Posts by: Robb Ryerse

Don’t Give Up Before You Get An Answer: Closing

Salespeople give up too soon.

I’m guilty of it. We’re all guilty of it.

Get_Answers_ButtonMore than once, I’ve had a prospect tell me that right now wasn’t the best time for them. I’ve crossed them off my list and moved down the road, only to see a couple of months later that one of my colleagues or competitors was able to sell them on a similar idea. It’s frustrating. It’s disheartening. And … this is the hardest thing to admit … it’s probably my fault for giving up on them too soon.

We’ve got to remember that sales is a process, a process that often includes some times of limbo and some negative answers along the way. If we cut bait too soon, we’ll end up losing out on making the sales we’re after.

To help me to not miss out on these opportunities, I’ve learned in time to keep these four things in mind:

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Don’t Be Afraid to Follow-Up

Follow-up is a critical aspect of the sales process. Decision-making doesn’t often happen instantaneously. Clients need time to think, to confer with other team members, and to just go through their own process. During that limbo time, other pressing things come up for the customer. It’s totally appropriate and even necessary for salespeople to periodically check back in on the status of the decision. Emails, phone calls, and drop-ins are all tools that salespeople need to use to stay at the front of a client’s mind.

During the sales process, you certainly should have asked about their decision-making process. You should have gotten some specific dates about when they would be meeting with their team and when you could reasonably hear back.  On that date, or the day after, you’ve got to make the big ask again. Call and say, “Yesterday was the day you were going to meet with your management team. How did it go? Are we ready to move forward with this idea?” There may be a new status update or there may be an answer. You won’t know unless you ask.

When a deadline or limited availability are in play, I’ll say something like, “I don’t want to be a nudge, but this is time sensitive (or, there is only one left), and so I wanted to reach out and see where we stand.”  Good clients don’t mind a persistent salesperson. So often, I’ve had client say to me, “Thank you for staying on top of me about this.”

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Listen for Buying Questions

You can get a great indication of where a prospect is based on the questions they are asking you. Here are some examples of questions they might ask that indicate an answer is coming soon:

What’s the process for executing the plan once we have an answer?

What’s the start date or deadline?

How does payment work?

What do we need to do next?

Another thing to listen for is a change in possession. When they begin talking about the solution as “ours” instead of “yours,” you can be assured that a buying decision is on the horizon.

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Recognize When a No Isn’t Really a No

Sometimes customers say no because they don’t have all the information they need to make a decision. Sometimes customers say no because they’re too busy to say yes. Sometimes customers say no because they aren’t yet convinced of the value of your solution or service. Sometimes customers say no because they don’t think to say, “Not at this time but I’d definitely be interested in a few months.” Sometimes customers say no because they are too scared to say yes.

Don’t take a no at face value. Ask a follow-up question. Ask why. Ask for some feedback about the process. Ask when would be a good time to discuss the idea again. If you take every no you get at face value, you’re going to miss out on some sales!

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Recognize When an Excuse Is a No

People don’t like to say no. There is something about the psychology of it that just kind of bothers some people. Recently, a colleague was telling me about one her clients that was making dumb excuses. After a meeting where he told her that she had exceeded his expectations, he suddenly changed his tune, saying that she hadn’t given him what he asked for. When she followed up with him, all he could say was that he was kind of weird and hard to deal with. When she talked to me about it, I asked her, “Do you think he’s saying no but just doesn’t know how to really say it?” She thought for a moment and replied, “I bet you’re right.” If you’re getting a no that’s spelled differently than n-o, you need to recognize it as such, and take the appropriate action, be it overcoming objections or moving on.

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Don’t give up until you get an answer. And even then, don’t give up. Here’s a great article from The Marketing Donut that suggests implementing a 5 No Strategy. Successful salespeople are resilient, even when they don’t get the answers they are after.

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bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Come back tomorrow for an article 3 things to do when you get a “No” and 4 things to do when you get a “Yes.”

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Tech Tip Tuesday: Email Newsletters

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If you’re only going to subscribe to one email newsletter with sales tips, make sure it’s the sales blog newsletter from HubSpot. Check it out here.

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bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Come back tomorrow for an article about not giving up until you actually get an answer.

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The Big Ask: Closing a Sale

A couple of years ago, I attended a sales training with a DJ-turned-motivational speaker. I can safely say that it wasn’t the best. One memorable thing that happened that day was having to put on a jumpsuit filled with balloons that made me look like the grapes from the Fruit of the Loom gang (and yes, pictures exist). The other was an impossibly long list of “closes” we could use with our prospects and clients. This list of 150 (seriously!) closing styles included such beauties as “the Puppy Dog Close” and “the Reverse Close.”

sold-sign-white-background (2)I’m not a big fan of gimmicks. I think that if you treat a customer with respect, listen well to their needs, and propose something that meets those needs, you’re not going to need to trick them into buying. I like a straightforward approach in which you put the “big ask” on them. Simply ask for the sale.

Some of the common phrases I use include these:

So, what do you think? Are you ready to move forward?

Is this something you’re going to want to do?

I think this is a great idea for you, and I’d love to get you signed up.

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Asking for the sale can be a scary thing for a salesperson. It’s the moment when the tension in the room rises. I’ve known some salespeople who get too nervous to actually ask for the yes. It’s like they’re waiting for the fish to jump into the boat. But the reality is that successful salespeople must be willing to take a deep breath and ask for the client to make a decision.

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Here are 4 things I try to do every time that I’m asking for someone’s business:

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Advocate for a Solution

I wrote a few weeks ago about how important it is to connect the solution dots for your clients. When it comes time to close the deal, recap those solutions. “You said that you had this particular need. The roadmap that we’ve put together addresses those and gets you to where you need to go.” If I view myself as a consultant who is offering my clients the best customized solutions, I don’t have to ever worry about needing to use silly or sleazy salesman techniques. If I’ve offered them a meaningful solution, I can expect either a completed sale or a really good reason why now isn’t the time for them to go forward.

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Manufacture Urgency

Customers don’t buy because they don’t have a sense of urgency. If they are putting you off, it’s likely because you haven’t connected the dots of how your offering is going to make an immediate difference for them. If you’re caught in the limbo of waiting for answer, figure out if you need to circle back to why this matters now.

I’m not a fan of lying to clients, and yet there are ways to manufacture urgency. For instance, put an expiration date on your offer. It will subtly suggest, all on its own, that the price may go up if they wait. Or, can you create some kind of limited availability? People don’t like to miss out on something.

Maybe the best way to manufacture urgency is to pitch your idea to several people at once. Know your closing ratio. If it takes four presentations to get one yes, make sure that you’ve pitched the idea to four good prospects. Then, when they are all in the decision-making process, you can honestly say, “There are three others considering this. If you’re interested, you’ll need to act first.” I’m also fond of saying, “I have nine colleagues who are all out pitching this idea right now. I think it’s great for you and want to get you signed up before someone else takes it.” But be honest. If you lie to manufacture urgency, in time, your clients will think of you as the salesperson who cried “wolf.” They’ll tune you out because they’ll learn that they can’t believe you.

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Be Quiet

When you’ve made your case and made the big ask, especially if you’re sitting across a desk from the client, be quiet and let them think and speak. Don’t feel like you need to fill up the silence with talking. Don’t think that you need to mention a bunch more products and features. If it feels awkward or tense, that’s OK. It is tense for the client to make a big buying decision. The worst thing you can do is keep talking and inadvertently talk them out of the sale.  Be quiet. When they’re ready, they will either say “yes” or they will tell you why they’re hesitating. Listen carefully so that you can clearly understand their objections and overcome them.

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Follow Up

Several months ago, I had a client tell me that he reached out to me and three of my competitors. I was the only one who responded. I wish I could say that this is uncommon, but studies have shown that a lot of salespeople simply don’t do normal follow-up. In fact, one study says that 80% of sales happen in the 5th-12th connection between a salesperson and a prospect. But, only 12% of salespeople contact their prospects more than 5 times. They simply give up too soon. Be the 12%.

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bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing a tech tip about email newsletters that will help you increase your closing ratio.

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How to Great Your Day

I used to drop my second daughter off at elementary school on my way to the office. Over time, we developed our own way of saying goodbye as she got out of the car. She would lean forward and give me a kiss, and I would say, “Great your day, Charleigh.” And she would reply, “Great your day, Dad.”

if-you-work-really-hard-and-youre-kindI don’t know how we replaced the much more common “Have a great day” with our own version “Great your day,” but somehow we did. A few years ago, I would often spend the rest of my commute thinking about this little exchange. And I decided that it was a powerful interaction. Words create worlds.

“Have a great day” is passive. It makes my day – and my attitude about it – dependent upon the circumstances I encountered. On most days, there are lots of things that can make my day anything but great – traffic, the weather, coworkers, clients, quotas and budgets, just to name a few.

But “great your day” has a much different connotation. It indicates that I have some control over what happens to me. There are tons of things, most things in fact, that I can’t control. But I can influence how I react and respond to them.

So, to preserve some chance of staying positive, I developed an an acronym to remind me to “great my day.”

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Greet My Team

I half-jokingly refer to myself as an antisocial extrovert. I could easily get to the office and disappear into my computer. But in reality, I feed off of the positive energy of others. On days that I grab a cup of coffee and say “hello” to my teammates, I tend to get off to a much better start.

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Review My Gameplan

When I do sit down at my desk, I ask myself a series of important questions: What are the goals I’m working toward? What are the critical things on my to do list (which, hopefully, that I made the night before)? How quickly can I achieve Inbox Zero? What are the projects that are imminent and/or inspiring to me?

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Execute Without Excuses

I can always control my activity, so I need to make sure I don’t let common excuses keep me from doing so. If I’m tempted to think I’m too busy, I go back and review my gameplan again with an eye to identifying my top priorities. If I’m tempted to say I’m too inexperienced in some way, I try to figure out what questions I need answered so that I can succeed. I remind myself that I own my own education. If I’m tempted to be apathetic, I’ll rehearse one of my favorite motivational phrases – squeeze your own adrenaline gland.

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Always Be Kind

One my heroes of positivity is Conan O’Brien. He unceremoniously and unfairly had his dream gig of hosting The Tonight Show taken away from him. On his final night as host, he graciously made a statement that has become a personal credo, “But if you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” Those are words to live by.

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Take Time to Be Grateful

The best antidote to negativity that I’ve found is gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for. On days that I make a list of things for which I’m grateful, I can’t help but be positive.

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I’m not a positive Pollyanna kind of person by nature. I tend to be pretty cynical and more than a little sarcastic. I recognize this about myself, and it can frequently keep me from having great days. But when I remind myself to “great my day,” I’ve got a much better shot at actually having a great day.

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bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Next week, our theme will be tips and strategies for closing sales.

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The Two Things You Can Control: Attitude and Activity

There are a lot of things that impact a salesperson’s life that are simply outside of his or her control:

3482ac5A client’s schedule.

A client’s budget.

A client’s fears and motivations.

A client’s decision making process.

A client’s organization skills.

A manager’s personality.

A manager’s leadership style.

A manager’s decision to change the compensation plan.

A coworker’s effort (or lack thereof).

A coworker’s attitude.

And on and on the list could go.

It is tremendously common for salespeople to get focused on these things and lose their motivation for their work. 

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Stephen Covey in his classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggested that we all exist with two spheres in our lives: the sphere of concern and the sphere of influence. There are things that are of concern to us. Important things. Things that impact our lives. Things that matter. They keep us up at night. They are our concern. And then there are things that we have some influence over. They are the things we can impact, control, and effect. Successful salespeople have learned to spend their energy and resources on things that are within their sphere of influence.

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I’ve identified two primary things that are within the control of a salesperson – your attitude and your activity.

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Attitude

It is easy to let our mood or attitude be determined by the things that are happening around us. If we get a “yes” or have a really productive meeting, we can be positive and upbeat. If someone is rude to us or we disagree with a management decision, it can ruin our whole day. For many of us, having a positive attitude is easier on sunny days. But Covey suggests that really effective people “take their own weather with them.” They don’t let their circumstances dictate their attitude. 

This is not an area of sales or life that I have mastered by any stretch. I have made some progress on making my days great, which I write about here.

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Activity

The other thing that every salesperson can absolutely control is their activity. Even if your attitude is miserable, you can still keep putting one foot in front of the other and do the job. Make the phone calls. Send the emails. Do the drop-by visits. Nothing but your own reticence is keeping you from doing the work. You can absolutely control that, even when you don’t feel like it. In fact, more than once, I’ve been struggling with a bad attitude but forced myself to keep up my activity … only to have a positive interaction with a prospect or client that immediately changes my attitude and outlook. There is no substitute for activity, and there’s no really good reason to stop.

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bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Today’s there’s a double-feature. Make sure to read the article about making your day great.

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