Building sales rapport

Use These 5 Icebreakers To Gain The Most Info From Your Prospect

April 21, 2015

Building sales rapportWhen you have your first meeting with your new prospect, it is vital that you make a good impression, as this will create the impact that will determine the opinion of the prospect to both you and your products or services.

Having witnessed quite a few initial meetings myself, it often puzzles me why salespeople don’t think this stage of the sales process through more thoroughly, as it could make or break the relationship there and then.

Oftentimes, when a salesperson comes into our office, I overhear their opening ‘pitch’ from my office, and it sometimes makes me cringe.

  • What do you do to get their attention?
  • How do you make them think deeply?
  • What’s the best way to open the conversation?

These are questions that you should be thinking about long before you meet and greet the new prospect.

Imagine you’re meeting in their office for the first time. You’ve spoken to them on the phone and via email, and you’ve done your searches on their company profile through various search engines.

You’ve checked out their profile on LinkedIn and maybe even connected up.

Then how can you use your preparation to make a big impression?

After the usual small talk to build rapport, it’s time to get down to business. Read these typical opening statements and see what kind of impression they would make:

  • “So, Mr Prospect, how long has Acme Ltd been in business?”
  • “So, Mr Prospect, I’ve bought along a couple of samples, so would it be OK if I showed you how they work?”
  • “So, Mr Prospect, can you tell me your biggest problems that keep you awake at night?”

On the face of it, these opening statements don’t seem too bad. They are taking you into the business part of the meeting and act as a bridge to get you both mentally prepared to discuss what you’re really there for.

But they don’t make a BIG impression. They don’t make the prospect sit up and take notice. The first example above shows you’ve done no homework. The second makes it obvious that you’re only interested in showing up and throwing up. And the third is a cliched question that is too deep and intrusive in the first few seconds of the discussion.

So, what would be the best way to get into the meat of the meeting? What can you say that will make the prospect really want to converse with you?

Here are some examples:

  • “Mr Prospect, as you know, it’s important that I get to know something about your business first so we help you achieve your goals. Is it OK for me to ask a few questions first?”
  • “Mr Prospect, I’ve come prepared to show you how we can help ACME Ltd to achieve their goals for the future, but I have a few questions first, the answers to which will help me see how we can help you best. Is that OK?”
  • “Mr Prospect, my research showed that you’ve weathered the economic storm quite well and things are beginning to pick up now. You’ve opening two new offices and taken on over 20 new workers. May I start by asking what is driving this improvement and how you see things developing in the next year or two?”
  • “Mr Prospect, when I researched your company, I found a number of interesting facts that threw up a few questions. Are you OK if I share that information and ask you those questions?”
  • “Mr Prospect, I saw in the trade press that the operation is beginning to consolidate and that you’re interested in taking on more people. That sounds like it’s the sign of advancing sales. May I ask, what do you see happening to to sales in the next few months? Your answer will help me to see if, and how, we could assist you in selling more.”

What you’ll notice about these examples is that they politely enter the sales process by asking for information or confirmation before even thinking about talking about your products.

They put the prospect at ease, while showing them that you’re interested in their business.

They impress upon the prospect that you have carried out research before visiting. It shows that you’ve done your homework and that they don’t have to start from scratch in getting you up to speed with what’s happening.

This first impression is vital to get the prospect on your side and it enables you to advance the discussions much quicker than if you were simply to start with details of your company or products.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

following stale leads

The 23 Word Email To Shake Up Stale Deals – Infographic

March 26, 2015

sales man no leadsWe’ve all been there before – those deals that have gone all stale and quiet.

It can’t be a coincidence that every time you call the once keen prospect – they’re away from their desk, on another line or in meetings!

You’ve called and emailed to the point where any more would deem you a pest!

So, how do you re-engage with these prospects?

Below, the infographic ‘The 23 Word Email To Shake Up Stale Deals’ highlights exactly that! This 23 word email is ideal for re-engaging and igniting those stale deals!

Stale Deal Infographic


Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)


The 10 Questions That Will Uncover All Prospect Problems

Salesperson Listening To The ProspectWe often talk about how to present solutions and results-oriented discussions with prospects for when they need to know how we can help them. Naturally, there are many ways to get the prospect aware of how our services can improve their business.

But how about when the prospect doesn’t feel the need for change at the moment? What if they think the current situation they are in is adequate and doesn’t need improving? How about if they are comfortable or satisfied with the status quo?

This is sometimes a dilemma for some salespeople, and often they will just say thank you and move on to find someone else who is aware of the problems they have.

In reality, every prospect should have a need, even if it’s just the need to keep up with the changes that are happening in their industry. But what if they can’t recognise that? Here are some power questions that will aid you to develop a different belief system in your prospect, or at the very least, get them to pause and think for a moment about the opportunities that might exist for them.

Firstly, preface any question or statement with something like:

“I appreciate that things are going well for you at the moment; however, may I ask you….”

and then proceed with….

  • Have any of your customers or clients recently asked you for more efficiencies or developments of your products or services?
  • Do you see any changes looming on the horizon that might mean you have to change as well?
  • How do you keep up with the advancements your competitors are making?
  • Do you see any opportunities for growth and advancement in the near future that will mean changes for your department or your organisation?
  • I read recently about some of the technological advancements coming about in your industry. Do you think they will have an impact on the way you conduct business in the future?
  • Some of my clients have been telling me about how they reckon the changes in the economy will force them to re-invest in better skills and technology. How do you see that yourself?
  • How do you see your company advancing in the future to keep up with changing demands from customers?
  • What future plans do you have for the development and improvement of your services to your prospects?
  • One thing I’m talking to my clients about at the moment is how their business strategies are going to change over the next two or three years. What changes do you see happening that may affect the way you run your business?
  • What plans do you have for developing and improving your products and services over the next couple of years?

Remember, your prospect will remain comfortable and not want to change unless one (or both) of these things occur:

  • They associate some kind of pain or discomfort with their current situation, or
  • They see some better opportunity in the future than what they are currently experiencing

The 10 powerful questions and statements above will help you uncover what might be a potential problem or future opportunity for the prospect. Try the appropriate one at the right time and see if it causes them to stop and consider if everything really is as perfect as they imagine at the moment.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

How Do You Get Inside The Mind Of Your Prospect?

Stress and confusionYou might know the theory that people are either left- or right-brain oriented. This idea separates people into categories depending on how they think. This is definitely a generalisation, as it’s not that you use only your left brain or only your right brain; everyone uses both. It’s just that you prefer to use one side over the other. And so does your prospect.

The essence behind this thinking is that different people prefer to have different ways of thinking presented to them. So your questions can go a long way to helping a prospect thin through the options they might be faced with and then use their preference to determine the right result for them.

Left-brained thinkers tend to be heavily analytical, detail-oriented people. They are verbal, concrete, goal-oriented, logical and systems people. Job descriptions that fit left-brainers well are CEOs, engineers, accountants, scientists, lawyers and controllers.

This is because this favoured side of the brain offers more connections to neurons that communicate through facts and information. The parts of the brain that are located in the left side of the cortex tend to favour more logical thinking and step-by-step processing. If you scanned this person’s brain while they were contemplating your offer, you may see more left-brained signals light up than right-brained, and this would allow them to think in a logical way.

Right-brained thinkers, on the other hand, tend to be more creative, emotional, intuitive people. They may be more nonverbal, visual, holistic (using their intuitive nature), physical, playful and spontaneous. Artists and musicians may naturally fall into this category, but so may others who tend to have to think creatively in their jobs. People like marketing executives, advertising staff and IT personnel might be more adept at thinking in a right-brained way.

The right brain is joined to the left through a rich bridge of connections called the corpus collosum, and this right side tends to deal with more emotional and ‘big-picture’ situations. It appears as if the neurons on this side of the brain have different tasks to accomplish and hence are able to support the creative thinking that many people need to carry out.

Therefore, you need to know how to bond in a different way with these different types of thinker. If you’re a strong left-brainer, and you’re calling on someone who may be in a right-brained industry, you need to adapt effectively. You may have to ask them to elaborate on what they see happening in, say, three to five years. The will have the capacity to think to that abstract level.

You probably wouldn’t ask a left-brainer to project where he sees his company going. It’s better to ask, “If you compared the last 12 months to the upcoming 12 months, what do you see?” Left-brainers can more naturally relate to the detail of 12 months looking backward and forward, but would have more difficulty with what the picture looks like three to five years out — a big difference in your questioning technique and ultimately your ability to bond more easily.

By thinking through how your prospect sees things, you can identify which is their preferential side of the brain. Then you can adapt to their thinking style and see from their angle. It will help you achieve good rapport and definitely build the relationships quicker as they see your ability to see things as they see them.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Have You Built Enough Reasons For The Prospect To Choose You?

businessman thinkingOften, we find when with a prospect that the time has come to present a solution to their needs and wants. In the old days, we would say we are ‘going for the close’.

It’s at this point that we should take a step back, mentally, and consider whether we have built up enough trust, confidence and belief so that the prospect is able to positively make decisions to commit to the next stage of the process.

Here are a series of questions you can ask yourself to see if the time is ripe to ask the decision-maker for a decision:


Have I built up enough value in my products and services for my prospect?

Have we discussed the money value of my solution? (Cost savings, productivity, etc.)

What other value is there? (Health and safety, non-monetary improvements, etc.)

Do you genuinely believe your solution is the best one for the company you are working with?

Does the prospect understand and value the benefits of the solution to their business?

Can you clearly demonstrate those benefits quickly and easily?

Can you support those benefits with evidence from real examples of other companies you have helped?

Is a decision to buy my offering better than a decision to use another company?

Have I minimised the risks to the prospect in making this buying decision? (Financial, time of implementation, loss of productivity, etc.)

Have I created enough urgency to encourage the prospect to move forward now? (Impact of not choosing my solution, etc.)

Naturally, this would be done over a period of time. You can’t sit there in one meeting and answer every one of these questions in a few seconds. So, I advise that you prepare for this meeting by reviewing these questions.

If you find you haven’t had built up enough need, or you haven’t convinced the prospect of the overall benefits of agreeing to your solution, you may find objections being brought up . Objections occur when the value of what you are offering do not outweigh the price or cost of change that the prospect is having to go through.

So, look at those questions when you are at the point of ‘close’ and try to see it from the prospect’s viewpoint. If they’re not clear on all that information, you can be assured you won’t progress. Make sure you’ve convinced them that you’ve solved their challenges and built the value, then you can be confident in securing commitment.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Can Online Meetings Really Help You To Close The Deal? Part 1

Virtual handshakeNowadays there is more pressure than ever before to meet or speak with as many prospects as you can and to optimize your time more effectively. 

I recently met with Mark Jones – Head of Learning & Development at MeetingZone Ltd, who specialise in unified communications, web conferencing, webinars and conference calls.

I met with Mark to discuss how the above methods not only save the average sales person time, but also help them to close more sales in the process.

Sean: What tools and technologies are available for the modern day sales person to help them “do more” with “less”?

Mark: Currently the Unified Communications (UC) market is worth several billion a year globally and there are many UC collaboration tools on the market.  On occasion at MeetingZone we see new vendors pop up here and there.

That said, the main market leading solution is still Cisco WebEx with a little over 51%  of the global market but other solutions include Fuze, Microsoft Lync, Goto Meeting and Google Hangout to name but a few.

What’s great about these solutions is that owing to the inter-connectivity that each of us has globally.  Very few people on the planet are now unreachable.  We have wireless devices such as the Tablets (iPad and Surface), Smart Phones (iPhones, HTC, Samsung), faster, smaller and lighter weight Laptops.  There may even be a few PDAs kicking around too.  However, each of these devices merely offers the sales person with the tools to connect with a number of people simultaneously, and each is capable of running many of the above collaboration solutions whilst on the move thanks to dedicated internet connections like 3 & 4G.

The challenge comes in knowing what to say in order to engage your audience using these technologies and how one can leverage social media effectively, in order to get their message out there to boost attendance and credibility to said event.

Having the right solution and technology is one thing, but knowing how to use it correctly to engage a prospect … now that’s something else.

Having decided on the right solution, the next challenge a sales professional will face is knowing how to go about conveying a compelling message that grabs the prospects attention and or can help the sales professional potentially close the deal, and that comes down to the solution that you are using, its features and functions.

Sadly, it’s not as simple as just launching an event via your iPad or Laptop and inviting a few prospects.  It requires a great deal of consideration, thought, planning and a shed load of marketing.

You have to know how and in what way that message will take shape and what tools and features will I need to use, to convey that message effectively.

Do I want my audience to interact with me? If so how? How can I provoke the right emotion in the prospect to make them buy? How can I trigger pain? How can I solve their problem and communicate it effectively using this technology? Thus, tilting the prospect towards buying.  How do I get them to hang on to my every word?

Webinars are seen as being the new marketing, by many.  If done correctly, the results can be incredibly affective especially if the way in which the webinar is positioned is compelling and touches on the nerves of your prospects and gives the prospect a good reason to attend.

All of the technologies mentioned above are capable of delivering what I speak of.  Prospects can join a meeting from anywhere, and all they need is device with a dedicated internet connection and a reason to join your compelling event.

However, the above technologies don’t have to be used to deliver meetings and webinars, I speak with clients almost daily on how they can do more with less and regularly I offer tips and advice on using WebEx Enterprise Edition; for example, to deal with day to day business activities such as:

  • Meetings
  • Recruitment
  • Remote Team Management
  • Sales Team Management
  • Training
  • CO2 & Organisation Carbon Reduction
  • Webinars and Product Launches

Sean: Is there any research to suggest the time savings or effectiveness of the methods that you have just covered?

Mark: All of the above technologies offer organisations a huge opportunity to enhance and make radical changes in day to day productivity.  Most of the above solutions, for example, will run from the web, an iPhone, an Android device or a tablet.

Meetings can be accessed whilst on the move.

You can use these technologies to reduce the carbon footprint in your organisation significantly which is ideal for a company with a green agenda that wishes to enhance its brand.

That said there are additional cost savings in the form of reducing out-of-pocket costs for communications services such as telecom and cellular bills and hosted audio and video conferencing, and for related expenses such as travel and office facilities.

Potential annual savings range from £1.6M to over £4.9 million per 1000 employees.

Consolidating communications infrastructure to lower operating costs by replacing multiple diverse and dispersed legacy products with the integrated functions of the new UC solutions means there is a potential annual savings are in the range of £300,000 per 1000 employees.

Leveraging human capital by supporting individual productivity; workgroups and collaboration and managing unforeseen risks with enterprise governance and secure communications means there is a potential annual savings combined range upwards from £1.2 million per 1000 employees.

The fact that we are so interconnected with each other and through the development of presence capability, we are now better positioned to conduct meetings online with voice, video and file sharing; which negates the need for travel and thus gives us the ability to respond to situations using this technology in the blink of an eye.

However, we must tread carefully.  With all of this technology, nowadays, it is very easy to feel that there isn’t much of a need to travel beyond the realms of our homes and/or offices in order to meet clients, unless it absolutely necessary.

Whilst this may be the truth for many employees and organisations alike, we must never lose sight of the fact that face to face customer interaction on all levels; in person or remote, is always going to be an essential part of the sales process.

Ultimately this technology enables us to make the best use of our time and our prospect / clients time, we are still productive, effective, save time and save money. So using these solutions more is a win win for all involved.

Next time Mark will be discussing how you can increase audience engagement through virtual meetings and presentations, so stay tuned to the MTD Sales Blog for Part Two later this week

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)



Do You Try To Add Value? – Infographic

When selling to the prospect it is sometimes difficult to add value and get the message across to the client of all the wonderful features your product possesses.

Here is an infographic which gives you seven different tools to add to your armoury of adding value.

It can give your pitch or proposal that bit of added depth and will more likely than not lead to more sales!inforgraphic


Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

How To Deal With The “Lowest Price Wins” Prospect

Poor businessman with empty pocketsYou know the situation. You’ve highlighted the value of your products and services and done everything possible to help the prospect see the benefits of dealing with you. And yet you still get the response that you’ll have to do something with your price.

Even though there’s no doubt that your product or service is worth every penny you’re asking, you also know that there are competitors out there ready to sell their grandmothers at a discount to get the sale.

Winning the sale at any cost may be appealing, but you know the results of playing the price game: you’ll eat into profits, your margins will be chomped away and you will set a precedent with this customer that says you’re willing to lay down, roll over and well and truly fleeced. And whenever a lower offer comes along, where’s this loyal customer going to go? Over the nearest hill faster than you can say ‘what-did-I-do-wrong?’.

To solve discounting at any cost you need an integrated, cross-functional approach to develop and deliver compelling whole solutions for your prospect’s business. Think in terms of being a solution provider rather than a product provider. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some, but you will have kept the integrity of your services without being slapped down on price.

Here are three ways to deal with the price-sensitive decision-maker:

Make sure you know the value of your products and services and how it links to the customer’s business situation.

Many salespeople we work with know the first part of this equation but fall short when we ask about the second part.

You must understand the departments that are most affected by your solution, and the financial impact of your solution on the various decision-makers and key affected areas of the business.

This takes time, energy and research, but the hard work will pay off big time, because you’ll be speaking the language that the buyer understands: the effects on the business strategies and results.

Make sure you can help the customer calculate the cost of not using your solution.

Before you can offer a remedy, you must be able to firmly establish the costs of not using you and your solution. You must help the customer identify business symptoms of his problem and show him the long-term results of not changing. This will automatically increase the value of your solution, as there will be a measure of ‘pain’ associated with the current situation.

All people make decisions for one of two reasons; either to resist or avoid pain, or to achieve gain. Change will not occur until an individual or company recognises that the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same.

Make sure you can explain the impact of your solution over those of your closest competitors.

Here, you have to be specific. If you can explain or prove how you have saved money for another company or made someone else’s life better with your solution, you start to nullify the impact of the competitors’ offers.

This is where the customer/prospect’s thoughts of price will be overshadowed by the residual benefits to the business of choosing your solution. You highlight the advantages of longer-term costs over initial, up-front price. The specific financial impact that your solution will offer has to outweigh the price to make business sense to them. When it does, the concept of going for the cheapest price starts to look a little shaky.

These three ideas won’t work every time; there will still be the minority who will always choose the cheapest option. However, they have to also accept the consequences attached with taking this risk. And all you can do is to be there when they have to pick up the pieces.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)