We’ve all got a ton of digital tools to help us boost brand awareness, attract subscribers and followers and ultimately convince people that our brands have something to address their needs. However, closing the deal still usually depends on a one-on-one conversational interaction – or series of interactions – the traditional sales call.
Your top salespeople work tirelessly to track down leads generated by your marketing team. They reach out to previous customers to renew interest. And they work to convince interested buyers to finally take the plunge.
You can improve those close rates by: 1) asking your top performers to train your newcomers; or 2) sweetening the pot by offering more to your prospects in the first place.
But if you want to get even more out of your sales strategy, you’ll need to optimise your and your salespeople’s calls themselves. So, how, exactly, do you improve those calls?
Here are five ways:
1Ditch the script
First, let’s be clear: Sales scripts can be helpful. They’re a useful rubric for guiding the conversation in the direction you want to go, they’re a useful resource for training new candidates; and they’re a nice crutch for anyone who is shy or anxious about talking on the phone.
But there are two big problems with sales scripts on calls: First, they have a tendency to sound fake (especially if you’re using a template). Most customers can tell the difference between a sincere conversation and one that’s been over-rehearsed or pre-planned, and you’ll lose sales if you always sound insincere.
Second, scripts lock you into a single routine. It may be a decently effective routine, but you’ll never know if there’s something better out there.
2Record your calls
Have you ever experienced that phenomenon where the sound of your recorded voice is alien compared to what you’re used to hearing? This happens because of the vibrations we pick up in our own head, but it represents a bigger idea; we don’t know what we sound like until we listen.
Accordingly, your underperforming salespeople may be making critical mistakes they could pick out in an instant – if only they realised they existed. Start recording your sales calls, and make your sales staff listen both to their own calls and those of others. You’ll become collectively more acquainted with proper sales techniques, and be able to isolate some of the most egregious mistakes your people are making.
3Analyse your patterns
Unfortunately, there’s only so much the human mind can pick out in a single episode of listening of a sales call. That’s why artificial intelligence (AI)-powered speech recognition and analytics tools are starting to grow more popular. These tools automatically transcribe your sales calls, then analyse the text, looking for specific keywords that can tell you how the conversation is progressing, and where (for better or worse) the turning points are.
It’s an automated way to dissect how your sales calls develop, and a perfect tool for brainstorming new angles and tactics.
4Control your progress with goals
You should also make sure your progress remains steady and measurable by setting goals for your salespeople. These need to be both short-term and long-term, so your salespeople can see steady progress and feel motivated by their own efforts. Your goals also need to be both individual- and group-focused, so you can keep your team working together while still inspiring a bit of competition and individual improvement.
5Experiment and observe
Finally, don’t let yourself get too comfortable with any one set of tactics – even if your phone-call recordings guide you in that direction. Just because a strategy is good doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best, so if you want to keep improving, you’ll want to experiment, sometimes with drastically different approaches.
Related: 8 Tips for Dominating Online Sales
Observe how these experiments develop, and scrap whatever doesn’t work. Inevitably, you’ll find something worth exploring.
A note on conventional tips
You’ll notice that I haven’t included any conventional tips to directly make your calls better, although there are plenty out there that seem to work. For example, there are no recommendations to start the call with a positive anecdote, or to make calls while standing and walking around to bring more energy to the meeting.
These can be helpful, but they’re short-term fixes, and they aren’t going to fix any glaring problems with your strategy. They’re also limited in how much value they can deliver.
Instead, the strategies listed, in contrast, are methodologies that can be applied indefinitely. They’re tools to help your team members learn and improve on their own. Accordingly, they won’t give you an instant boost in productivity or effectiveness, but they will yield the most powerful results – especially when applied over the course of months or even years.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How You Can Guarantee Customer Satisfaction
Customer service is no longer a differentiator. Every business makes the same promises, and everyone says that they put their customers first. But do you? Here are three ways to up your customer-centric game.
“We implemented a money-back guarantee at the Brazen Head at the Leaping Frog Centre, Fourways, offering a money-back guarantee on all our meals. Staff were reluctant at first, but the guarantee forced us to maintain standards at our front and back of house. In the end, we only had to honour the guarantee once in eight months.”
It’s a stock standard differentiator that every company uses: Customer service. And yet so many businesses are anything but customer-centric. Whether you’re in a B2C or B2B environment, here are three areas you could improve today.
1. Guarantee Your Service
If you don’t believe in your service, you can’t expect anyone else to. So, guarantee your service. This should not just be an empty phrase — back up your guarantee with a money-back promise.
Advertise that promise in your business, on your website and in your communications. That tells your customers, “We have such confidence in our service, and we’re so determined to be great that we put our money where our mouth is.”
The benefits of a money-back guarantee:
- It encourages first-time customers to try your services.
- It forces your team to keep standards high and focus on results, as slip-ups will hurt your business immediately.
- It fosters pride in your business. “Our service is 100% guaranteed to be great!”
- It is a selling point. “At Venus Video Games, satisfaction is guaranteed, or your money back!”
- It sets you apart from your competitors. Would you rather try a new store that offers a money-back guarantee, or one that doesn’t?
We implemented this at the Brazen Head at the Leaping Frog Centre, Fourways, offering a money-back guarantee on all our meals. Staff were reluctant at first, but the guarantee forced us to maintain standards at our front and back of house. In the end, we only had to honour the guarantee once in eight months.
2. Complaints: Relate and Recover
Often, what a customer wants most from a company is to be treated like a person. They want real, authentic, human interaction.
Mostly, this human kindness will come while you cater perfectly to their every need, deliver the goods and services efficiently and then send them on their way with a massive smile on their face.
But every now and then things will go wrong. The customer won’t get exactly what they were looking for, the service won’t be 100%, or there will be some kind of misunderstanding.
This is unfortunate and of course nobody wants it to happen, but occasionally it does. If handled properly, these hiccups can be an opportunity to improve customer relations, build real human interaction and turn an unhappy customer into a happy one.
When a customer calls into your bank branch to complain that an unauthorised debit order was taken off her account, treat the person like you would like to be treated. Here is a good procedure to follow that fixes the problem while building a real human interaction.
- Understand the problem. Listen carefully and make sure you know exactly what the client’s complaint is.
- It doesn’t matter if they actually signed an authorisation and it’s technically their fault. This isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about building a relationship of good customer service.
- Take immediate action to fix the problem. In this case, reverse the debit order.
- Ensure it doesn’t happen again. That means working out who authorised the debit, and why and adjusting your systems.
If you go through this process as efficiently and as pleasantly as you can, you might find the customer comes out the other side in a pretty good mood. Their complaint has been acknowledged, they’ve got an apology and it’s been sorted out.
Service Tip: Don’t take customer complaints personally. They are part of your job, and your role is to handle them professionally. When a passenger of your airline says, “You’ve lost my bag!” they don’t mean it was you personally who lost it. But in this case, you represent your airline, so you should take responsibility, apologise and sort it out.
3. Use Your Own Services
There’s no better way to check what your company’s service is like than by being your own customer. Of course, if people recognise you as one of their colleagues, they’ll be on their best behaviour, so use one of your digital channels, phone up or use a branch where they don’t know you.
Now pretend you’re a customer looking to make a purchase, but without too much knowledge of your systems. You’re a person off the street, as it were. What is your service experience like?
Here are some ways you can use your own services:
- Try to get hold of your company. How easy is it to find your details? Is your website clear and logical, is your phone number prominently displayed? How is the phone answered?
- Try to make a purchase. Is it easy? Is your query handled efficiently and quickly?
- Most importantly, what’s the service like? Are the staff friendly, positive and dynamic? Do they go the extra mile to deliver exceptional service? Do they build relationships, do they provide help beyond just making the sale?
- Phone to complain. Use the customer-care line, or website. You’ve been advertising this channel for years — what actually happens when someone uses it? Are complaints handled efficiently and in a positive spirit?
- Leave a message. You can do this by voicemail, text or email. Does anyone get back to you?
- Be inconvenient. Call over the weekend, after-hours, during lunch, or even during a busy period. Are the staff just as keen to help you? Can you even get hold of anyone?
Try to get hold of yourself. When last did you listen to your own voice message? What does the signature say at the bottom of your email? What does your switchboard operator say when answering the phone?
How To Manufacture Sales Urgency (Without Sounding Like A Scam Artist)
If you’re struggling to drive urgency in your business, here are three ways to do it.
We’ve all seen those infomercials – the ones that urge us to call in to buy a blender or a mop or some other kind of gadget. If we call in the next 20 minutes, we’ll receive two for the price of one. Somehow, against my better judgment, I find myself thinking about calling in to cash in on the deal. But why?
It’s because those infomercials are all about urgency. You can use the same tactic to drive sales to your business, too.
Establishing urgency gives your customers a reason to act quickly. Their instinct is to take their time and think about the decision. But by throwing urgency into the mix, you’re eliminating the customer’s ability to think too hard or wait too long to buy.
But creating that sense of urgency isn’t always easy. Research from Hubspot finds that establishing urgency is the top challenge today’s salespeople face. If you’re struggling to drive urgency in your business, here are three ways to do it.
1. Establish scarcity
The more there is of an item, the less motivated we are to go out and get it. But if that item is scarce (or perceived as scarce), its value increases.
Related: Sales Strategy Example
Think of the iPhone. How many people do you know who run out to get the newest iPhone on the day of its release? They stand in line for hours, wanting to be one of the first to have the new product, and knowing that eventually the store is going to run out of iPhones – at least until they get another shipment. But that won’t be for months.
That new model iPhone is perceived as scarce. There aren’t many of them, and time is running out to get one, so your purchase decision needs to be made quickly. The same idea can be applied to your products or services. Perhaps you only offer a limited number of products or you only open registration for your event for a limited time. With the window of opportunity much smaller, your prospects will be more likely to buy.
2. Focus on your customers’ needs
Establishing urgency doesn’t always have to be about scarcity, though. You can create a sense of urgency by understanding, from the customer’s point of view, why they need the product now. This goes back to understanding your customers’ needs, which you need to know to sell anything to them. You need to get to the bottom of what makes your customers tick and what their pain points are. Then you can focus on how your products or services offer a solution.
The customer is always asking “What’s in it for me?” When they hear how your product or service aligns with their needs, they are persuaded to act. To the customer, their problems are urgent, and if you offer a way to solve them, they’ll be more likely to trust you and buy from you.
Related: Empower Your Team To Make More Sales
3. Show the consequences
As humans, we tend to avoid negative consequences no matter what. This “loss aversion” means we’ll do whatever it takes to avoid dangerous situations, losing the things we love or any other negative consequence. In fact, the desire not to lose is often greater than the desire to gain.
In sales, focusing on the consequences of not buying can have a great effect on a prospect’s decision to buy. You may choose to show how much money the prospect could lose if they don’t invest in your product or service, or how flawed their current processes are and how inefficient their business is. Whatever it is, focusing on the negative instead of the positive will have a psychological influence on your prospects, which will lead them to a purchase decision faster.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Respond Effectively When Buyers Resort To These 5 Obnoxious Negotiating Tactics
Get over the shock, figure out what’s really going on and respond calmly.
You’ve been working with a buyer for months. You’ve had multiple meetings, developed a great relationship, answered their objections and now, you’re hoping it will be smooth sailing as you look to close the sale. Then, you enter the sales negotiation stage.
Unfortunately, not all buyers come to negotiations in partner mode, wanting to work collaboratively with you. Instead, some buyers take a more positional approach. They either want to get the price reduced or get more from you for less. Some buyers will go to great lengths to get everything in their favour, and their tactics are more cringe worthy than others.
Here are five obnoxious buyer tactics and how you can respond.
1. Temper tantrum
You’ve been negotiating for a while and are stuck working through problems. You make an offer, and the buyer says, “Ok, this is crazy. That’s insulting. I’ve had enough of this!” They get up and slam the door.
Sometimes a temper tantrum is an orchestrated reaction to price or a specific term in the proposal in order to evoke a response from you.
If this happens to you, don’t get rattled. Remain professional, and don’t take the bait. Suggest taking a short break. You can help the buyer save face by acknowledging how important the negotiated issue is for everyone involved.
Then, use a white board and illustrate the key points, and get back to the objectives and possibilities. If their objection was just a price concession request, say no. When you do so, you set a boundary. Meanwhile, keep working on solutions and move on as if the temper tantrum didn’t happen.
2. Theatre of the absurd
Imagine you say, “For this solution set over a 12-month period, that will be $320,000.” The buyer’s response is, “I don’t think so. It should be $40,000 max.”
With this tactic, the buyer asks for a lot, knowing it’s absurd, hoping to then appear reasonable by lowering demands that are still, actually, unreasonable. In this situation, you need to reverse direction. Respond immediately, and call their bluff. They had a big reaction, you have one back. Say something like, “Let me ask you, if you were me, how would you react to that?” or “What do you suppose my VP will say if I even entertained this discussion?”. Reverse direction by giving them an example of why what they’re asking for is silly.
3. Selective memory
With this tactic, the buyer conveniently forgets what they agreed to. This is why you should keep and share notes after negotiation discussions. Make sure your documentation is good, and you can avoid the issue altogether.
If this occurs multiple times, call them out on it. Say something like, “We seem to keep backing away from things we’ve already agreed to. What can we do moving forward to ensure this doesn’t happen again?” Then bring the conversation back to objectives and possibilities.
4. Good cop, bad cop
With this tactic, the buyer introduces a “bad cop” later in discussions to pressure price, change the agreement, reopen closed issues and so on. Your best response to this tactic is to bring your own bad cop to even the playing field.
Don’t blink or look intimidated. Most importantly, don’t cave. Stick to objectives, possibilities, requirements and alternatives, and focus on outcomes. Often times, buyers try to wear you down with time and pressure. Don’t cave. Make sure you stay present, and don’t rush.
5. One last thing
You’ve spent the last four months negotiating a major deal and are ready to sign the agreement. It’s close to your reservation price, but still manages to squeeze in above your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement).
The buyer sends you an email that reads, “Attached is the signed contract. There’s just one last thing we wrote into the contract and initialed – we need to put no money down, and not send the deposit as you noted. We’ll start paying in 120 days.”
“One last thing” is a tricky tactic. It catches the seller at their most vulnerable point and uses eagerness to get the deal done to wring out final concessions.
To address this tactic, you need to ask yourself whether the “one last thing” jeopardises the agreement. What problems does it introduce, if any? Are you willing to play what roughly equates to a game of chicken with a buyer? Ask questions and suggest a trade offer unless the ask is truly insignificant.
Sometimes, it’s not a game. Your buyer may be forced by company policy to say this, and may be stuck if you don’t agree.
In any case, you need to analyse the reasons, consequences and implications, then re-engage the discussion with the buyer. Remind them that the process to get final agreement includes flexibility on both sides.
As a seller, you’re going to face various types of buyer tactics. Some are more common than others and some are more challenging than others. Sellers who prepare for these types of scenarios are less likely to cave during negotiations. Buyers have been conditioned to respond in specifics ways. Your job is to uncover what’s really going on and respond appropriately.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Lessons Learnt1 week ago
Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage
Snapshots2 weeks ago
Vuyo Tofile Of EntBanc Group Talks About Finding Solutions And Partnering To Offer The Most Value
Snapshots2 weeks ago
Mike Sharman Talks About Retroviral’s Successful Campaigns And The Importance Of Social Media In Marketing
Snapshots2 weeks ago
Eben Uys Shares His Concept Behind Mad Giant Brewery And How You Can Make Your Business Stand Out In A Crowd
Personal Finance2 weeks ago
14 Ways To Make Quick Cash On The Side
How to Guides1 week ago
The 10 Most Reliable Ways To Fund A Start-up
Increase Profitability20 hours ago
Leon Meyer GM At Westin Cape Town Shares 4 Experience-Driven Tips On How To Keep Your Team Productive
Hiring Employees2 weeks ago
4 Benefits Of Business Process Outsourcing For Small Businesses