Speed of response to sales enquiries

“Thank you for your rapid response!” a prospective new client wrote in an email. “I am waiting for some other consultants to get back to me, so please bear with me for a few days.” I wonder why so many suppliers take so long to respond to sales enquiries? I imagine that they would tell me that they are busy (who isn’t?) Do they like it when people are slow to respond, when they are looking for quotations?

I wonder how fast you are at acknowledging enquiries that arrive in your email in-box or by phone?  One way of keeping on top of emails is to install an email app on your phone (i.e. the Gmail app  which is available via Google Play). When I am travelling, I keep a close watch on my emails and I acknowledge receipt of sales enquiries either immediately or as soon as possible i.e. at the next break during a training day or consultancy session.

I am extremely lucky to be married to Joanna, who used to work as a PA in central London.  Joanna answers the phone when I can’t get to it and I CC her when I email sales proposals. I ask clients who book my consultancy, training or speaking services to  ‘please respond to both of us and we will organise everything for you.’

How fast do you turn quotations / proposals around? Personally, I turn them around quickly, usually within a couple of hours of receiving the enquiry and quite often within the hour.  I think that that speed of response to sales enquiries is a message in its own right. It says: “We are here. We care about you. We are reliable. If you work with us, this is the level of service that you can expect in the future.”

Is it worth having a CRM?

Is it worth the time, trouble and expense of having and using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system?

The answer is that, yes, it is.

In my experience, it is a challenge to keep track of details and information when you are marketing and selling, as the information escalates exponentially. You end up with lists or a spreadsheet full of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people.

If you are busy and the sales leads are coming in, you need to keep track of current sales opportunities. At the same time, it is important not to ignore dormant customers and your future sales pipeline.

For example, you may ask yourself: Who else is involved in making this decision? What did they tell me six months ago? Are they on LinkedIn? Is there a direct dial telephone number for this person?

The best CRM for your enterprise is the one that you actually use.

All too often, the software can be difficult to setup and too complicated to use on a day to day basis.

Have it open at all times. Record details as you receive them*.

In an interconnected age, choose a CRM that integrates with other software applications that you use.

For example, Capsule CRM integrates properly with MailChimp and Gmail.

Once I have sent a proposal by Gmail, with one click I can add that person into Capsule. When I look at their profile in Capsule, it shows me the email and the PDF proposal – which I can open with one click. I can then add this opportunity to my sales pipeline, which means that I won’t forget about it.

The benefits of having a CRM system

Capsule CRM training

* Please bear the GDPR legislation in mind when you record and store data.

The song of the customer

I want to talk to someone now.
No, I cannot wait.
I have a million questions.
Does it do this?
Does it do that?
Why is it so expensive?
What do you think of this competitor?
I am not being difficult but…
All of a sudden I am not in a rush.
I will think it over.
Yes, I have your proposal.
Yes, I am still alive, thank you for asking.
Remember me?
OK I will buy it.
Can I have it today?
I can’t make it work.
I have 10,000 questions.
OK I am happy now.
What a great company you have.
I would like to buy another one please.

Just listen to me

I graduated with a degree in marketing in the middle of a recession. I applied for hundreds of marketing jobs, to no avail. The answer proved to be the world of professional selling, which taught me a great deal – partly because I was trained to sell by Rank Xerox. One of the many things that they taught me was the art of listening (is this subject taught in schools and universities?)

I am often surprised by the lack if listening skills amongst sales people. They are certainly keen to talk, quite often at some length. Would they be more successful if they listened more?

When a prospective client rings me, I ask open questions and get them talking. Recently, one of these conversations lasted for two and a half hours. I learned a great deal about the client, their plans and capabilities during this conversation. There was no pressure and no need for me to use closing techniques. At the end of call I said: “Why don’t you think it over?” The client replied that there was no need – they were happy to go ahead then and there.

When was the last time that someone really listened to you, without interrupting? Allowing someone to talk without getting in their way or constantly putting your point of view across can be a challenge, can’t it?

If you are selling a complex product or service, you will not succeed by beating clients to death with technical information and details. They have to trust you. Listening to them is an effective way of creating trust.

Selling is the fourth step of the process that I take businesses through:
Step 1: Plan.
Step 2: Website.
Step 3: Promotion.
Step 4: Selling.

Selling professional services

When you are selling professional services, there is no point in pushing too hard. Don’t think in terms of ‘sales leads’. Instead, think in terms of ‘conversations’.

I enjoy have relaxed conversations with professionals, business owners and subject experts. It is interesting to ask open questions about their business and to get them talking.

Every day, conversations come to me in the form of marketing questions. They arrive in my email in-box, via The Marketing Compass or by telephone.

I share my knowledge as much as I can via blogs (i.e. this one), e-books and marketing talks. Readers and members of the audience ask me questions. If I can answer them on the spot, I will do so.

Sometimes, I realise that I am talking to a potential new client or NavigatorPlus member of the The Marketing Compass.

If the challenge requires additional time, I have a variety of productised services that cater for different budgets and requirements. This is because I work with startups, self employed professionals, small businesses, established enterprises and corporates – so one size does not fit all. (If you don’t already have productised services – ask me how to do this).

If you love to learn and you enjoyed talking to people, then this is the life for you. Asking questions, having interesting conversations and answering questions is the way forward. It certainly beats knocking on doors and cold calling.

If you have any questions – just ask!

Is professional selling dead in the water?

Is professional selling dead in the water?

The world of professional selling has changed. In a connected, information rich world, the sales process has been turned inside out. The ‘hard sell’ is long gone. Today, decision makers know all about sales people. They avoid them by using technology in order to make it more difficult to reach them, i.e. by using voicemail. Think about it: do you like receiving cold calls in the evening when you are at home?

I spent five years as a quota bearing salesperson in central London, when I was in my twenties. My sales career started with Rank Xerox and I spent time at their UK sales training centre in Newport Pagnell. In those days, we were sent out in pairs to bang on doors and ask for compliments slips. This was even more fun when it snowed. We would ask for the name of the office equipment buyer and write down their name (having taken our gloves off). We would then return to the office, call the numbers on the compliment slips and try and get appointments. I was subsequently a coach on the Solution Selling sales training programme. I travelled around the UK and Europe helping to train IT companies in the use of this system.

The problem is that 97% of people in any given market are not looking to buy your product today. So, if you go hunting and are lucky enough to get a response from a decision maker, the overwhelming probability is that they will tell you go away and die (or, if they are middle class: “send me a brochure / send my assistant some information by email.”)

The organisations I work with adopt a pull, not a push, marketing methodology. They package relevant, interesting, timely and useful information and continually present this to the market place. The magic 3% as well as those who are leaning towards the 3% read, listen and watch this information in order to learn about the product or service in question. When they are ready to buy, they contact you, not vice versa.

It takes a considerable amount of thought in order to get sufficient numbers of customers to willingly reveal themselves and engage with the brand. Within an increasingly sophisticated digital economy, much of this work is done online. Smartphones, for example, have become ubiquitous. Have you noticed that many people, especially the young, have them permanently stuck to their hands? (Perhaps this is due to an unfortunate accident with a tube of superglue?) Mobile phones have become an extension of our brains. They can answer virtually any question that we ask them, including the price and availability of many goods and services. Yes, I know that you can’t currently ask Google to quote you for a sophisticated IT system, or for many B2B services and other things. However this will all come, as the machines get smarter.

In the future, who will do the selling? Partly, it will be done by computers using algorithms, voice recognition, chatbots and AI. They will be used to answer questions, organise virtual demonstrations and put together tailored quotations.

It is time to rethink the whole sales process. The answer lies in getting the customers to come to you. This does away with the need for cold calling and other expensive forms of ‘push’ selling. This is not good news for telemarketers and I understand that they and professional salespeople will not be happy with my message.

I think that future lies in relationship building, not the old fashioned sales model. Get them to come to you through brand awareness and information sharing. When customers arrive, focus on long term business relationships.

The life of a salesperson

Salesperson: “Hello, would you be interested in…..”

Customers: “No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”

“No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”

“No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”

A customer: “Go on, then. Yes.”

Salesperson falls flat on their back.

Being a sales person is tough. I know, as I was trained to sell by Rank Xerox. They then threw me out on the streets of central London. “Buzz the buzzer. Say you are from Rank Xerox. Get inside. Ask for a compliments slip. Get out. Rinse and repeat,” they told me. We would then call the numbers on the compliments slips, asking for the name of the person who managed their office equipment. We would try to get an appointment……they generally said…..”

I always thought that there had to be a better way. I discovered the answer was marketing, in all of its many disguises. Three years as copywriter followed by 30 years as an independent marketing consultant, trainer and speaker and, believe me, I am still learning.

Today, I prefer ‘conversations’ to ‘sales leads’. The latter are hard work – as they often come from total strangers who find me via online search. So I feel that I am back to selling again. I much prefer to talk to people who know my brand and what I stand for.

How about you: are you a sales person or a marketer or both? Do you prefer sales leads or conversations?

Telemarketing training

The central challenge with telemarketing is what the caller should be saying in the first 10 seconds of the call. Overwhelmingly, almost as soon as the telemarketer starts talking, the recipient of the call just wants to get rid of them.

I’m delivering two telemarketing training events this month, for separate clients. Telemarketing is part of the promotional mix (which contains over 300 different techniques). In a digital economy, using the phone to sell is still remarkably effective, if it is done properly.

Sadly, this is not usually the case, as can be attested by virtually all of the cold calls that our office receives. Do cold callers get through to you? How do they get on? How do you treat them?

I spent several years in sales in my early career, with Rank Xerox and their channel partners. I was subsequently a coach with an international sales training programme.  I have always enjoyed learning about sales and practising my skills in this area. This is partly because of the psychology of selling, which is fascinating.

Is sales something that you dread or enjoy, I wonder? Do you ‘hit the phones’ to get more business? Is this working for you?

When people ask me what I do, I tell them about my four step system: 1) Marketing plan. 2) Website review and update. 3) Promotional mix review and relaunch. 4) Sales skills.

On this basis, telemarketing is part of both 3 and 4 on this list as it can be used as part of the promotional mix and also as part of the sales process (i.e to close that sale!)

My Telemarketing training course includes a process which can generate conversations with 50% of the people you call. Sales conversations lead to the discovery of needs – which is where the sales journey begins.

Sometimes, the business people who are interested in telesales training also want to talk to me about other forms of sales lead generation or the many things that connect to the sales process, i.e. their website. Knowing something about strategy, copywriting, digital marketing and the promotional mix can come in handy, when these questions arise.

How to sell to clients on the telephone

Do you use the telephone to find new clients? Does selling on the phone bring terror to your heart? Most of us would rather have root canal work at the dentist, than pick up the phone and speak to strangers. In my twenties, I had to cold call, as part of my sales job at Rank Xerox. The butterflies fought to get out of my stomach and the phone kept slipping from my sweating palm. As we had two young children to feed, I persevered and learnt the secret of using the phone to sell. I am often asked how to sell to clients on the telephone. I can tell you that it is a lot easier if you begin with a marketing mindset. For example, differentiate your business, have clear messages and segment your list.

Mind you, perhaps this is why I became a big believer in marketing. Let’s face it, my last book was called How to Get Clients to Come You (buy it here and we will send you a signed copy) so my subconscious is clearly trying to tell me something. it is the combination of marketing and sales thinking which makes all the difference to using the phone to sell to clients.

If you insist on ‘hitting the phones’ (which feels a little unfair on them) here are some ideas for you:

*  Plan your telemarketing. Decide what your objectives are, i.e. how many sales meetings you want to arrange within a given period. The key thing is to have numbers / targets that you can refer to, i.e. “book 10 meetings during this weeks’ telephone sessions.”
*  Write a script to get you through the first 12 seconds of the call. Tests show that scripts outperform all other approaches by a factor of 9 to 1. You need to know what you are going to say, before you pick up the phone. There’s nothing worse than stumbling within the first few seconds of the call, is there? (Incidentally, I have a magic script which I have used to get an 80% success rate on a first call).
*  Write down the first five people that you are going to call, before you start calling. Five isn’t very many, is it? Once you have made calling a habit, write these names down each evening.
*  Play some fast music, before you start calling. Anything will do, as long as you like it and you can feel the rhythm.
*  Stand up when you dial. Standing up makes you feel more powerful. This is why teachers all over the world prefer to stand up when they talk to their class.
*  Towards the end of the call – if you can feel that there is potential business there – always ask for a meeting.
*  Record everything within your CRM (Customer Relationship Management system). Not pieces of paper. Not a spreadsheet. My preference is a cloud based CRM which backs itself up automatically and which you and your team members (if you have them) can access. If you are confused about CRM technology – ask me – as I have studied dozens of them or ask via The Marketing Compass.

Find out about my telemarketing training course and if you are interested by all means, get in touch with me.

How to get more sales leads

Do you need more customers? If that’s a “Yes”, then you need to learn how to get more sales leads.  Here is a quick checklist:

STRATEGY
*  Begin by working on your marketing plan (if you fail to plan, you plan to fail).
*  Add value to your products / services. Keep adding value.
*  Set sales targets and figure out your conversion rate (i.e. “we close 1 sale for each 4 enquiries). This will give you a good idea of the number of sales leads you need.
*  Increase your promotional mix (i.e. the different ways in which you ‘get the word out’ about your business).
*  Spend more time on marketing (including working on your marketing plan, website etc).
*  Add contacts to your CRM (Customer Relationship Management system), every day.
*  Join The Marketing Compass and learn more about sales, marketing and attracting more customers.

POSITIONING
*  Don’t just talk about being helpful. Be helpful. Don’t just tell us how great you are – demonstrate it by sharing your knowledge in helpful and useful ways, i.e. via the internet and at events. Here is a list of our marekting events: www.marketingcompass.co.uk/events/
*  Stop pushing so hard. Whatever you push against in life, pushes back against you.

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
*  You will win more business from people with whom you have a prior business relationship. Whether they are existing customers, networking contacts or newsletter subscribers – relationships count.

WEBSITE
*  Have a professional looking website, based on a Google friendly CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress. Make it easy for visitors to engage with you, via your site. (Discover how to build your own WordPress website in a day here).

SOCIAL MEDIA
*  Login to your favourite social media platforms every day. Don’t just be a ‘broadcaster’ – be a conversationalist.
*  See how I go about this, by following me on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/nigeltemple

REFERRALS
*  Always ask for referrals. (I know that this can be hard, due to fear of rejection – however – you must do this).
*  If you want more referrals, give more referrals. (By the way – this works for anything. If you want more love – give more love).

RESPONSIVENESS
*  Always respond quickly to sales leads in a friendly, professional manner. This is a message, in its own right. Even if they don’t buy from you this time, they’ll remember you.

FEEDBACK
*  Have someone to report to, with regards to sales leads / sales.  Talk everything through with them once a week. This works, even if it is your mother and she doesn’t say much, whilst you are talking; well, OK, you get my drift, don’t you?)

You are welcome to contact me, if you would like to discuss your sales and marketing strategy.

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Nigel Temple is a marketing / internet marketing consultant, author, speaker and trainer. He shows business owners, professionals and teams how to get better results from 21st century marketing – including online brand awareness, improved search engine rankings, social media effectiveness, website traffic and sales enquiries / sales.

Nigel has taught internet marketing since 2000. He served as a Faculty Member and Course Director at CIM (the Chartered Institute of Marketing) for 12 years. He led over 500 Business Link workshops, focusing on website effectiveness, SEO and social media. Today, he delivers internet marketing events for The Marketing Compass which provides impartial marketing advice for business owners.

To find out more about Nigel’s services email joanna@nigeltemple.com or call Joanna on +44 (0)1628 773128.

He welcomes media enquiries about 21st century marketing, social media and digital marketing. He has appeared within the national press and broadcast media.

Nigel is the founder of The Marketing Compass – join thousands of business owners, tell us about your business and ask some marketing questions!