best day for cold calling, as well as the best time of day.
Unfortunately for legacy salespeople, this approach doesn’t work anymore. An oft-cited study from the Keller Research Center at Baylor University shows only 1% of cold calls ultimately generate appointments.
The takeaway is, the “best time to make cold calls” doesn’t exist. But it’s a different story for warm calls. If you’ve done your homework and identified a potential good fit, knowing when to pick up the phone can mean the difference between getting the prospect's voicemail -- and getting a meeting.
Five suggestions for when to call buyers in 2017
1) The Best Day for Sales Calls
A study conducted by LeadResponseManagement.org revealed Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to call prospects.
This finding isn’t completely surprising. After all, people are usually gearing up for the weekend on Friday and aren’t interested in starting a relationship with a salesperson.
On Monday, buyers are transitioning into work mode and planning their upcoming week.
By the middle of the week, people have had enough time to settle into their working week and take care of pressing matters, without your call feeling like an interruption.
2) The Best Morning Time for Sales Calls
Making an early morning sales call lets you connect with prospects before their to-do lists become overwhelmingly long. But timing is still important -- call too early, and no one will answer. Call too late, and your prospects will be busy.
The same LeadResponseManagement.org study found morning sales calls are most productive between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m..
3) The Worst Time of the Day for Sales Calls
What are most prospects doing between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.? That’s right: Eating lunch.
For this reason, reps have the lowest contact rates during lunchtime. Use this time instead to research prospects and prepare for your afternoon calls. (And of course, having lunch yourself.)
4) The Best Afternoon Time for Sales Calls
Reps see the highest engagement rates of the day between 4 and 5 p.m. Most prospects are tying up their projects for the day. This is a great moment to pick up the phone and give your buyer a call. With important work out of the way, your prospective clients will more time to chat and listen to what you have to offer.
5) Call inbound leads within five minutes of receipt
Seeing leads come in is always exciting for sales reps, but the time it takes you to respond to these prospects is crucial. From the same study conducted by LeadResponseManagement.org, the timing of the response played a big part in the success of making contact and qualifying.
The graph above demonstrates how a response time of no more than five minutes after receipt results in a much higher number of qualified leads. After 10 minutes, the number of leads qualified significantly decreases, which shows a quick response will return the best results.
Ultimately, picking the right time to make your sales calls is essential to sales success. While these five rules of thumb are a good place to start, you may find that different strategies work better for your business. Test these approaches and adopt the ones that work for you. You might be surprised to find how many more prospects you can reach with a few simple tweaks.