Three Inside Sales Lessons From A Six-Year Old

Last week my son made his first sales call. For an inside sales thought leader, you have got to believe this was big in my house! My brave six year old D.J. read the school script to relatives & friends and got pledges for the APEX fundraiser (yes, that link is shameless promotion for my son).

3 Inside Sales lessons learned from a 6 year old

Watching a little human do this for the first time made ME nervous – and OH. SO. PROUD. It reminded me of a few truths we could all keep in mind when preparing new hires to take to the phones for their first time:

Don’t assume anyone can do this

ANY human will get nervous asking people for money over the phone. Let’s all keep this in mind when we ask for more dials and results. His brother BAILED after one call (and he’s the extrovert in the family!!).

Set up small wins early and celebrate BIG

The small wins he got (and we celebrated big time) energized him to make more calls. He was pulling aunties out of the woodwork! Thanks Mary Beth Burke and Amy Bailey! When we set up small wins early and celebrate BIG, they’ll be hooked.

Do a better job teaching rejection in new hire training

When he got his first “no” he totally rolled with it and still wanted to make another call. Why? Because we set it up ahead of time that it would likely happen, why, and what to say. Special shout out to Uncle Shawn who agreed up front to say no to a six year old so we could teach this lesson (THAT wasn’t easy!). More “NO” in role plays and more help in why they happen and the how to handle them.

Remember that just like a first grader, our new hires watch us to determine how to act. It’s good to show some nerves, to celebrate small wins, and to get right back up like a “no” doesn’t sting a little. I know that the next time I’m in class I’ll be a little less tough on the 23 year old making his first calls.

By the way, my proudest moment was when he DITCHED THE SCRIPT and felt confident enough to use his own words. I can’t believe I didn’t record it! (no, that’s not him in the picture, but it’s so cute, right!?)

Just Say No To Scripts

Sales leaders, lend me your attention on this please.  I know it’s logical to write a script.  You’ve built great messaging and you’ve hired young talent.  We don’t want them to F it up on the calls, right?  And yet I bet you would like to be getting better call results than you are now.  Your script could be the reason why.  Here is why I think scripts suck:

  1. You wrote it for your voice / personality.  No matter how much I practice, I won’t feel confident saying your words.
  2. Confidence is KING in sales (see point one).
  3. You are a big shot.  I am not.  A good friend is CEO of a sales enablement company and makes cold calls (you’re a stud, Chris).  So he gives his scrip to his SDR team and they fail.  Why?  Chris is a CEO.  His title and his swagger on the phone catch attention.  He can get away with saying stuff that mere mortals can’t. (This is also why Challenger selling is hard for new reps, BTW.)

So what’s the better solution?

phone sales scripts

Messaging suggestions + training / coaching

Of course you want to give them talking points!  Even steps to follow (e.g. 1. name, 2. reason for call, 3. value, 4. question).  Even a few sample scripts are helpful.  But then they MUST write their own script in their own words and practice it.  That’s where the training and coaching comes in.  We practice the scripts in class, steal good stuff from our friends, then go get on the phones and try them.  Next step?  Listen to those calls and coach (as a group!).  Did it work?  Did it sound natural?  Is there a better word or nuance for delivery that could help?

Doing it this way (dare I say the RIGHT way) will cost you about a half day / script (e.g. intro, closing, overcoming objections).  The ROI will be tremendous.  You should see your close % / win % increase at least 30% by helping reps find confidence in their own words.

Let’s do it you guys.  Let’s quit scripts together!  It’s like quitting smoking (Who? Me?) Pick a date and vow to rip them up.  Schedule your group training / coaching to happen a few days before and I promise you’ll be glad you did.

Need some help?  We’d be happy to oblige!  When we trained intros to Chris’ team of SDR’s their appointment close percentage TRIPLED during class and then leveled out to double over the next two months.  Check out our SDR training.

voicemail mistakes inside sales reps

No, they’re just not calling YOU back

Reps often tell us they feel like they could be replaced by an outgoing voicemail message. Sound familiar? Pretty much nobody returns a call, right? Wrong.

voicemail mistakes inside sales reps

In training we’ve seen the percent of returned calls increase 2-4X. In fact, we like to run contests to see who can get the most returned calls DURING training (because we put reps live on the phones during training – doesn’t your training vendor?) 😉

So why aren’t they calling you back? You’re probably making one of these fatal voicemail mistakes:

  1. Selling in voicemail: Really, what are they odds they call you back with a PO? The voicemail is like the resume: it’s there to get you the interview, not the job. Quit the pitch and instead sell why they should call you back.
  2. 3 – 3 – 7: Those were the magic numbers to fast forward and delete when I was a Sales Leader. In other words, “Shut up already!” Voicemails should be about 20 seconds or less or I won’t even make it to your name and number.
  3. The obvious sales call: In intros we call this the setup: you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Unless you strike it lucky (1:1Million) your contact isn’t waiting for you to call and sell them something, so get creative and think of what value you can add now that WILL get their attention.

Now, two confessions.

Confession #1: I collect bad voicemails. We play them during training and point and laugh. Last week I got one that was seven minutes long – and I’m pretty sure he was drunk (“Sheriously LV, we gotta get doo in here and help these peeelew…”) Actually, that might have been a lead. Still didn’t call back.

Here’s another favorite.

 

What would YOU fix on this one?

So help a sister out. Let’s collect tips on fixing this voicemail, AND more voicemail sins. What’s the worst you’ve received (or left)? I’ll start:

Confession #2: Nine years ago I hung up the phone and said, “Oh no. (Actually, I said something else but I’m supposed to swear less in blogs.) Did I seriously just tell Steve Sharr that I am single in a voicemail? How did that even happen? How do I get it back!?”

Dear readers, we’re married now with two amazing little boys age 6 and 5. So all’s well that ends well, right? Actually yeah. Some of the best voicemails are less robotic and more human. Be authentic, be real. You’ll be more memorable (and apparently desirable! Ha ha).

Share your story on LinkedIn and tag me @LaurenBailey so we can all learn from each other’s mistakes. And, watch for the next blog post where we’ll give our four secret recipes for killer messages.

 

how to get responses to emails

How To Get Responses To Emails

So you wanna write an email eh? Bet you want it to be read, too! And, I bet you really don’t get the responses that feel like you should be getting. After all, you’re offering such a good deal that you don’t know why everyone doesn’t respond and call you right away. Or email you. Or download your attachment. Something! Anything!

how to get responses to emails

You wanna know you aren’t getting responses to your emails? More likely than not, your email is full of buzzwords, it contains every detail you think they need to know, and it gives them the option of getting back to you when they have time. The long and short of it is that your email is too long and it’s boring because you littered it with your own industry language. Put yourself in their shoes by asking yourself these 3 questions:

  1. If I got this email and I didn’t work here, would I understand the acronyms, buzzwords, and the lingo in the email?
  2. Does your email include a call to action? You should be telling them what they’re supposed to do and when to do it. Giving them an option to respond when convenient is the same as telling them that you don’t expect a response.
  3. Does your email give them any value in responding? What’s in it for them?

Remember, you only have 2 goals when writing an email:

  1. Your email gets read
  2. You get a reply to your email

To accomplish that, you need to make your email easy to understand, it must be brief, there must be a call to action. You also want to apply some best practices so your email doesn’t land in spam folders. We’ve gathered our own Factor 8 data plus data from MailChimp, Adestra, and DigitalMarketer to help you get the response that you want from your emails:

Compel the reader to open the email

How are you going to get a response if they don’t even open your email?

  1. Try words like “urgent”, “announcement” and “freebie” (“freebie” had a better test response than “free” almost tenfold more opens – MailChimp)
  2. Use a story – “How Jo Blau became an email Goddess” (DigitalMarketer)
  3. Mention a specific benefit or value the customer will find in the email such as “Streamline your communication platform now” (Factor 8)
  4. Capitalize the first letter of each word and limit punctuation. (Factor 8 customer)
  5. Avoid these words: cash, quote, save. According to Adestra these words are spam offenders.
  6. Avoid “newsletter” in the subject line – Adestra found an 18.7% fall off in opens when newsletter is in the subject line

 Don’t Send Attachments

Spam filters love attachments! If they ask for it, send it. Otherwise, how about a link to it? The same rule applies to videos. Besides avoiding spam filters, there are other reasons to refrain from adding attachments:

  1. Attachments consume bandwidth and most companies limit the allowable file size of attachments that come in or out of their email server
  2. Attachments can carry viruses. What a way to wow your prospect!
  3. Attachments are not mobile friendly.

The Structure Of Your Email Matters

If your email is easy on the eyes and quickly scan-able, you’ll increase the odds of your email getting read. Some of the structure elements to keep in mind are:

  1. Make the purpose of your email immediately clear. Be direct! Really, they’re not interested in your chit-chat.
  2. Avoid addressing your email with strict formalities like “Dear Mrs. Jones,”or closing with “Yours Truly.” That’s not how we really talk and it disengages your reader.
  3. Provide clear direction on what you want them to do. Readers will often get partway through a complex message and hit “reply” as soon as they have something to contribute. The rest never gets read. Organize your email so that they can quickly scan and understand what you want from them.
  4. Include a call to action preferably in the 1st paragraph. What do you want them to do? Click on a link, go to your website, respond to the email?
  5. Give them a deadline: “Please respond to me by close of business Friday, the 18th”
  6. Number your points in your message. Use numbers instead of bullets. Bullets get jacked up, especially when opened on a mobile device.
  7. Split unrelated points into separate, purposeful emails. No one reads past the 2nd paragraph in an unsolicited email.

Write Your Email With The Receiver In Mind

As the sender, we tend to:

  1. Spend a long time crafting long and detailed emails
  2. Believe that our request is original, unique, and special
  3. Think that it’s unimaginable that anyone would turn us away
  4. Desire to tell the whole story, explained from every angle, so that the listener can understand and grab something of interest

The receiver on the other hand:

  1. Gets a lot of email (What? I’m not the only one?)
  2. Does not have a lot of free time
  3. Does not mind answering you if it is fast and relevant (even if the answer is NO…at least you’re not spending time chasing someone that doesn’t want your stuff)

Try this:

  1. Make the email about them or people like them. For example, when writing to CIO’s, say, “Other CIO’s are finding that….”. It’s immediately relate-able to them.
  2. Include appropriate links to info or actions
  3. Include a call to action with a deadline (I know, I already said that. It’s that important.)
  4. Tell them what you want them to know in bite sized chunks and do it early

Write Better Emails

So, are you ready to revamp those emails? Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to implement every point outlined here. Pick two or three and see what kind of positive improvements you get in your response rates. Over time, you’ll perfect those emails and you’ll learn subtle nuances in your email construction that will work specifically for your prospects.

For more info on writing compelling emails, click on one of the following links:

http://www.digitalmarketer.com/101-best-email-subject-lines-2014/
https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/sales-email-subject-lines-that-get-prospects-to-open-read-and-respond
http://kb.mailchimp.com/campaigns/previews-and-tests/best-practices-for-email-subject-lines
http://www.adestra.com/state-email-2017-see-far/

poor compensation plans

The Top 5 Ways Companies Fail Their Salespeople

In my line of work, I spend a lot of time on sales floors around the world watching Reps, Managers, Directors, and VP’s try to drive the number. I see well intentioned organizations and leaders spend countless hours and dollars trying to unlock the secret that will bring in more customers and keep them coming back for more. The problem is that they are trying to run before they can walk.

If you’re behind the number for 2017 or wondering how you will turn things around for next year, maybe you need to start with the basics. Are the steps you are taking going to provide a clearer path to success, or are you making changes for change’s sake? Here are five of the most common ways that I see companies fail their salespeople, and it’s killing their numbers.

 

  • Poor Compensation Plans – You’ve heard the phrase that salespeople are coin operated…so why do companies continue to design compensation plans that limit their reps ability to earn? Are you really going to punish your sales team for closing “too big” of a deal? Think through your comp plan enough to ensure that it can account for big wins. When someone on the sales team closes a huge deal there should be bells ringing, applause breaking out, and the leader on the floor slapping high fives, not in her office worrying about how that deal will push them beyond the commission budget. The second common failure related to compensation plans is the overly complex comp plan. You want to account for every contingency and every activity that you want to incent, and end up creating a 7 page document that requires four Excel sheets and an advanced degree in mathematics to calculate commissions. If you want compensation to drive behavior, make it simple enough so that your team can figure out on the fly how each deal/lead they close is going to impact their check.

poor compensation plans

 

  • Putting people with no sales experience in charge of sales – This one always shocks me. Would you make someone with no financial background your CFO? I’m not sure if companies don’t view sales as a “professional” department that requires experienced leadership, or if they think it’s a good way to round out an executive’s resume, but it can put your revenue generation machine in jeopardy. Fair or unfair, salespeople have a hard time following someone that’s never done the job. It’s also very difficult to make sound decisions around things like territory planning, sales process, compensation, and tools when you haven’t experienced the good and bad that sales has to offer.

 

  • Information overload – While it is usually done with the best of intentions, too much information can be paralyzing to a sales team. Resist the urge to jam every shiny new Salesforce plug-in down your team’s throat. Information without intelligence is useless to your sales team. Almost every salesperson I know would rather have one or two actionable nuggets of information than 100 potentially relevant pieces of data. I would also argue that, in many cases, the amount of data out there is making salespeople lazier. If a lead doesn’t come across with a bright flashing arrow showing the exact path to the sale, the process grinds to a halt. How can I possibly pitch this customer without knowing which direction his office desk chair faces? Your sales leadership team needs to be an advocate for the reps here. Establish a process for determining what information makes its way to the rep’s desks and why. Filter it hard. And when something does go through to the team, take the time to explain what it is and how they can use it to sell more effectively. If you can’t connect those dots, they don’t need it.

 

  • Lack of investment in rep development – When I hear reps tell me that their onboarding process consisted of 3-4 days of HR paperwork, systems training, and online selling modules, I wonder how the company expects anyone to succeed. There are too many organizations that strive to constantly reduce the time and money invested in onboarding salespeople because (a) the turnover is high so why waste the money, (b) an untrained rep is better than an empty seat, or (c) every day they spend in training is a day they’re not selling. I’ll tell you this, an untrained/poorly trained rep can do a ton of damage to your bottom line and your reputation….and they’ll still leave. Especially if you are hiring entry level salespeople, you need to provide them with sales training specific to your organization and customers. Show them what good looks like and give them a chance to sharpen those skills in a safe environment. If you don’t have the people internally to do it, bring someone in from the outside. You can’t afford to screw this one up. I won’t even get started on the lack of ongoing development…a rant for another day.

 

  • Spreading sales managers too thin – I can’t tell you the number of times that I walk on to a sales floor and see a flurry of rep activity and not a manager in sight. When I ask the reps what interaction they have with their manager, I get responses like: “we’re supposed to have weekly 1:1’s but they usually get postponed”, “she’s always in meetings”, or “I try not to bother him because he’s so busy.” The sad part is that when I ask the managers what they would do if they could change one thing, I almost always hear that they want to spend more time with their reps. Unfortunately, they are pulled in a hundred different directions by partners, bosses, and other departments, and their reps are usually the piece that slips through the cracks. Front line sales managers are some of the most impact people in your entire organization. They are responsible for translating senior leadership’s vision into daily action. They are the close enough to the customers to know what’s going on in the market, and high enough in the organization to do something about it. Take the administrative crap off of their plates and keep them on the floor!

If you caught yourself cringing while you read this list or a few (or all!) items hit a little too close to home, you’re not alone. The good news is that it’s not too late to make some changes and get things heading in the right direction. If you’re not sure where to start or what changes can make the biggest impact, I’d love to have that conversation with you.

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His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.

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His stet corpora nostrum in


eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id. Duo ne liber primis, eu vel meis idque. Eum quis homero perfecto at, no vel quot probo. Mundi congue ei vel, ne vitae admodum noluisse ius, aeterno quaestio argumentum ut vel.His stet corpora nostrum in, eu vel soleat ancillae assueverit, eos at everti inermis. Cu assueverit ullamcorper nec. Cu admodum sententiae vis, pri delenit placerat iudicabit id.

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