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3 Strategies for Effectively Developing the Right Calling Approach

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 23, 2017 8:19:00 PM

Whether you’re new to sales, or an experienced pro, developing the right approach to making sales calls is a strategic advantage.
As a salesperson, oftentimes the first impression you make is over the phone. Whether that’s talking to a new prospect, building a client relationship, or maintaining contact with long term clients.
Developing an effective calling approach and phone persona is essential to your sales success. But how can you develop an approach that will consistently drive results?
Consider these 3 strategies as you develop, refine, and optimize your calling approach: 
sales call approach ideas

1. Personalize Your Message

Think about who you are calling and why you are calling them before you pick up the phone.

First, we must consider what kind of leads are you calling and what’s the right strategy for each?

For example, let’s say you were just assigned a new lead. This lead came in through the website as an inbound lead who downloaded your newest eBook. What’s the approach for this type of lead?

To start, we must do our best to research who the person is, what company they work for, why they might be interested in the eBook, and whether they’ve downloaded any other resources from your website.

Why are these things important?

Because each piece of information helps you paint a picture of who you are calling. The more you know about the company, the person, or the industry in general will set you up for success because you’ll be able to tailor your message by saying something that resonates with the lead.

In this inbound lead example, you could personalize your message in a simple, yet logical way by helping them identify the key takeaways from the eBook they just downloaded and offer ideas about how the information applies to their job, company, or industry.

Taking this approach helps you position yourself as an expert, presents your company/offering in a positive light, and lets you take the role of the helpful salesperson who is educating them on new information and solutions.


2. Build Your Sales Story

 Identifying the right approach for each type of lead is only part of the game. The next step is to build your value proposition by crafting a compelling sales story.

We often think that facts and figures are what motivate people to take action. But the truth? Facts and figures aren’t nearly as effective as telling a great story.

Let’s say you’ve got a prospect on the line and they want to learn more about your solution. Instead of rattling off numbers that will mean nothing to them, consider walking them through the story of how you’ve helped other companies, maybe even mention a competitor of theirs, and help them visualize how your product and/or service delivered results for that company.

For example, you could say something like: “We’ve had a lot of success with companies like yours who have experienced some of the same challenges you may be facing, so I’d like to learn more about what you’re doing, tell you how we’ve been implementing solutions for businesses like yours, and see if there’s a match.”

You’re not only going to get their attention fast, they’re going to want to know how they did it, when they started doing it, how far behind they are, and what they need to do to catch up.


3. Understand the Rhythm of the Call

Listening is the key to a great conversation. So when we are speaking with prospects and clients over the phone, we must listen to the rhythm of the call and make certain decisions based on the rhythm.

If you ask a question and the other person responds as soon as you finish speaking, this probably means they’re tuned in. On the other hand, if there’s a long gap and their response doesn’t really relate to the question you asked, they’re probably not connected to the conversation.

As sales professionals, our goal is to ask 2nd level questions in order to create a more substantial conversation. 2nd level questions, asked in the right context, encourage the customer to share relevant information needed to understand their true interest in our business solution as well as their motivation to help their organization acquire it.

This is the type of conversation when the customer reacts to the salesperson’s interest and capabilities by sharing relevant information about their background, biases, plans as well as their power, influence, and motivation to buy.

The best way to help them make more sales is to maximize their time with people most likely to buy and minimize their investment in time with the rest.  At the same time, sellers need to dig out opportunities that are not immediately obvious but lying just below the surface waiting for a skilled salesperson to uncover and close.



Remember these 3 strategies the next time you’re ready to pick up the phone, and you’ll be on your way to building a connection with your prospects and clients while creating a more open sales dialogue.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated.

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Topics: sales, tips, selling, sellers, prospecting, value, skills, sales tips, sales training, digital media training, cold calling, call, small business, improving, marketing, strategy, phone

4 Essential Sales Skills to Focus on Improving

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Sep 22, 2016 12:20:00 PM

As the competition gets stronger and the decision process more complicated, it’s important for sellers to get back to the basics of selling and concentrate on improving the skills needed to consistently reach and surpass their goals.

In 2016, the selling skills you should focus on refining are the ones that affect the buyer’s journey. While there are many sales skills needed for success, we’ve selected 4 of the basics that are essential to your competitive advantage.


1. Prospecting

Prospecting for new opportunities is just the first step in the sales process.

Whether you’re finding your own leads or receiving inbound leads from your marketing team, there’s a lot to consider before making a call or sending an email.

A lot of sellers are looking for shortcuts and how to be more efficient, but oftentimes that can end up hurting rather than helping your chances of winning a sale.   

You can become a more efficient prospector by practicing personal marketing, using targeted templates, and tracking your ratios.

Practicing personal marketing means that you are actively sharing resources and information of value to your network of connections or participating in discussions and other industry related events. This works to your advantage because it helps build your network and establishes your credibility.

Using targeted templates means segmenting by each different buyer persona and then taking the time to learn something specific about the person you’re reaching out to in order to tailor your messaging. This helps establish a more personal connection because it shows that you’ve put in the effort of learning about the individual(s) and company you're reaching out to.

Tracking your work and ratios as well as understanding how much time it takes to go from one step of the sales process to the other will provide insight into where you are spending your time and how you can improve. 

2. Leading Great First Meetings

Have you ever had the experience of walking out of a meeting and thinking, “I should have said this instead…” If you said yes, you’re not alone.

Selling is a performance art and you usually don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

When leading a first meeting, there are three different components  to consider, which are: (1) Research, (2) The Starting Point, and (3) Questions.

Research is needed at every step of the sales process, especially before the first meeting. The research you do before you conduct the first meeting should be more extensive than just looking at the company’s website. Consider taking a deeper dive into the website, but also think about similar companies you’ve worked with on a project like this so that you can provide examples and case studies. It’s also crucial to look into the person or people you’ll be meeting with to discover any personal or business interests that you may have in common.  

The starting point of each and every meeting is what sets the tone and opens the relationship. You should know before you go into the meeting how you are going to open, what questions you’ll ask, and how you will move the deal forward to the next step.

Finally, the key to having great first meetings is asking the right questions and being prepared to answer difficult questions. Questions create the right conversation, which is why they are so important to think about in advance of every first meeting.

For instance, as the seller you should be prepared to answer:

  • What do you offer?
  • What makes you different?
  • What makes you better?
  • What makes your offer worth our budget?

And you should be asking questions like:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with this initiative?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What is your timetable?
  • Do you have a budget for this initiative?

And remember, you must continue to test and fine-tune both the questions you ask and answers you give in order to improve your skills and sales results. 

3. Presenting Your Solution

Once you’ve had the first meeting and have determined the prospect is the right fit for your solution, it’s time to have another meeting to present your offering.

Winning sellers focus their presentation on getting the prospect’s feedback about three main areas: the budget, the timetable, and the proposed solution.

The budget. Well, we know the prospect will eventually be alone with the proposal looking at your suggested price.  So if you proposed $X but they were thinking $Y, then that may delay the sale. However, you can give yourself an advantage by making sure you know their reaction BEFORE you put it in writing so that you can adjust on the proposal if necessary.

The timetable for delivery. Now, this is usually the least explored area of the sale but should be discussed early on in the sales process. Why? Because we need to understand their timing and communicate a sense of urgency to the prospect in order to prompt a decision. Typically, prospects will only make a decision when they have to but if you’re offering a solution that will move the prospect closer to solving their problem or achieving their goals, then you’re more likely to get a decision in a timely manner. 

The proposed solution must fit with the needs of the prospect and the goals of the individuals making the buying decision. They’ve looked into your service or solution for a reason and they want to make sure it’s the right fit for their organization. So, as you prepare your presentation, consider how you will tailor your message to resonate with your prospective buyer.

4. Negotiating & Closing

Negotiating, and eventually closing the sale, should not have to be some painful activity that comes up after you’ve already sealed the deal. Rather, it’s the culmination of the entire sales process.

When you get to this phase of the sales process, it’s critical to know what you’re up against so that you can anticipate the customer’s walk-away points as well as what the ideal solution looks like to them.

This is why the presentation meeting is so important. You must gain the reaction of the decision maker(s) so you know where you stand. The moment you can’t walk away from the deal, or sound desperate, you’ve lost. Always play from a position of strength so you can avoid negotiating against yourself.

The sales games has changed, and to keep up you need to continually be refining your prospecting strategies and tactics, leveraging the right questions to lead great first meetings, create the right reaction when presenting your solution, and play from a position of strength when negotiating and closing a deal. If you work on improving these skills, you’ll beat the competition in no time.

Need coaching? We can help!

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Topics: sales, improving, sales improvement, sales skils,

4 Ways to Increase Your Sales Forecasting Accuracy

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Sep 8, 2015 11:11:00 AM

Sales forecasting is about taking the necessary actions and implementing proper sales techniques to understand, predict, and forecast promising sales. After working with thousands of salespeople and sales managers, we’ve reached a definitive conclusion about most of the sales forecasts salespeople submit…they’re inaccurate and unreliable.

What can you do to increase the reliability and accuracy of sales forecasts?

Forecasting works best when you’re not guessing, but only when you actually consider real prospects, when you apply a 50 percent correction factor, and when you take the time to remove old prospects.

Businessman forecasting with crystal ball1. Stop Guessing

The first thing you need to do is stop guessing!

Start off your next meeting by identifying the customer’s buying timetable. For instance, ask a question like: “Mr./Ms. Prospect, I’m just curious. If you and I end up working together, when do you envision us delivering our service/product?

The response they give you will help you identify the pace at which you should proceed through the sales process. By understanding the timetable for delivery early in the sales process, you’ll be able to more accurately account for what’s going to come in when you say it’s going to come in.

The timing has to be known, it’s not something that should be guessed at.

2. Only Consider Real Prospects

Many times, prospects will say something that makes them seem like they’re really interested. They might have even started the sales process originally months ago by calling you or going to your website and asking for more information.

But regardless, if at some point the sale is not moving forward, you should start to take those prospects out. You don’t want to include those prospects or the potential dollar amount in the forecast because you can’t confidently say the sale will actually happen.

It might eventually happen, but as a sales gets older it gets more difficult to figure out when it would actually close. Therefore it shouldn’t be included in your forecast.

If you start to consider only real prospects that are galloping ahead and not stagnant, then you’ll be more capable of accurately forecast your sales.

3. Apply a 50% Correction Factor

If you took your entire pipeline of everything that you thought was going to come in, say within the next quarter, and you identified the next sale that was likely to happen, consider what the contract amount would be.

Whatever that number is, take no more than 50 percent of it into consideration. That’s not to say that only half of your prospects will close, but you need to understand there are different sized opportunities.

If you take this approach, your forecast is never greater than 50 cents on the dollar, which makes most sales forecasts already a lot more accurate. Over time, if you see evidence that your number comes in at less than that, you want to change the correction factor, but 50 percent is a good starting point.

4. Remove Old Prospects

The longer a sale goes beyond its normal sale cycle, the less likely it is to happen. As sales begin to get old, they become less likely to happen.

You should begin removing those from your pipeline. It is equally important to start removing those prospects mentally. This means you need to start prospecting for new opportunities.

If you think you’ve got more in the pipeline than you really do, you’ll tend not to prospect enough and the end result will be that you did not bring in enough sales to cover your forecast.

Remember to practice these four tips for a more accurate sales forecast: stop guessing, only consider real prospects, apply a 50% correction factor, and remember to remove old prospects.

5 Simple Prospecting Tips to Increase Your Sales

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Topics: sales, selling, sales process, prospecting, business, improving, strategy, closing

Challenge Accepted: Conquering the Sales Callback

Posted by Molly Depasquale on May 15, 2013 9:47:00 AM

When trying to set up an initial meeting with a prospect, you should both call and email the person. Combining these two approaches will make your message a more memorable as well as easy to respond to for both email and voicemail people. The key to this approach is to use the same wording for both messages and send them at the same time. Both the voicemail and the email should include your name, phone number, company name, reason you are calling, and your phone number (again).


1. "Reason for Contact" Statements

Your "reason for contact" statement should be the shortest possible description of your lead source. For example, if you received a referral from Roger Smith, your reason statement should be something like "regarding Roger" or "regarding Roger Smith." If you acquired the lead from a trade show, the reason statement should be "regarding the trade show;" if you met at a networking event, the reason would be "regarding last week's conversation."

2. Keeping It Simple and the Same 

According to studies where sellers carefully tracked their ratios, shortening the message to a single word or a short phrase seems to work the best. For example, if you are selling your product or service to an insurance company, you would leave a message that says "Re: Met Life." When they call back (and they will), you can finish the thought by saying "We've done a lot of work with insurance companies like Met Life, and I thought we should get together to discuss." Again, the key is to use the same wording for both messages and send them at the same time.


3. Getting the Call 

Do not type your entire sales pitch or toss your manifesto in the emails you send to fresh prospects (avoid the "See the attached 400 page document on why we are so great"). Emails should read more like reminder notes you leave for your spouse or roommate. The business version of "please don't forget milk today" might be something like "confirming our appointment for Tuesday." You might even leave out their name and all niceties (such as "greetings"). Just get to the point. In this age of ubiquitous iPhones, Droids, Blackberries, smartphones, and iPads, your message recipient will appreciate this more as they walk and read.

Common sense tells us that those who read or listen to our complete messages are much more likely to respond to us!

Action Steps 

To improve your sales success, focus on:

• A Reason for Contact
• Keeping it Simple and the Same
• Getting the Call


Question: What was the best callback you've ever received? How did the conversation flow?


About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

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Topics: calling, reason for contact, emails, tips, prospecting, value, call, improving, strategy, user engagement

How to Be Your Own Coach: Setting Goals with an Impact

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Apr 12, 2013 9:45:00 AM

Your success or failure is absolutely determined by your ability to coach yourself well.
As your own coach, the first challenge that you need to grapple with is deciding on your number one desired outcome.  After figuring out what that number one desired outcome is, think about four things: (1.) think bigger, 2. make it meaningful, 3. make it specific, and 4. challenge yourself.
1. Think bigger.  This applies to not only accomplishing your personal goals but your professional goals as well.  And as sellers, our professional and personal lives are so tightly intertwined that it’s extremely relevant to think bigger in terms of both of these aspects.  Think bigger and challenge yourself.
Allow me to illustrate.  People often ask, “How can I motivate myself?  How can I do what you’re doing?  How can I get up early and – and work hard and stay busy?  How do I do all of that?" What they’re asking for is the magic answer, a sort of magical motivation tool that can magnetically pull them out of bad and jump start their day at a great speed.
The reality is that there are days when you’re not going to feel like getting up.  In fact, this is an important symptom that you should look out for.  If you are having trouble getting out of bed, perhaps it’s because the payoff for getting out of bed is not something that really matches what you defined to be life's number one desired outcome.  Again, what is your number one desired outcome?  The moment that you latch onto this idea, you will find the reason, the goal, and the magical tool that will help you get out of bed every day.


2. Make your goals meaningful.  Make it personally meaningful. If climbing a mountain is a big challenge but is not especially meaningful to you, then don’t do it.  Maybe learning how to play the piano is the better challenge for you.  Tap into the things that you will want to have accomplished when you look back on your life – 10, 15, 25 years from now. What’s that one thing that will make you say, “You know what I wish I had done?”  What is that thing?  Because on your deathbed, it will certainly become clear as day to you, but you don’t want to have to come to this point with regrets.  Just make sure that it your personal goal is meaningful to you and place this with highest priority.
3. Make it specific.  People tell me that they want to make a lot of money.  What’s a lot of money?  For some, this means $5, 000, 0000,000.00.  For others, this means being able to get through the week and still have money remaining.  It’s surprising to note that at times, the value of money can still be subjective.  I frequently travel to other countries with $5.00 in American currency in my pocket and see how far I’ll get. There will be times when I couldn’t withdraw cash and I’ll have wished for a $50 instead. The $50 that’s there for me when I need it most is a great deal of money, compared to that $5.00 bill.
If making a lot of money is your biggest priority, then come up with something meaningful that the money can acquire for you. Of course there’s always an exception. For some, aiming to hit a specific dollar amount in and of itself is personally meaningful.  Chances are it’s what you do with the money that is the key driver.  The more specific and personal you can make your goal, the more likely you’ll be driven out of bed every morning to go for the gold and get it done!
4. Challenge yourself to grow.  When you aggressively pursue a new goal, you will, very early on, encounter the one thing that you hate doing.  And what you’ll realize is that as a grown-up, it’s very easy to avoid the discomfort of doing something you hate to do.  As a grown-up, if you don’t like eating vegetables, you could stop eating vegetables and no one will be able stop you (unless it’s a persistent fellow that’s making you consume your greens).
The problem is that those things that you like to avoid can stop you like a fence and block you from going forward. For example, if you don’t like technology, it’s absolutely necessary for you to learn to master it to take one more step forward.  And so, challenge yourself to break through those fences and try the things that used to make you afraid. 
 I leave you with this: Don't be afraid of being afraid.

About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.





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Topics: training, tips, value, skills, life lessons, setting goals, goal setting, opportunities, improving, strategy, coaching

Opportune Objections in Inbound Telesales (Part 2)

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Apr 9, 2013 9:30:00 AM

3. Know what to expect. At the end of the call, the person's either going to buy from you,
reject the offer, or delay making the decision. You already know what’s coming! So why
not be ready? When the customer says, “No,” ask something like, “I'm just curious as to


And when you hear the reason for the rejection, what you're going to learn is that it boils
down to one of several things, namely the 4 below:

"I have no interest in this."

"I've already got something like it."

"Why don't you just send me some information about it?"

"Let me ask you yet another question."

If the customer says something like, "I don't see any interest in it," this translates into:

"I have no time for that." 

"I have no money for that."

"I have no interest in that."

"I have no need for it."

“I once did something like that. I really hated it."

All of these are different versions of, "Not interested."

Take this important information and approach it at a fresh new angle.


You: "You know what? Others have said that before they saw how our products could

really benefit them." or "Others have said that before they saw the advantages of our products."

Now, if the customer says, "Well, I've already got something that's like that," rather than argue that yours is different and better, consider simply saying, "You know, others have said that before they saw how our product complements and enhances what you've already got."

Customer: "Why don't you send me something?"

You: "You know what? We're talking right now. If I were to send you something, I'd be guessing what to send you. But if you and I could talk this through, in ten minutes or less, you're going to figure out exactly if we're the right offering for you."

4. If the customer asks you another direct question, respond to it, and ask your own
question, "Can I ask?" When you ask questions, you need to ask it in a very disarming

These following types of conversation-starters will be more likely to get you an answer:

"Can I ask you a question?"

"I've always wondered."

"I'm really curious."

"Another customer told me this..."

"Can I ask you this?"

Ask a disarming, do-based question about what they do that you typically help people do
better. See the following for reference:

"So what are you doing now to buy that service and save money?"

"What are you doing now to find availability in that product?"

The customer might say, "We're doing something."

You can respond with, "You know, a lot of people are doing that, and they find that what
we do really complements that approach."

You can also say, "You know, a lot of people also aren't doing anything about that, and they
find that doing something with us has a real advantage. I'd like you to consider buying
from us."

Try these approaches, and I promise you that you'll have more successful conversations, a
more positive outlook, and successful sales.

Remember these 4 when you're looking for the opportunity in that objection:

1. Slow Motion
2. Agree
3. Know What to Expect
4. “Can I ask?”



About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

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Topics: sales, training, tips, affordable, selling, sellers, value, skills, sales tips, client, improving, strategy

Conversion: Digital Data into Sales Stories

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Mar 27, 2013 9:15:00 AM

How can you make your stories sound more engaging? To convert data into sales stories, let’s take a look at the 4 pillars we should focus on:

  • Category
  • Root causes
  • Explanations for the Movement
  • Opportunities

In today’s post, let’s take a look at the first two.

The first pillar is category. When we talk about the numbers, we’re typically speaking on the subject of visitors, uniques, page views, time on site, and engagement with the brand’s digital and offline assets. Meanwhile, customers are looking at impression goals, media costs for target impressions, CPA metrics, as well as online and offline media mix. We first need to make sure that when we tell a story, we are able to help the customer understand how our numbers fit into what they need and what they’re looking for. 


The second pillar that we want to look at is the root causes. Many salespeople sometimes believe that they have no story to be told due to the fact that they feel as though the size or type of their intended audience isn’t right.  If we can come up with compelling root causes for the rationale behind our various numbers and metrics, it will make our story all the more interesting.  For example, all websites have a certain number of visitors.  What’s the rationale for the number of visitors to your site?  Are people visiting your site because they’re at the bottom of the marketing funnel, ready to take action, and they’ve heard great things about your product or service?  Are they visiting because they’ve been referred mostly from social media sites?  Are they coming to your site directly from search engine marketing results that they’ve clicked on?  Where are all these visitors really coming from?

The more we understand the reasons for why people (the various demographic, psychographic, geographic targets) visit our website, the better we will be able to explain the root causes, even if the number of visitors to our site, in and of itself, is not that impressive.  We also want to look at the underlying reasons why our percentage of uniques has relatively remained unchanged.  If we have many returning visitors, like those sites that display results from the stock market which analysts keep an eye on by revisiting throughout the day, then of course we won’t have a high number of unique visitors.

On the other hand, a high number of uniques may or may not suggest a good thing.  For example, it may also indicate that many people who visit the site are never seen again. If everyone that has visited your site returns frequently, it’s going to change the percentage of the audience that is unique.  We want to make sure that we have a compelling story ready in our belts to explain why the uniques as a percentage of visitors is what it is.  The same applies for the number of page views and the average time spent on the site.

So, that’s it for today, folks. The two pillars that we focused on were (1) Category and (2) Root Causes.

Tomorrow, we will examine the other two. All 4 pillars are needed to convert your data into engaging sales stories that offer measurable solutions for your clients. 



About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

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Topics: tips, value, managing, client, opportunities, social media, improving, competitive, marketing, strategy, advertising, digital marketing, marketer, consultant, category, root causes

Why Sellers Lose Deals (IV)

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Mar 26, 2013 9:00:00 AM

There are 4 main reasons on why sellers lose deals that they’ve invested their precious time in.  They are the following:
  1. No outreach was made prior to the issuance of the RFP/ Tender.
  2. Lack of understanding in the role your contact plays within the buying process.
  3. Lack of initiative in gathering insight on the buyer’s history and thought process.
  4. ***Failure to provide a very concise picture of how the solution you provide solves his or her problem.***

Welcome to the final installment of this series. Today, we will look at the importance of painting a picture for the client as to how our solution really solves their problem.

4. Failure to provide a very concise picture of how the solution you provide solves his or her problem. Let’s take a look at a typical sales process. In the first meeting (in-person, on the phone, by email or combination of all 3), the seller learns about the customer’s needs and shares the details of his own offering. Customers generally ask “How much?” and we respond by sending them a proposal. A proposal usually looks more like a legal document than a persuasive essay. Giving someone a proposal does not obligate them to decide and often does not convince an on-the-fence customer to decide right away in the seller’s favor.  What’s missing?

The story. The biggest proof that your products and services really work is that others are buying them. Sellers need a story version of the explanation on why similar customers have bought from them. The best stories are data-backed and include the details of how urgently another customer was looking for a solution and how happy they are now. That story works best if the seller can provide a “drill-down” of details such as:

  • The customer’s real goals – What was the seller’s approach to due diligence to learn their customer’s real goal? 
  • What research data and other pre-meeting preparation did the seller conduct that not only helped them close the deal but helped the customers better understand their challenges and their options?
  • What did the seller learn that resulted in the development of novel, original solutions?
  • How did the seller and customer work together to define benchmarks and KPIs and multiple paths to success?
  • How did the seller become a trusted partner throughout this experience?
Most sellers need about 10-12 of those stories:
  • why a very big customer bought
  • why a small company bought
  • why a company that was already buying from the competition bought
  •  why a company that had previously never bought from anyone and only solved their problems with in-house resources finally bought and continues to buy today
  • why a company with a very similar challenge - and particularly a contact within that firm who is a counterpart to the your prospect - bought


Sellers can make their stories more engaging and impactful by personalizing them.  Show the prospect that you/your team have personal experience and measurable success working with clients with similar urgency…who shared the same challenges and frustrations in looking for a viable and affordable solution.  Your story should build credibility. 

This is particularly important since the number one reason customers don’t buy is lack of reassurance. Sellers can enhance their story with details of how their own company was born out of a desire to solve these problems. Specifically, the story should include details of how your contact’s counterparts – that is, people in similar roles with similar responsibilities at your other clients, have felt before and after they bought from you. The better the story demonstrates empathy with the prospect, the better the customers begin to visualize how this seller and his/her offering may really be what they’ve been searching for. 
 Also, if your contact has to tell others – and win them over – you must teach your contact the story so that they have a way to effectively communicate your story to the influencers that the seller never personally meets. 

About the Author:
Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.
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Topics: sales, training, tips, affordable, sellers, sales process, prospecting, value, skills, network, sales training, managing, team, digital, client, micromanaging, call, business, consumer behavior, difficulty selling, improving, competitive, buying process, marketing, strategy, advertising, phone, leads, marketer, deals, closing, RFP, consultant, buying, contacts

4 Ways to Increase Your Lead Generation Efforts

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Feb 21, 2013 3:03:00 PM


By Steve BookBinder, CEO of DMT

There are 4 main points when trying to generate leads: Word-of-mouth, prioritizing, networking groups and speeches.

1. Word of Mouth

The most important and cost-effective way to market yourself is by word-of-mouth. Telling everybody what you do, telling every single person what you do and giving them a card or two or three so they, in turn, can give your card to other people. The key to this, however, is summarizing what you do in some five to eight second message. This message needs to be immediately clear and easily repeatable. Now, you’re probably wondering how you are going to get your whole offering boiled down as a five to eight second message?  Well, the answer is, “practice, practice, practice,” you should try to practice on other people.  

2. Prioritizing

List your opportunities by taking a piece of paper and writing down the name of every single person you know. Write down every single person who could potentially help you get a sale. This should be someone that you currently have some kind of a relationship with. Then, take that list and break it into “A’s,” “B’s,” and “C’s.”  Now, the “A” list, this is the people that you have the best relationship with and who are most likely to be the best match for potentially buying from you. Call those people to schedule a meeting and they will meet with you because that’s the kind of relationship you have with them. Remember, don’t try to sell directly to them or put them in an awkward situation, use this as a chance to discuss opportunities. 

3. Networking Groups

Now, there are two kinds of networking groups. There’s the official and the unofficial.

On the official side, there are the kinds of groups that have 10-20 members that get together monthly or weekly and each group will have a number of members, but in some cases, only one member per industry. This is so there aren’t two people competing with each other in the same group.  Generally, the way these groups work is that you’ve got to show up to each meeting with leads that you can share. This would include a name, a phone number, an email address, etc… When people leave those meetings they walk out with a whole bunch of leads and contact details. Networking groups create the chance to meet someone that could help you or, in turn, you can introduce them to somebody. This reciprocal sharing is the ideal way a networking group works.

An unofficial networking group is where, for example, you would develop a lead swapping arrangement with an ally. An ally is another salesperson who works for a different company but their offering doesn’t compete directly with you even though you both sell to the same kinds of companies. Try to find a trusted partner to develop that lead swapping arrangement with.

4. Speeches.

Did you know that the National Speakers Association reported that for every ten people in an audience, one of them will be a lead or will direct you to a qualified lead? Give speeches. Get involved with different groups: civic groups, religious organizations, business organizations, whatever’s relevant geographically or industry wise and learn to give speeches at their breakfast meetings, luncheon meetings, quarterly meetings, etc…  There are a lot of speaking opportunities to be had and when you stand there and deliver a competent message that is confidently rendered, people will come up to you and say, “Hey, I heard you speak. Can I talk to you more?” which is exactly what you want.

If you try these 4 ways to increase your lead generating efforts, then you can’t help but make more sales.

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Topics: sales, training, tips, selling, sellers, sales process, prospecting, skills, sales training, client, improving, strategy, leads, deals, closing

5 Skills the Most Competitive Sellers Focus on Improving

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Feb 7, 2013 1:00:00 PM


By Steve Bookbinder


In each industry, the winning seller – that is, the one who consistently reaches sales goals – sometimes has to take market share away from their competitors. To consistently win, sellers need to top their peers. The challenge for most sellers is that within their own industry-vertical their peers share the same “selling” skills.

Here are 5 phases of the sales process that sellers can potentially beat their peers:

1. Prospecting

A. So many sellers are looking for short cuts and efficiencies.  Instead, out-prospect your peers by focusing on:

B. The number of different people you call each month, rather than the total number of dials.
Focus on time it takes to schedule a new sales introduction meeting, rather than simply the number of emails and dials.


2. Leading Great First Meetings

A. Have you ever walked out of a meeting and thought “I wish I had given a better answer…next time…” Well, there is no next time. Selling is a performance art and you need to get it right every time. Train yourself to out-perform your peers in First Meetings by focusing on:

B. Research - Do your research! But go beyond reading the prospect’s corporate website. Consider researching the individual too in order to find commonalities.

C. Be prepared to out-answer the same questions that your peers will be asked:  “So, what do you guys offer?”  “What makes you different?” “What makes you better?”  “What makes your offering worth our budget?”

D. Know, before you walk in, “How you are going to open?”, “What you are going to ask?” and “What you will suggest as a reason to meet again by scheduled appointment soon?”.


3. Presenting the Solution

Even the worst sellers are at their best during presentations; the best sellers know they gain an advantage when they use the presentations as way to gain information not only explain their offering.  The winning sellers understand that each sale involves getting the prospect’s feedback about 3 things (think 3 separate sales):

A. The Time Table for delivery (this is usually the least explored area of the sale but needs to be the first – prospects only make decisions when they have to and therefore are only likely to render a decision if doing so moves them closer to solving their problems/achieving their goals.).

B. The offer (and how it fits the prospects stated needs and the individual buyers goals)

C. The Price (the prospect will eventually be alone with your proposal looking at your price.  Make sure you know their reaction BEFORE you put it in writing in the proposal)

4. Negotiating & Closing

Negotiating isn’t some painful activity you do after you finish selling; it is the culmination of the sales process.  You want to beat your peers? Focus on:

A. Always play from a position of strength.  The moment you can’t walk away – or sound desperate – you are lost.

B. Know what you are up against – anticipate the customer’s ideal deal and walk-away point.


5. Increasing your knowledge of Online Marketing and Online Research tools.  

Obviously if you are a media seller you know the importance of continuing digital education.  For non-media sellers: Get with the game – your customer’s are checking you out online and you need to connect with discussion groups your prospects are reading.  Social media is how you get warmer leads, if you know how to play.


Every one of your competitors will try to take away your business through the combination of those 5 skills. Beat them at their own game!

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Topics: sales, training, tips, selling, sellers, sales process, skills, sales training, manager, digital media training, digital, small business, improving, competitive, marketing, strategy