Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ask for Action, Not Permission by Art Sobczak


An article that originally appeared in the New York
Times on October 15, 1997, titled "In War Against
No-Shows, Restaurants Get Tougher," by William Grimes
is especially relevant for us as salespeople. Here
is an excerpt:

Gordon Sinclair, the owner of Gordon restaurant in
Chicago, had an epiphany about 10 years ago when he
began adding up the cost of no-shows and found that
the grand total was $900,000 a year, a figure that
got him thinking, fast.

He made a change in the restaurant's procedure that
underlines the curious moral status of a restaurant
reservation, which is less than a contract but
something more binding than "let's have lunch."

He instructed his receptionists to stop saying,"Please call us if you change your plans," and
start saying, "WILL you call us if you change
your plans?"

His no-show rate dropped from 30 percent to
10 percent!

In other words -- by asking a question and
eliciting a response -- Sinclair created a
sense of obligation. Getting that soft commitment
made a huge impact.

"May I send you some information?" is asking the
prospect to give you permission; "If I send you
some information, will you look it over and we
can talk again in a few weeks?" is asking the
prospect to commit to the next step.

If you're able to engage them at all, you should
be able to ask for some commitment--not permission.

If they're too busy right now -- or their budget
monies are coming in two weeks -- "Will we be able
to talk more about this when I call back in a
few weeks?" is asking for commitment and implies
that they need to be ready for that conversation
when you do call back. Then, you have a reason to
send them material, so they'll be ready.

On the other hand, "May I call you in a few
weeks?" is simply asking for permission.

People like to honor their commitments. If the
call ends and they have only given you permission,
why would they care what happens next? The ball is
not in their court.

But, if the call ends and they've committed to
doing something, odds are good they'll do it.
And, if asking for that commitment doesn't
feel right, then it probably means you've
got more work to do in building interest.

Make it your goal on every call to ask a
version of "Will you...?" as opposed to
"May I...?"


"The success of your presentation will be judged not by 
the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives."

-Lily Walters

About the author:

Art Sobczak, President of
Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working
with business-to-business salespeople--both inside and outside--designing
and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin
showing results from the very next time they get on the phone.
Audiences love his "down-to-earth,"entertaining style,
and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques.
He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them
get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to
ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more
effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing
"rejection." Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use
outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren't
quite sure what to do, or aren't confident in their abilities.
Art's audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales
process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right

Contact Info

Art Sobczak

Business By Phone Inc.

13254 Stevens St.

Omaha, NE, 68137





At the Sound of the Beep … by Tim Wackel

I always get a big chuckle when sales people call my office to prospect for new business. I’m amazed at the fundamental lack of research, amused by their haphazard preparation and surprised that they actually believe their approach has any chance of working.

Here are a couple of actual winners I’ve recently received. The messages you are about to read are real. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. See what you think:

Hi, this is Ken with Hopeless Inc. We purchase used office telephone equipment and PC’s. Our number is 214.555.1212. If you’ve recently switched systems or plan to in the near future please give us a call at 214.555.1212.

Not much of a compelling reason to return this call. What is the potential value in doing business with Hopeless Inc.? It looks like the classic numbers game…make enough calls and eventually you find someone who has just “switched systems” and wants to get rid of the junk sitting in the closet. I couldn’t do that for a living, and I’m glad I don’t have to!

Here’s another example. Maybe it looks familiar to you.

Good morning Kim, this is Barbie with Clueless. We produce the business to business database called Insight Online. I’m following up on your email inquiry to see if you have any questions about our product. Please give me a call at your convenience. My number is 888.555.1212 extension 1234.

Well for starters my name isn’t Kim. Yes, I did make an email inquiry, and I’m pretty confident that I didn’t misspell my name on their form. Barbie says she wants to see if I have any questions on their product. Maybe it’s just me, but if I had a question I’m thinking I would pick up the phone and call them. What if Barbie was calling because she had ideas to share on how Insight Online has helped other sales speakers improve their business? Think I would return that call? You better believe it!

So what does it take to craft a better voice mail message? How can you improve your odds of getting a call back? Here are five questions that will help you start creating better messages now…

#1. Who is your target market?

Specifically, what is the title of the decision maker you want to do business with? And, if you are leaving a message for me, I want to hear that you work with professional sales trainers and speakers. I’m not interested in a one-size-fits-all approach. I’m interested in talking with someone who knows something about what I do (that’s why it’s called research!).

#2. What are some of the specific challenges that you solve?

What are some opportunities that you help create? Be as specific as possible. This is the classic pains & gains stuff. Re-visit these ideas often… that is why they are called classics!

#3. What emotions (frustration, disappointment, concern, optimism, hope) does your target market experience with the challenges and opportunities you outlined above?

Remember that emotion plays a big part in buying decisions, yet most of you sell using too much logic. Ever see someone driving a Lexus or wearing a Rolex? Help me understand the logic behind those decisions.

#4. What are some of the competitive alternatives available to your target market?

Yeah, I hear you screaming “never bring up the competition!” Do you really believe your prospect is only going to
consider you without checking out someone else? Think again! And remember, doing nothing is a competitive alternative.

#5. Why, based on all of the alternatives available, should they do business with you?

What are your compelling differentiators? Be careful here, because most of you are thinking “great products, awesome service, solid reputation and a competitive price.” If most of you are thinking this, then it really isn’t a compelling differentiator… is it?

Now just plug and play!

Fill in the blanks, read, revise, get feedback from your peers and you will have crafted a message that is purposeful, powerful and on target.

“I specialize in helping (target market) who are (feelings/emotions) with (specific challenges) and want proven solutions for (your specific benefits). (Quantify number or use names) of clients have already discovered that unlike (competitive alternative), my solution is/does (compelling differentiator).

My goal is not to make a sales call on you, but if these issues sound familiar and the benefits are important to you, then it might be worth ten minutes for us to have a brief fact finding conversation.”

I can’t guarantee that this process will work for you, but I can guarantee that it works. I’m hoping you will take some time to review and improve your current library of voice mail scripts. If you aren’t getting all the callbacks you want, you don’t have much to lose!

Speaking of Sales is about finding, winning and keeping customers for life. If that’s part of your job, then you won’t want to miss the next issue.

Best Wishes For Your Continued Success!

Tim Wackel



Tim Wackel is hired by sales executives who want their teams to blow the number away. Tim’s “no excuses” programs are insightful, engaging and focused on providing real world strategies that salespeople can (and will!) implement right away. Sales teams from BMC Software, Cisco, Fossil, Hewlett Packard, Allstate, Thomson Reuters, Raytheon, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Catalina Marketing, Philips Medical Systems, Red Hat and TXU Energy count on Tim to help them create more success in business and in life.



Monday, November 8, 2010

Getting Prospects Reengaged by Eric Slife

You finish your presentation, and your prospect states, “Everything looks great. I’ll call you in a couple of days to move forward.” Several days pass, a week, then a month. They don’t return you calls, and you have no idea why. Sound familiar?

I’m not sure what’s more frustrating; not getting the business, or not knowing why. Here are some easy tips to reconnect with your prospect.

  1. Establish Guidelines – At the very outset, establish guidelines for the relationship you are about to enter.

    Mr. or Miss Prospect, thanks for agreeing to meet with me today. I have some questions I’d like to ask you today, and I’m sure you probably have some questions you want to ask me. Before we get started, I just want you to know, it’s okay to tell me “No.” Sometimes, a client chooses to go a different direction, but they feel uncomfortable telling me. If at any point while working together, you determine my product or service isn’t the right fit, will you please let me know?

  2. Voicemail with Email – I don’t expect people to return my voicemail. However, within my voicemail, I’ll inform them I’m sending an email, because for many busy individuals it’s easier to respond. In my email I will write, Mr. or Miss Prospect, upon our last discussion, you requested I follow up with you at this date and time regarding… I’ve tried several times to call you, but unfortunately, we haven’t been able to connect. I’m beginning to feel like I’m becoming a pest. Please let me if your situation has changed, so I know how and when to best follow up.

    Because many people aren’t comfortable telling you “no” over the phone or in person, this approach gives the prospect a way out of the situation, and you can move on. Often, you find they have been slammed or you get some additional information as to why the delay.

  3. Disengage Caller ID – Call your phone company and ask how to disengage your caller id. This way your prospect can no longer screen your calls.

  4. Did I Do Something Wrong?Mr. or Miss Prospect you asked me to follow up on… I’ve tried to reach out several times, but I never heard back from you. Did I do something that offended or upset you?

  5. Copy Referrer on Email – If you were referred by another individual, copy them on your email. This is especially useful if you were referred by a superior. Don’t throw your contact under the bus, but apply a little pressure.

  6. Discard Proposals – Finally, always be willing to walk away. I want to do business with adults, not children. If someone requests to call them back, but then never returns my calls or email when I’m following their directions, those aren’t the customers I’m looking for.

    However, I’ll provide one final opportunity. Mr. or Miss Prospect, you requested I contact you on… I’ve tried several times, but I never heard back from you. The price (or proposal) was good for 30 days, so unfortunately I have to discard your file.

    Put a time limit on all your proposals. This creates a sense of urgency, and it doesn’t lock you into a price for an extended period of time.

About The Author: Eric Slife is President of Slife Sales Training, Inc. From cold calling to closing, receive ongoing, unlimited access to top sales trainers through our Team Training Program. Our affordable online sales and sales management training program can be customized for both individuals and sales teams.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

5 Sales Reports That Every Sales Manager Should Be Reviewing

A good manager knows that the sales team can make or break their company. All other departments might be in sync, but without a strong sales staff and sales process, the revenue that pays employee wages can vanish. When it comes to the sales team, special attention must be given to ensure that the company paydays keep coming.

According to Suzanne Paling, sales management consultant and author of The Accidental Sales Manager: A Survival Guide for CEOs (or owners or presidents) Who Find Themselves Managing Salespeople, sales reports can be key in keeping the sales process and the cash flow moving.

“Sales reports enable a manager to track how much time salespeople are spending on different sales activities, if they are meeting their productivity goals, and whether their efforts are translating into real sales,” explains Paling. “In other words, the sales reports paint a picture of the sales representatives’ day even when the manager can’t be there to observe them. The information in these reports plays a critical part in helping a manager oversee the success of the sales team and essentially the whole company.”

For the sake of sales success, Paling encourages sales managers to incorporate these basic reports into their sales process:

The Daily Call Report

Knowing how many calls your sales representatives make during a given day, as well as whom they are calling, is essential for those managing salespeople. Accounts are not all created equal. Some need to be called on more frequently than others. After establishing the call frequency for all of the salespeople’s accounts, the data from this report confirms whether they are adhering to the schedule.

Paling suggests looking for the following when reviewing this report: 

• Number of calls made in a row

• Specific types of calls

• Absence of certain types of calls

• Excessive numbers of certain types of calls

• Average length of call time

 The Productivity Report

Those managing salespeople need a reasonably accurate summary of how many and which type of calls they make. The data often includes the number of outbound calls, conversations, voice mails, e-mails, customer meetings, product demonstrations, and proposals generated in a given day, week, or month. The purpose of this report is to compare actual results against the benchmarks established for each activity.

Paling notes, “Whether a sales staff exceeds or fails to meet the established productivity standards, the productivity report keeps the manager informed. When a salesperson or sales staff does struggle, looking at the raw numbers can offer insight into the problem.”

When reviewing this report, Paling advises managers to ask:

• At which point in the sales cycle is the rep below/above productivity quota?

• In which areas is the rep consistently behind/ahead?

• Where the rep is below/above the productivity quota, how does it affect the next phase of the sales cycle?

The Pipeline

The pipeline report consists of all those prospects being actively pursued by a sales representative and separates them by their appropriate phase in the sales cycle. This information allows managers to keep track of the total number of prospects the salesperson is working with at any given point. Managers can tell how quickly a prospect progresses from one stage to the next or be aware when a prospect drops out altogether.

Paling offers these as examples of typical pipeline phases:

• Phase I—Decision-maker expresses interest in product or service

• Phase II—Salesperson meets with decision maker

• Phase III—Decision-maker participates in product demonstration

• Phase IV—Proposal submitted

• Phase V—Sale closed/sale lost

“It helps if the sales manager and the sales reps agree on the pipeline phases,” says Paling. “Naming the phases adds consistency and contributes to the development of a sales culture.”

The Sales Forecast

The single most important document generated in most sales organizations, a sales forecast has multiple purposes including:

• Holding salespeople accountable for the deals they intend to close at the end of each month

• Determining which opportunities need executive attention

• Helping to estimate revenue

• Paving the way for post-sale product or service delivery

The accuracy of this report strongly affects the entire organization. Unfortunately, many people confuse the pipeline report with the sales forecast.

The pipeline report and the sales forecast both show prospects at different phases of the sales process. The difference lies in the fact that the sales forecast shows only those prospects in the final stages of purchasing the product or service.

“The potential sales shown on the sales forecast might be a cause for celebration or function as a shrill alarm,” explains Paling. “The accuracy of the information provided determines sales revenue for the month or quarter. Failure to bring in enough sales revenue over a period of time leads to staff reductions, cash flow issues, and most drastically—companies going out of business.”

When looking at the sales forecast, ask:

• In which months (1, 2, or 3) is the rep typically above or below quota?

• Does revenue usually drop in any one month in particular?

• How many accounts drop out/get added from one month to the next?

• Does the rep have an easier/more difficult time achieving quota in one product line vs. another?

The Long-Range Sales Forecast

Often overlooked, long-range forecasts have a place in the portfolio of reports for those managing salespeople. Prospects in this report have told the sales representative that they are budgeted for and are committed to purchasing a product or service at some point in the future. The reason for the delayed purchase usually involves an expiring contract or a large capital expenditure that needs to go through a formal budgeting or bid process.

Typically, the long-range forecast keeps track of prospects planning to buy anywhere from four months to two years from the time of the initial contact with the sales representative.

Many of these long-range sales involve RFPs, intense competition, or the possible replacement of the prospect’s current provider. Sales like these usually require executive involvement at some point. This report helps management prepare accordingly.

Suzanne Paling, author of The Accidental Sales Manager (Entrepreneur Press),is the principal consultant of Sales Management Services, founded in 1998. She has more than 20 years of experience in sales, sales management, and sales consulting. Working with both field and inside sales organizations, she has helped clients in a vast number of industries including software, construction, medical, telecommunications, manufacturing, delivery, and recruiting.

The Accidental Sales Manager was named an award-winning finalist in the Business: Leadership and Management category of their “Best Books 2010” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News  The book is available on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and Borders.com; for more information on this title visit www.accidentalsalesmanager.com For more information on Suzanne Paling visit www.salesmanagementservices.com.

Monday, November 1, 2010

If You Ever Lack Focus, This Might Help by Art Sobczak


A very brief tip this week as I return from
several days of travel, and back out again.

Early this week I met with a group of other
speaking and training professionals. We have
been meeting several times per year, for 13
years now. It's a mastermind group (if you're
not familiar with this term, I suggest
researching it and perhaps finding or starting
one, as it will likely change your life, and
income) called Master Speakers International http://www.businessbyphone.com/msi.htm

Usually at our meetings everyone shares ideas
about what's working for them in their business,
marketing, sales, operations, technology,
latest must-read books, etc. At the meeting
earlier this week, one of our members, Mark
LeBlanc, http://www.markleblanc.com/, a small
business success expert, conducted the entire
program. Although I took pages of notes, just
a few key points will put a lot of money in my
pocket, and might for you as well.

In my case, I wear so many hats, perform so many
roles, and get torn in so many directions I
often feel like I'm running in place, and in
circles. Mix in my self-diagnosed Attention
Deficit Disorder, and that's a recipe for
reaching the end of some of the rare days that
I'm in my office, where, although there might
have been a whirlwind of activity, I just say to
myself, "What did you REALLY get done?"

Perhaps you have been there. Or are there.

I won't go through Mark's entire system, but will
share a key piece, what you can do as a sales
person that might help you sharpen your focus
(if you need it) and reach new levels.

1. Set your Optimistic Number for the month. Thisis the sales number you optimistically would like
to reach every month. Stretch a little, but make
it realistic. You probably have this now as a quota
or goal.

2. At the beginning of each day, ask yourself,"What am I doing today to book my Optimistic

3. At the end of each day, ask, "What did I DO
today to book my Optimistic Number?"

4. Build your day around at least three High Value
Activities that are focused on reaching your optimistic
number. This might seem simplistic to some people, but when
we really analyze our activities, not everything we
do every day contributes to actually reaching our
numbers. You determine what yours are. You might realize
that sending emails, Tweeting, going on Facebook, etc.
is not directly contributing to reaching your

5. Every DAY, update your scorecard that shows your
results towards your Optimistic Number.

Fairly simple process. What struck me is that it
provides the framework for focus, accountability,
and self-motivation.

Adapt this as you see it applying to you. And especially
if you are a small business professional, check out
Mark's site and resources http://www.markleblanc.com/

Continue having your best week ever!


About the author:

Art Sobczak, President of
Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working
with business-to-business salespeople--both inside and outside--designing
and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin
showing results from the very next time they get on the phone.
Audiences love his "down-to-earth,"entertaining style,
and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques.
He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them
get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to
ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more
effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing
"rejection." Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use
outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren't
quite sure what to do, or aren't confident in their abilities.
Art's audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales
process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right

Contact Info

Art Sobczak

Business By Phone Inc.

13254 Stevens St.

Omaha, NE, 68137





Thursday, October 28, 2010

Characteristics of Great Sales Negotiators by Kelley Robertson

Virtually everyone in sales is required to negotiate.
After conducting hundreds of workshop and working
with thousands of people during the last decade, I
have discovered that most sales people are not as
effective at negotiating as they could be.

However, I do come across great sales negotiators
from time-to-time and have noticed that they typically
have a few things in common. Here are the
characteristics they usually possess.

Understanding of the negotiating process. Highly
effective negotiators recognize that negotiating is a
process, not just something that is done when
discussing the terms and conditions of a solution.
Negotiating is much more than haggling about price. It
requires an understanding of the dynamics that affect
the process and influence the behavior of people.
Great negotiators invest time learning different tactics
and strategies and how each technique contributes to
the overall outcome.

Focus on win-win. Win-win means that both parties
feel good about the outcome of the negotiating
process. Some books that state win-win solutions are
not possible in business negotiating; the authors write
that someone usually gives away more than they
should and the outcome becomes a win-lose
situation. Great negotiators don’t believe that. They
help their customer try and solve problems and look
for opportunities to give as much value as possible.
They also know how and when to limit their
concessions, give-aways, and discounts so they can
work out an agreement that is equitable for both

Patience. Too many people search for the quick fix
try to close the sale as fast as possible so they can
move on the next prospect. Great sales negotiators
recognize that patience is a virtue and that rushing
the process often leads to an undesirable outcome.
They don’t hurry to reach an agreement. Instead, they
take time to gather the necessary information. They
think carefully about possible solutions. They take
their time during the entire process. This is critical
because major mistakes are made when we try to
reach an agreement too quickly. We rush through the
process, not giving the other person’s offer ample
attention, and often end up with an outcome that is
win-lose. Simply because we were in a hurry.

Creativity. Most great negotiators are also very
creative. They use their problem-solving skills to
determine the best solution and look for unique ways
to achieve their goal. A friend of mine was once
embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with a company and after
months of negotiation, he came up with a solution that
ended the suit. He stretched out beyond the normal
answers and developed an alternative that was
accepted by the other party. In other words, he got

Willingness to experiment. Negotiating is a very
dynamic process because no two people are alike.
What works extremely well in one situation can
backfire in another. That’s why great negotiators
practise using a variety of concepts and techniques.
They experiment with different strategies, solutions,
and tactics. And a small failure does not prevent them
from experimenting with new ideas in the future.

Confidence. Great negotiators are confident when
they enter a negotiation. They aren’t arrogant or rude
or cocky—they are simply confident. They have
developed a high belief in their ability to reach an winwin
agreement. They are confident that they can
handle anything that comes their way in a negotiation
and this confidence is developed through experience.
Great negotiators evaluate themselves regularly.
They learn from their mistakes and victories. They
focus on improving their skill. They develop an
internal confidence that is unshakable.

Keen listening skills. People will tell you virtually
everything you need to know if you ask the right
questions AND listen carefully to their answers. I
personally believe that this one attribute is the most
important skill in selling and negotiating. I remember
my wife talking to a prospect on the telephone and at
one point during the conversation she sensed that he
had more to say. She waited patiently and listened
carefully and the other person eventually gave her
valuable information that helped her close the sale. Unfortunately, too many sales people simply wait for

their turn to talk, or even worse, interrupt their
prospect. This lack of listening means they often miss
hearing key information that will assist them in the

Negotiating is not a skill that is easily acquired. It
takes time, effort and energy. If you want to improve
your negotiating ability you must be ready to work at
it. Invest the time learning the dynamics and science
of negotiating. And be prepared to push yourself out
of your comfort zone.

© 2010 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Get your FREE copy of 100 Ways to Increase Your Sales by subscribing to Kelley's free newsletter, "59 Seconds to Sales Success" at www.Fearless-Selling.ca. Kelley Robertson, author of The Secrets of Power Selling helps sales professionals close more sales at higher profits. Kelley conducts workshops and speaks regularly at sales meetings and conferences. Contact him at 905-633-7750 or Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Creating Fresh Sales Opportunities By Jill Konrath, Author of SNAP Selling & Selling to Big Companies

There's nothing I like better than engaging prospects when they're NOT thinking of making any changes from the status quo. 

This may seem counterintuitive or perhaps even like sales heresy if you've spent your career chasing prospects who are already in the buying mode. After all, they already have money in the budget for your product/service and are actively looking for new options. 

So why would I recommend chasing "non-lookers" versus the tempting low-hanging fruit? Lots of reasons:

  • The incumbent is sleeping. 

    Since dislodging the status quo is always your biggest sales challenge, you want to slip in under the existing provider's radar screen. 

    By bringing in new perspectives that help prospects better achieve their objectives, you gain a foothold in an otherwise impenetrable account. The incumbent's failure to do so creates a credibility gap for them and opens the door for you.

  • Your competitors aren't around. 

    If you do things right, you can prove your capabilities, demonstrate your expertise, and establish a strong relationship long before any competitors enter the scene. They'll be playing catchup from the start. And, in most cases, they'll find it extremely difficult to close the gap.

  • You set the playing field. 

    By bringing new ideas, insights, and information to your prospect, you help determine the criteria against which future "go-ahead" decisions will be judged. This gives you a chance to best position the strengths of your product, service, or solution.

  • Sales cycles get condensed. 

    When you leverage your expertise to help customers sort through everything that has to be considered to make a change, their decision-making process go faster.

  • Customers often love you.   

    Okay, I don't mean literally. But if you've ever had someone show you a better way, then made it simple to implement it, you know what I mean. That's how I feel when I visit the Apple Genius Bar, where tech gurus show me how to solve seemingly insoluble problems on my computer.

As you can see, there are many good reasons to get engaged with prospective customers earlier rather than later. Plus, you won't find yourself constantly fighting pricing battles. 

So start thinking about pursuing business with those non-lookers today. But don't talk about your products or services. Your prospects are only concerned about their objectives or eliminating the barriers that stand in the way of achieving them. 

Keep your focus on that and the possibilities are endless!

About Jill Konrath:

Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into new accounts, speed up sales cycles and land big contracts. She's a frequent speaker at sales conferences. 

For more fresh sales strategies that work with crazy-busy prospects AND to get four bonus sales-accelerating tools, visit  www.snapselling.com.