As we near the end of the year, many people are revisiting their goals or resolutions and generating new ones for the next trip around the sun. At an outbound call center, the end of the year review usually portrays that it’s crunch time for the sales team. To maximize the limited number of selling days left, call centers focus on ways to improve call productivity. Easier said than done.
Companies lose at least $1 trillion a year on poor sales productivity and wasted marketing budget. Research from The Bridge Group, reveals the top challenge for about 65% of B2B organizations is sales productivity. This issue comes as no surprise when you consider everything that the sales rep has to attend to in a day. HubSpot reports that salespeople’s days are consumed by:
Only one-third of your sales team’s days are spent talking to prospects. Revisit your strategy as it pertains to these five tips to improve call center productivity and help your team make the most of every working hour.
1. Technology – Give your sales reps more time to talk to prospects by automating their repetitive tasks. Sales lead tracking software can reduce administrative duties and streamline who to call next with an auto dialer and queue based routing system. Inside sales software can also assist with scripting and save time with voicemail automation.
Instead of sitting on a call leaving another rendition of the same voicemail, your reps can record the message in advance and drop it into the mailbox as they move on to the next call. According to The Sales Hunter, the best length of a voicemail message is eight to fourteen seconds. Anything longer and the receiver is likely to delete the message and move on.
Personalization is another aspect you can address with technology. Invest in a sales engagement solution so sellers can easily gather information about the buyer to help them connect with them on a more personal level. Implement artificial intelligence or machine-learning into your sales process to promote personalization into the sales process based on buying behaviors.Today’s buyers want a customized experience, and many are willing to divulge personal information for it. Incorporate collected data to personalize the sales experience, and you can increase sales by 10% or more.
2. Marketing and Sales Alignment – Less than 10% of B2B companies have tight alignment between marketing and sales. The disconnection faced by the other 90% results in loss of revenue and overlooked opportunities. Many of the leads marketing provides are ignored by sales reps and almost 80% never convert into sales. Opening lines of communication between your marketing and sales teams help these two groups operate as a unified team that can more easily work together to meet year-end revenue goals. Take time to develop a sales & marketing service level agreement to help continue a harmonious and productive relationship between the two groups.
3. Training – Aberdeen Group’s recent report, Ongoing Sales Education: The Best-In-Class Have Learned to Learn Better, reveals that 88% of top-performing sales organizations provide ongoing training and education. Set your company up for higher sales performance by enabling employees to combine an understanding of sales principles with the execution of proven sales actions. Continuous training provides 50% higher net sales per sales professional according to The Brevet Group.
4. Metrics –Instead of focusing parameters on sales dollars, they should gauge productivity. Analyze things like conversion rates, call rate, win rate, average number of touches, and length of the sales cycle.
The average salesperson makes fewer calls in the first two months of each quarter than in the last month. Encourage consistency by incentivizing factors your reps have control over. Create contests to help improve call productivity, and tie contest points or prizes to call productivity metrics for added motivation. Driving them throughout the year to keep productivity levels up, will, in turn, lead to increased revenue.
5. Point of Contact – Dealing with gatekeepers and targeting the C-suite may no longer be necessary. Although 64% of the C-suite makes the final assessment, decision-making influence is moving around the org-chart.The role of the person within an organization whom your inside sales representatives attempt to reach often correlates to what your company sells. The purchase of software products would likely be assessed by a technology professional or a department head who may be easier to reach than a high-level executive. More than 80% of those not in the C-suite have influential powers in the purchase decision today. Sometimes it can be more productive to work your way up to the decision maker by engaging influencers first.
You don’t have to get your agents to work more hours to improve call productivity. Instead, address the five focus areas above and endeavor to get them more engaged with their work. Committed employees feel like they are valued members of the team. To show your appreciation, simplify their daily processes with software, provide additional training that will, in turn, help their career, and reward their efforts.
How have you improved productivity at your outbound call center?
Publish Date: November 27, 2017 5:00 AM
Sales teams care about numbers. From revenue to growth, from conversion rate to customer lifetime value – sales metrics that matter helps us understand what’s going on and what we need to accomplish. After all, “what gets measured gets managed.”
So life should be good when today’s sales and marketing technologies are enabling us to collect as much data as we can, right?
Well, not so fast… now we’ve got a different problem.
We have too much data! Many sales managers are trying to measure anything and everything without a clear sense of what’s really driving business. Meanwhile, salespeople are drowning in metrics and getting lost in the noise.
The real challenge in utilizing data to drive sales is identifying the right key performance metrics (KPIs) so you can focus on activities that have a high impact on your bottom line and profitability.
A KPI-driven sales approach provides the focus a sales team needs to grow a business in the right direction. For such an approach to be productive, you first have to identify what needs to be measured and here’s how:
First and foremost, you need to define the primary business goals you want to focus on in a specific timeframe.
Do you want higher revenue or more growth? Do you want to increase customer acquisition or improve customer retention?
The KPIs you measure needs to support the achievement of your goals. Otherwise, your sales teams will be doing a lot of busy work that isn’t aligned with the company’s vision.
The most important question you need to ask is, “What activities are really significant?”
To get a good answer to that question, you need to identify the leading indicators.
Leading indicators measure the proactive steps required to create long-term success. Examples include the number of sales calls made per period, total opportunities added/lost, compliance with the sales process, and pipeline weighted value.
On the other hand, don’t get overly distracted by lagging indicators. This data shows what’s already happened – total sales, renewals, acquisition costs, etc. – and your sales team can’t change the past. Measuring lagging indicators is important; it lets you know if you’ve achieved your goals. However, only focusing on lagging indicators doesn’t allow you to change outcomes – you can only use the information to change behaviors for the next month or quarter. If you’re monitoring leading indicator KPIs, you can course correct during the period to reach your sales goals (lagging indicators).
Here’s an infographic from Sales Hacker that identifies leading indicators and how to know what the data you have available means.
What would you do if you knew what triggered your customers to buy? You would do more of it, wouldn’t you?
To find out what makes your customers proceed further down the purchasing path, you need to deconstruct your sales funnel by examining the different stages: prospecting, qualifying, advancing opportunities, closing, and post-sale.
Look at each stage from the customer’s perspective – what happened during the purchasing path that triggered them to move closer to conversion? Was it a phone call from your sales team? Did an email elicit a response? Maybe a social media message piqued the prospect’s interest. At what point in the sales cycle did these actions take place? Identify the triggers and evaluate their effectiveness. Try A/B testing scripts, emails, and other messaging to improve effectiveness.
Analyze your sales and marketing activities and their impact at different phases of the buyer’s journey. Use this information to help formulate some of your leading indicators to ensure your team consistently takes actions required to generate sales.
Your salespeople interact with leads and customers every day and are a valuable source of information to help identify the right triggers and activities.
Don’t just interview your top performers. Instead, talk to sales reps with different track records so you can compare and understand what activities correlate with sales success.
Your sales reps are on the frontline and have insights about customers that management isn’t aware of. Listen to them, enjoy the front row seat, and do your best to understand what makes your customers tick and how you can best equip your sales representatives to address the pain points and needs of potential customers.
After gathering input from many sources, it may feel like you have a lot to measure.
However, tracking too many KPIs can make things too complicated and dilute your team’s focus.
Sometimes you just have to pick a horse and ride it. Identify commonalities and trends from all the information you’ve gathered and choose three to five KPIs to focus on. Keep track of the results so you can fine-tune what and how you measure.
Gathering and measuring KPIs is just the beginning. You must also communicate their impacts and implications to the sales team clearly and improve visibility and transparency of sales with the organization at large.
Use sales tools that allow organization-wide access to these metrics and encourage salespeople to chime in with their insights. Summarize and visualize the data using dashboards, scorecards, and reports to make the data easy-to-digest. Use role-based access to make sure team members can get the appropriate type and amount of information.
Of course, KPIs aren’t set in stone, and they can change as a response to market trends and customer preferences. Revisit these steps periodically to validate you’re tracking the sales metrics that matter to help you stay on top of your game.
Publish Date: November 20, 2017 5:00 AM
Buyers are waiting longer and longer to interact with your company’s sales representatives. When they do finally fill out the request for a demo or contact form, you want top-notch talent on the phone and sending emails to these prospects. You probably have some great performers on your team. Did you luck into those hires, or do you have a methodology when hiring for inside sales pros?
Here’s how the world shakes out when it comes to people pursuing sales: 5% of people can sell anything t anyone at anytime. Those people are typically successful entrepreneurs. They don’t need your sales job. Then there’s the 5% who couldn’t sell a fire extinguisher to a man on fire. These people need career counseling if they continue to try to pursue a job in sales. That leaves the rest of us — people with the potential to be great sales representatives for your organization. The keyword is potential.
According to Lee Salz, Founder and CEO of Sales Architects, people with the potential to be your next inside sales rockstar have the following things in common, and they are all non-negotiables for your hires. If you want to learn more about evaluating candidates on each of the characteristics below, watch Lee Salz’s webinar.
Sales is a job where the number of rejections outweighs the number of wins. However, the quality of wins makes those losses bearable. You must hire sales representatives who are resilient enough to handle every “no” and intelligent enough to understand that multiple small rejections are nothing compared to significant, quality wins.
While we may agree that sales is a job where you hear “no” quite often, the successful sales representative doesn’t just accept every rejection and move on to the next lead. Great salespeople should occasionally examine those rejections. While they should let the obvious “no’s” go, talented sales pros will review the questionable losses and find ways to improve their pitch or approach should they face a similar situation in the future. People with a zest for learning and dedication to improvement are a sales manager’s dream candidate.
When hiring your next sales rep, don’t just think about how goal-oriented the individual is. Consider how client goal-oriented he or she is. When hiring managers think of “goal-oriented” candidates, that often means the candidate is driven to achieve his or her own goals. A successful sales organization must be built with people who are fanatical about helping clients achieve their goals. This type of sales organization is a win-win-win. Customers get great counsel and service. Your company is more effective with consultative selling. Your sales representatives make more sales when they care about the client.
What makes a salesperson really successful? His or her ability to ask questions and listen to the prospect’s answers. Curiosity is an incredible trait in salespeople. The more thoughtful and intelligent questions they ask, the more opportunities they have to uncover pain points and help solve customers’ problems.
Great inside sales performers have two things in common. First, top inside sales performers possess the four traits listed in the section above. Second, they have a committed sales leader focused on doing what it takes to ensure the salesperson is the right fit for the job and has the necessary support and solutions to excel. That second commonality requires that sales managers do a little more homework before hiring. Here are seven things that Lee Salz suggests to help hiring managers identify and hire the best inside sales candidates.
Want to Learn More About Hiring a World Class Inside Sales Team?
Lee Salz spent time with VanillaSoft to create two webinars to help hiring managers hire inside sales talent and onboard sales reps. If you’d like to hear terrific tips and insights on hiring, view these webinars today.
Publish Date: November 13, 2017 5:00 AM
Despite many claims about the “death” of cold calling, 92% of customer interactions still take place over the phone. Initial sales calls usually last for 30-40 seconds. In this limited time, your team should be able to make a fantastic impression on your prospects.
Here are a few proven techniques that can help your team improve the average 2% cold calling conversion rate to perhaps 5% or higher.
Many sales reps equate making a large number of calls to more absolute conversions. This is a mistake.
On average, only a small percentage of these calls actually reach a decision maker who is relevant to your business. Therefore, it is important to do your homework to find out who are the right people to connect with within the organization and what do they care about. The right decision makers should be willing to listen to your cold calls since your solution or offer is relevant to their organization. You can create a list of prospects and decision makers by:
According to Kirsten Boileau, Head of Regional Engagement and Social Selling, SAP: “Going through social media accounts of the key decision makers of a company will help you understand what matters to them – professionally and personally.”
While conducting this research, note any similar interests that you have in common with the prospect. Weave these subjects into your conversation to make a connection at a personal level. Understanding your prospect helps you leave a memorable first impression and improves the likelihood of a future conversion.
58 percent of buyers report that sales representatives are unable to answer their questions efficiently. To avoid creating buyer frustration, create a detailed document for your sales representatives that highlights key selling points and information about your products/services.Your employees can integrate this information with the cold calling script to create a comprehensive reference guide.
Encourage your employees to create a list of answers to frequently asked prospect queries. The team can also create a shared knowledge bank which can be used to tackle difficult buyer questions.
Your team should access the knowledge bank every week to have a better understanding of the product and/or service.
The goal of the first call is to build trust and get an appointment with the potential client. A common mistake that some salespeople make is to launch into the sales pitch immediately. This can often annoy the prospect as he or she has no idea about you, your product, and how it relates to his or her business. Moreover, prospects are busy, and it’s unlikely that you would have someone’s full attention on that first call. Therefore, your goal should be to get an appointment, in person or via a call, or to schedule a demo.
To make sure your team can persuade the prospect to set an appointment, they should personalize each call.
You must be persistent to get the chance to make a first impression. Rarely is one call attempt enough to get a prospect on the phone. Examine your level of persistence. An average salesperson gives up after two failed call attempts. That’s a mistake. It can take up to eight attempts to reach a prospect.
Not only does it take multiple attempts to reach a single contact; it takes numerous tries to reach the right prospects. In any medium-to-large company of approximately 100-500 employees, an average of seven people is responsible for most buying decisions. Therefore, don’t give up after one rejection. Try to contact other decision makers before moving on to the next company. After all, you want to make a great first impression with the right contact.
Don’t forget that making a live connection isn’t the only chance that counts when it comes to first impressions. Work on your voicemail message skills, too. A brief, interesting voicemail can be the deciding factor as to whether or not a prospect takes your next call or calls you back.
The first impression will determine whether or not your prospect is going to take you and your company seriously and move forward in the sales process. If you know about the prospect’s business and can answer all of his or her questions, you will have a far better chance of making a great impression during cold calls. With 78 percent of decision makers taking appointments or attending meetings as a result of a cold call or email, that first impression can really make or break success rates.
Publish Date: October 13, 2017 5:00 AM
As a sales leader, you know the ins and outs of your business. And you probably think you know what your salespeople need to reach their sales quotas. However, there is likely more that you’re not seeing. Just showing them how to be a successful inside sales representative isn’t enough. Have you asked your team what they need to succeed in their roles?
In this article, we will look at eight factors that lead to sales success. We’ll also review a few ways to open up a conversation with your sales reps and find out what else they need to thrive as a sales professional.
Let’s take a look at the qualities and skills required to be an accomplished sales professional. Do your sales representatives embody these qualities?
Many employees will not come to management asking for things, even if these requests could lead to improvements to help them to do their jobs better. Consider surveying your sales team just as you would your clients, on a regular basis. Surveys can be printed or emailed, and ask yes or no questions as well as open-ended ones.
Another way to get your sales team talking about what could improve their performance is to devote part of your meetings to this conversation. This could be in a team or one-on-one meetings. Maybe you even have lunch with your employees a couple of times per month to invite a casual discussion. It’s essential to have an open-door communications policy where your inside sales representatives can come to you and know their ideas will be considered.
People who want to know how to be a successful inside sales representative should first and foremost be optimistic and confident when talking to prospects. When stressed out take the time to exercise and relieve some stress. As a manager, bear in mind that each salesperson will have their own vision of success. There’s a difference between hitting goals the company has set and reaching their own ambitions.
Publish Date: August 17, 2017 5:00 AM
If you have the opportunity to gather insider information that can help you to achieve your goals, why wouldn’t you? Assuming is a horrible business practice. Invalid and incomplete assumptions can lead you down an empty rabbit hole, and in the case of inside sales, away from closing a deal. Conduct the research, fill your customers wants and needs, and augment your sales by applying the sales prospecting tips in this article.
Management should research target audiences before salespeople jump on a call. The more information and understanding your callers have about your prospects and the daily issues that they face, the more they’ll be able to relate and dig deeper into specifics. Regularly scheduled training is an excellent way to provide sales representatives with the information discovered.
Here are four ways to find out more about your current and future customers:
1. Conduct Surveys – Survey your current clients. Ask questions about how their purchases have improved business, what were the major selling points. While you’re at it, ask for criticisms. The customers’ responses will be highly valuable in building your relationships with them, as well as with your prospective clients.
2. Review Industry Statistics – Industry research can reveal a lot about your customers. What other areas are they investing in? Are there any new trends affecting how they do business? How much are they spending on products like yours? Find out anything you can about driving factors in their companies and industries.
3. Ask your Salespeople – Meet with your sales team and ask for insights. They’re the ones calling on your prospects and working to understand them better to make the deal. Find out the questions and concerns your salespeople hear over and over again. Ask reps about the requests they receive, too.
Maybe clients want an app that pairs with your product or customers have voiced concerns about an online chat system. You may never know if you don’t ask. Are any of these concerns and requests that are falling through the cracks? Establish an open line of communication so your employees can easily share this type of information with you.
4. Consume Trade-Related Content – Staying up on current trends is vital in business. In addition to the newest technologies that can simplify your processes, you’ll learn about tools and problems your customers face, too. You may even find out what your competitors are doing. In addition to magazines, follow hashtags on social media to see what’s trending in real-time.
After researching, be sure to relay any new insights to your sales team. From there, ask them to familiarize themselves with the following sales prospecting tips.
These sales prospecting tips combined with the above research tactics will set your sales team up for success. Knowing exactly what your customer wants simplifies the selling process and saves time for everyone.
Publish Date: August 9, 2017 5:00 AM
Imagine a baseball player that has a bad day… he strikes out multiple times, and when he does finally make contact with the ball he hits a foul. Does he give up baseball because of one awful game? No.
Everyone faces frustrations now and then, and that carries over into the challenging world of inside sales. One frustrating game of baseball, or one bad sales call, doesn’t mean you’re going to fail in every single future endeavor. The baseball player will find ways to improve his game — practice his swing or meet with a trainer — perhaps that’s all you need to do as a salesperson too. Come back to the plate and modify your approach. In this article, we’ll cover a few sales call tips and look at ways to boost morale among team members after a bad call.
After a sales call that doesn’t go quite as expected, a salesperson may feel discouraged and upset with themselves. It’s only natural to feel disappointed, sad, or maybe even angry. As a leader, it’s your job to help reps figure out what went wrong and how they can do better next time. Is there something the sales rep can do differently, or would the prospect have never been happy?
When a salesperson’s morale is low, he or she will not perform their best. Management should be understanding and helpful in getting the individual back on track. Allow the rep to take a moment and be with his or her feelings. A quick walk outside for a breath of fresh air and mind-clearing walk can help someone move on more easily to the next lead.
Schedule a regular team meeting and allow your salespeople to discuss their worst calls. If you plan it before lunch or on a Friday afternoon, they’ll have time to step away from their emotions and come back in a positive mood for their next set of calls. These meetings will give your employees a chance to sympathize with each other and receive advice from their peers - many of whom are likely facing similar issues. Here are three questions you can ask to facilitate productive conversations (instead of rants):
Offer one-on-one time for salespeople who would like to discuss their calls further. Sit down with your employee and listen to the recorded call to glean any insights and provide constructive criticisms. Remind your employee that “50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.” If a salesperson is thrown off by the experience, offer to listen in on their next call and provide advice. Many call solutions offer the ability to listen in and coach your sales reps during sales calls.
Managers can position their sales team for successful calls by incorporating these five tips:
Once they’re ready to pick up the phone and start dialing ensure that sales team members keep these 5 sales call tips in mind.
These tips are mainly for novice salespeople, but those that have been in sales for decades have room for growth too. Maybe they’re great on the phone but need some direction on digital selling. There’s always something that can be improved upon. “Practice makes perfect,” or at least better, so don’t let your salespeople give up after one bad call. Encourage them to move forward and constantly be looking for ways to empower them in their sales career.
If your sales team needs a little extra motivation check out these 12 Helpful Quotes Focused on Inside Sales Inspiration. Consider printing out and posting some of these around your office to build excitement around selling.
Publish Date: July 28, 2017 5:00 AM
By Josiane Feigon
If you work in inside sales and you haven’t spent time listening to your recorded calls, you are doing yourself a disservice. Call recordings are an essential part of your development as an inside sales rep and should be integrated into an organization’s sales environment. With all the technologies out there for call recordings, this is becoming more common in today’s sales environments.
Let’s discuss the various points of view on this:
Call recordings are the best way to train, learn, grow and develop your skills. It is a perfect onboarding tool if you want to quickly ramp your people up. When you are using it as a coaching tool, the rep is usually less anxious and defensive and can listen to feedback in a more relaxed way.
You can break down calls and only work on specifics such as just the opening of the call or just the questioning. There is a stronger chance for improvement when you break it down into small chunks. You can also role-play new techniques.
It’s still a controversial topic because of all the laws and regulations for call recordings in certain states. Some organizations do not allow call recordings. They are very cautious about call recordings, and if they allow it, they will add a disclaimer at the beginning of the call which requires the rep to announce the recording is taking place and ask permission. While this works well for inbound customer service types of calls, it is not well received on outbound prospecting calls. The prospect loses trust and cooperation.
Unfortunately, some reps have been traumatized from the feedback they received in working with a manager who listened to their call recording. It was either too negative, or too much to absorb and they walked away with a negative experience which demotivated them.
I highly recommend you consider creating a safe call coaching culture across your organization. This is the best way to grow, develop, and improve performance.
About the Author
Josiane Feigon is the President of TeleSmart Communications. She is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community. Consistently recognized among The Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals, Josiane is one of the world’s leading experts on inside sales team and management talent.
Publish Date: June 28, 2017 5:00 AM
Successful businesses build their call centers on a foundation of talent, technology, and training. Employing competent sales talent and providing them with proper training will set your company up for success. Productive and efficient teams also have access to the right technology. Automated utilities, such as auto dialer software for call centers, help keep your team on track to hit your sales goals.
Today’s post is a refresher on some of the “common sense” tips — the things managers often take for granted that most sales representatives know — coupled with technology.
The first few seconds of a call set the tone for the entire conversation. Your call center agents need to convey the right message about the company and set the tone immediately. If your sales representative had an in-person meeting you would want them to have a professional appearance and be courteous; ensure that your reps carry this mentality over into their calls. Here are a few ground rules your team should follow when on a call. Some should be common sense, but it never hurts to put it in writing.
Technology that makes a salesperson’s job easier is one of the best investments a business can make. By providing your team with the proper tools, you give your reps more time to do what you hired them for - to make as many quality sales calls as possible. Here are three features VanillaSoft offers to make your sales team more productive and efficient.
Auto Dialer - The auto dial feature keeps your salespeople on track and on the phone as much as possible. With both progressive (the next best contact is dialed automatically) and preview/click-to-call (caller can review contact info before initiating the next call) dialing, these features increase call volume by 35%-100%.
Voice Drop - This feature frees up time for your inside sales team. Instead of sitting through a voicemail prompt and then taking 30 seconds or more to leave a message, voice drop allows the caller to queue up a pre-recorded voicemail and move on to the next call.
Logical Branch Scripting - Keep your messaging consistent by providing your callers with a winning script. As the conversation progresses, logical branch scripting reflects the prospect’s responses and where they are in the buying cycle.
In addition to saving time and energy for the salesperson, VanillaSoft allows management to easily monitor their team’s efforts and the status of leads. These are only three of our many powerful sales tools. Check out VanillaSoft’s other best-in-class features here.
We’ve covered call center phone etiquette along with a few valuable VanillaSoft features that can simplify your agents’ jobs. Next, let’s review some useful inside sales techniques that your call center agents can use to move prospects and leads closer to a purchase decision. You’re probably familiar with many of these, but a few may be new to you.
Working in sales in a call center can be difficult without the face-to-face interaction that sales reps out in the field get. However, following the tips and techniques listed above, combined with tools like auto dialer software, can make it easier for your team to close more deals. Do you have any methods or tips that work for your sales reps that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.
Publish Date: May 26, 2017 5:00 AM
Selling insurance over the phone can be hard work and requires perseverance to continue after getting a not so desirable response. You simply will not be able to close a deal on every call. Some prospects will take a little more work to turn into buyers. However, with a little know-how and the assistance of modern technology, you can bump up your sales numbers.
Gone are the days of spreadsheets with multiple tabs and columns to track your insurance leads. Modern technology provides many tools that can assist in the sales process to make insurance professionals’ lives easier. Let’s review a few of the tools every insurance salesperson should be taking advantage of.
When selling insurance over the phone, you’re likely to hear a few objections repeated by different prospects. Do you know how to counter these concerns and turn a no into a yes? Here are a couple of common objections and considerations you should make when crafting your rebuttals.
“I’m happy with my current provider,” or “Why should I change what I have?”
Ask them when the last time was that they shopped around. Changing markets and demographics of the insured can influence rates and should regularly be reviewed. Many insurance pros will do the work for the initial sale and won’t follow up in the future to see if any changes have occurred that could affect the premium. Use this as your foot in the door. Provide your quotes and let the prospect make the best decision for them.
Using the phone to sell insurance requires intelligence, confidence, professionalism, and a handful of supporting tools. Set your insurance salespeople up for success with a product like VanillaSoft that combines lead management and telemarketing applications with basic CRM.
What advice can you provide for new salespeople selling insurance over the phone? Let us know in the comments below.
Publish Date: May 5, 2017 5:00 AM
It’s astonishing how intimidating it can be to pick up a phone and start dialing numbers, but it happens to many people. Business owners often feel the effects of cold call reluctance in high costs and high turnover rates of salespeople. Sales representatives averse to cold calling are often stressed and frustrated as they’re struggling to hit their quotas while dealing with a very real fear. In this article, we’ll review a few causes of cold call reluctance and nine inside sales techniques to help your salespeople get over their anxieties.
The distaste for cold calling can stem from being unprepared and/or inexperienced. Simply providing a script to your callers isn’t enough. They should frequently be practicing their pitch to boost their confidence.
Company culture can also cause cold call reluctance. Many businesses shame salespeople with the notion that they’re akin to sleazy car salesmen. This is not the idea you want the rest of your organization to have about sales. Portray the sales team in a positive light to make them feel good about what they’re doing. You can do this by highlighting those who reach their goals and praising them publicly on big sales.
Introverts often have a difficult time with telemarketing. It can be terrifying but preparing and knowing all the details of your products will boost their confidence and take some of the edge off. As Howard Walstein says, “By stepping out of your box, you don’t have to settle for what you are – you get to create who you want to become.” Anyone can sell over the phone, even introverts.
The first step in tackling hesitancy to cold calling is admitting there’s an issue. It’s fatal for sales careers and is something that must be remedied if the individual wants to succeed. Here’s a list of nine inside sales techniques your salespeople can do to overcome their fears of cold calling.
Even the most experienced salespeople can feel cold call reluctance. Know how to spot it in your employees so you can help them get over it as quickly as possible.
What inside sales techniques have you utilized to help your reps get over their reluctance to make cold calls? Let us know in the comments below!
Publish Date: April 27, 2017 5:00 AM
Nothing is worse than forecasting your sales for the month and then losing the sale you were most sure of closing. According to research from IDC, 85% of sales representatives struggle to meet their quotas. In this article let’s take a look at a few possible causes of lost sales and how getting past the first meeting is a big step.
Getting your qualified prospects to set up an appointment is one thing; actually having the meeting is a different story. The appointments you set with your prospects could be getting canceled for several reasons. Let’s start with the basics.
The first aspect of canceled appointments I’d like to address is who. Job titles today can be misleading and provide the idea of more authority than the person holds. For example, secretaries are now Administrative Assistants, and many other non-managerial titles include “director.” These individuals are often just gatekeepers. Be certain that you’re talking with someone who truly has decision-making power to avoid lost sales.
Inviting too many people from your company is another deterrent and a possible reason for abandoned sales meetings. You risk scaring off your prospect by introducing them to too much too soon. If they have specific questions for IT, then invite IT to join in on a follow-up call in the future.
Timing is another important factor that comes into play. Everyone is busy these days, and a thirty-minute meeting is rare. When sending a calendar invite try to keep it under 20 minutes and show that you value their time by being prepared. How far out you schedule an appointment can also affect the likelihood of it being canceled. By allowing the prospect to pick a date more than two weeks in advance, you are setting them up to cancel on you. A lot can come up over two weeks, and a sales meeting will be near the top of the chopping block if they need to trim their schedule.
One way to avoid cancellations is by clarifying what will be discussed in advance. Set expectations for the conversation so that when your prospect sees your appointment on their calendar, they think about securing a solution to problem ‘x’ and not just another sales call. You can do this by including a brief outline of your meeting in the calendar invite or simply mentioning it when asking for the meeting.
According to Forrester, by the time a lead contacts someone at your brand they’re already more than 60% of the way into the sales process. This means they’ve already done most of their research and have been comparing your brand with competitors. Colleen Francis from Engage Selling says four stages make up most pipelines: prospecting, qualification, presentation, and closing. She points out that 75 percent of the time in the buyer’s journey is spent in the qualification stage. It’s also important to note that “90 percent of all sales start to fail in that qualification phase.” The probability of a sale increases as the seller invests more time into the buyer’s qualification stage. During this period, the buyer needs to ask the right questions and find out how their product addresses the sellers’ needs.
Chasing unqualified leads is a major time waster for sales reps. Asking questions and reviewing company data will help to weed out prospects unsuitable for your product. It’s important that you invest your time wisely and qualify your leads before starting to court them.
InsideSales.com reported that when a lead is called within five minutes of sending an information request, they are ten times more likely to respond and four times more likely to be a qualified lead. Sadly, the same report indicates that 71% of Internet-generated leads are not called. Software features like VanillaSoft’s Queue-Based Priority Lead Routing ensure no leads fall through the cracks uncalled.
The presentations you give to your prospects should be efficient and brief. As noted earlier, everyone is busy, so you’ll want to keep your presentations short and to the point. If you’re using PowerPoint, try not to overload your slides with data.
And finally, be authentic when speaking with prospective clients. If you’re using a script, use inflection in your voice to avoid sounding like a machine. Showing your personality portrays your uniqueness and humanity. As Bryan Kramer says, it’s all about human to human (H2H) connections, not business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C).
Download our eBook Stop the Lost Sales Fallout From Cancelled Appointments to learn more strategies and tactics you can use to safeguard against losing meetings.
Publish Date: March 28, 2017 5:00 AM
You wouldn’t pick up the phone to call a client without having a little background information on them, so why wouldn’t you take the time to practice your inside sales pitch a little bit first too? The better you know what you’re planning to say the more comfortable you’ll be with infusing your personality into your words.
When you sound like you’re reading from a script in monotone, it’s not enticing to anyone. Don’t get me wrong…logical branch scripting should be an essential part of your inside sales call strategy; however, people want to deal with people and know that there’s a person with feelings on the other end of the phone line. So, it’s important to follow your script but also not read it word for word. Splash some of your personality into it!
Another reason to rehearse your sales pitch is for improvements. Practicing usually involves some form of review, be it by yourself or someone else. The feedback you receive will give you the opportunity to better your presentation with regards to how it’s structured, what you include, and how it’s delivered. Even if your organization is using scripting, it will be beneficial to your success to take the time to practice your sales pitch. Let’s take a look at five tips for practicing your sales pitch.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to include in your pitch, write it out and edit it down as much as you can. Take on an editorial mindset and delete any fluff or content that is unnecessary for an initial pitch. From here, get yourself in front of a mirror.
Reciting your speech to yourself before involving any others will help to boost your confidence and allow you to find areas that need improvement. Try to emulate the body language, intonations, and cadence that you would use during an actual pitch. As the cliché goes, you are your own worst critic. You’ll likely realize a few things you can change about your pitch just by rehearsing to yourself.
Taking self-review a step further, consider setting up your phone or camera and recording yourself giving your pitch. Immediately review the recording, and save it to review again later on. It’s good to take a step back, do something else, and then return to the project with a clear mind. When reviewing the recording, start by asking yourself the following questions:
After your self-review, incorporate individuals close to you into your evaluation process. Family and friends can serve as your inside sales pitch guinea pigs to give you an outside perspective. They may have more of an understanding of what you sell then your prospect will, but they can bring up questions you otherwise may not have considered. The comfort of preparing with a friend will allow you to let your personality shine through.
Practice, practice, practice. Next, consult your colleagues and work peers. These individuals will know your industry and be able to give you educated feedback. Many organizations include mock calls for training purposes.
If it’s not a part of your inside sales training program, find a coworker willing to play the role of your prospect and present them with your pitch as you would on an actual call. Request that they fully take on the prospect role and ask relevant questions. By sharing the queries they hear regularly, you’ll become better prepared in your capacity as an inside sales person at your brand.
Now that you know your pitch by heart you may think you’re finished practicing, but you’re not. Remember to regularly review your sales pitch. Every month or so go back to your written pitch and make sure you haven’t accidentally dropped anything important. Reexamining your pitch will also give you the chance to update your offerings or features as needed. You may find that you want to change your format often to keep yourself engaged and not fall into giving a bland recitation every time. If your organization is using scripting, management should be on top of reviewing the script on a regular basis.
Ensuring you have a solid sales pitch will improve your inside sales strategy. While practicing your inside sales pitch will aid in your success as an inside sales professional, you still must take the time to understand your buyer personas and what motivates them to buy. You can have the best pitch in the world, but if you don’t recognize the buyer’s journey, you won’t be able to guide your prospect to the sale.
Publish Date: March 27, 2017 5:00 AM
The proof is out there – cold calling isn’t dead. But take a quick look around the Internet, and you’ll also find plenty of naysayers with little evidence to back their claims. Maybe these individuals are scared to pick up the phone because they’re worried they’ll get a no. If making a call will get a straight answer from your prospect while emailing and social selling only delays the inevitable, why would you wait? You’re only spinning your wheels and wasting time reaching out to them, conducting more research, etc.
If it’s not the possibility of a no, are these cold calling haters just lazy or when they hear “cold calling” do they think of the stereotypical calls we all used to receive on our home phones during supper time? The individual on the other end couldn’t answer your questions if you stayed on the line long enough to hear their scripted pitch. It doesn’t have to be so tactless, let’s look at how you can transcend the old cliché of telemarketing.
If you’re calling consumers, then you know no one wants to be interrupted during dinner. If your main focus is B2B selling, you don’t want to waste your efforts calling your prospects outside of their work hours or during peak business hours where they won’t be available. Consider your target contacts’ time zone and call them when they’re in the office. Secondly, conduct thorough research and only make calls to vetted contacts. Due to advancements in technology you don’t need to spend tons of time researching. Software like VanillaSoft can do the work for you. You can think of it as “targeted calling” not cold calling. Yes, the contact still doesn’t know the caller, so it’s technically a cold call, but today’s inside sales representative has access to more information about their prospects than their first name and job title.
Another way to differentiate yourself from the cold callers of days past is to show an interest in your prospect’s business. Find out what their challenges are and tell them how your product will solve their problems. Don’t just regurgitate case studies and statistics, speak to them in their language and show how your brand can help.
Know your product. Learn as much as you can about your industry, including how your brand squares up against competitors. Think about the questions that will be asked and have your answers readily available. Being prepared will build your confidence and allow your personality to show. You’ll spend less time fumbling for a reply thereby allowing you more time to learn about your prospect.
As Anthony Iannarino noted in his blog post, LinkedIn Groups and Twitter were dished up as an alternative to the phone a few years ago. These are great tools to warm up your prospects and listen to their problems, but they should not be considered a replacement. Social media and online content are both mediums to build brand awareness. Buyers are still looking for human interaction and want to have legitimate conversations. And, not all of your prospects are on social media, so why would you even consider crossing off the telephone?
Let’s take a look at email. You’ve spent countless hours creating email nurture plans with multiple tracks based on actions… that’s great, but could the interaction of an actual phone call assist in your closing ratio? The average open rate is around 20% according to MailChimp. Even if you have 10,000 contacts, only about 2,000 are going to read your email. Then, of those 2,000 readers how many are likely to click through? You get the point. The numbers are low and very few practical sales strategies can rely solely on automated emails. Your clients want human engagement, so call them!
Social Business Engine recently hosted Chris Beall, the CEO of ConnectAndSell due to the virality of a LinkedIn post he shared. In his post, Chris says “If cold calling is dead, who got these results last Thursday?” Attached to the post is a screenshot showing significant results from phone calls. The post caught the attention of readers and even upset some. During the interview, Chris points out that online content can support communications in any form, but a phone call adds tone of voice and a human factor.
Don’t rule out cold calling for your inside sales reps, it might be time to get back on the horn and start dialing more. Take a blended approach and avoid relying solely on any one form of communication. The invention of the first telephone may have been over one hundred and forty years ago, but it’s still a valuable tool in the modern business world.
Publish Date: February 20, 2017 5:00 AM
The sales process is one in which building a relationship with prospects is extremely important. And, moreover, staying up-to-date on the best ways to communicate with leads will show your expertise in the industry.
But with a limited character count, emoji’s and informal jargon when it comes to (SMS) texting messaging, sales teams can easily come across as unprofessional and, ultimately, lose the chance to close a sale.
Fear not though, salespeople who have a good judgement can leverage (SMS) text messaging successfully with these easy steps.
When you define inside sales on its most basic level, the industry is in the business of engagement, trust, and quick responses. And since the average person looks at mobile device 150 times daily, (SMS) text messaging needs to be a communication channel between agents and leads.
Identifying the Right Channel
The major step in using (SMS) text messaging is targeting the right audience. For instance, if your prospect demographic is more responsive with texting than email or instant messaging, your sales teams should use their preferred method of communication. The last thing you want to happen is send out a message through a social channel that the prospect doesn’t know how to retrieve.
The relationship you have with the lead needs to be on solid ground – they need to under who you are, what you are trying to assist them in obtaining, and, how your product and service can improve their business. Gain their trust, respect, and commitment before you begin to initiate (SMS) text messaging into your communication process.
Confidence is Key
As an expert within inside sales, you should be able to explain to your prospects why you are using SMS and, ultimately, why text messaging can help leverage their business as well. Texting is one of the fastest ways to receive a reply, increase connectivity, confirm appointments and break ground on building a solid rapport. Texting is the best way to maximize your high-profile outreach efforts and optimize personalization. It’s essential to check your grammar, tone, and deliverance of messaging to maintain a professional demeanor.
Time is Money
The best way to contact a prospect is through a non-traditional sales communication. One-to-one messaging is best used for time-sensitive information. Each text needs to have purpose. A prospect needs to know how to use SMS properly and responsibility. The more texts can equate to greater engagement, and thus a higher rate of conversion. Some of the best ways to use (SMS) text messaging include appointment reminders and confirmation, upcoming renewal alerts and payment verification.
SMS is Revolutionary
If you need hard facts to show the benefits of texting to leverage your inside sales efforts then consider this: Per a 2012 Forrester study, more than two trillion SMS messages were sent in the US in 2011, which equates to more than six billion SMS messages sent per day. Text messaging users send or receive an average of 35 messages daily. Furthermore, U.S. adults are more than twice as likely to adopt SMS over any other form of communication, including email and instant messaging.
When you have the right CRM solution in place, more options for communication channels — such as (SMS) text messaging — become available, which allows you to focus on the optimization of lead conversion. More leads connect to successful sales and a better reputation within the inside sales industry. Reach out to set up a trial with VanillaSoft today, and read our latest white paper on how to effectively implement a new strategy to make 2017 a record-breaking year.
Publish Date: December 19, 2016 5:00 AM