Why Prospects Won't Talk with You and How to Fix it

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 @ 15:09 PM

Would you put steaks and burgers on the grill before it was hot?  Would a pitcher throw as hard as he could without first throwing some long-toss and then pitching 20-30 slower pitches?  Would a runner sprint without stretching?  If you were in a cold climate in the middle of winter and your car was parked outside overnight, would you shift into drive without letting the engine warm first?  If the concept of warming up makes perfect sense, then why in the world would salespeople do this?

Today I coached a salesperson who, despite his hard work at developing consultative selling skills, could not understand why prospects didn't want to talk with him?  Watch this short video for an explanation of what he was doing wrong, and what to do instead.


It's all about warming up the prospect before you can have the conversation you really want to have.  My new eBook might help. It has 63 great tips for selling face to face, on the phone, and for managing salespeople.  You can download it free right here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, phone selling

Sales Tips for the Ages - 4 Things That Really Resonate

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 06:01 AM


Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, I made a stupid mistake and accidentally published a blog article around mid afternoon.  I had intended to schedule it for Monday morning, but clicked the publish button instead of the schedule button.  Subscribers and followers don't typically read business articles on the weekends and while this would not normally pose a problem, this wasn't a typical article and the response was not a typical response.  We have a cool VoiP Phone System at the office and my phone is configured to forward calls to my cell when I'm away from the office.  Starting about the time I left the office on Friday, my cell phone rang constantly right through to Saturday evening.  Here's why.

My Friday article resonated with so many readers that dozens of them started calling!  If you didn't read about the next big game changer for sales, read that article and feel free to do what my weekend readers did.  Yesterday, I returned every call except the one from Tom G in Atlanta who failed to leave his number.  I'll return your call too if you choose to dial.  That article resonated because it made so much sense to so many people and the tool I mentioned does not require a new skill set.  It's a no-brainer!

The last time an article got that much traction was my post about the Biggest Secret of Salespeople That Rock.  I received more calls and emails in support of my choice to tackle that topic than I could have imagined.  Why?  Because it resonated with so many people and I said what a lot of people had wanted to say, but were afraid to say in a business article.

Thousands of readers downloaded my mystery email template and I received many requests to use excerpts of the article when I wrote about Bringing Your Prospecting to the Next Level.  This article resonated because so many readers have prospects who have gone cold or disappeared and they were hoping that there was something out there that could lure them out of hiding.  It just so happened that I did!

The other article that really resonated was Leads Making Salespeople as Lazy as Golden Retrievers.  Most companies are experiencing exponential growth in the number of inbound leads, but were beginning to realize that most of these "leads" don't justify the time it takes for a salesperson to follow-up.  While 5 to 10% might be good quality leads, today, most "leads" are nothing more than contacts in need of nurturing.  As salespeople feel more pressure to do more with leads that are of questionable quality, this article was the voice of reason.  It resonated.

There are two more things that are important here.

#1 - There is a lot of noise out there.  There are so many best ways, practices, tips, and secrets that are simply masks to sell the blogger's product.  In the end, you need to filter which information you accept as truth, from that which must be labeled promotional or scare tactics.  If it resonates and inspires, comes from an authoritative source, and sounds like a practical solution to a problem you own, chances are it's advice you can trust.

#2 - Your message, to your prospects, must resonate with them.  How can you tell?  They will let you know!  And if they aren't letting you know, if they aren't telling you, if you aren't hearing very strong affirmations from your prospects, that you are right on, different in a good way, and the one they want to work with, then you are doing something wrong.  If that's the case, contact me and we will help you get it straightened out.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, lead follow up, phone selling, phone prospecting, sales rock stars

Are Inside Sales and Consultative Selling Mutually Exclusive?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 07, 2014 @ 05:04 AM

headsetI don't write about Inside Sales as often as I should.  After all, everyone else is writing about it, some bloggers are devoted to it, and if you read what the inside sales bloggers are writing, you would think that inside sales is king.  Of course, it is the king of the top of the funnel where everything begins, but with few exceptions, selling rarely ends in that department.

It's important to separate inside sales into its five most common forms:

  1. As a replacement for traditional outside sales.  They are quota-carrying salespeople responsible for the entire sales cycle, but doing it from the comfort of a desk.  This is technically "inside", but the comparison to inside stops there.
  2. Traditional inside sales where salespeople field incoming calls from people seeking prices and quotes and placing orders.  This form of inside sales has been around since the telephone.
  3. Customer Service, where the focus may be upselling and/or cross-selling, has been around for ages.  
  4. The top of the funnel group is responsible for generating leads and/or scheduling calls and meetings for more traditional salespeople.
  5. Inbound, the newest group, where salespeople work the contacts generated by websites, social sites and from getting found.

In this discussion, we'll focus on group #2, traditional inside sales, where salespeople field incoming calls from existing loyal customers, existing disloyal customers, and potential customers.

Throughout the history of selling by phone, these calls have traditionally taken the form of, "Yes, can I have a price on 2,500 microwidgitettes?"

And during the same history, the inside salesperson responds with something like, "Sure.  They are $1.29 each, but with a quantity of 2500, the price goes down to $1.19."

Then, the caller either places the order or says, "Thanks.  I'll let you know."

That call is incredibly transactional and if they buy now, or later, a sale cannot be any more transactional than that.  So where does consultative selling fit into that approach?

To properly answer the question, we must explore the context a bit more thoroughly.

Are there any downsides to this?  Could this approach really be hurting us?  Is there a problem with this type of efficiency?  Hell yes!

Let's look at the three types of potential callers and the potential downside:

  1. Loyal customer - What could possibly be the problem with this call being so transactional?  After all, aren't we all in a hurry?  There are two problems though.  The first is that while this loyal customer will place their order with you, your persistent competitors are working their asses off trying to make your customer their customer.  The second problem is that when the average call takes just under a minute, it is impossible to develop relationships.  And one thing that hasn't changed in all these years is that without that strong relationship, especially with the people they call all the time, it is easier for your competitor to lure this customer away!
  2. Disloyal customer - They do buy from you, but only when your price is lower or your competitor doesn't have what they need.  It may not be possible to change this customer's behavior, but you can't even try unless you get more than one minute on the phone with them!  You need the relationship, even if it's to earn the right to have a deeper conversation about this behavior and how you can help them save time (less calling, fewer shipments to receive and fewer invoices to pay), and money (better prices when they buy everything from one source, in greater quantities, and over an extended period of time).  This requires having an actual conversation and taking a consultative approach.
  3. Potential customer - They don't buy from you today, but they continue to call for prices.  There could even be more of these calls than those from your loyal and disloyal customers!  How can you possibly turn these callers into customers UNLESS you take a consultative approach and have a conversation about why they call, why they don't place orders, what might be going on, displeasure or unhappiness with another vendor, changes in their strategy, or anything else that might provide a clue and topic for the appropriate conversation?

This is all fairly simple in concept, but executing is more difficult because inside salespeople have been trained to be efficient, not consultative.  Inside salespeople have been trained to do one thing well, not multiple things.  This really involves training inside salespeople to have conversations that are similar to those that should be taking place on the outside.

Are inside sales and consultative selling mutually exclusive?  They seem to be today, but they shouldn't be.  Companies are failing to leverage all of the calls they receive and seem intent to spend more money on marketing to generate more calls and inquiries!  It costs a lot of money to generate a new customer.  It costs even more to have a disloyal customer.  It's a waste of money to let potential customers slip right through the earpiece of the phone.

Image credit: racorn / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, inside sales, phone selling

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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